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Happy Camerican Thanksgiving! A Friendsgiving Feast

Start a new tradition this Thanksgiving season with an annual Friendsgiving feast! Whether you’re bending the holiday rules due to shared custody or just need a break from tradition, a Friendsgiving Meal allows you to spend this relaxed but significant time with friends who are like family!

We are a blender family. As many of you blender families know, to survive the holidays, what with visitation and the constant coming and goings of every day, you need complete flexibility and a willingness to bend the holiday rules if necessary, to ensure that you have a meaningful season regardless of who’s year it is to have the kids.

Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece

We share custody of two of our girls, and alternate holiday visitation every year. The years we do not have them on Thanksgiving Day, we often plan a pre-celebration on a different day. It’s our way of giving them the experience of a large, family-style dinner, surrounded by people that love them, even if it doesn’t fall on the right day of the calendar.  And, so it was that Ca-Merican Thanksgiving was born – our affectionate name for our annual Friendsgiving feast. The annual dinner, with all the fixin’s, we share with all of our children and some great friends, who, we a) are thankful for, b)think of as family, and c) lucky for us, are willing to eat turkey twice in a week.

IDEAS FOR THROWING A FRIENDSGIVING FEAST

DECORATE THE TABLE

Just because Friendsgiving isn’t exactly traditional doesn’t mean the decor can’t be! I set the table with autumn colors of orange, gold and green.

Looking for tips on how to set an informal table setting? I’ve got you covered with a free informal tablesetting cheat sheet!

Download Informal Tablesetting Cheat Sheet

friendsgiving - table decor

Holiday crackers are a fun Canadian tradition in my family – they are a huge hit! I was so excited to find these at Target for fall, but I’ve also been known to make my own!

friendsgiving - crackers

 

SERVE A YUMMY POTLUCK

In creating the menu, I tried to serve dishes that were at least slightly different than we’d all be having on Thanksgiving Day. All of our guests brought yummies to share making this truly a Friends-giving!

 

Start with simple appetizers to keep everyone happy waiting for dinner.  Mixed nuts and pistachios, a veggie and dip tray, and a cracker, cheese and sausage tray are all easy and relatively inexpensive options. A bowl of goldfish was a favorite with kids. I’m weird, I love bread and butter pickles with my sausage and cheese cracker sandwiches, and I also like canned oysters, packed in oil, with cream cheese and crackers. You’ll also find a bit of both pickles and oysters on the counter.

friendsgiving - appetizersTurkey and ham are a no-brainer.

friendsgiving - turkey

Keep it traditional but add a twist – Mini pizzas all dressed up as fun, and funky turkeys gave the kids something to talk about. Pillsbury pizza dough and turkey pepperoni, with turkey printouts, made making them not only a snap but fun!

Traditional Thanksgiving - turkey pizza

WHIP UP A FEW SIDES

brussel_sprouts_maple_bacon_shallots

This brussel sprout dish is always a pleasant surprise and loved by most – even by determined brussel sprout haters! Roast Brussel sprouts with bacon, shallots and pure maple syrup. This recipe has become a family favorite that we have all year round.
We also served twice baked potato casserole, green beans almondine, stuffing bites, and 3-cheese macaroni and cheese. Pinterest is packed full of unique Thanksgiving dish recipes – give some a try!

SERVE DECADENT DESSERTS

friendsgiving - pie bites cheesecake and pudding cups

One of our guests slaved over and brought a fantastic pumpkin cheesecake with a graham AND gingersnap cookie crust. It was AMAZING. You can find a similar recipe here.

Pumpkin pie tarts, using a basic pie crust (I used Kroger brand refrigerator crust), and a no-bake filling  – again, amazing, and so, so easy. I used a scallop-edged flower cookie cutter and a muffin pan to pre-bake our shells and then filled with this no-bake filling. We topped with whipped cream right before serving. Yum!

White chocolate pudding cups, dipped in chocolate and seasonal sprinkles, with a Hershey kiss and nutter butter acorns were a fun and kid-friendly addition to the dessert table. This idea came from Stephanie Keeping at Spaceships and Laserbeams, a favorite blog of mine.

Pecan pie bars rounded out the list of more traditional desserts with a bit of a twist – a shortbread crust, with an ooey, gooey topping had me eating more than my fair share of these. I’ll probably be working them off until Christmas, at least.

friendsgiving - cupcakes

We also served apple-crisp bites.. bite-size bundles of oh, so good apple crisp. Chelsea has a plethora of amazing recipes to share – do take a look around her site if you have the time.

