How to pull off a successful Friendsgiving

Enjoy a tofurkey with your real family this holiday

Written By: Sara Abdulla, Illustrated By: Sanchez Johnson, Designed By: Angel Nelson

Like traditional familial Thanksgivings, Friendsgiving, a fusion of the words “friends” and “Thanksgiving,” is about expressing gratitude for loved ones and all the blessings that come with life. As has been emphasized during the recent turbulent elections, stress of final exams and general life tribulations, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the important things in life.

The birth of Friendsgiving is sometimes attributed to the hit sitcom “Friends” in 1994. Other times, the term is attributed to the rise of Twitter. Even Baileys, the Irish cream liqueur, adopted the term in its 2011 Thanksgiving ad campaign: “Friendsgiving with Baileys.”

PLANNING

There’s nothing radical about taking the time and energy to feast and be merry with one’s friends.

“We started to plan Friendsgivings for the week before Thanksgiving break when everyone is looking forward to going home to good food and family. So we wanted to have that same good food with all of our friends that we care about so much,” Catherine Rakowiecki, a fourth-year film major who’s hosted Friendsgiving since her freshman year, told The Signal.

Logistically, Friendsgiving tends to be straightforward (perhaps moreso than traditional Thanksgivings).

“I just called my friends and told them I thought we should all get together before everyone left for the holidays and share a meal. I made up a menu and everyone picked something to bring. Some of us who can’t cook just bought the silverware and plates or trash bags,” Alicia Edwards, a Georgia State alumna, said.

Similarly, potluck-style dinners foster a sense of community and family by allowing each individual to contribute to and participate in an impressive dinner.

“It’s all pot-luck style. Everyone brings their favorite side dish, and we provide the wine. I usually put up a couple small decorations. The main one being a small cardboard tree that we all hang leaves off of that say what we are thankful for,” Rakowiecki said.

Some people, like Rakowiecki, simply hold Friendsgiving in someone’s dorm, apartment or house. Still, for those who have the money and time, it may be worth making a trip out of it and renting an Airbnb or hotel to make it feel more extravagant than any other regular dinner.

IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH

Friendsgivings may be especially salient for the current generation of college students because Generation Z reportedly spends the least amount of time with their families out of the current four (millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers).

“I also think they are important because not everyone has a home dynamic where they feel comfortable or happy spending the holidays with their family,” Carissa Lavin, a first-year law student at Georgia State, said.

While some may argue that no relationships can genuinely replace family kinships, studies suggest that robust friendships are more important for individuals’ physical and mental well-being than strong family ties, particularly as people age.

This dynamic may exist because people have more agency in choosing their friends than with family members. Friendships are developed overtime whereas familial relationships are, at times, forged out of a sense of obligation.

There are a myriad of health benefits to be reaped from bonding with loved ones, including living longer; the longevity difference between people with hardy social ties and those without is comparable to that of those who do smoke cigarettes and those who don’t.

Being physically close to loved ones mitigates stressful situations and may even prevent illness. It’s been widely established that support from loved ones, including both friends and family, can be critical in impeding the course of depression and severe anxiety in persons, highlighting the vital role that durable relationships hold in people’s lives.

“As the semester ramps up, it can get really challenging for friend groups to find a regular time where everyone is available to get together. I think it’s nice to have a designated event where everyone gets together and dedicates some time to reflecting on the people and things they are thankful for,” Lavin said.

BEING THANKFUL

“[Friendsgiving] signifies how important you are to each other and is a good time to reflect on what everyone is thankful for,” Rakowiecki said.

Friend groups can certainly shift dramatically, especially while young and in college, but it’s still crucial to take just a few minutes to appreciate who you have in the moment, even if you only have them in your life at that moment.

“Friendsgivings give them a safe space to participate in and enjoy the spirit of the holiday. Plus, it’s just really nice to share yummy treats and wine with friends,” Lavin said.