In years past, we’ve shown you a few guides on how to develop a holiday party, which were meant to provide an insight and tutorial to celebrate the holidays in your own way. While those guides are still available, I’m taking a different approach in delivering this year’s guide and highlights.  It wouldn’t be right if I wasn’t at least a little cheesy in doing so.


To channel The Avengers character, Nick Fury; there was an idea coined as, ‘The Friendsmas Initiative’, to bring a group of talented influencers together to see if we could become something more.  A group that works together to celebrate in a way that most of us can’t do alone, using our combined talents and resources throw the most epic holiday party in Austin.


There are holiday parties, Christmas parties and then there’s Friendsmas parties.  While I’m not sure who invented the term or when it was even created, I suspect it was first coined in the mid-to-late 2000’s as the Christmas season’s answer to “Friendsgiving”.  It’s a noble tradition with merit that brings a group of friends together to close out the year with the joy of holiday cheer, but there’s a stark difference from a common holiday party and OUR Friendsmas party.


The Epic Venue – JW Marriott Austin

This year’s party brought us back to the JW Marriott in Austin.  Our friends had such a wonderful time at the party in 2016, so we decided to bring things back to the best spot in town.  Austin’s JW Marriott is the largest in the United States and presents multiple options to host your party, no matter how big or small it may be.  We planned for around 30 guests, so we grabbed a hospitality suite, and an outdoor cabana followed by finale to the presidential suite for the after party.


Friendsmas with Benefits

Similar to years past, we invited a couple dozen of our best friends to celebrate with us.  Most of the invitees included some of Austin’s most well-known influencers and public figures like, Sara Kim (@atxfitfoodie), Shelby Sorrell (@shelbysorrell), the Torabi sisters (@withshayda & @spinsidney), Gavin and Karen (@coupleinthekitchen), Sean Dye and girlfriend Jacqueline Mangione (@drinkingaustin, @plateprincess), Matt McGinnis, Jennifer Bono (@txblondevoyage), Rachel Holtin (@austinfoodstagram) and many others.

This year’s party included a lot of familiar faces along with a few newbies. We could have invited over 100 of our friends but our hospitality suite was at full capacity so we kept the list at a light 30 people max attendance.  Other familiar faces included Amy Drohen (@sushigirl_atx) and the ladies of our crew including, Courtney Pierce (@courtpie); Carrie Hoover (@carrie_hoover8); Bo Duncan (@boduncan36); Britney Mendoza and Ashley Laughlin (@ashleylaughlin).



Party Eats and Treats

Gathering our friends presents a unique ability to enjoy some of Austin’s best bites.  We typically pool our resources and and collaborate with local chefs and restaurants to not only enjoy at the party, but a also a chance to highlight their offerings to our audience from our respective media channels.  This year’s menu included offerings from Rudy’s BBQ, Whole Foods, Chi’lantro, Taco Deli and VIA 313 Pizza.


Our dessert options were easily the highlight of the entire party. Starting with a glamorous make-your-own donut and smores station by The Cupcake Bar, to a delicious Chantilly cake from Hank’s.  The star attraction of the dessert bar was a monsterous mini-monster cookie cake tower crafted by chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph of Henbit and Emmer & Rye.  The cookie tower held 60 of his famous monster chocolate chip and pecan cookies with mint leaves stuck in between, with a chocolate and pecan sugar cookie star set on top forming the most delicious Christmas tree in existence.  To finish it off, chef Tavel completed the cookie tower with melted chocolate, which made for one of the most sexy desserts ever created for a party.


Drinks on Drinks

Food and friends are the basic ingredients for nearly any celebration, but it doesn’t become a real party until the bar opens.  This year’s beverages included a few dozen rounds from some of our favorite local brands like Deep Eddy Vodka, Ben Milam Whiskey and Uncle Billy’s Brewery.  We typically have enough alcohol to serve everyone for three nights in a row and this time was no different as we kept everyone’s glasses filled beyond the midnight hour.


Friendsmas Friendships Last Forever

Celebrating with friends this time of year is about the memories we’re able to create for ourselves.  No matter how many events we continue to celebrate together, this is the one time of year we can all get together to enjoy each other’s good company and celebrate the true meaning of our fellowship.  I know it’s a bit sappy and corny but the holiday season is about spending time with the people we care about.  The venue, food, drinks and white elephant gifts may add to the excitement of friendsmas, but the collaboration of our true friendship brings us together.  No matter how you celebrate the season, remember what’s most important (other than drinking).  Friendship rises above all and lasts forever.


Special Thanks

JW Marriott Austin, VIA 313, Rudy’s BBQ, Chi’lantro, Tso Chinese Delivery, Whole Foods, Hank’s, OogaBooga Waffles, Taco Deli, Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph, The Cupcake Bar, Uncle Billy’s Brewing, Ben Milam Whiskey and Deep Eddy Vodka.

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About The Author

Hayden Walker
Executive Editor | Co-Publisher

Hayden Walker is the Editor in Chief and Director of Operations for Austin Food Magazine

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