Friendsgiving is the time of the year when college age students come together to celebrate friendship over the canned/instant food we can afford! We call our moms in search of the recipe for her casserole, trying to recreate her wonderful masterpiece. The idea is, no matter how good the meal or occasion, nothing beats being around the people that know you best.
How did Friendsgiving become so popular? Well, let’s take a trip back to the 1990’s. The iconic television show Friends had several episodes where they sat around the table for Thanksgiving. While they wanted to be with their families, variables such as weather, ticket pricing and more hindered them from reaching their loved ones. Instead, they chose to be around each other. They played touch football games, ate lots of turkey and even invited new people to join in.
Friends is very popular among millennials. In reference to brand identity, Friends captured the hearts of many. They created their own version of Thanksgiving and now millenials try to recreate the iconic show’s take. What was once a plot line in a sitcom is now a viral tradition that friends carry on every year. Several television shows and programs have recreated their different interpretations on what Friendsgiving should look like.
This past Friday, my roommates and I hosted 65 of our closest friends for our very own Friendsgiving. The amount of time, energy and effort that goes into planning an event for 65 people is outstanding. Tables, chairs, food, and decorations are just a couple of the various tasks we were given to help the event take place. Below are 4 key takeaways I learned from planning a Friendsgiving.
Things I learned from Friendsgiving:
1) Event Planning is more than creating an event:
Yes, telling people to come over for a Friendsgiving is the first step. However, you cannot stop there. You need food, decorations, tables, chairs and more. We coordinated with our church volunteer director, who let us borrow tables and chairs to help seat people. The next step was finding out what to tell people to bring. I created an excel spreadsheet, in which I had a list of who was coming and what they were planning on bringing. This helped us from not having 65 of the same side dishes. We created our own brand identity with a logo and typography. Our decorations matched the font and scheme, making the event have an identity.
2) Marketing the event is easier said than done:
We all hate those big group texts that blow your phone up all day during class. Phrases like,”I’m bringing this,” “Ooo that sounds good I can cook that,” “Be sure to not burn the turkey!” are only half of the texts we would get if we took the group chat route. Group chats are complicated, simple as that.
Instead, we chose to send separate texts with the same message. Sending individual text messages to people felt more intimate and also carried a more personal message. When creating an event, always make sure to either use word of mouth marketing or send individual messages.
In addition, having an excel spreadsheet helped us to see who hadn’t been invited. We did not want anyone left out or double invited, so once a roommate invited someone, they either put a check or an “X” on whether or not they were coming. We only had room for a certain amount of people, so advertising it on social media was not the best route. Word of mouth marketing worked best, as we got multiple responses and coordinated how our guests would park and when they would arrive.
3) Utilize the people and items you have:
You do not have to go out and spend every dime you have for an event! Using the items you have around you will be of great use. For our event, we went out into our yard and collected leaves and branches. We used them as our table decorations and they were a big hit. In addition, we created a photo booth made out of an old sheet and some string lights we found in the closet.
My favorite decoration was our makeshift cover for under the deck. We currently have a pool in our back yard that still has water from the hurricane in it. The background scenery did not go with the theme of our event, so we decided to look around the house for what we could find. I went in a closet and saw multiple curtains hanging around. We grabbed them and nailed them to the deck, covering the view of the pool. This was a big hit and really made the event seem more intimate.
4) Make it memorable and have fun doing so:
A Friendsgiving would not be proper without some special guests. Adding your own flavor and unique taste to it is just apart of what makes Friendsgiving, well, Friendsgiving! Whether it is making a photo booth, playing games, a bonfire, people are sure to come back to another event if you make it memorable. This year, we decided to unveil our giant 10 foot inflatable Santa Claus to all our friends. We had people move from under the deck to the yard. Here, we thanked everyone for coming out and hoped that they would stick around. Then, we began to raise up Santa and everyone started to cheer. I never thought in my college career that I would be able to get 65 people to cheer for an inflatable Santa in our yard.
As you can see, event planning takes time, energy and effort. If you utilize what you have, create your own brand image and successfully market your vision, you too can create a successful event!
Happy Holidays, everyone!