Friendsgiving is a gathering of close friends to share the spirit of Thanksgiving.

A shorter definition is “Thanksgiving for friends.” Friendsgiving is sometimes the only Thanksgiving celebration for people who live far away from relatives, or can’t make it home for the traditional holiday due to school, work, weather or health reasons. Some people choose to spend the holiday with friends instead of the family due to estranged relationships.

The host of the party generally provides the venue and main entrée — the turkey — and guests bring a side dish or dessert. Friendsgiving is often an adult-only gathering but kids aren’t always excluded.

How it got started

Details surrounding the debut of Friendsgiving are a bit fuzzy. An online search for “What is Friendsgiving?” yields about 1.8 million theories on its origin. Researchers believe it started in 2007 but aren’t sure how or why. Despite what some might think, the term wasn’t coined by Monica, Chandler or other members of the TV show “Friends.” Apparently, the word “Friendsgiving” was rarely seen online or elsewhere until 2011 when Bailey’s Irish Cream used it in an advertising campaign.

The phrase “Happy Friendsgiving” seems a little awkward to me but I think I could get used to it.

When is Friendsgiving?

When is Friendsgiving

The ideal time for Friendsgiving is the weekend prior to the official Thanksgiving day (Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday of November). Why not the weekend after? Because your friends may still be traveling home from traditional family gatherings at that time. Also, you really DO NOT want to compete with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Elegant or Casual?

friendsgiving party favors

If you and your friends prefer polished silverware and fine china, then do it! But most Friendsgiving parties are casual. Everyday dinnerware is acceptable and can set a less stuffy mood. A dinner table centerpiece is a nice touch (see my tradition idea below) but do not overdo the décor. This gathering is about enjoying each other’s company, not making the cover of Better Homes & Gardens.

Whether you send out official invitations or a group text, let guests know ahead of time the attire is relaxed/casual; jeans and a sweater will do.

Feeding the foodies

Thanksgiving Food Spread

The Friendsgiving host shouldn’t be burdened with making the entire meal, especially if the menu is turkey and all the trimmings. Assign a dish for each guest/couple to bring, or share a sign-up sheet to ensure there is a variety of food. This allows everyone to show off their cooking skills and bring foods that fit any dietary restrictions they may have.

It’s very important for the host to have a well-stocked bar with a signature drink that’s easy to prepare. However, a bring-your-own-beverage invite isn’t out of line for a casual Friendsgiving party. You may want to base your decision on the number of invited guests, their drinking preferences and your budget.

Create Friendsgiving traditions

Friendsgiving Spread

Friendsgiving is a new way to celebrate our blessings. Add a special touch by creating your own annual traditions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Vote on everyone’s favorite dish and award a traveling trophy to the winner
  • Have guests take turns creating the annual DIY dinner table centerpiece
  • Customize a Friendsgiving favor for each guest to take home
  • Ask each friend to share the most important blessing they received this year

I hope you enjoy my Friendsgiving ideas. Could this be your year to start a Friendsgiving party?

Start a tradition. Keep the memories.

Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.


  1. Kenneth G Williams Reply

    I independently coined Friendsgiving in the early 1990’s. My friends started gathering on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for an additional holiday celebration in the late 1980’s. About 4-5 years later I started referring to our gathering as Friendsgiving to differentiate it from Thanksgiving. This circle of friends has continued this celebration for 30+ years.

    • Thanks for visiting our Totally Inspired blog, Kenneth! I’ve had a few people tell me they coined the phrase Friendsgiving. The research I did prior to publishing this blog was somewhat inconclusive. Thank you for your input! I hope you enjoyed the holiday and I wish you the best.

      Come back and visit our blog again soon. Thanks!

      Shelley Grieshop
      Totally Promotional

  2. Vincent OuYoung Reply

    pretty sure it started way before 2007. We had Friendsgivings in college and thats from 1996-2000

    • Thanks for responding to this story, Vincent! The research I conducted for this article did not reveal a conclusive starting date for Friendsgiving, but I have heard from a few people who believe it may have begun earlier.

      Thanks for sharing this information!

      Shelley Grieshop
      Totally Promotional

  3. Thanks for the information! I find this very interesting. When I was doing the research on this topic, there didn’t seem to be any conclusive evidence for a source. Thanks again for responding!

    Shelley Grieshop
    Totally Promotional

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