A traditional family Thanksgiving may be ideal for some, but for people who don’t have family in Maine, may have strained family relations, or just don’t feel like slogging through holiday travel, there’s another way.
Friendsgiving, a decidedly un-traditional potluck dinner with friends, is how to put a fun and stress-free spin on the holiday, while staying put in Maine.
Internet sleuths pinpoint the origin of the term Friendsgiving around 2007 or 2008 to reflect an informal gathering of a ragtag crowd, e.g., the child-free, the “holiday orphans,” the coworker, neighbor or single friend who is going to be stuck with a frozen Swanson’s Hungry Man turkey dinner and Netflix. It’s all about the camaraderie, and how we get through these long Maine winters.
The best part about Friendsgiving is that it’s not beholden to stringent tradition. It can be a lunch or dinner gathering. It can even be a few days before Thanksgiving, so people can get their “friend fix” before joining their families on November 28.
How To Plan The Menu (And Divvy up the Dishes)
According to the Rules of Friendsgiving, the host planning the party is the one cooking the bird and the gravy. The most reliable friend has to bring the hors d’oevres. The rest of the guests take the pressure off the host by bringing a side dish, a dessert, and/or a specialty cocktail.
The Food Network has some ideas on this. From mac and cheese to potato chip stuffed potatoes, this is the ideal time to ditch the canned cranberry and green bean mushroom casserole. Supporting Maine’s lobster industry and the lobstermen still out there hauling this time of year is a great way to add in a side dish to Friendsgiving and here are some great appetizer ideas from the Maine Lobster Festival.
The rituals of Friendsgiving are meant to be silly and fun or meaningful to the group. It can be a themed event, like a Tom Hanksgiving or a Friends-themed Friendsgiving with Rachel’s English trifle. Arriving in your own custom headwear is highly encouraged, using materials from a craft store.
Others just all agree to arrive in their pajamas and slippers. Gather everyone around for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade which starts at noon, and take a shot every time one of the hosts says “fun” or “wow.” Here are the rules. For designated drivers, teetotalers or people adulting, do five jumping jacks instead. Board games are also a major feature of Friendsgiving as a way to loosen up guests who don’t know each other very well. Some folks even like to give thanks ahead of time by volunteering together at Heroes 4 Hunger at 6 a.m. or band together to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to others before going back to the host’s house and continuing the celebration.
Once the Friendgiving meal starts, there’s still no need to be formal. Gather plates and pillows and eat on the floor watching old favorite movies or the Big Game. Your mother would be horrified, but she’s not going to be there. Or cover the table with butcher block paper and give everyone crayons. You can even put up a homemade poster and let your friends write what they are thankful for.
There’s even a few public Friendsgivings being hosted around Maine for strangers who want to become instant friends.
Here are more tips to make your Friendsgiving a festive one!
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com
BELFAST--She works hard for the money, that’s for sure. Captain Sadie Samuels catches lobster all week on her own boat, FV Must Be Nice.
The afternoon I’d stopped by her new lobster shack, located right on the Harbor Walk in Belfast, she’d already been up at 4 a.m. to go haul.
“The bait guys were late this morning, like 5 a.m., so I got a late start,” she admitted. Yet, by 10 a.m., when most of America is only an hour into their work day, Sadie got off the boat, and headed for her lobster shack, Must Be Nice Lobster Co., to begin churning out lobster and crab rolls all day to hungry customers.
And even when her day was done, at 6 p.m., she said she was still going to cook and shuck the lobsters that she’d caught today for tomorrow’s lunch menu.
Sadie is 27 and has been lobstering since she was a child.
“I got my student license when I was seven, and then my commercial license when I was 14, which is when I got my first boat,” she said. “I was fishing off my dad’s boat, and he allowed me to fish some of his gear, like 20 traps. I wanted more but my dad was like ‘you can’t take all of my gear; you need your own boat.’ So I got a tiny little outboard with an electric hauler.”
Even though she has lobster fished all of her life, Sadie’s father insisted she go to college, but even while she was attending college in California, earning her degree in printmaking, the sea still called every summer.
After graduation, she came back to Maine and began lobster fishing full-time.
As for the boat’s name, it’s a cheeky reference to how the lobstering life is perceived by those who don’t work in the industry.
“My sister and I came up with it,” she said. “We were like, ‘what will people say when they come down to the boat?’”
“We don’t know for sure what the future of lobster fishing is going to look like, so, I’ve been expanding a bit,” she said, of the lobster shack. “For the last three years I was selling my lobster rolls at the United Belfast Farmer’s Market, and recently found this mobile truck, so this was the next step. I kind of jumped on the opportunity. For this year, yeah, it’s a lot. But, that’s what’s winters are for.”
PenBay Pilot readers may remember Sadie from a recent story on Susan Tobey White’s series painting “Lobstering Women of Maine.” (See related story).
Sadie said it has been interesting to see customer reactions when they realize she is both the captain that supplies the lobsters as well as the lobster shack owner.
“Some people look at me in disbelief, and say to me, ‘you don’t look like you could do that [haul lobsters for a living].’ But, I want little girls to see me and say to themselves, ‘I can be a fisherman like her!’”
The best part about Sadie’s shack apart from her infectious smile, is how affordable she makes her product.
She offers $16 lobster rolls and $12 crab rolls, all freshly picked. And here’s something you never see: she also offers mini rolls for half that price. A crab roll mini costs the same as a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese.
“I just figure a lot of the time young kids can’t afford the full roll, so that makes it affordable for them, or for people who just want to try the taste of it,” she said.
Must Be Nice is open from Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. near Heritage Park on the Harbor Walk until October.
Stay in touch with their Facebook page.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.