Thanksgiving is typically a very traditional meal, with a stuffed turkey at the centerpiece – but Friendsgiving? This is a time for new traditions. A time to gather your forward-thinking, trend-setting crew and push the Thanksgiving norms without pushing your relatives’ buttons for trying something new.
THE BIRTH OF FRIENDSGIVINGThere hasn’t been much written on the history of Friendsgiving, but a quick Google Trends search shows that up until 2011 no one was searching for the word. After about 2013 the searches kept growing each year.
It’s hard to say where the tradition started, but in 2011, Bailey’s Irish Cream used the word in an ad campaign and the concept was broadcast on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. ₂ It seems that began the steady uptick of the concept, making what seemed to have begun as an alternative to Thanksgiving, now a celebrated second Thanksgiving.
WHEN DOES FRIENDSGIVING TAKE PLACE?
You can use Friendsgiving as a trial for when you are hosting a more formal Thanksgiving for your family and schedule it for earlier in the month.
Or you can choose to stretch the holiday and plan for the same weekend as Thanksgiving. A big pro of this option is that you can strategically repurpose leftovers into new dishes.
PLANNING THE MENUIf you’re the host this year, don’t panic, you’ve got this! With a small amount of planning, it can be manageable. It’s best to plan your menu at least a week in advance.
Divide and conquer: Friendsgiving was practically made for a potluck. Take some of the burden off yourself and let people bring their favorites. Assign some general categories like cranberries, stuffing, dessert, or potatoes. Or, consider ordering from a local holiday meal delivery service. YAYE, for example, is offering the full plant-based Thanksgiving spread complete with pumpkin and pecan pie.
Make your friends RSVP so everyone knows how much they will need to bring. Throw that information and who’s making what in a spreadsheet and share it with your friends. Make sure to note any allergies people have, to avoid any mix ups.
DITCH THE TURKEY
Most likely, even your meat-eating friends won’t want to have turkey as a main course for two large festive meals in the same month. Instead of turkey, serve them this information from Boston University: Every Thanksgiving more than 45 million turkeys are killed to be eaten. ₃
Try serving something more than Tofurky, something more nutritious and less processed. Instead, check out this recipe:
Whole Roasted Pistachio Crusted Cauliflower with Turmeric-Tahini Sauce ₄
Serves 4: Cook time 1 hour 35 minutes
For the pistachio-sesame condiment:
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
- 1 cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- Lemon Zest 1/2
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pistachio-sesame condiment
- 1 teaspoon Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1 heaping tablespoon of herb mix (equal parts parsley, mint, and dill all roughly chopped)
- 1 whole roasted cauliflower
- 5 to 6 thin slices finger (or Fresno) chili, seeds removed
- 7 or more thin petals pickled pearl onion
- 10 fresh pomegranate seeds
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 lemon slices
- Oven at 400° F. Blend first 3 ingredients until smooth. Rub onto cauliflower head. Wrap in foil and bake for 45 minutes. Unwrap and roast at 375° F for an additional 20 minutes to brown and cook until fully tender. Test the tenderness of the bottom stem with a knife to check when done.
- Pistachio-sesame condiment: Place all ingredients in a sauté pan and slowly cook over a very low flame until lightly toasted and the lemon zest is fully dried. Cool and reserve.
- Tahini sauce: Blend all ingredients in until very smooth. Strain through a chinois or fine strainer to eliminate any potential ginger hairs.
- To serve: Top hot cauliflower with pistachio-sesame condiment, herbs, onions, and pomegranate. Finish with fresh black pepper. Serve lemons and sauce on the side.
If you are going full vegan with your holiday meal, try some alternatives like gravy made from mushrooms (featured on our feast menu), instead of meat-based gravy and use olive oil or a delicious plant-based butter where you would normally use conventional butter.
SETTING THE TABLE
Make sure you have enough place settings, silverware, chairs, and space at the table for each guest. If you need to, ask people to bring their own or ask a couple friends to pool their things together for the meal. Remember simplicity is key - you are going to have a lot of food on the table, let it shine.
For a family style meal, think about splitting popular sides like mashed potatoes and putting a dish at each end of the table so people don’t have to pass things as far. Consider more than one vegan butter dish and a couple gravy boats as well.
GIVING THANKS — WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
Make this more than just a meal and consider giving thanks by incorporating a gratitude board.
All you need is a board and some chalk, or a sheet of cardstock and a couple of markers. When your guests arrive have them write down some things they are grateful for. After the party take a photo of the board and send it to the whole group so you can remember the night and what you all felt thankful for on that day.