For the past decade, Jessica Ferri has been hosting Thanksgiving dinner for friends in her Brooklyn apartment. There is turkey, of course, and stuffing and wine, but the night stretches well past the apple pie in a way that just doesn’t happen at Aunt Donna and Uncle Neil’s house. “We’ve had some epic Friendsgivings,” she says. “It started as a catchall for friends who couldn’t fly home for the holiday, but it’s become our most cherished tradition.”
Last Friendsgiving was different. “I look back and can’t believe I actually made a turkey. I had an 8-week-old baby. I was nursing, I was tired, and honestly, it’s amazing we pulled it off,” she says. It was a small gathering—which also included a 5-month-old—and their guests were gone by 6 p.m. “But we ate turkey, we were together, and we were thankful,” says Ferri.
While holiday dinners that include “chosen family” are hardly new, “Friendsgivings” didn’t become a thing until the late aughts, when the word was coined. That means that many of the first wave of celebrants like Ferri are now accommodating offspring.
Sometimes adding kids goes seamlessly. Courtney Spurlock, a mother of two in Frankfurt, Kentucky, has her oldest help write the menu board and set the table for their Friendsgiving. “We ask our friends to bring new games that we can play with the kids,” she says. “Speak Out was a big favorite last year.”
“To me, Thanksgiving is about having a full house and embracing the chaos, and there’s a lot more chaos to embrace now that we all have kids!” says Amanda Cullinan, a mother of three in Greensboro, North Carolina. “At our Friendsgiving, new people cycle through every few years. Friends are so appreciative of being invited, and there’s never a sense of obligation like there can be at a family Thanksgiving. Everyone is better behaved.”
Of course, the grandparents can get upset. “Every year my mother-in-law asks if we’re coming home, and every year I have to say no,” Cullinan says. But they use FaceTime, and, hey, there’s always Christmas.
If you live in the same town as your family, ditching your relatives may be hard—or you may not want to. Solution: hosting Friendsgiving later in winter. Shannon Medico, a mom from Centerport, New York, has been going to a midwinter fête for eight years. “We go to Michaels to buy discounted crafts the day after Thanksgiving,” she says. “Last year we dedicated one room as a slime zone, and the kids spent the evening making messes, while the adults sipped spiced rum and ate deep-fried turkey.” Hello, Friendsgiving goals!
This article originally appeared in Parents Magazine as 'Add Kids to Your Bestie Tradition!'