Friends Are Family, Too: Hosting Your Besties for the Holidays

I’ve always thought that our closest friends are family, and that the holidays offer a chance for togetherness throughout your whole extended circle of loved ones. In my case, my parents were always careful to make sure we were all together when I was growing up, and we made many cherished memories because of it. Whenever I think of the holiday season, I feel rekindled warmth and joy, basking in the happy associations from years past.

However, it’s important to realize that not everyone can say the same. Many of my friends had parents who worked over the holidays or simply didn’t enjoy a pleasant atmosphere at home. I often invited those friends to join my family just to give them somewhere safe and cheerful to go.

Now that I’m an adult with my own home in which to make new memories, the tradition of inviting friends over for the holidays has expanded. We recently celebrated a “Friendsgiving,” a Thanksgiving that consisted solely of my friends and their delicious side dishes. I was fortunate enough to be able to cook for them, set a large table, and provide a haven.

It might sound like an exaggerated dinner party, but the atmosphere was certainly more than that. We shared stories of personal struggles as much as jokes, and comfort was offered along with laughter. One of my friends took me aside to tell me, “This was the family gathering that I needed this year.” Her parents now live several states away, and this was her first holiday without them being around to celebrate with her. I always enjoy hosting my friends, but her thankful words made me realize just how important it was that I made this space for them.

Sometimes, friends are family that you need. If you have friends, neighbors, and acquaintances who might be alone for the holiday season — or if you’re without family this year — hosting a holiday event is a great idea.

Ask yourself if it’s within your power to suggest, organize, or offer warm holiday traditions for those whose own families cannot. It can be daunting to be the leader of such a task, and you may not have the space or the time to host. Here are some suggestions, however, that may help you create some new traditions without hosting a full-fledged dinner party:

  • Lack the space? Get everyone together at a restaurant for a meal. Make it fun with a small gift exchange, or ask everyone to wear something festive.
  • Have the room, but no time to cook or clean? Ask for help. Make it a potluck, and have a cleaning party to help tidy up beforehand. You can offer those who help clean small awards such as getting first dibs on a seat at the table.
  • Is money an issue? Find out if one of your friends would mind hosting or cooking for the holiday. Offer to do all the organizing, including finding out who’s bringing what food item, or volunteer to help clean up and decorate.

It doesn’t have to be a big, extravagant affair. All that matters is creating that wonderful feeling of togetherness during the holidays.

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