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Tips on how to put together your own Friendsgiving

Bring your friends together, mix traditions and create an evening to remember

A photo of line cook Austin Jenkins’ prepared plate of pork chop over pumpkin-whipped potatoes, bacon, brussel sprouts, goat cheese and pomegranate gastrique. Jenkins remarks, “As much as I love cranberries, I think that there is an amazing alternative for the people that don't. Pomegranate is also a fall flavor and goes very well with pretty much anything cranberry does, actually everything ... if not more.” // Photo courtesy of Austin Jenkins

Friendsgiving is a time for friends to gather and enjoy a meal together in whatever way works best for them. Friends can cook or bring dishes potluck style. They can enjoy Thanksgiving-themed food or burgers. They can have it the day of Thanksgiving or a week before. 

There is no correct way to celebrate, but here are a few tips and tricks to host a successful Friendsgiving. 

Kai Craig, a first-year student at Western Washington University, hosted their first Friendsgiving in Bellingham in 2021. When planning begins, she said it helps to create a group chat where you can decide a date that works best for everyone, and who will bring what items. 

Jeremy Tait, a third-year student at Western, felt similarly. He said his 2021 Friendsgiving deteriorated because of a lack of communication and last-minute planning. For Tait, this year's plans are already in motion.

Tait said that this year would be an organized potluck with 10 to 12 of his friends.

“[Potlucks are] fun and dynamic because everybody brings their own sort of energy and their own personality to the table,” he said.

Craig has her own spin on potluck-style Friendsgiving. 

“Ideally everyone kind of brings ingredients individually and then we can cook it together,” she said. “That's part of what I like so much about [Friendsgiving] is the actual cooking together.” 

Austin Jenkins, a line cook at Harris Avenue Cafe in Fairhaven, has participated in a Friendsgiving celebration for the past six years, since moving to Bellingham. He said one of his favorite parts of Friendsgiving is being able to introduce family traditions to friends.

”There is a mixture of so many family traditions,” Jenkins said. “Seeing other traditions and kind of blending them and mending them is pretty amazing.” 


A photo of Austin Jenkins’ prepared pan-seared steelhead over pumpkin gnocchi in burnt sage butter with pomegranate gastrique and pumpkin seeds. Jenkins has been working in kitchens since he was 15 years old. // Photo courtesy of Austin Jenkins

One of Craig’s family traditions is singing a 20-minute Thanksgiving song during dinner. They said at Friendsgiving, she and her friends now “[sit] through this entire, long-winded song about Thanksgiving.”

Lasse Karlsson Edenkrans, who cooks at home, has hosted Friendsgiving a few times because most of his family lives in Sweden. He said he likes the relaxed nature of the celebration, cooking, eating and spending time with the people he loves.

Edenkrans has a similar approach to preparing the meal as Craig, placing an emphasis on cooking together. 

“The camaraderie, social thing that you have together, I think that's great,” Edenkrans said. “So make it into a bigger event, rather than just showing up and throwing a dish on the table and [eating] quickly and then doing something else.”

Piper Olsen, a fourth-year Western student, and Craig both enjoy having a large table and enough room for everyone to eat in the same place. Because so much of Friendsgiving is spent eating, hanging out and talking, they found that it works better when everyone can clearly see each other and converse. 

If you are looking for something to bring to your Friendsgiving event, here are a few Thanksgiving-themed recipes that Jenkins has made: 

Recipes courtesy of Austin Jenkins:

Pumpkin whipped potatoes

2 1/2 pounds potatoes or sweet potatoes peeled

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

15 oz canned pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

Boil potatoes until cooked through then strain. Mix in all the rest of the ingredients. Finish with the syrup and enjoy!

Note: if you have leftovers you can add flour and make this into gnocchi.

Pomegranate gastrique  (Alternative to Cranberry sauce)

2 cups pomegranate juice

3 cups brown sugar

2 cups apple cider vinegar

Mix all and cook until thick. It will thicken up a lot after cooling.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup 

4 tbsp butter

1 pd chopped mushrooms

2 cups diced white onions

2 cups chicken stock

½ white wine

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 tsp dry dill

2 tsp thyme leaves

2 tsp paprika

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup sour cream

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp fresh parsley

Sauté onions until translucent then add garlic and continue cooking for about 3 mins. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 mins or so then deglaze with white wine and add the dried herbs, spices, lemon, butter and soy. Let cook for 5 mins then add stock, milk, and sour cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 mins stirring occasionally. Finish with parsley and enjoy!

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