Tag Archives: millennial

Alt Thanksgiving party known as Friendsgiving is carving a new tradition

Thanksgiving is traditionally a day for gathering with your family and eating turkey, but there’s a twist on the holiday as a purely social gathering, and it’s called Friendsgiving.

The menu might include anything from beer and cheese fries to cocktails and salmon. But instead of the host slaving away for hours in a hot kitchen, it’s more likely to be a party-style potluck.

The trend is also turning up in ads, charity promotions, Evites and even on a cruise ship, with Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas ship hosting a Friendsgiving celebration for passengers two weeks before Thanksgiving this year.

This fall’s premiere issue of The Magnolia Journal, a magazine from HGTV’s Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, also featured a story about Friendsgiving.

And while Americans have long celebrated Thanksgiving with friends when they couldn’t be with family — whether they were living abroad, at college or in the military — Friendsgivings aren’t usually replacements for traditional family gatherings. Instead, Friendsgivings are held in addition to the traditional Thursday turkey dinner, specifically scheduled on a different day so as not to conflict with family get-togethers.

New Yorker Hannah Redfield says she and her 20-something friends are “really into” Friendsgiving, which they’ve celebrated since 2014. She calls it “a millennial-driven interpretation of Thanksgiving. This demographic of people isn’t as concerned with preparing the traditional Thanksgiving meal but is looking for an excuse to celebrate friendship. In my experience, people aren’t necessarily expected to show up with solely mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.” Instead, they bring everything from cheese fries to spaghetti squash — “whatever they could muster or afford with entry-level salaries.”

Nina Foley of Chicago agrees that Friendsgivings offer an opportunity to break traditions: “While a family Thanksgiving would never allow for anything other than traditional canned cranberry, creamed corn casserole or green beans, because it’s Friendsgiving, we have the freedom to get creative.” One friend in her group went to culinary school and includes ingredients with his gourmet turkey that “none of us ever saw on our plates as kids _ figs, preserved oranges, fried sage!”

Friendsgivings are also often more like parties than staid sit-down dinners. There are Friendsgiving pajama parties, and themed events with arts and crafts or games.

Michelle Platt is hosting her third Friendsgiving this year _ a potluck _ in Briarcliff Manor, New York, for friends from college who are now in their 40s. “We almost all have kids, so I hire a babysitter to watch them so we can have some adult time,” she said.

Platt uses the online invitation service Evite for her Friendsgiving and noted that “the first year was slim pickings for invite designs, but now there are a lot to choose from.” Evite reports a 29 percent increase this year over last in the number of events that its Friendsgiving designs are being used for, totaling in the thousands.

Some Friendsgivings double as fundraisers, with hosts inviting guests to support a good cause. A charity called No Kid Hungry, which focuses on ending childhood hunger by connecting kids to the meals they need, offered a Friendsgiving fundraising option last year and raised $28,000 from some 50 participants. This year, No Kid Hungry has registered 1,400 Friendsgiving fundraisers, raising $78,000 so far. Hosts ask guests for donations or charge for a specific cocktail or treat.

Kory Stamper, associate editor for Merriam-Webster, says the term Friendsgiving hasn’t yet made it into the company’s dictionary, but “it’s a good candidate for future inclusion.” She says Friendsgiving started being used around 2007, with boosts from a 2011 Bailey’s Irish Cream ad and also from a Real Housewives of New Jersey episode.

Branding expert Nancy Friedman said on her blog, Wordworking.com, that Friendsgiving first turned up online in 2004 and was popularized in part by a 2013 Taco Bell promotion. Some people think the term is connected to the TV sitcom Friends, which was famous for its annual Thanksgiving-with-friends episodes, but Friedman doesn’t think the word was ever used on the show, which ended in 2004.

Danielle Paleafico, 29, started hosting Friendsgiving five years ago in one of her first apartments after college, and now it’s grown into an all-day, drop-in event for 30 to 40 friends at her home in Morristown, New Jersey.

