The Best Thing I Ever Made: Part 2; Friendsgiving
November 23, 2020
7 min. read
Ah, Friendsgiving…By this point, you’ve most likely heard this term—quite simply the mashup of “friends” and “Thanksgiving.” While friends have been celebrating this holiday for decades, it seems the origin of this term and official holiday can be traced back to 2007/2008 when it made its debut on Twitter and Urban Dictionary, respectively.
Rising out of a time of recession, Friendsgiving may have become more popular when recent college grads were struggling to make ends meet, and thus, did not have enough cash to make it home for Thanksgiving. So, they threw their own. Friendsgiving seems to have gained popularity quickly, as it is meant to be a more “fun” version of the holiday, potentially eliminating things you don’t particularly enjoy about the traditional family Thanksgiving.
With 20- and 30-somethings in planning control and in the spirit of “fun,” there really is no right or wrong way to host Friendsgiving. This blog will dive into the Friendsgiving traditions of one of our marketing team members and—who knows—it just might inspire you to have your own Friendsgiving this year.
We know traditional Thanksgiving may be impacted due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps this year you might consider foregoing your usual extended family gathering in lieu of a smaller, more intimate Friendsgiving with your tight-knit friend group, roommates, or members of your immediate household. Whatever you decide, please be sure to follow local and/or state regulations while planning your holiday gatherings.
By Katie Henry; Senior Marketing Campaign Manager
2020 marks my 8th Annual Friendsgiving Celebration, and, honestly, I’m not quite sure where the time went. I moved to Chambersburg in 2013 and found myself lucky to have fallen into a local friend group quickly. We were a group of young professionals that somehow just seemed to click. Bored and looking for things to do in a pretty small town, we often would throw themed parties and gatherings to keep things interesting, like “Minute to Win It” Night and parties for inconsequential holidays. I’m not even really sure who suggested Friendsgiving the first time around in 2013, but I’m certainly glad we gave it a whirl and have maintained the tradition ever since.
Here’s an overview of how we’ve done things over the years:
By definition, Friendsgiving is slated to take place the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. We started off hosting it the weekend prior, but in other years we’ve moved the date for one reason or another. Truthfully, I don’t think there is a right or wrong time to host Friendsgiving. If you’re craving turkey and gravy in July, throw a Friendsgiving in July!
Similarly to timing, the location of Friendsgiving has moved around a bit. I’ve been a cohost for four out of the eight years, and it’s mainly a matter of gathering enough tables and chairs to accommodate all the guests. We really don’t have a formal vote on who is going to host, people just tend to speak up and volunteer when they feel it’s a good time for them to take a turn.
Our Friendsgiving has always been a potluck. And maybe somewhat surprisingly, every year this has worked out pretty well, with no major missing dishes and no food shortages. Back in 2014, we added on the tradition of deep frying our turkey together, which added some more unique food offerings like homemade deep fried mozzarella sticks (hey, Friendsgiving can have any menu it wants!).
For me personally, I have always felt drawn to bringing the stuffing. I’m actually not a huge fan of the typical Thanksgiving fare…*gasp* (I’m more of a burger and fries kind of gal), but stuffing is probably my favorite staple of the traditional meal. At our inaugural Friendsgiving, I made my family’s “stuffing balls” recipe. Since then, I’ve relied on my role here at Martin’s as a part-time recipe tester/food stylist to mix things up, making Bacon Apple Stuffins and Chestnut, Cranberry, Leek Stuffing in past years.
This year, with comfort food being all the rage, I thought to myself, “how can I make stuffing even more decadent but easier at the same time?” Introducing…Martin’s Slow Cooker Sausage Stuffing. This recipe essentially takes Mrs. Martin’s Famous Potatobred Stuffing, adds some sausage and a few more herbs, and warms it all to perfection in a slow cooker.
Preparing Martin’s Slow Cooker Sausage Stuffing
- First, I prepared my Martin’s Stuffing Cubes. Like all Martin’s Potato Roll and Bread products, our stuffing is soft, so in order for it to withstand the slow cooking process, I placed the stuffing cubes on a sheet pan and baked them in a 350 degree oven until crisp (about 10 minutes). Alternatively, you can let your stuffing cubes sit out overnight to dry out.
- Then, I browned my sausage in a stovetop skillet, breaking up the large pieces and stirring periodically to ensure even cooking. Once the sausage was no longer pink, I dumped it out onto a paper-towel lined plate to soak up any excess grease.
- As my sausage was cooking, I started chopping all of my fresh vegetables: celery, carrots, and onion. (If possible, I always like to chop my onions last, to avoid having my eyes water the entire time!)
- Once these vegetables were chopped, I moved on to my fresh herbs. I chose to use fresh this time around; however, dried spices work just fine as well. Keep in mind that if using dry you’ll need a lot less! A good ratio to keep in mind is one tablespoon of fresh herbs to one teaspoon of dried herbs.
- After all of my ingredients were prepped, all I had to do was mix everything together, add some butter cubes, and pour into a greased slow cooker. Then, I poured my chicken broth right on top.
- I cooked my stuffing on low for about four hours, until the vegetables were tender. An added bonus is that the crock pot keeps the stuffing warm en route to Friendsgiving!
As you can see from the below photos, our friend group tends to err on the casual side of things when it comes to table settings. In order to make cleanup more bearable we tend to use paper products and keep things simple in terms of décor. As I’ve mentioned though, Friendsgiving is what you make it, so if you want to go for a super formal meal, check out this blog on table etiquette!
Some folks have structured activities at their Friendsgiving gatherings; however, we opt for the less structured approach and keep things mostly centered around the food. For a few years we were obsessed with the Kickstarter game “Salem,” which we played at more than one Friendsgiving.
In order to facilitate our Friendsgiving, we utilize a Facebook event to send out invites, keep track of RSVPs, and as an easy way for people to comment what they are planning on bringing. Historically, with group texts maxing out at 10 people, we’ve also utilized an app called GroupMe to communicate all together. Technology can be pretty helpful, but if you want to go old school and send paper invitations, go for it!
I took a look back at our Facebook Events while I was writing this blog, and it was definitely a walk down memory lane. I’m “that girl” that forces everyone to smile for at least one group photo at most events. In the moment, people might complain, especially if their mouths are full of Thanksgiving dinner; however, I definitely don’t regret forcing people to take them. While a lot of our core friend group has remained the same, there has been a progression of significant others, as we figured things out in the dating world and settled down. There have been those whose career moves took them out of Chambersburg, Pa., and there have been those that were in the right place and time to partake in that year’s Friendsgiving.
I think more so than anything else, these photos remind me how lucky I am to be surrounded by such an amazing group of friends. While Friendsgiving may be a more modern take on the traditional Thanksgiving, it is still a perfect opportunity to stop and reflect on the blessings we have in our lives, especially in a year that has been so difficult for many. Instead of focusing on everything that has been taken away from us, I choose to focus on everything I have to be thankful for: my family, my friends, my job here at Martin’s, and the hope and promise that a fresh year brings.
Have you ever hosted or attended a Friendsgiving gathering? If so, we’d love to hear about your typical Friendsgiving in the comments below!
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