When you are far from home and missing your family, holidays can be hard. Is it even Thanksgiving if you aren’t huddled around the table with your aunts and uncles, eating your favorite side dish that mom made—from your great grandma’s recipe? Military life often means holidays are spent far away from home. Sometimes with your close loved ones even farther from home. But you can still celebrate Thanksgiving and have turkey, mashed potatoes, and your favorite recipes from home, but with your friends. Hence Friendsgiving.

What is Friendsgiving?

Friendsgivings aren’t a new thing. Growing up it was how we always celebrate Thanksgiving. Four families from our church would meet up for Thanksgiving dinner, rotating between each other’s houses. We made so many fun memories. My parents chose this as our Thanksgiving tradition, even though we lived closer to our extended family than I do now.

Friendsgiving is a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving with people you love, especially when military life means you can’t go home to see family. 

The ups and downs and “I need a friend right now!” parts of military life lead the friends in our lives to develop into relationships that closely resemble the ones we have with family. Very seldom are we lucky enough to have grandparents or aunt and uncles nearby, military life sends you across the country or even around the world. And this is when you truly discover the meaning behind the phrase, military family.

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So why not celebrate this special holiday with friends? Thanksgiving is all about remembering what you are thankful for, and what would military life be without the friends we meet along the way? Boring. That’s what it would be like. Boring and lonely.

6 Steps to Rock the Friendsgiving Feast

Friendsgiving Friends

Make plans early. If you want to be a part of a Friendsgiving Feast, you need to be an active participant. It’s no good to sit around and wait for an invitation. As soon as the weather turns—or people start mentioning holiday plans—it’s time to find out who is going to be sticking around. 

Consider hosting. If you want to host, it makes planning a little easier because you already have a place to host the event. And if you’re a Type A control freak hostess, then you’re not gonna be happy if you don’t do it yourself anyway.

Find a location. If your quarters aren’t big enough, haha, who are we kidding here? If you can’t fit another 10 people in the random nooks and crannies of your house, you will need to find a place. Community centers through installation housing may be an option, if you live someplace warm you could eat outside, or you can do a block party and let people eat wherever.

Turkey prep. Sometimes the host cooks the turkey, but this doesn’t have to be the case and depending on your group’s size you might need more than one turkey. And someone in the group has to have a smoker or deep fryer, if not, time to make a new friend. If cost is a factor here, consider asking people to help pitch in for the turkeys.

Create a sign-up list. You can use a free program like Sign Up Genius to help make sure everyone covers all the important Thanksgiving treats. Don’t forget to plan for plates, napkins, silverware, cups, and drinks. If you have friends who just moved to town, or want to invite some single service members, offer them the easier things like paper products and drinks.

Have fun. Remember, the point is to enjoy each other’s company and eat good food. You can each share a tradition from your family or you can just spend time talking and enjoying the company. Whatever you decide to do, remember how lucky you are to have friends that can celebrate with you.


When you look back and think of the best times you had in this military life are going to be the times you spent with your friends. This Thanksgiving, you may not get to go “home” and be with family, but you can be with your military family on Friendsgiving.

WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out We Don’t Do Thanksgiving

How To Rock A Friendsgiving Feast

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