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If your family is far away, not around anymore or simply exhausting to hang out with, then you might wanna consider hosting a “Friendsgiving Dinner”.

I have now lived in Canada now for 11 years and holidays have always been a hard time because neither my wife’s family, nor my family lives on the same continent. So when everyone is gathering at their parents’ house at Christmas or feasting on Turkey, I oftentimes didn’t celebrate at all.

Until I started inviting friends that also didn’t have families closeby.

Luckily in Toronto, there are a lot of people who immigrated, are expats or moved across the country – away from their families.

"Family is your unchosen friends
and your friends become your chosen family."


Here are my tips to get started with your first intimate gathering with your chosen family. If you wanna connect with your “blood” family this Thanksgiving, then check out this post instead.

#1 TIP: Don't over-complicate the food

A traditional Thanksgiving meal takes hours to prepare, but this isn’t your typical Thanksgiving, remember?

So change it up and instead of focusing on the food, focus on spending quality time with quality people in your life.


If you don’t want to clean your apartment after the party or just don’t have enough space, you can always check out your local restaurants. I highly recommend checking out the ones that have a private dining room that will give you more privacy and make your guests feel like VIPs.


Instead of standing in the kitchen yourself for hours before your guests arrive, you could cook together or invite every guest to bring one item for the meal to share with everyone. Just make sure to come up with a “theme”, like Asian foods, Tacos or divide up the parts of the meal (one person bringing dessert instead of 5).

#2 TIP: Go Tech free

In the last few years, everyone is on their smartphones 24/7 – and it’s probably the biggest obstacle to deeper human connection of our time. When scrolling through social media at the table you’re not only putting up a physical barrier between you and your family, you are also sending a subconscious message that your phone is more important than them.

I’m sure you’ve all experienced that from the other side.

You’re hanging out with friends and while you’re telling a captivating story they reach for their phone and check a message… It feels awful!

In a hyper-distracted world, the biggest gift you can give people is YOUR PRESENCE.

ACTION: Set up a little basket or box and invite your family members to leave their devices in there while sitting at the table for dinner or have each person create a “cellphone sleeping bag” out of an envelope.

The best way to take new relationships to the next level and increase the chance of making new friends quickly for me has become hosting Deep Dinners. To learn more check out my Deep Dinner Playbook.


I believe that strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet, so what better way to connect with strangers and friends by inviting them for an intimate dinner?

I put together my Deep Dinner Playbook to make your next dinner a memorable experience that your guests will rave about for months.

#3 TIP: Facilitate the Conversations

When we hang out with old friends or very new friends the conversations often revolve around the same old topics. So if you really want to deepen the relationships with your chosen family, then think about ways to facilitate the conversation during dinner.


Instead of sharing what you are grateful for each other, have each person answer the following question:

“Who is the one person do you not give enough credit or thanks for in your life?”

I would invite everyone to think about the question for a few minutes, maybe even journal a bit on their answer and then go around the table reading their stories or sharing aloud.


This is my go-to for almost every dinner party I have hosted in the last few years: I simply bring out my ASK DEEP QUESTIONS Connection Cards that help facilitate the conversation by going deeper one step at a time.

Continue the conversation and get your own printable PDFs with thoughtful questions that go below the surface and create meaningful conversations.


Get a digital download of the “Original Deck” and the “Family Deck” of ASK DEEP QUESTIONS with 48 thoughtful questions that go below the surface and allow you to make meaningful connections with your friends and family.

Start with curious questions to ease into the conversations in a fun way and then go deeper with brave and vulnerable questions to hear stories you might not have ever heard before.

Plus you’ll also get my Deep Dinner Playbook with a step-by-step guide on how to host a memorable small gathering with meaningful conversations.

Jan Keck

Jan Keck

Trainer | Facilitator | Experience Designer · Turning Meetings into Inclusive, Engaging and Memorable Experiences 🙌