Store-bought cupcakes and chocolate pie ensured there were plenty of choices to feed our sweet tooth!

HAVE FUN

One of the benefits of having a Friendsgiving Dinner is the lack of pressure for it to be perfect! You’re surrounded by friends who know the goofy side of you! Keep it light and casual, or plan it to be laid-back and boozy (if you wish). Either way, it’s so much fun!

 

friendsgiving fun

The evening was filled with great food, great conversation, many shenanigans, even more laughs, and much love. As always, we have much to be thankful for. Here is hoping you have just a great a day celebrating with the ones you love –  whoever they are, and whatever day that is! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Show them some love with a Summer Camp Care Pack

T’was the night before summer camp, and all through the land, many were frazzled, the time to pack was at hand! Or, maybe it was just me who was frazzled, leaving everything to the last minute, as usual. C’est la vie, so is the story of my life!

My sweet girls, who I swear were only 3 and 4 yesterday, are now 9 and 10 and off to summer camp. How is it that they’ve grown to the point of being able to go off without us? I know they are going to have the best time and come home with memories aplenty, but it is really hard to send them off.

The girls will be bunking together, and are going with three of their cousins, as well as  two other friends – they are a close-knit group that always has a lot of fun together. I hope they’ll also make some new friends and enjoy the multitude of activities they’ve signed up for. It promises to be a fun adventure, leaving them full of memories that we hope they will cherish forever!

Boarding the bus

I wanted them to know I was thinking of them – what better way to show them this than with a fun filled Summer Camp Care Pack?
I tried to keep it simple, especially given that I was putting the packets together the night before they were leaving at the ungodly hour of 6:45.Yes, in the AM. They are lucky that we love them!

Never the less, I included some really fun little things – some to share with their bunk mates, some just for them!

My packs contain:


A Draw string bag –  A fun bag in bright colors to hold their care pack loot. This can also double as a small backpack during the week if needed, and we can use it later as well.  Triple win!

Call Me Cards – These were fun to make. I created the graphic in PicMonkey and copied the image onto a business card template within Microsoft Word. On one set of cards I included their first and last name, address, and phone number, to hand out to new friends. The other set I left blank for them to gather contact information. I then printed and cut them out. I used Altoid cases to hold the cards –  the cards fit into the case just right–and looked pretty cute too! Enjoy this free printout for the yellow cards or the blue and pink cards.

Glo-bracelets – Enough to share with their bunk mates.

Madlibs and Celebrity Quiz mags – Fun for the entire cabin!

Chap stick – Our girls are obsessed with lip gloss and chap stick – they’ll surely love these soda pop flavored sticks!

Stationary – Since it’s their first year, I can safely live under the illusion that they’ll miss us as much as we miss them and will write daily. To ensure this happens, I’ve included our address, stamps and some fun stationary. I picked up the fox cards, lollipop pens and envelopes at Target and simply packaged them together with a packet of stamps and our addresses.

Silly Putty – Sometimes you just need to fidget. This can only help.

Colorful duct tape – Both girls LOVE duct tape crafts and have made to date a wallet, bracelets, a treasure chest, hair bows  and bands – last I heard, Kyla wanted to make a duct tape dress.. I’m sure they’ll find a use for it.

A flashlight – Enough said.

A bag of penny candy – Enough to share around. Hopefully they will!

A deck of cards

A list of truth or dare questions – see below. All of these questions or activities are appropriate for the 9-11 year old crowd – nothing about dating or kissing – all about fun. What’s camp without a game of truth or dare?

I’m excited for them, I hope they love all of their goodies and truly hope they have a terrific time. But, truth be told, I’m probably the most excited about them coming home. Just a few sleeps!

