Wickford Eats… Friendsgiving

written by Michelle Girasole, for the neighborhood publication, The Wickford Way

Last year, I hosted my very first “Friendsgiving Dinner”, and it won’t be the last.  Now, before you launch into a rant about faux-holidays, hear me out!

Anyone who has ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner might agree that it’s somewhat intimidating.  Hours of prepping, peeling, chopping, cooking the turkey, making the gravy and a myriad of side dishes – planned perfectly to finish at exactly the same time, all piping hot, and with only one oven – this is not a meal for the newbie home cook. 

Enter Friendsgiving, where the host or hostess sets the scene and contributes the turkey, but guests bring all the sides and desserts.  It’s no wonder this has become popular, but where did it come from?

I fondly remember the 1990s Friends’ episodes where Monica Geller cooks Thanksgiving for all her friends when family plans fall through. But the phrase “Friendsgiving” did not originate in print until 2007-8.  This new tradition went mainstream in 2011 when Bailey’s Irish Creme used the word in an ad campaign – a fact I will be sure to incorporate into a signature cocktail at my next Friendsgiving gathering.  (Thanks, Bailey’s!)

Here is a checklist for hosting your Friendsgiving event:

Invitations – Since we’re restricted to only 15 people at any indoor social gathering in Rhode Island, why not send festive paper invites, delivered by mail? While it is easy to send an email or group text to confirm RSVPs, this simple touch builds anticipation for guests.

Food – We’ve established that you’re in charge of the turkey, so you can call all the other shots.  Will you make the stuffing and gravy, or assign it out?  Choose the veggies, fruits, breads, and desserts. Be sure to take into consideration the cooking skills of each guest and assign accordingly.  This step is very important, so you don’t have a feast consisting of only canned cranberry sauce and copious amounts of alcohol. 

Beverages – It is very trendy to serve a signature cocktail, and our friends at Wickford Package or Colonial Wine & Spirits can assist you in selecting a harvest ale, hard cider cocktail, or wine.  (Beaujolais Nouveau Day is November 19, making this a popular seasonal choice.)  

Decor – You can go nuts with seating cards, balloon arches, or photo booth props and backdrops.  Or, keep it simple.  Use that leftover Halloween pumpkin, grab a Sharpie, scribble out the word “Thankful”, and place it on the table as the easiest centerpiece ever.  Or, head over to Sprigs or Flowers by Bert & Peg’s and have them make you a beautiful cornucopia. Set the scene to fit your style.

Games – A classic starter is to go around the table sharing something to be grateful for. Or, get out the blindfolds for “pin the tail feather on the turkey”.  Maybe this year, you might award a prize for the best decorated covid-mask.  Heck, skip the games and just have fun eating and drinking.  It’s your party.

And there you have it. If you need more inspiration, there are 1.3 million search results on Pinterest from over-achieving bloggers who take this event to the next level.  My recommendation is to keep it simple and just enjoy the time together.  It’s been a crazy year, and it might be nice to have something new to look forward to!

Share your Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving photos with The Wickford Way. While you’re at it, share your Best Christmas Cookie recipes for our next issue. Happy eating, friends!