Although marketing is his primary career, the Miami native has been working in the food industry for nearly a decade. Gutierrez is a rum ambassador for Bacardi and represents the distillery’s Havana Club rum; he’s a silent partner in a few restaurants around town; and he continues to keep his online presence fresh with engaging content for chatchow.com and social media.
Gutierrez’s popularity makes him the go-to among his friends during the holiday season for party-planning ideas and drink recipes. He’s been hosting and attending Friendsgiving gatherings for years. This year alone, he has plans to attend four Friendsgiving events — in addition to a traditional Thanksgiving meal with his immediate family.
“I have a lot of different groups of friends,” Gutierrez says with a grin. “It’s fun to balance it all and put on different events unique to each group.”
Earlier this month, Gutierrez participated in an influencer-fueled Friendsgiving. For a group such as this, he says, it’s important to be very visual. “We even have a mood board for how we want to dress and what foods we’re doing,” he says, admitting it’s all a little extra but fits the occasion.
Friendsgiving with his close friends is a more intimate affair. “One thing we share in common is trips to wine country,” Gutierrez says. “So we make sure to each bring a vintage bottle from one of these shared trips. We crack open some nice wine, put our cell phones away, and spend quality time together.”
Gutierrez recommends a few simple tips for planning your own Friendsgiving:
- First and foremost, know your audience and make a shared Google spreadsheet so everyone knows what they're supposed to do and you don't wind up with ten pies and no turkey, for example.
- Because many people travel to visit family over the holidays, a good time to host Friendsgiving is the weekend before or after the annual holiday.
- Don’t forget the decorations, drink garnishes, flatware, musical playlist, games — “every detail counts," according to Gutierrez.
- Don't spend too much time with cocktails. Make a punch instead. “Punches are always a hit. It’s something you can easily prep in the morning and present in a nice bowl,” Gutierrez says. "Plus, it’s self-serve for your guests." He shares his favorite punch recipe below.
- Turn off your phones. Be present. Make eye contact and create memories in the moment. "You might just be reliving these memories during future Friendsgivings," he says.
Many attribute Friendsgiving to the NBC sitcom Friends, but the pseudo-holiday has much more recent origins. Merriam-Webster found that the word was first used somewhere online in 2007 and has exploded over the past decade has exploded in popularity. A 2018 Atlantic article attributes the unofficial holiday's rise in popular culture to millennials.
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“Friendsgiving is a beautiful time to spend with friends,” Gutierrez says. “It’s a time to spend building memories — and reliving old ones — with the people you love.”
Gio Gutierrez’s "El Punch"
- 48 oz. Havana Club Añejo Clásico
- 24 oz. cognac
- 5 oz. apricot liqueur
- 24 oz. lemon juice
- 24 oz. white sugar
- 40 oz. cooled Earl Gray tea
Mix all into a large punch bowl filled with ice. Garnish with lemon peels and grated nutmeg.