Parisian Living

Celebrating a ‘Friendsgiving’ Thanksgiving in Paris

by Maikka Piquemal
Left: A picture of the Tuileries Garden in Paris during the fall. Right: A classic Thanksgiving table with roasted turkey, vegetable, pumpkin soup, cranberry sauce, and wine.
Top left: cottonbro / Top right: @olyashama
Above left: Jardin des Tuileries by @hotel_chateau_frontenac_paris / Above right: Karolina Grabowska

In 2017, I was living in Brooklyn and was asked by my roommate if I wanted to do a Friendsgiving. At that time, I had my fair share of Thanksgiving experiences—from candle-lit family set-ups to cooking seven giant turkeys for 100 hungry mouths. But never a “Friendsgiving.” Is it just a desperate attempt to recreate an episode of Friends because we couldn’t be with our families?

And yet, I was wrong to be skeptical. What I thought was a “hipster thing” in the beginning became a full-fledged yearly mission for me ever since—because, sometimes, your friends are your family. And when I moved to Paris a few years ago, I brought this new-age tradition with me. Each year, I gather my expat friends, and I have successfully converted them to be devoted to this American holiday.

Whether it’s your first time or not, here’s how you can have a stellar Friendsgiving in Paris.

Left: Someone is handling a baked pumpkin pie during a Thanksgiving meal. Right: A quiet Parisian street without cars during sunset.
Left: Daria Shevtsova / Right: Paris 13è by @ruemargaux

If You’re Hosting

It isn’t Thanksgiving if there isn’t turkey. I insist on this—you can always have rotisserie chicken the rest of the year in Paris, but not the holy dinde. As the host, you’ll automatically be assigned the turkey duty (and, by extension, the gravy) and nothing but those two, or else you’ll go foufou!

Take a proactive role in ensuring everyone’s dietary needs are met, including allergies, and that the potluck menu is well designated to your gang. Try to match each dish to everyone’s personality—the lazy cook could roast the veggies, the one with the sweet tooth could take care of the desserts, and the vegetarian could make the salad—as long as they’re willing!

Contrary to the fifth commandment of Friendsgiving, if you’re blessed with a large kitchen, you may want to offer for your friends to cook at your place. Ici, c’est Paris and not everyone has an oven. When organized right, it could be fun and shouldn’t be overwhelming.

Left: A picture of a pumpkin soup as a hand stirs it with a spoon. Right: The famous Moulin de la Galette in rue Lepic, Montmartre.
Left: Karolina Grabowska / Right: Le Moulin de la Galette in Rue Lepic by @ruemargaux

If You’re Invited

Never come empty-handed, regardless whether you were assigned a dish or not. In France, there is an unspoken rule that, when you’re invited, you shouldn’t bring anything as it is taking the pleasure away from the host to welcome you. While not everyone observes that in Paris, you can never go wrong if you bring a bottle of wine.

Don’t be shy to ask your friends what other things need helping with—that could be the decor, to-go containers, or even games!

Left: A parisienne in a bike is cycling in a Parisian street with Haussmannian buildings during sunset. Right: A picture of cranberry dish.
Left: Avenue de l’Opéra by @thecitygraph / Right: @kimscravings

If you’re celebrating

Don’t always expect your mom’s flawless table layout. In Paris, we live in tiny spaces. From chambres de bonne to squeaky Haussmannian floorings, the ability to seat people “properly” in a dining area can be a luxury.

Be open to changes and new traditions. Invite a newbie to your close-knit clique. Have a casserole you haven’t tried before. Maybe try karaoke and sing your heart out (and pray that the neighbors don’t knock)!

Lastly, never forget the core of Thanksgiving which is coming together and giving thanks. Yes, we do love to talk and maybe complain (especially à Paris!) but keep it light and enjoy. After all, there’s always something to be thankful for.

Left: A classic Thanksgiving table with roasted turkey, vegetable, pumpkin soup, cranberry sauce, and wine. Left: A picture of the Parisian skyline taken from under a bridge by the Seine.
Left: Karolina Grabowska / Right: @angelinalzi

Related Links

Left: A picture of a bar in a Parisian street with the Pantheon at the end of the street. Right: A child is baking some pumpkin-shaped bread for Thanksgiving.
Left: Panthéon by @deci_dela / Right: Olia Danilevich

Written by Maikka Piquemal for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person (when possible)? Check out new marketplace shop and experiences.

Friends gather around to toast their glasses of wine.
Kelsey Chance
Written By

Maikka Piquemal

A New Yorker in Paris, Maikka is a fashion designer and a theater actor. She is une maman to a dog, two cats and hundreds of houseplants. Whenever not fondly observing the Parisian fashion scene or sinking in a good Gallimard book, she escapes to Pays Basque and daydreams of living in the other two fashion capitals, London and Milan. Check out her Youtube Channel "Rare Plants in Paris". View Maikka Piquemal's Website

2 comments on “Celebrating a ‘Friendsgiving’ Thanksgiving in Paris

Hi Sarah! I’ve met a lot of expat friends through FB groups (American Expats in Paris, Women Living in Paris, Expatriates in Paris and Suburbs) and Bumble BFF. I’ve been seeing posts on FB from people like you looking to hangout with others for Thanksgiving. The expat community in Paris is strong and kind — not worried for you and I’m sure you’ll find your Thanksgiving gang in no time 🙂

Lovely ideas for Thanksgiving. But what if you don’t know anybody? I came to Paris just in time for Covid lockdown & between working at home & not speaking french well, how do I meet other ex-pats? Facebook is awful. Any other ideas?

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