Friendsgiving is a product of pop culture, far-flung family, and a retreated economy. Like Thanksgiving, its dressier counterpart, this meal is a way to celebrate “the family you make along the way” in lieu of or in addition to the more traditional feast. It’s a meal where the guest list isn’t limited to bloodlines, and the menu isn’t limited to turkey and sweet potatoes. And it’s becoming a holiday of its own right.

What makes Friendsgiving so popular?

Friendsgiving is more inclusive.

It doesn’t matter if your friends hail from Canada or the Atlanta suburbs or Des Moines; they will all appreciate a chance to get together, share a favorite dish of their choosing, and enjoy engaging conversation. Often it’s a group of neighbors who don’t have family in the area, or students who can’t afford to travel home, or singles looking to avoid “that question” over green bean casserole.

Friendsgiving is adventurous eating.

This meal is a no-fuss potluck of increasing variety. No one fusses when two people bring brownies (because, brownies) or when someone brings store-bought sushi. And the same thing goes when someone’s attempt at a new recipe fails brilliantly. You’re in a safe place, even if it does come with gentle teasing. And there is always take-out.

After all, the basis of Friendsgiving isn’t the food. It’s the friends.

Friendsgiving is always local.

Perhaps the most compelling reason behind the popularity of Friendsgiving is the that it’s always hosted nearby. No expensive plane tickets, no delayed flights due to weather, no rental car snafoos—Friendsgiving is usually within walking or easy driving distance to a place you’ve likely been many times before.

Friendsgiving is equal effort.

Back home, you know that one of your relatives is sweating her way through the holiday, with weeks of prepping and planning, making sure she’s made enough food and that it all comes out hot and ready at the same time. It’s a labor of love, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Sounds delicious, but it’s not exactly fair.

Friendsgiving takes all the fuss down a notch by making sure everyone gets in on the action. Everyone brings a dish. And if you can’t cook to save your life, then you get to bring the dishes (because Friendsgiving also isn’t above disposable plates).

And it’s so easy anyone can do it.

And, because Friendsgiving is so laid-back, you may actually be willing to host the event, which cuts your travel time to zero and (bonus) most of the food comes to you. Not only that, people typically enjoy cleaning a kitchen that isn’t their own (after all, we do), so your place may be even cleaner after they leave than when they all arrived.

In the end, Friendsgiving is here to stay, if not to replace Thanksgiving than to live happily on either side of it. It all comes down to good people and good leftovers, and who couldn’t use more of both?

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