Plus, delicious Friendsgiving recipes and entertaining tips to help your gathering go off without a hitch.

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Officially, Friendsgiving became a word in January 2020. Unofficially, it's been in use for years before being added to the formal lexicon. According to Merriam Webster, "Friendsgiving is a mashup of the word 'friend' and 'thanksgiving' that refers to a large meal among friends eaten during the Thanksgiving season. The level of formality is dependent on the participants, but the word first appeared around 2007 as an informal replacement for the holiday typically spent with family."

Friendsgiving Ideas

To understand more about this festive holiday and how to do it right, we chatted with the co-founder of Heirloom Fine Foods, Shelley Elson-Roza, who owns the business with her husband, Tony Roza. Heirloom is a Midwest-based catering company that specializes in locally sourced, organic cuisine and thoughtfully hosted events. Elson-Roza shares that they've organized Friendsgiving events for clients in the past and are starting a new tradition this year by hosting a Friendsgiving-themed dinner at Heirloom the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

To set yourself up for success with a Friendsgiving fete, our catering pro suggests a potluck-style event, which spreads the work around so the host can have fun too. It's also vital to relax once the party actually starts, and to focus on gratitude. Elson-Roza likes to start a Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving party by having everyone go around the table and share what they are thankful for. Read on for even more guidance to this fun, made-up holiday!

What to Make for Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving is a holiday centered around food, much like its more formal sister, Thanksgiving. Elson-Roza prefers to lean into traditional foods and family recipes for the nostalgia factor. Suggested dishes include turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. You can also try adding fun twists on classics, like we do in our gluten-free gravy, fall harvest salads, melting sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows and butternut squash soup.

An additional favorite is Elson-Roza's brown butter sweet potato puree, similar to the flavors in our brown butter sweet potato pie. (For those who prefer mashed potatoes, try brown butter mashed potatoes or whipped potatoes with sage brown butter.) And, don't forget the Thanksgiving desserts, like our best-ever list, non-pie options and low-calorie picks.

It's also helpful to check with guests about any special diets they may adhere to, so your recipes are inclusive of everyone attending. Making guests feel comfortable is Hosting 101, and this step is a major piece of that.

Lastly, don't forget to whip up an easy, big-batch Friendsgiving cocktail like our Apple-Pie Sangria or Pear-Rum Punch. Making a big batch of cocktails ensures that everyone can help themselves—and you won't have to play bartender all night!

Smiling friends serving each other during holiday meal together
Credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick

Friendsgiving Decoration Ideas

Another key element of a successful Friendsgiving party is decor. Luckily, Elson-Roza has years of hospitality excellence under her belt. Her tips help demystify throwing or attending a Friendsgiving party.

"Thanksgiving to us is, first and foremost, about spending time with and celebrating family. We love incorporating family heirlooms into our tablescapes with modern items. For example, we suggest using items like your grandma or mom's old Thanksgiving-themed dishes (or family china) and pairing it with fun glassware like colored glasses from Estelle Colored Glass," the veteran hostess explains. For a more budget-friendly option, you can also find colored goblets on Amazon.

His Majesty Johnson Brothers Set of Six Thanksgiving Plates
$293.99
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Etsy
Estelle Colored Glass, Set of 6 Wine Glasses
$175.00

Thrifting is also a cool way to find one-of-a-kind decor. Thrifted items like colored glass candle holders and quirky serving pieces add a lot of personality to a Friendsgiving table.

Next up, linens! "For linens, I would recommend using a table runner instead of a tablecloth because Thanksgiving food is messy (hello, cranberry sauce!) and you don't want your best linens to get ruined," says Elson-Roza. Pair your runner with some neutral gingham place mats that can be dressed up or down, based on the vibe you're going for.

Heirloom Pumpkin Table Runner
$69.95
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Williams Sonoma
4pk Cotton Gingham Fringed Placemats - Town & Country Living
$44.99
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Target

The addition of natural elements is another key (and affordable!) way to make your Friendsgiving stand out, says Elson-Roza, adding, "We also like bringing elements from nature inside, so decorate your table runner with baby gourds, pumpkins, greenery, and fall-colored flowers." (We like these faux gourds and greenery from Amazon.) You can also get inexpensive flowers from Trader Joe's or forage for some fall foliage in your front yard.

Overall, Elson-Roza thinks finding community and celebrating all the good we have is important now more than ever, and Friendsgiving is the perfect way to do so. Lean into and really appreciate any holiday celebrations this year, whatever form they may take!