Hello! My name is Molly Breen, and I am a Live Green! Intern in the Office of Sustainability. My teammate, Paige, and I recently blogged about our first sustainability event of the 2016-2017 academic year, National Campus Sustainability Day! Today I am back to talk about a fun and unique twist to celebrating Thanksgiving – Friends-Giving.
November is a month of family, friends, food and, most importantly, being thankful. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the craziness of the holiday season and all the family celebrations to keep track of and overlook the fun and joy of gathering together and being thankful for all of the opportunities and blessings we enjoy.
One idea to assist in better embracing kicking back, relaxing and enjoying is by celebrating Friends-Giving. Friends-Giving is a popular trend focused around celebrating the season with friends, in addition to families. Not only does this offer another opportunity to celebrate, it means, two holiday meals and that much more time to be thankful. Unlike the traditional Thanksgiving gathering, Friends-Giving encourages the opportunity to add some originality into your celebration in ways such as by having a themed potluck, getting crafty with reusable items, or just taking time to share your gratitude.
So… let’s look a bit more at the possibilities for each of these.
Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries…oh my. November is a time to indulge and finally take a break from work and studies. While the traditional dishes are always delicious, a fun twist is to host a potluck to share a variety of sweet and savory dishes to enjoy with friends. To add some spice into your meal… you can actually add a theme all the food has to fall within or ban any traditional Thanksgiving foods to save them for Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s easy to put together a gathering around food. All you need to do is pick a date with some friends and have each pick a food item to bring. Remember in the spirit of being sustainable try and buy local ingredients whenever possible. This could also be a theme – bringing only dishes that can be made with all local ingredients. A favorite recipe of mine is an apple pie made with apples from a local orchard and homemade pie crust. Another twist on your gathering can be for everyone to bring ingredients and cook together, instead of just bringing finished dishes. This adds a fun group activity as well as delicious food to your Friends-Giving.
An obvious challenge with any gathering around food is how to not waste it. If your friends are not as hungry as anticipated do not throw the extra food away, make it useful! Most thanksgiving foods can be turned into a variety of other meals like a turkey sandwich or shepherd’s pie, through “Greening your Leftovers” (shown on page 12 of the November Live Green! newsletter). If your guests are traveling and are not able to easily take leftovers home, donating your extra food is great way to show your thankfulness as well. Check in with local shelters of community support groups to see what options may be available in your area.
What to do when the eating is done? There are tons of green-it-yourself (GIYS) crafts that can offer a fun distraction to any gathering!! With the holiday season upon us, there are so many useful and timely considerations for things to craft, such as decorations. One of my personal favorites is wreaths. Wreaths can be made from SO many different things that you likely have laying around, can gather outside or can find at a thrift shop. These different wreaths (pictured below), for example, made with recyclable materials are eco-friendly and free and would spice up any door. For more GIY decorations and crafts for the holiday season, check out Crafting a Green World for some fun ideas.
In the spirit of friends-giving, you could also show someone how thankful you are by giving them your GIY you created. Nothing can beat the love and uniqueness of a handmade gift.
Lastly, the underlying reason for Thanksgiving, giving thanks. It’s important at any variety of Friends-Giving you embark upon to incorporate sharing thankfulness with each other. It is easy to get caught up in school and work, take for granted all that you have and forget about all the amazing people in your life and things happening around you. One thing my friends and I enjoy at our Friends-Giving is each take a turn and verbally say what we are thankful this holiday season. It is fun to hear everyone else’s perspective and it can lead to other discussions about the people and things that bring you thanks. Besides verbally expressing thanks, you can offer thanks through other unique ways, such as creating a “pumpkin of thanks” that can be a centerpiece for your gathering. For other fun ideas, check out this list.
These three ideas together create the best friends-giving possible with food, crafts, and gratitude, but no matter what unique pieces you might incorporate into your celebrations, remember to be thankful.