Truth or Dare Questions

  1. Stand on your head for 10 seconds.
  2. Try to lick your elbow while saying the alphabet.
  3. Do a crab walk across the room.
  4. Spin around 10 times and try to walk a straight line.
  5. Keep a straight face as the other kids do their best to make you laugh for one minute.
  6. Balance a spoon on your nose for 10 second.
  7. Act like a gorilla and pretend to pick bugs out of your friend’s hair.
  8. Smell a dirty sock for ten seconds.
  9. Sing your favorite song in a funny voice.
  10. Sing the “I’m a little tea pot song”. Do all the motions.
  11. Act out a favorite scene from a movie.
  12. Say the alphabet backwards as fast as you can.
  13. Draw a face on your stomach and make it go around and tell every person in the room to have a nice day.
  14. If you were marooned on an island with just a single person, who would you like it to be?
  15. Eat a mouthful of crackers and then try and whistle.
  16. If you woke up one day and notice, that you are invisible, then what will be the first thing that you would like to do?
  17. What was the nastiest joke you ever played on someone?
  18. If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?
  19. What is the strangest dream you’ve ever had?
  20. Who do you have a crush on?
  21. What do you like the most about everyone in the room?
  22. Have you ever lied to a teacher and what was it about?
  23. Do you sneak snacks when your Mom isn’t looking?
  24. What is the worst gift you have ever received?
  25. Dance like a crazy on your favorite song.
  26. Run around wearing socks on your hands, pants for a shirt and a shirt for pants, for 3 minutes.
  27. Say the pledge of allegiance in your most hated teachers voice.
  28. After everything you say add “Whoa … I’m good!” for the next 15 minutes.
  29. Pretend that you are underwater for the next 10 minutes.
  30. What super power would you like to possess and why?
  31. Describe your weirdest dream.
  32. What was the worst gift you’ve ever received?
  33. One last time… Team Edward or Team Jake?
  34. Dance for 10 minutes without any music.
  35. Do a pig snort at the beginning of every sentence you say for the next hour.
  36. Wear a hat made out of toilet paper for the next 15 minutes
  37. Have you ever lied for truth in Truth or Dare?
  38. What’s the stupidest crush you’ve had?
  39. If you won 1,000,000 dollars in the lottery what would you do with the money?
  40. What is your dream job?
  41. If you could be a boy for the day, would you and why?
  42. If you only had 1 day to live, what would you do?
  43. What is the strangest dream you ever had?
  44. Name one person in the room you would least like to be stuck with on a desert island. Why?
  45. If you could make one person in the room your slave for a day who would it be?
  46. What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done?
  47. Who was your first crush?
  48. Have you ever cheated to win a game?
  49. Have you ever said something out loud that you your were thinking without realizing you said it out loud? What was it?
  50. Have you ever kissed a boy?
  51. What was your most embarrassing moment?
  52. Most embarrassing thing anyone has ever said to you?
  53. Have you ever broken anything of someone else’s and not told the person?
  54. If you were on a deserted island what two people would you bring and why?
  55. What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you at the mall?
  56. Who do you have a crush on?
  57. What do you like the most about everyone in the room?
  58. Have you ever fallen asleep in class?
  59. Have you ever played sick because you didn’t want to see a friend?
  60. If you were a movie star which one would it be? Act it out.
  61. What animal do you want and what would you name it?
  62. What are you going to name your kids when you get married? How many?
  63. Have you ever got the giggles in an inappropriate place? Where and When?
  64. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you at school?
  65. What little kids shows do you watch that no one knows about?
  66. Have you ever walked in your sleep?
  67. Have you ever slipped and fallen at school?
  68. Have you ever held hands with a boy?
  69. What was your last dream about?
  70. If you had $100.00 what would you do with it?
  71. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
  72. What’s the dumbest thing you ever said or did around a boy you liked?
  73. If you were an animal which one would you be? Why?
  74. If you had to go down the street to the end of the block at midnight would you have to take a friend or could you do it by yourself?
  75. Have you ever played ding-dong-ditch and gotten caught?
  76. Have you ever said something you wish you could take back? What was it?
  77. Would you go to school in a Minnie Mouse costume for $50.00?
  78. Who is not your friend now that you wish was still your friend?
  79. What is your secret wish?
  80. What was the worst day of your life?
  81. What was the best day of your life?
  82. If you could have bought any special gift for a birthday party what would it be?
  83. Sit on the lap of the person on your right for the rest of the game!
  84. Jump on one leg for 20 seconds with both hands on your head.
  85. You must ask the group for permission to use the bathroom for the rest of the night.
  86. Exchange a clothing item with the person on your right.
  87. Whenever someone says “like” you must say ” there you go again” for the next hour.
  88. Have the person on your right do your hair any way they want and you have to keep it like that for the rest of the game.
  89. Say “hippity hop” after anything you or anyone says for the next 10 minutes.
  90. Circle around each person in the room 5 times each.
  91. Everything you say for the next 15 minutes must be sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday”.
  92. Smell the feet of everyone in the room and rank them from best to worst.
  93. Sing “I love you, you love me” from Barney with all the motions.
  94. Make up a new dance and teach it to the group.
  95. Whenever anyone says “like” you have to say “honk honk” for the next 30 minutes.
  96. Play “This little piggy went to market” on everyone’s toes.
  97. Name the seven dwarfs.
  98. Pretend to be the person on your right for 10 minutes.
  99. Do your best ballet dance.
  100. Build a tower out of anything you can find until it is taller then you are.