Hol­i­day twist

Cel­e­brat­ing Friends­giv­ing, a Thanks­giv­ing party for friends

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FIFTY PLUS - By Beth J. Harpaz

NEW YORK >> Thanks­giv­ing is tra­di­tion­ally a day for gath­er­ing with your fam­ily and eat­ing turkey, but there’s a twist on the hol­i­day as a purely so­cial gath­er­ing, and it’s called Friends­giv­ing.

The menu might in­clude any­thing from beer and cheese fries to cock­tails and salmon. But in­stead of the host slav­ing away for hours in a hot kitchen, it’s more likely to be a party-style potluck.

The trend is also turn­ing up in ads, char­ity pro­mo­tions, Evites and even on a cruise ship, with Royal Caribbean’s Har­mony of the Seas ship host­ing a Friends­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tion for pas­sen­gers two weeks be­fore Thanks­giv­ing this year.

This fall’s premiere is­sue of The Magnolia Jour­nal, a mag­a­zine from HGTV’s “Fixer Up­per” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, also fea­tured a story about Friends­giv­ing.

And while Amer­i­cans have long cel­e­brated Thanks­giv­ing with friends when they couldn’t be with fam­ily — whether they were liv­ing abroad, at col­lege or in the mil­i­tary — Friends­giv­ings aren’t usu­ally re­place­ments for tra­di­tional fam­ily gath­er­ings. In-

stead, Friends­giv­ings are held in ad­di­tion to the tra­di­tional Thurs­day turkey din­ner, specif­i­cally sched­uled on a dif­fer­ent day so as not to con­flict with fam­ily get-to­geth­ers.

New Yorker Han­nah Red­field says she and her 20-some­thing friends are “re­ally into” Friends­giv­ing, which they’ve cel­e­brated since 2014. She calls it “a mil­len­nial-driven in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Thanks­giv­ing. This de­mo­graphic of peo­ple isn’t as con­cerned with pre­par­ing the tra­di­tional Thanks­giv­ing meal but is look­ing for an ex­cuse to cel­e­brate friend­ship. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, peo­ple aren’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­pected to show up with solely mashed pota­toes, stuff­ing, cran­berry sauce, etc.” In­stead, they bring ev­ery­thing from cheese fries to spaghetti squash — “what­ever they could muster or af­ford with en­try-level salaries.”

Nina Fo­ley of Chicago agrees that Friends­giv­ings of­fer an op­por­tu­nity to break tra­di­tions: “While a fam­ily Thanks­giv­ing would never al­low for any­thing other than tra­di­tional canned cran­berry, creamed corn casse­role or green beans, be­cause it’s Friends­giv­ing, we have the free­dom to get cre­ative.” One friend in her group went to culi­nary school and in­cludes in­gre­di­ents with his gourmet turkey that “none of us ever saw on our plates as kids — figs, pre­served oranges, fried sage!”

Friends­giv­ings are also of­ten more like par­ties than staid sit-down din­ners. There are Friends­giv­ing pa­jama par­ties, and themed events with arts and crafts or games.

Michelle Platt is host­ing her third Friends­giv­ing this year — a potluck — in Bri­ar­cliff Manor, New York, for friends from col­lege who are now in their 40s. “We al­most all have kids, so I hire a babysit­ter to watch them so we can have some adult time,” she said.

Platt uses the on­line in­vi­ta­tion ser­vice Evite for her Friends­giv­ing and noted that “the first year was slim pick­ings for in­vite de­signs, but now there are a lot to choose from.” Evite re­ports a 29 per­cent in­crease this year over last in the num­ber of events that its Friends­giv­ing de­signs are be­ing used for, to­tal­ing in the thou­sands.

Some Friends­giv­ings dou­ble as fundrais­ers, with hosts invit­ing guests to sup­port a good cause. A char­ity called No Kid Hun­gry, which fo­cuses on end­ing child­hood hunger by con­nect­ing kids to the meals they need, of­fered a Friends­giv­ing fundrais­ing op­tion last year and raised $28,000 from some 50 par­tic­i­pants. This year, No Kid Hun­gry has reg­is­tered 1,400 Friends­giv­ing fundrais­ers, rais­ing $78,000 so far. Hosts ask guests for do­na­tions or charge for a spe­cific cock­tail or treat.

Kory Stam­per, as­so­ci­ate editor for Mer­riam-Web­ster, says the term “Friends­giv­ing” hasn’t yet made it into the com­pany’s dic­tio­nary, but “it’s a good can­di­date for fu­ture in­clu­sion.” She says Friends­giv­ing started be­ing used around 2007, with boosts from a 2011 Bai­ley’s Ir­ish Cream ad and also from a “Real Housewives of New Jer­sey” episode.

Brand­ing ex­pert Nancy Fried­man said on her blog, Friti­nancy, that Friends­giv­ing first turned up on­line in 2004 and was pop­u­lar­ized in part by a 2013 Taco Bell pro­mo­tion. Some peo­ple think the term is con­nected to the TV sit­com “Friends,” which was fa­mous for its an­nual Thanks­giv­ing-with­friends episodes, but Fried­man doesn’t think the word was ever used on the show, which ended in 2004.

Danielle Paleafico, 29, started host­ing Friends­giv­ing five years ago in one of her first apart­ments af­ter col­lege, and now it’s grown into an all-day, drop-in event for 30 to 40 friends at her home in Mor­ris­town, New Jer­sey.

“We watch foot­ball, I make turkey, all the usual side dishes, home­made pasta and meat­balls, dessert, etc.,” she said. “Ev­ery­one usu­ally brings a dish and a bot­tle of wine or beer and we all just come to­gether ca­su­ally, watch the games, catch up and en­joy each other.”

Tim­ing is im­por­tant: She picks a date be­fore the real Thanks­giv­ing, and then “we all go our sep­a­rate ways for the hol­i­day and give thanks with our own fam­i­lies.”


This photo pro­vided by Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional shows guests gath­ered for a Friends­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tion at sea aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Har­mony of the Seas.

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