UT Students Celebrate Friendsgiving

Sarah Crowder’s Friendsgiving feast.

Thanksgiving is the time to be grateful for people and things in your life. Often this means your family—but many people have taken to also hosting Friendsgiving, where they can appreciate their friends just like they would their family. Friendsgiving is a meaningful tradition for many UT students and alumni alike.

Computer science junior Teresa Luo has hosted her Friendsgiving the last two years with her friend and former roommate as a way to bring together their mutual friends and have all the people they love in one place.  

Journalism junior Sarah Crowder has celebrated Friendsgiving with her friends since their sophomore year of high school. Since many of her friends went to different colleges, it’s one of the best times for them to get the gang back together.

Sustainability studies senior Emory Hanna met her friend group when she first moved to Austin freshman year. They welcomed her in like a family, and now they hold a Friendsgiving together every year.  

The Alcalde asked them each a few questions about what the tradition means to them.

Crowder’s friends put on a movie after their meal.

Why do you have Friendsgiving? 

LUO: I think our culture signals to us that friends aren’t as valuable as they really are. There just aren’t that many holidays dedicated to friends either. I think Thanksgiving is a really nice time to show that you appreciate your friends, and you want to spend time with them. 

CROWDER: We’ve always really liked planning parties and get togethers. We’re always way too extra about it—we do a whole color-coded Google Doc. We started doing it our sophomore year of high school, and we just had so much fun that we tried to do it every year that we could. It’s been really great since being in college because not everybody in our group goes to the same [school]. Four of us are at UT, one of us is at Texas State, and then another is at UTA. So, it’s a really good way to guarantee that everybody’s going to see each other. 

HANNA: I think it’s important to honor all of our relationships because family is not limited to the people you’re related to. You have your blood family, but you [also] have the family that you actively choose … [in whom] you have decided to invest your time and energy. And that’s not to say that one is better than the other—because I don’t think that at all—but I think all relationships should be honored and valued if they are honorable and valuable to you.

What’s your favorite thing about Friendsgiving? 

LUO: It’s nice to see everyone separate from school and just happy to be there and to hang out with friends—especially with class-friends, [it’s nice] to talk about something that isn’t class. And just appreciate the time that we have together, because everyone’s super busy, so they feel appreciated because you invited them, but you also feel appreciated because they took time out of their day to come and spend time with you. 

CROWDER: I really enjoy doing it because it’s such a great opportunity to have dedicated time for friends. Of course, I see the people in Austin all the time, and I see our friend at Texas State a lot because it’s only a few minutes away. But having all of us together is really hard to do because we’re always doing a million different things. And so having that time [when] I know everybody can be together and cooking together and just eating and laughing and not having any other responsibilities for a few hours is really great … I think it’s been important to have that to sort of touch base with your chosen family because I know sometimes family can be a little bit stressful. And it’s also good just to make sure that we have a chance to connect before family and everything else takes priority. 

HANNA: Just getting to see everybody. It’s so hard to make that happen, especially with everybody being busy and coming into a lot of success. It’s really cool to have friends who are into all this really cool stuff, but it’s even cooler when I can see them … It’s hard to get together all the time now. We got to know each other during COVID. Two of them were going to school at A&M Corpus Christi, and then another one was going to school at FIT in New York, but it was online, so they were [living] here. Now, Thanksgiving is one of the only times that we can really all be together.

Do you have any favorite memories or other fun traditions around Friendsgiving? 

CROWDER: I really liked last year. After we had eaten and watched a movie or two, everybody was really tired and relaxed and cozy, and one of our friends actually fell asleep on our couch, and it just made me really happy to see what a safe space this was for all of us. 

HANNA: We do hearty, heavy, greasy comfort foods!

How is Friendsgiving different from Thanksgiving with your family? 

LUO: I feel like I either eat dinner with my family, or sometimes another family will invite us to do some sort of Thanksgiving thing. Those festivities are definitely more Chinese because it’s other Chinese families inviting us, and the reason why you’re there is very different. Like, you’re there because your parents know each other. And you’re hanging out other college kids and you’re like, “Oh, I remember you from my childhood.” It’s always nice to see those people again, but it’s definitely less sentimental because you don’t really have an attachment to them. So, I think that Friendsgiving is special in that it’s people in your life whom you know very intimately and whom you value, and they value you. 

CROWDER: It’s definitely more relaxed because it’s just a bunch of college students, and I don’t think anybody gets super stressed out being like, “Oh my god, this needs to be ready in time,” or “What if this person doesn’t like this?” I feel like I can be more honest and be like, “I don’t want that,” or like, “That’s a bad idea,” or something—just because it’s people who’ve known and loved me for so long. 

HANNA: Friendsgiving is the kids table, but [sitting] at the big table, and then family Thanksgiving is just the kids table. That’s really the best way I can explain it.

Emory Hanna (second from right) at her Friendsgiving.

CREDITS: Courtesy of Sarah Crowder (2); courtesy of Emory Hanna


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