“We watch football, I make turkey, all the usual side dishes, homemade pasta and meatballs, dessert, etc.,” she said. “Everyone usually brings a dish and a bottle of wine or beer and we all just come together casually, watch the games, catch up and enjoy each other.”

Timing is important: She picks a date before the real Thanksgiving, and then “we all go our separate ways for the holiday and give thanks with our own families.”


Madison billboard campaign features young atheist voters

Billboards proclaiming, “I’m an Atheist and I Vote,” went up in 12 locations across Madison this morning and will remain on display through the state’s April 5 presidential primary election.

Freedom From Religion Foundation, which calls itself “the largest free-thought association in North America,” is sponsoring the billboards, which feature local millennial voters who are atheist. The goal is to send a message to presidential candidates and their staff as they travel through Madison while campaigning in the state.

“Madison is a very secular city, and we want the candidates to acknowledge our presence and priorities,” said Calli Miller, a graduate of UW-Madison who is currently an FFRF legal assistant, in a press statement. “Candidates should acknowledge secular voters as the fastest growing minority group in America, while committing to keep religion out of government.”

According to FFRF, the number of religiously unaffiliated adults in America has grown by 19 million since President Obama was first elected in 2008. The group says that secular millennials are fueling the growth.

The Madison billboards are part of a larger campaign to reach voters across the nation through FFRF chapters, a national TV ad buy focusing on the separation of church and state and efforts to mobilize students on college campuses. The campaign is a coordinated effort involving the nation’s other major free-thought associations, which together will sponsor the “Reason Rally” on June 4 in Washington, D.C.

“Secular voters are highly educated and independent-minded,” said FFRF co–president Annie Laurie Gaylor in a prepared statement. “They care deeply about women’s rights, environmental protection, marriage equality, and social justice and candidates should be reaching out to them directly.”

Click this link to check out the billboards’ locations.

Selfie satisfaction: Today’s selfie is yesterday’s portrait

The morning after Spain lost to Chile in World Cup play, soccer fan Tony Andres snapped a sour selfie and grumbled on Twitter. “The World Cup will produce more selfies than goals,” he tweeted to #WorldCupSelfies.

He most certainly is correct. The 2014 FIFA World Cup is taking place in Brazil, where soccer fanatics, players and coaches are seemingly producing selfies by the second. The event kicked off with a celebration that featured hundreds of thousands of selfies draped across the field in the “Happiness Flag.” The massive photomosaic, sponsored by Coca-Cola, contained 223,206 soccer selfies and spanned 11,800 square feet.

Beyond Brazil, social media has been flooded with selfies by soccer enthusiasts showing agony and ecstasy and also a lot of boredom and boozing. Most of the images come from smartphones or digital cameras. They are making their way to friends and fans, as well as strangers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

The self-portraits express loyalty to a team and allegiance to a nation. They also help to transform the events in Brazil into global happenings.

The same day that those selfies of sour and grumbling fans of Spain showed up, there were selfies coming out of blood-soaked cities in Iraq and retweets of selfies by Jennifer Lopez and Demi Lovato minus makeup. There also was strange news of a warning from Madison police against posting #naked selfies.

The selfie as portrait. As documentary journalism.  As celebrity pop shot.  As porn.

The image-makers may be using new tools and reaching vast audiences, and the “selfie” may be a relatively new term, but self-portraiture is a very old form of art and method of expression.

Old style

Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of a Man in a Turban, painted in 1433, is described in art history books as one of the earliest panel self-portraits. In medieval and Renaissance works, artists may appear as faces in their crowds. Rembrandt painted a range of self-portraits in the 17th century. The world treasures self-portraits from artists as diverse as Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Marie-Denise Villers, Raphael, Anthony Van Dyck, Gerard Sekoto, Gustave Courbet and, of course, Vincent Van Gogh, who painted himself dozens of times as a means of self-expression but also because he could not afford models. Writing to his brother about a painting he dedicated to Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh said, “The third picture this week is a portrait of myself, almost colourless, in ashen tones against a background of pale veronese green.”

