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Traditional thoughts of the holidays center on big families and big feasts. But with more people living farther from loved ones due to attending college, job transfers, military deployments and more, celebrating with friends is gaining popularity. It can mean sharing a small meal with close friends, hosting a large group event or expanding your family gathering to include others who may not have family nearby.

A holiday celebration like this doesn’t have to take a lot of time, effort or money. Here are some fun, creative and simple ways to be merry with friends:

  1. Share favorites with a potluck. A potluck meal gives everyone the opportunity to bring a traditional festive dish or share something new—just make sure your group will have all the bases covered with main dishes, sides, desserts and beverages.
  2. Set up a sandwich station. Guests building their own sandwiches to their liking while building friendships can be tasty and meaningful. And, who says they have to be turkey sandwiches?
  3. Make it easy as pie. If a lunch or dinner isn’t doable, consider hosting a just desserts party to enjoy pie or other treats with festive, seasonal beverages.
  4. Focus on fun … and strengthening friendships. If you recently met your friends, such as a group whose military spouses are deployed, having some activities lined up can be great icebreakers as well as distractions from missing loved ones. Consider outdoor bean bag-toss competitions or indoor board games to get to know each other better. If football fans want to relax and watch the game, perhaps others would enjoy making a craft to take home.
  5. Ask if you can bring a friend. If you plan to attend your own family gathering nearby, but know someone who would be grateful for an adopted family for the day, ask the host if it’s OK to bring a friend. This way you can ensure there’s room at the table and the friend feels welcome.

Navy Federal Credit Union is thankful for all our members near and far. We wish you meaningful and memorable holidays.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.