Friendsgiving Is The Perfect Holiday To Celebrate Outside: Here's Why
One of the best unofficial holidays to add to our annual calendars is some version of a Friendsgiving—a meal shared with friends who are like a chosen family, usually celebrated a week or so ahead of the day (aka, this week).
While many people prepare something resembling a traditional dinner party, more and more groups are looking to alternate menus—and even alternate settings—for their celebration of friendship and gratitude. We caught up with chef Bricia Lopez, co-owner of Guelaguetza in LA, who's taking her Friendsgiving outdoors this year.
Why Friendsgiving is the perfect holiday to celebrate in the great outdoors.
Sure, you could really argue that any day is the perfect day for an outdoor celebration—if you've got the right weather—but Lopez feels (and we agree) that Friendsgiving offers an extra perfect time to head outside.
"It combines the joy and comfort of experiencing a meal with your friends, and the natural beauty that the great outdoors has to offer," she told mindbodygreen. "Thanksgiving, to me, has always been a time to reflect on what I am most grateful for throughout the year. And this year, it has to be the beauty of the great outdoors and the love of friends and family."
And she makes a good point: Given that gratitude link associated with Thanksgiving, taking Friendsgiving to also express gratitude for our natural world can make your meal even more of an occasion.
How to bring Friendsgiving outdoors with you.
In need of some inspo? This year, Lopez is hosting a special hike (yep, a hike) with Merrell as her Friendsgiving moment—and yes, that hike included a special alfresco Thanksgiving meal, on Malibu Creek no less.
Feel a bit intimidated by the idea of trying to take what's often a complex, multipart meal and make it alfresco-friendly? We were a bit too, so we asked Lopez for a little insight into just how to bring the food part of the holiday outdoors, too.
"It's important to remember that an outdoor Friendsgiving does not have to be an elaborate event," she assured us. "By bringing your Friendsgiving to the outdoors, the beauty of nature automatically becomes your backdrop. You really don't need much other than great food, tunes, and the people you love." But she also had five specific tips, which may or may not be relevant depending on where outside you opt to host:
- Preparation is key! Be mindful of trash; make sure you're using sustainable cutlery, napkins, etc., or recyclable items.
- If you're finishing dishes on a grill, start your fire early! Make sure you set up your fire, at least 30 minutes before guests arrive.
- Pre-batched cocktails are a nice offering, and making sure you have enough ice to keep them cool is critical too, alongside any chilled wine/Champagne you're serving.
- Make sure you have recyclable to-go containers for guests to take home leftovers.
- Have spare blankets and pillows available, in case someone forgets their jackets.
But seriously—what about the food?
If you're wondering how we got to this point in a Friendsgiving article without really giving food advice, it's because you should take it as a chance to just cook whatever you want! But if you decide to bring the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving with you, be it on a hike or to a picnic, there are a few ways to make it easier to transport.
"Nothing will ever beat a Thanksgiving sandwich," says Lopez. "I recommend you use high-quality bread like sourdough or a fresh-made French roll from a bakery you trust. Layer the sandwich with cranberry sauce, and mash potatoes like you would mayo and mustard. Then top with a few slices of smoked Turkey breast and stuffing. Finish off the sandwich with a light drizzle of gravy or good-quality olive oil. For those who love spice, add a few canned pickled jalapeños."
Not a sandwich person? Lopez recommends making some simple chargrilled veggies with a fun sauce, serving a few snacking-style dips with fresh veggies and healthy crackers, and noshing on sweet potato chips and spiced energy bars along the way.
However you decide to bring your Friendsgiving to life this year, remember that an outdoor setting might just bring a little extra joy and beauty to your festivities.
Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.