It’s a bit nippy out, holiday cheer is the air, and the time has come to plan your most epic party of all time. It’s time to plan your very own Friendsmas party!
There’s just a few days before Christmas and amd barely a week before new year’s eve so you may be running short on time, but there’s no reason you can’t throw a successful shin-dig before the end of the holiday season. Whether you’re looking to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve or any other seasonal party, the Friendsmas party has become one of the best ways to celebrate the season with friends and family.
We’ve thrown a few unforgettable parties (humble brag) in our time, and we’re here once again to provide you with the ultimate dos and don’ts to properly prepare for an unforgettable night with your guests.
Whether you’re veteran party host with the most, or a novice who has no clue on where to begin, we’re here with the answers to guide you to holiday party glory. See our step-by-step guide on throwing your most epic friendsmas party ever.
Select an amazing Venue
JW Marriott Austin – Presidential Suite
The location of your party sets the pace for the entire affair and is one of the most important aspects of planning your Friendsmas. The venue should have sufficient space for your guests, but it should also be classy to impress everyone enough for them to brag about you afterwards. If you’re looking for world class luxury in Austin’s downtown atmosphere, the JW Marriott is easily the best venue in town.
We have a lot of friends and our guest list was pretty large, so we reserved the largest presidential suite in the hotel. The presidential suite offers breathtaking views of downtown Austin from the room’s contemporary ambiance and large windows. This versatile space blended with JW’s unmatched amenities made a fitting setting for our big party. Visit www.jwmarriottaustin.com/austin-hotel-accommodations to make reservations.
Create a Guest List
With a little Help from you Friends
If you have a lot of friends you’ll be tempted to invite all of them to your party. While you’ll want to invite them all, it’s important to keep the vibes positive and joyful with a guest list that includes a group that will contribute to the festivities. We invited some of our favorite media influencers and bloggers in Austin to keep the party alive nearly all night.
*Pro Tip: If you’re trying to stay within a budget, get your friends to pitch in for the room. If you have a group of 15 or more, $20 from each will go a long way in getting you an amazing room at the JW Marriott or pretty much any hotel in town.
If you want your friendsmas party to be exceptional, this is not the time to skimp out on quality fare, and unless you have an exceptionally large budget to feed everyone, a collaborative pot luck is your best bet. Enlist your friends to bring at least one dish or beverage to the party. Our guest list was HUGE so everyone brought food from some of their favorite eateries in the city.
JW Marriott Austin Restaurants
JW Marriott Austin’s family of restaurants includes three eateries all headed by Executive Chef Chad Blunston, with Each restaurant offering their own unique spin on their menu. Osteria Pronto offers delicious fine Italian fare curated by Exexutive Chef Gilberto Ramirez Jr., while Corner Bar offers more of a casual approach featuring a mix of unique dishes curated by chef Jennifer Etzkin. Both restaurants provide outstanding menu items for a tasty addition to any party.
Burger lovers will enjoy Burger Bar, the fast casual, curbside hamburger joint also attached to the hotel. You’ll find delicious burgers, fries and milkshakes at an affordable price.
La Barbecue – Smoked Brisket
If you’re a crazed barbecue fanatic like most people in the city, you probably already know about La Barbecue’s legendary brisket. Brisket is a terrific option for a hungry crowd of friends and starts at $20/lb. or you can order a full brisket for $100 each and orders can be made by calling (512) 605 – 9696, or e-mail Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t expect any left overs on this one, it was one of the first things to disappear.
Whole Foods Market – Capra Lamb Ribs
Capra Lamb represents a collective of more than 120 lamb ranches in Central Texas, providing all-natural Dorper lamb, the most premium lamb meat available, with a mild, delicate flavor profile. Give it a try and taste the difference for with your family and friends this holiday season, available Whole Foods Market!
Pickled Beet Deviled Eggs by Angel Johnston
Our bestie and home chef Angel, wanted to get creative and made these tasty little pickled beet deviled eggs. Like most potluck parties, a lot of your friends may want to cook something, so encourage them to create something fun and unique which could be perfect for your Instagram feed.
