Thanksgiving brings out about a time where we are all feeling thankful for the people we love and have in our life. Friendships are no different. As I get older I learn to value the friendships my children and I have even more. Whether it’s a friend my child has known for years or a new one they met this year on the soccer fields, all of these friendships are important and I want my children to learn to be thankful for them.
A few years back we held our first Friendsgiving as a way of bringing together all of our friends before the busy holiday season started. When I first planned our Friendsgiving it was just going to be a way to have a Thanksgiving with our friends and their kids where the kids would choose what they wanted to eat. We’d pass on the turkey and stuffing for things our kids liked a little more like PB&J and macaroni and cheese. Every family brought a dish that kids would like. What started as a potluck dinner, became a celebration of friendship. It was one of my great friends, also a Jenn, that gave our event a name. She coined the term Friendsgiving.
Unfortunately, new schools and sports schedules kept this from being the annual tradition I wanted back then. The saying goes we get wiser with age and more than ever I want to renew this tradition. This year I’m bringing it back. Our Friendsgiving will bring together some of my family’s closest friends, young and old, for food and fun and a celebration of the friendships we have.
Why not try something new this year and host your own Friendsgiving? We’re sharing 6 Tips for Hosting a Friendsgiving, our kid-friendly twist to Thanksgiving.
6 Tips for Hosting a Friendsgiving for Kids
- Pick a date ~ I will admit it can be a hard to find a date and time that works for everyone. For some the weekend before might work. For others it might be an evening or afternoon during the Thanksgiving break or when kids have off for conferences. What works for us is choosing the day before Thanksgiving. In our school district kids tend to have a half-day, but in other districts it’s still a regular full day. Consider that when scheduling your time as well. In our case, we’ll host our Friendsgiving from 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm. Our friends in our district can come over early and our other friends who work or have kids in another districts can join us later. I’m keeping it simple so friends can come and go. With everyone planning for the big Thanksgiving day meal they may not be able to spend the whole time with us. Our guests will come and go. That’s fine with us. Anytime we have with them is time we are thankful for.
- Develop your guest list and invitations. ~ If you think of everyone you and your kids know the list could be quite long. Think about what your home can handle comfortably. If you have the space and are comfortable with there being people everywhere, invite everyone. If your space is limited consider sticking with the closest of your friends. Remember this is a celebration of friendships and families. Be open to parents sticking around and siblings tagging along. Consider this your invitation to get to know the parents of your kids’ friends better and perhaps form new friendships or strengthen existing ones.
Speaking of invitations…. technology is great. Go old school and send out paper invitations you can create on your computer. Or go new school using Facebook events or other online software to invite your guests. You can send out text messages if there are just some guests you don’t see regularly or have another way to communicate with.
- Get organized with who is bringing what ~ It’s a potluck dinner. Yeah, you don’t have to cook for everyone. That being said, you do need to do some work to develop a way of organizing who is bringing what. Without organization you could end up with 5 trays or ziti or all brownies and your guests will have less options to eat. Again there are online options for that. You could develop a spreadsheet or just break out a pad of paper and take notes as guests let you know they are coming.
- Create a project that kids will do ~ My boys tend to always be one of two things: hungry or bored. We’ve talked about food. Now, let’s talk about keeping them from being bored. I’ll have a few stations set up where kids can either create a Thanksgiving Day craft, play a board game, or share what they are thankful for.
- Clean the house ~ Yep, it goes without saying not only must we clean the house before having so many guests over we also have to clean up after they all leave. It’s easier when you get your kids involved! Give them each a cloth or spray bottle and set a timer so there’s an end in sight.
- Welcome your guests and be thankful for your friends. ~ The idea with hosting a Friendsgiving is to celebrate friendships and be thankful for them. Make sure in the hustle and bustle of welcoming your friends and your kids’ friends into your home that you take time to step back, and be in the moment to enjoy them.
How do you show your kids how to be thankful for their friendships? Would you host a Friendsgiving?