A few weeks back we talked about becoming empty-nesters and what that looked like for some. We addressed both the positive and negative impact of kids moving out. What we didn’t examine, is what happens when those same kids DON’T come home for the holidays. With both the US and Canadian Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching we’re asking our readers; have you heard of this new celebration? It’s time for Friendsgiving!

Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself if the kids can’t come home for the holidays. We’ve got a better idea instead! Friendsgiving is the perfect opportunity to engage with your Amintro friends and enjoy a celebration that’s a little “outside the box.” It’s a chance to try new foods (the kind your kids would never consider eating) mix a cocktail or two of your own creation and nosh on some food that defies traditional Thanksgiving flavours. It’s a time to create a beautiful table setting with a focus on fall, friends and feasting not on turkey, tryptophan’s, sleeping and avoiding your cousin Tipsy Tanya who can always be counted to cause a scene. Yes Virginia, there is a Friendsgiving and it’s a beautiful thing!

First and foremost let’s no beat around the bush. If you’re no Martha Stewart and you’d rather be stabbed with pins than source menu ideas from Pinterest, Friendsgiving is the perfect excuse to dine out. A significant number of restaurants, hotels and even gourmet food shoppes/butchers or similar, will host a traditional turkey dinner or create one for you, ready to serve in your own home. All the glory of good food with none of the effort. Sounds ideal to me.  The best part – if you decide turkey isn’t really your thing, you can choose just about anything else. “The world is your oyster” so to speak so go ahead and eat oysters instead! If you do decide to dine in, the beauty of Friendsgiving is that it’s perfectly acceptable that you MAKE IT A POTLUCK. Why on earth would you go to all that trouble yourself? Have each of your friends bring a contribution and both the work AND the food is shared by many. Asking for contributions in disposable containers also ensures there is very little clean up. (For all you environmentalists out there…it’s just this one time!) An even better idea – have your friends bring a dish that represents the land of their family origins. What better way to give thanks than to honour your birthplace, share some agricultural/culinary history and a great meal with friends.

If you decide to do something a little more like a Thanksgiving dinner you can still spice things up a bit with some fabulous fresh ideas on those old traditional favorites. Consider Brussel sprouts but surrounded in bacon and balsamic, mac and cheese made with squash, or roasted cauliflower mashed potatoes. Chances are your kids never ate like this but now you can experiment all you want! As for drinks – how about an Apple Cider Margarita to warm up the crowd on a cooler fall day. For something a little different, if you’re pulling together a large gathering of friends some of whom may not know one another – dine al fresco rather than a forced seating plan. If the weather cooperates throw open the patio or balcony doors and invite guests to fill a plate and sit wherever they’re comfortable – indoors or out. Set up small, cosy nooks with seating for three or four and a little side table for drinks (improvise if you have to.) These conversation corners might help quieter friends engage in chit chat because it won’t appear so overwhelming. You might even encourage a little game of “Switch” between courses where everyone moves around to a different seat, encouraging different conversations and maybe even a chance for new friendships to blossom.

In short, if the thought of “going it alone” at Thanksgiving has you feeling anything but thankful try changing things up and celebrate Friendsgiving instead. If the kids (and the in-laws and Tipsy Tanya too) all do end up coming home, the great thing about Friendsgiving is you can still celebrate! The first known mention of the holiday was around 2007 on Twitter and at that time it was recommended it be celebrated on the day before or after thanksgiving. Sounds good to us – we can have our turkey (and cake) – and eat it too…times two!

Written by Sheralyn Roman

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