American photographer Robert Cornelius created a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 that is one of the earliest photographs of a person and possibly the first “selfie,” though he recorded it as “the first light picture ever taken.” An early self-photograph by a teenager was taken by 13-year-old Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna and sent to a friend in 1914, four years before she was executed by the Bolshevik secret police.

There’s also a long history of self-portraits by average Janes and Joes. The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey, recently exhibited “445 Portraits of a Man,” a collection of photobooth self-images taken by Franklyn Swantek from the 1930s to the 1960s.

The individual in the photos had been a mystery until a news story about the collection caught the attention of a man living in Minden, Nevada, who recognized his Uncle Franklyn, who had run Swantek Photo Service in Michigan for years.

Susan Sidlauskas, who co-curated the exhibit, said Swantek was able to elevate photomatics into museum-quality conceptual art.

“There’s a twinkle in his eye that suggests he had a reason for holding on to all those photos,” she said.

This summer, the museum is exhibiting “Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture,” an examination of the portrait as a social medium, as a way of linking people together, which is what NASA accomplished with its Global Selfie from Earth Day.

Worldwide Hug

On April 22, NASA invited people to step outside to take a selfie and share it with the world on social media. NASA created a new view of the planet made entirely of those photos, a mosaic consisting of 36,000 individual images from 113 countries and regions — Antarctica to Yemen.

“We were overwhelmed to see people participate from so many countries,” said Peg Luce, deputy director of the Earth science division at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“It’s like being part of a worldwide hug,” said Kimberly Rawlings of Chicago, who said her image is included in the Global Selfie. “The cranks who say we’re narcissistic for posting selfies, who complain about me-obsessed millennials, they miss the point of them.”

And there are critics of the selfie phenomenon. Bloggers have complained that girls posting selfies are being exploited. Plastic surgeons say the selfie trend is increasing demand for rhinoplasty, hair transplants and eyelid surgery. Mental health professionals have suggested a link between body dysmorphic disorder and a compulsion to take selfies.

But there’s little science behind the medical and mental health assertions and easy rebuttals to the exploitation assertion.

“Taking selfies, that’s empowering, that’s being proud of yourself,” said Wisconsin pediatric counselor Helen Cox, noting that one recent survey of young women found that 65 percent said taking selfies boosted their confidence. “When you share selfies, that’s bringing you into a community of people.”

Sometimes the community is small, a circle of friends.

Sometimes the community is massive, a world of Earth Day celebrants or World Cup soccer fans.


Did you know?

Generally, under copyright law, unless there is an agreement to the contrary or a photo is shot as part of a job, it belongs to the creator, the person who pressed the button on the camera. And the owner holds exclusive rights to display, copy, use, produce, or distribute the creation. The subject in a photograph has some rights but not ownership, as do social media services where photographs are shared.

Add an app

Popular portraiture apps for smartphones and tablets:

• CamMe: Take photos using hand gestures. Can take several photos sequentially, like the old photo booths. Enhance photos with cutouts. Easy sharing options. 

• Aviary: Touch up with red-eye removal. Add or remove color with splash. Add drama with sharpen. Stylize with filters and stickers.

• Mextures: Apply film grain, textures, light leaks and gradients to images — from landscapes to portraits.

• Facetune: Touch up portraits Hollywood-style. Remove blemishes. Even out skin tone. Brighten teeth. Color gray hair. Change eye color.

• Instagram: Apply filters. Easy share options. Front and back camera support. Add depth of field.

• Frontback: Shoot from the front and the back of the camera at the same time for the full story.

• Slingshot: From Facebook. Allows users to send photos, to friends, who must reciprocate before
viewing the photo.