Austin Daily Press – Hushpuppies and Churriotos
A large tray of Jalapeno Hushpuppies and Churritos with cinnamon sugar, vanilla glaze or blueberry jam makes a wonderful bite size side item or dessert for your hungry group. Visit www.austindailypress.com to place your order.
Freda’s Grille – Crawfish Mac & Cheese
Mac and cheese makes a perfect side item for any party no matter the occasion. Crawfish mac and cheese on the other hand is a game changer and Freda’s Grille in North Austin has some of the mac in town.
Kerbey Lane Cafe – Kerbey’s Signature Queso
Yes, Kerbey Lane Cafe’s legendary queso can be purchased outside of the restaurant. Visit Whole Foods Market for a refrigerated 12 oz container for $6.99, or visit one of the local cafes for a large order hot and ready for your party. Add a scoop of guacamole or black beans to kick it up a notch!
VERTS Mediterranean Grill – Dip Trio
Every party’s basic food list includes chips and dip but for goodness sake don’t be boring. Hook up with VERTS to order their badass Dip Trio, which features pita chips with their house made hummus, tzatziki and roasted red pepper sauce.
Photo Courtesy of Street Restaurant
Street Restaurant – Roast Beef Onion Pancake Wraps
By now you should have a massive table full of various styles of food, but I bet no one ever thought of bringing Asian-American street food in to the buffet table. The Roast Beef Onion Pancake Wraps were such a big hit and so delicious you’ll probably buy extras just to bring home for yourself the day after the party.
Blackfinn Ameripub – Chicken Wings
Chicken wings are a staple for just about any party. Sure they’re kind of a mess, but that’s part of the fun. This time we picked up a giant plate Asian glazed crispy wings from Blackfinn Ameripub at the Domain. Don’t make a mistake of hugging someone while you sticky wing fingers. Make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand.
The Dessert Table
The Christmas holidays are notoriously famous for all of the adorable baked goods and sweets that cause us to go on a diet at the end of the season. It’s nearly impossible to have a respectable holiday party without a selection of adorable desserts and treats for your guests to brag about for the duration of the season.
Baked by Amy’s – Gingerbread Men Cookies and Peppermint Bark
Pick up a tin of Baked’s ginger bread men cookies and peppermint bark bites to add to the party. Erin Fellows and her crew creates some of the Instagram worthy pastries and desserts during the holiday season which is sure to be a hit with your group. Pick up an large order of their special holiday cookies and chocolate mints in a tin as a take home present for your guests.
Paper Route Bakery – Cookies and homemade Poptarts
Paper Route Bakery is a local artisanal small-batch bakery, that makes classic American pastries, then delivers them to your doorstep! Each of our pastry is delivered warm and tastes like a holiday love letter to your taste buds. Set up an order of their signature chocolate chunk cookies and house made pop tarts, delivered to your suite just in time for your party.
Sugar Mama’s Bakery – Cupcakes
All holiday parties should be filled with cupcakes and dreams and Sugar Mama’s makes some of the best cupcakes in Austin, making it the perfect party treat. Order a couple of dozen from several of their most delicious selections for any special occasion or your holiday party.
The Wine and Cocktail List
A Friendsmas doesn’t exist without a proper alcoholic beverage or five. Don’t get me wrong, food is very important, but beverages are the life blood of the party and sometimes the only thing to keep your guests at the party. If you can, recruit one of your friends to act as the mixologist for the party. Select at least 3-4 easy cocktail recipes or pick up a premade keg cocktail to keep on draft.
See also, The Ultimate drinking guide to Friendsmas.
The White Elephant Game
I know I said food and alcohol are the most important things of any holiday party, but none of those matter unless your guests have fun. One of the highlights of the holiday season is exchanging presents, so keep the tradition alive at your party with a white elephant gifts exchange game. Come up with some other games
Everyone recives gifts they can easily re-gift to someone else, so have your guests bring presents they’re willing to give up in the white elephant game. Sometimes you’ll find the most interesting items being offered and it gets really interesting with a lot of people in attendance.
Special thanks to our sponsors
Angel Johnston of Crave Catering
Favor delivery services
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Martine Honey Suckle Liquor
Tullamore Irish Whiskey
Uncle Billy’s Brew
Q Drinks (mixers)
Wedding Oak winery
Rodney Strong Estates wine
Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee