In 2009, Brandon and I moved to Austin.

Since then, we would occasionally host a handful of single friends or were invited to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving dinner, but as the years went on, friends started having families of their own, some people divorced and it just wasn’t the same. So, last year, we decided to host a “Friendsgiving” celebration the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

We planned on cooking the turkey, a couple of appetizers and desserts and having friends bring the sides.

Well! That backfired and nobody paid attention to the directions! Probably because they were used to us always cooking huge spreads for our parties. With a 6 week old and 27 month old, it turned out to be quite a production!

So this year… we changed things up a bit and used Evite to send out the invitations and put a list together of what we needed. For example, 2 desserts, 2 appetizers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, etc.

It went MUCH better this time around and most people responded with what they’d be bringing though we still ended up making green beans, stuffing and sweet potatoes!

We also decided it was time to invited families and kiddos. Up until recently, our main circle of friends had been the adults we’d been with for the last decade, so we decided to invite the families we’d gotten to know from Emma’s class, Ellie’s swim friends, and few other playgroup friends..

The plan was to have a mother’s helper be able to take all the kiddos to the playroom, but apparently the teenagers are on to this gig and have “party rates” which start at $15 and then add $2/kid… Well, turns out, we’d have been paying about $40/hour to have someone have a handful of kids in the playroom at any given time. Plus, it wasn’t like Thanksgiving is an adult party or anything… so why shouldn’t the kids be a part of it all, right?

Plus, the more kids, the more eyeballs on them and the more time parents have to mingle if all the kids are playing in rather contained spaces!

So, we decided to get rid of the area rug and the coffee table and replace it with the foam letter mats we had, add in Emma’s art table and the big round plastic IKEA table we keep in the playroom.

The art table was stocked with crayons and placements (insert photo) that the kids could color and write what they’re thankful for on. The plastic table had a variety of puzzles, stacking toys and domino-type blocks for the older kids.

Of course, we have the play kitchen and then all the little kid toys and books in the middle of the room. The kids LOVED the bright colored mat and ran straight there to play with the toys. And all the parents got to keep an eye on their kids!

At dinner time, we had a handful of highchair/booster seats available for parents with small kids and a “kids” picnic table for the ones that could sit on their own. We put a plate of turkey with all the fixins’ in the middle of the table and let the kids pick what they wanted to eat… although most of them had filled up on snacks before dinner!

We put a little “kids” appetizer plate with applsauce pounces, mandarin oranges, granola bars, and apple juice (all in keeping with the fall theme)! And then fruits, veggies, cheese and crackers, the adults were sharing with their tiny companions!

To keep the cocktail part simple, we had a couple bottles of wine, a case of beer and sangria bar complete with holiday flair (apple slices, orange slices and cranberries)… We like having a signature cocktail because you’re not guessing at what kind of wine everyone likes, if they drink wine at all, how much to get, etc. Lots of people bring a bottle or two with them as a hostess gift or a bottle to share with other guests, so it keeps it pretty simple!

For us, it’s the perfect way to kick off the holiday season, share it with people we may not get to spend time with during the holidays because of crazy schedules, and open our home to the people that are important to us through the year.

And an added bonus… I REALLY try hard to wait to put Christmas decorations up the day after Thanksgiving, so if we celebrate early, that should mean I can start decorating for Christmas early, right? 😉

Add some photos from the party!


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