5 reasons why Friendsgiving is secretly the best fall holiday there is.

Friends are your family by choice. You should celebrate them.

You've heard of Friendsgiving, right?

That's Friendsgiving (not to be confused with America's day of giving thanks or that one time you and your friends gathered to watch every single Thanksgiving episode of "Friends"). Photo via iStock.


As the name implies, Friendsgiving is just like Thanksgiving only celebrated with friends, not family. I'm a sucker for celebrations that involve food and friends, and any day that lets me celebrate both at once, so Friendsgiving is one of my favorite holidays (although — yes, Mom — I definitely love Thanksgiving, too).

But because Friendsgiving often gets overlooked, here are five reasons you should celebrate Friendsgiving too:

1. Friendsgiving fills a void for people who'd rather not spend the holiday with family.

Thanksgiving can be a very stressful, anxiety-inducing day. Many people have complicated family relationships and issues they're not ready to discuss with a table of people. And for some of us, those messy family dynamics are a deal-breaker (and rightfully so).

Photo via iStock.

For, say, an LGBTQ person whose parents aren't fully accepting or someone dating a person of a different race who has ... let's go with "old school" (*cough* racist *cough*) ... family members, Thanksgiving can be nothing short of a painful affair. So it makes sense that they'd want to skip it altogether.

But Friendsgiving? Much different. You're with the family you choose.

As Kat Kinsman wrote for CNN's Eatocracy in 2013, friends are just easier:

"We picked each other. ... We each know how to make ourselves happy, and are eager to share these best and brightest parts of ourselves, whether they're traditional dishes, blessings, stories and rituals, or something that struck our fancy this year that we're eager to give."

2. Friendsgiving is for eating whatever foods you want. And its usually done potluck-style.

Alfredo pizza fan? Go for it. Pad thai with shrimp? YES. Dessert first? Why not?

If you're not the meat-and-potatoes type that salivates over a more conventional Thanksgiving meal, Friendsgiving might be for you. Mix it up with your friends. Add variety to the table. Live a little! If you ask me, it's easier to swap in new dishes with trusting buddies than to convince Uncle Pat there's nothing to fear about chicken curry.

Photo via iStock.

And here's where your kitchen-savvy friends come in. Because with Friendsgiving, everyone brings their culinary A-game. (And bonus points if your friends come from various backgrounds and have different cultures/traditions/unique takes on the holidays to share.)

Sure, some families already do this for Thanksgiving and divvy up food responsibilities. But with Friendsgiving, it's the standard. Jessica Ferri, a Brooklyn-based writer who's hosted Friendsgiving since 2009 with her husband, says it's part what of makes the day so special.

"I really love that it gets all my friends cooking," she told Upworthy, noting that as host, she takes on the turkey every year, but friends bring plenty of other dishes. "Some of [my friends] are incredible cooks."

This is evidence of Jessica's Friendsgiving. Take me there. Now. Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferri, used with permission.

This way, there's not just one person in the kitchen who's overly stressed, sweating and panting (and possibly setting things on fire), like poor Mrs. Doubtfire.

3. Choosing Friendsgiving over Thanksgiving means more money in your already thin wallet (and less relatives to *make note* of that thin wallet, too).

Nearly 47 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. When you figure in gas, airfare, and/or potential hotel stays, it can mean one seriously wounded bank account. (And you still have Hanukkah gifts to buy!)

Photo via iStock.

If you're software consultant Justin Patterson, you might skip the travel altogether because it's just not worth it.

"Thanksgiving can be stressful," he told Upworthy. He's hosting his fourth annual Friendsgiving this year down in Austin, Texas, and says each one just keeps getting "bigger and better."

"Traveling to visit family, dealing with flights [and] traffic, and all of the B.S. that goes along with it can really put a damper on the holiday. With Friendsgiving, it's all about de-stress and relaxation."

If you care about saving money — because it may not be growing on the trees in your neighborhood these days (I've been there) — it's nice to have understanding friends to spend the holiday with, many of whom may be in the same financial boat. And, as noted up in item #1, sometimes family members aren't the most supportive people in the world, and that can reflect in how they view your financial situation too (which, of course, is none of their business in the first place, but you know ... #family).

4. You can celebrate Friendsgiving whenever you want.

Thanksgiving day is pretty official — like, on the federal calendar official. And sure, Friendsgiving can be a direct replacement for Thanksgiving, but it doesn't have to be. Pick a day, any day, and make it happen — as many times (with as many groups of friends) as you want!

Friendsgiving's date flexibility is perfect for, say, a working single parent trying to make ends meet by picking up extra shifts around the holidays or a young person who might have to work Thanksgiving day or (ridiculously) early the next morning.

Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

So for someone who doesn't have the concrete 9-5, paid-time-off work life, Friendsgiving's flexibility is a terrific option for the holiday.

But just to be clear: Spending a Thanksgiving with friends doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a real Thanksgiving (as some have argued). I see that point, but here's what I say to that: Not all Thanksgivings are Friendsgivings, but every Friendsgiving can be a Thanksgiving, if you want it to be.

If you're celebrating with friends on Thanksgiving Day and want to call it Thanksgiving, go for it. If you're celebrating with friends on Thanksgiving Day and want to call it Friendsgiving, that works too. But if you're celebrating with family on Thanksgiving ... it's probably weird if you call that Friendsgiving.

5. For those of us who do sign up for a familial Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving gives us another day to celebrate friendship. Because that's important!

As detailed in #1, many people opt out of the traditional Thanksgiving festivities because of (big) problematic family dynamics. But that doesn't mean everyone who chooses to celebrate Thanksgiving is in for a day of pure family bliss.

Photo via iStock.

It's actually fairly normal to feel anxious about the day for a number of reasons. Here are a few that might sound familiar...

  1. You know combative Aunt Ruth will somehow find a way to bring up how climate change isn't real. And, knowing you think differently, she'll certainly find a way to bring you into the conversation.
  2. Your dad worked as a [insert standard corporate job title] for 40 years, and you're a [insert new-age-y digital job title], and he just doesn't get it. So he makes jabs at your work (and thus, you) while passing the gravy.
  3. You know your brother-in-law will crack a Caitlyn Jenner "joke," and you'll undoubtedly ponder the "Is it worth the fight?" question in your head for the next half-hour.
  4. Your grandma's wi-fi broke, and you'll definitely be the one your family volunteers to fix it.

Don't get me wrong — family time can be wonderful. But for those of us who spend half of Thanksgiving Day feeling #blessed because we have the "best family in the world" and the other half trying not to lash out at mom because her narcissism is showing, an additional Friendsgiving holiday can be the perfect November stress-reliever.

After all, friendships are vital — it's important we prioritize our non-blood-related family during the holidays, too.

Friendsgiving may seem like a fluffy pseudo-holiday reserved only for millennials and Instagram.

But it actually does make a big difference to many people. If you feel like you could benefit from a no-stress, affordable, potluck pig-out day of giving thanks with your friends (and who couldn't?), I certainly recommend giving it a try.

Most Shared

Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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