Thanksgiving – it’s not just a five day weekend for students at Corvallis High School (although that’s exciting, right?). More generally, Thanksgiving is a holiday of tradition involving a gathering of relatives, a mass amount of delicious, home-cooked food (as well as pies and desserts), travel, afternoon football games on television, and yes, tasty left-overs. Despite all this goodness wrapped up into a delightful long weekend, there’s one thing that’s often missing from a Thanksgiving holiday get-together, and that’s spending time with friends. With all the family togetherness of the traditional holiday, spending time with friends can go missing. Enter Friendsgiving.

In contrast to Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving is a celebration with a twist, a social gathering of friends. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Friendsgiving is defined as the blend of friends and Thanksgiving, and refers to a large meal eaten with friends either on or near Thanksgiving. While many believe that the informal “un-holiday” was birthed as a result of the NBC show and hit sitcom Friends (1994-2004), the first written form of the word is only dated back to 2007, with Twitter mentions the same year. In 2011, the gathering developed a surge of popularity, following a television ad campaign, and it’s become a commonly accepted term (and gathering) since then.

Friendsgiving, as reported by Urban Dictionary, is typically celebrated the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the Thursday afterward, but there is no defined time for celebration. It is similar to Thanksgiving in that people gather to share a meal together and give thanks, but that’s where the similarities end. Friendsgiving has become a spin-off of the traditional holiday gathering, more informal and celebrated more like a party than a traditional family event. Some hosts throw a gathering with a theme in mind – dressing up or dressing down (think formalwear or yoga pants) and choosing a food theme that’s very un-Thanksgiving (think finger foods or a potluck style meal). Ultimately, Friendsgivings are relaxed gatherings that involve the fun and spirit of a holiday while eliminating the stress and expectations that come along with planning a major holiday meal.  Most notable in difference is the fact that Friendsgivings aren’t considered replacements for the traditional Thanksgiving gathering, but instead, are an additional holiday during the month of November.

No matter what transpires with family over the five day holiday weekend, give some thought to hosting a Friendsgiving with friends before or after the holiday with family. To make the gathering a day to remember, invite close friends, pick a date and time, plan a menu, send invites out, ask for help with side dishes, set the table, cue up on the holiday atmosphere with music, and watch a wonderful un-holiday gathering unfold, filled with laughter and friendship.

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