Perhaps this isn’t an exact scientific fact, but we’re fairly certain if you were to trace the evolution of Friendsgiving, the starting point might be the “Friends” episode “The One with All the Thanksgivings.” In it, saw the gang eating their feelings and scraping the bottom of the pie pan while they reminisced about the crappiest Thanksgivings they’ve shared with their families. There’s something particularly brilliant about that episode; it was a moment where they gave themselves total permission to celebrate the holiday with each other as opposed to their blood relatives, and by extension so did we. It was a revelation for all of us and these Friendsgiving OGs proceeded to teach us all how this newly-minted celebratory dinner should go down in each of the 10 Thanksgiving episodes. Below, the dos and don’t as told to by “Friends.”
Friends: The Complete Series, $69.99 on Amazon
Including, of course, every Thanksgiving episode ever.
Do Dress Appropriately
In “The One with the Rumor,” Monica makes a huge turkey and Joey sets his heart on finishing the entire thing. In order to do so, he goes home and changes into what he calls his “Thanksgiving pants.” While they are actually Phoebe’s old maternity pants, Joey is on to something here. The point of Thanksgiving is to eat, not show off your new skinny jeans. Spanx are not okay on this holiest of food holidays. Give your food baby some space to breathe and take a note from Joey—pants with an elastic waist might be the way to go today.
Don’t Rehash Old Drama
“The One with the Rumor” is actually a very educational episode if you’re studying for Friendsgiving. The main storyline isn’t Joey’s Thanksgiving pants, but the reappearance of an old high school friend, Will Colbert, famously played by Brad Pitt. He admits with great pleasure to starting the “I Hate Rachel Green” in school, and confesses that he spread a pretty nasty rumor about Rachel. As if he doesn’t bring enough drama to the table (literally), we also find out that Ross was a member of this club. Hurt feelings ensue. So what’s the takeaway? If you’re a guest in someone else’s home, don’t dredge up embarrassing stories or make a point to let Cheryl know she really freaking bugs you. Yes, this is a dinner with friends, but it’s not the time to air dirty laundry. It’s okay to get loose but keep things polite and civil at all times.
Don’t Neglect the Preparation
While all of the gang’s Friendsgivings have gone smoothly for the most part, there were a few food-related hiccups along the way. In “The One with the List,” Monica tries her best to make a variety of desserts with mockolate—a chocolate substitute she’s super skeptical about. Despite doing her best to make this horrible treat taste good, Rachel and Phoebe spit out everything she makes, and Phoebe refers to her Friendsgiving dessert as “what evil must taste like,” which is not the best review to get of your Friendsgiving dish. In “The One Where Ross Got High,” Rachel is super excited to finally bring a dish to Friendsgiving, but doesn’t realize the pages of her cookbook were stuck together and accidentally combines a dinner recipe with a dessert recipe. The result is an English trifle which contains some custard, jam, ladyfingers, raspberries, and an unforgettable layer of beef sauteed with peas and onions. Although Joey inhales it, Ross declares that “it tastes like feet.” The lesson to be learned from all these little screw-ups is that taking time to properly prepare the meal ensures everyone has a good time and nobody’s talking smack behind your back once the party is over. Your friends are coming for the good company, yes, but also to eat food they don’t have to spit out.
Do Keep an Open Mind
There’s another lesson to be learned from Rachel’s shepherd’s pie trifle in “The One Where Ross Got High.” Rachel’s excitement about cooking for her friends is honestly adorable and Joey exemplifies the best manners when he give her terrible dish a try. Keep in mind that your friends are excited to cook their dishes—whether it’s a mac and cheese or a crazy onion dip—and share them with friends. Trying everyone’s stuff—even if it’s not your bag—will make those who spent hours in the kitchen feel like their effort is appreciated.
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into Friendsgiving—especially on the host’s part. Think of “The One with the Late Thanksgiving,” or any episode of “Friends” you’ve ever seen, where Monica is going ballistic cleaning the house even though she didn’t even want to host to begin with. After nearly killing herself preparing for the day, everyone is seeming late bringing nothing but crappy excuses. Chandler and Monica respond in kind by locking everyone out of the apartment. While we doubt your host will leave you on the doorstep if you stroll in mid appetizer, the lesson here is be a good guest. If your host asks for help or tell you they need you to be there at a certain time, abide by that. Also, don’t come empty-handed. Bring something for your host or your fellow guests.
Don’t Be a Debbie Downer
Though it sounds sacrilegious to say, Chandler was such a killjoy on Thanksgiving. We get he had his reasons for hating Thanksgiving, but his attitude kind of dampened the mood for everyone else. In “The One with the Rumor,” it was made abundantly clear that Chandler would be eating chicken instead of turkey, since he hates all things Thanksgiving. In “The One with All the Thanksgivings,” we hear Chandler’s traumatizing story of his parents’ divorce (complete with the houseboy’s iconic line, “More turkey, Mr. Chandler?”). In that same episode, we also get more negative Thanksgiving memories from Chandler, including losing part of a toe in a knife accident and being overheard calling Monica fat. The guy really hates Thanksgiving, and he lets everyone know every year. On Friendsgiving, don’t be that guy. It doesn’t matter if you’re anti-Thanksgiving; Friendsgiving is just a fun excuse to get together and drink a lot of booze and eat until your pants don’t fit (unless, of course, you’ve worn Thanksgiving pants).
Do Partake in Some Healthy Competition
For anyone who’s ever seen “The One with the Football,” we all know competition is another great way to bond on Friendsgiving, especially if there are people there who you’re meeting for the first time. Just don’t take it too far like Ross and Monica always seem to do; fighting on the ground all night is not a great look.
Don’t Forget What It’s All About
This is a busy season.You and your friends are probably on edge and maybe, kind of dreading having to spend another night around a crowded table. But don’t forget what Rachel said before they all sat down for dinner in “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister:” “It’s Thanksgiving and we should not want to be together, together.” So, when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, take the time to sit down and remind yourself that your friends are your family too.
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