The Illustrated Guide To Planning A Mindful Thanksgiving

by Erin Kelly

Friendsgiving is the holy grail of friendship holidays. Not only is it a chance to enjoy lots and lots of delicious food, but it’s also an opportunity to celebrate your close friends and show them how thankful you are for their existence. I definitely don’t tell my friends nearly enough just how much their presence in my life means to me, even if we don’t actually get to spend that much time together. Just knowing that I have people who are willing to drop everything in their busy lives when I’m going through a hard situation is incredibly comforting. And it’s definitely worth celebrating!

Taking the opportunity to express how grateful I am for my good fortune makes me think about those who are less fortunate. That’s why I think that Friendsgiving should also be a time to be mindful and give back to your community, and to those who may not have as much to be thankful for. Luckily, Pacific Foods is also dedicated to helping everyone get access to delicious, healthy foods. To help everyone celebrate Friendsgiving with nourishing foods for the soul and body while also giving back to their communities, we’ve partnered with Pacific Foods. Together, we planned the ultimate guide to planning a more mindful Friendsgiving.

Kaitlyn O'Connor/BUSTLE

1. Share Responsibility

Having a solid friendship group is kind of like being part of a team — so give all of your friends the chance to act like team players on Friendsgiving by delegating tasks to everyone attending! Delegating different people to supply the wine, be responsible for appetizers, brainstorm pre-dinner activities, or even designating a “clean up committee” can help everyone be part of a larger group effort. Plus, you’ll be able to stress less and enjoy the evening that much more.

2. Invite Guests To Give Back

In the spirit of being thankful for what we have, including our cherished friendships, Friendsgiving is a great time to give back to your community. You can do so by inviting guests to bring nonperishable items that you will donate to a local food bank, or by making a pledge to volunteer as a group within the community. Better yet, schedule time to volunteer together before the meal to work up an appetite and enjoy more time together. Local city or state park clean-up projects have a variety of opportunities you can find with a quick internet search.

3. Cook With Simple, Carefully Sourced Ingredients

All Friendsgiving get-togethers share one common theme: food — and lots of it! But you can differentiate your gathering by celebrating with mindful food choices so that the meals you serve nourish the soul and the body. While grocery shopping for the event, pay special attention to ingredient labels so you can carefully choose simple, carefully sourced organic ingredients free of GMOs. Take notice of what brands have programs that may give back to their communities, or feed hungry families through unique partnerships with food banks and local farmers, and give them your business over other options. And if you happen to be able to support local businesses or farm stands, recognize their hard efforts and make the pledge to shop locally.

4. Eat Mindfully

Rather than gorging yourself with all of the mouthwatering eats faster than it takes the Thanksgiving-themed episode of your favorite sitcom to play out (without commercials), practice eating mindfully and slowly. Take a small taste of each food that looks appealing to you, and chew slowly to savor the flavor. Assess the colors and textures of the food on your plate, and appreciate the presentation of your meal. Not only will you be able to savor your meal, but eating more slowly and mindfully will ensure you’ll be able to save room for dessert!

5. Practice Gratitude

The whole spirit of Friendsgiving is rooted in celebrating what we’re grateful for, but it doesn’t hurt to voice what we’re thankful for out loud. Or even better, write it down! For a fun group activity that doubles as an act of mindful gratitude, create printable cards (or just distribute generic notecards) and invite guests to write out what they’re thankful for. Before enjoying your meal, ask each guest to share one (or more) thing they wrote down, so you can all remind each other the many things you have to celebrate.

6. Donate Leftovers

Some food companies have programs that automatically feed hungry families through unique partnerships, so your purchase alone can help give back. However, you can go a step further by donating your leftover food to others who may benefit from it. Do your research ahead of time: call your local food pantry to learn about their food donation policies, and take to the Internet to find out about food rescue organizations in your area that may pick up and deliver your leftover food to hungry families.

There are many reasons to be more mindful, but perhaps none are as important as celebrating and and appreciating the company you keep. Now that you’re equipped with the tools to host a mindful Friendsgiving, we trust you’ll find many other amazing things in your life to be grateful for.

This post is sponsored by Pacific Foods.

Main image: Guerilla