Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year.
There’s reruns of “Charlie Brown,” an abundance of pumpkin pastries in every grocery store and the scent of apple-cinnamon candles that fills every store you meander through.
It just puts me in a thankful mood.
Furthermore, any holiday that encourages gratitude and gives an excuse for overeating is fine by me. Bring on the stretchy pants.
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks with our families, but what about our friends?
When I was at a bonfire with my friends, I looked around and saw the most wonderful group of people.
I felt a warm sensation and a wave of gratitude for the friends I’ve made in the two short years I’ve lived in Southern California.
I instantly had a flashback to when I knew nobody in California except a friend I’ve known since middle school.
She, of course, was also at the bonfire.
I looked at my boyfriend, and I said, “Wow, we have really made a life here.”
That night, I decided I was going to host a Thanksgiving dinner the Saturday before Thanksgiving to celebrate and give thanks for our wonderful friends.
My boyfriend and I were going to start a new tradition: Friendsgiving.
So why have Friendsgiving?
As we age, we begin to see our friends less and less. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.
We get busy with work, our significant others, our families and sometimes, we just want to “Netflix and chill.”
So, we pass up on the invite to the trendy new bar everyone is going to, or we take a rain check on the movie we had been planning to see since the trailer came out.
Life happens, and we get busy.
But, it’s imperative we take some time out of our busy lives to thank our friends for being just that: our friends.
If you’re planning on hosting Friendsgiving — and you should — here are a few tips:
1. Make it a potluck.
This way, you don’t have to slog for hours in the kitchen making 20 different side dishes, and everyone feels included in the holiday preparations.
Your friends can feel as though they are hosting as well.
All our friends were extremely receptive to the idea, and we had such a good variety of Thanksgiving and non-Thanksgiving food.
From turkey, yams and cheesy potatoes to a special stuffing, ham and an array of delectable desserts, we were covered.
2. Create a Facebook invite well in advance.
Invite people a month in advance, since it’s holiday time and people’s schedules tend to fill up quickly.
On the invite, explain it’s a potluck, and encourage people to list what they are bringing.
Since you are posting your address, make this a closed invite.
If people want to bring a guest, they will ask you, and you can make the judgement call.
This is a much better option than having random people show up at your door.
3. Allow people to bring a dish they are comfortable making or buying.
You don’t want to cause people stress and assign them dishes they may not be able to afford or to make.
This is about being thankful for your friendship, so ask each person what he or she would like to bring.
Also, you do not want duplicates of dishes, so once they have agreed to bring a certain item, list it on Facebook so others can see which dishes will be made.
You do not want to be supplying all of your dinner guests with alcohol if you are on a budget, so my suggestion is to have a few bottles of wine and some beer.
Let people know if they plan to drink, it would be appreciated if they brought their drinks of choice.
4. Buy lots of festive decorations and fall-scented candles.
You want it to feel like a whimsical Thanksgiving party, so decorations are a must.
Party City, Target and Walmart are great place to buy them.
A store-bought fresh pumpkin is great to use as a centerpiece with a few glitter pinecones around it.
When in doubt, use lots of confetti.
5. Get creative.
Expand from strictly serving Thanksgiving food.
Remember, your friends are going to likely have Thanksgiving with their families, so they don’t want to eat the same food twice.
So, spice it up and encourage variety.
(Hint: truffle mac and cheese. Double hint: stuffing with bacon.)
6. Enjoy the company.
Take time during your party to truly celebrate your friends and to let them know how much they mean to you.
Maybe have everyone go around the room and say what they are thankful for.
If that is not your thing, then just let everyone know how happy you are to have them there and to have them in your life.
I am a big believer in always letting others know how much they mean to you.
Life is short, and you never know when it’s going to end.
So make the most of it, and let people know how loved they are.
7. No house is too small.
Include as many friends as you can.
Even if you have a small apartment, people are generally understanding and don’t mind if it’s a little cramped, or if they have to sit on the floor.
It’s about being together.
The reality is, family is unconditional; friendships are not.
The holidays tend to be all about family, which is necessary because they can be forgotten or taken for granted as well.
But what about our friends, aka our family by choice?
Friendsgiving is a time to be thankful for each and every one of them, to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments and to relish in all the joys that each friendship has brought.
Friendsgiving is a time to forget the canceled happy hours because someone had to work late.
Friendsgiving is a time to just be in the moment and acknowledge that through everything, you are all still friends.
Friendsgiving is a time to celebrate those friendships.
Plus, having not one, but two holidays where you can be consumed with gratitude and delicious food is one big reason to be thankful for the month of November.