Seth and I are both super social people. I was really lucky to end up with someone who values their friendships as much as I do. And now, as a couple with two under two, we’re really lucky to have the greatest friends – near and far – who are willing to travel and put in extra effort to maintain our relationships. After having Abbott, we both really wanted to make a concerted effort to avoid becoming one of those couples sequestered by parenthood – we owed it to ourselves, our friends and our boys. One of the best things that’s come out of that effort is Friends and Full Bellies.

Friends and Full Bellies is a monthly dinner club we put together as a shot in the dark – and so far, so GREAT. If you’re not the creative or hosting type, it can be difficult to pull the trigger on putting something like this together, but Friends and Full Bellies has been such a surprising and reassuring success that I wanted to share. Not only because it’s a great idea but because the benefits have far exceeded our expectations. Whether you’re just looking for something fun and different to do with your friends or proactively looking for ways to ensure you’ll make time for you and your friends, this is a great solution.

The Concept

The concept is simple: We gather one Saturday of each month to share, eat and socialize with each other. The goal is to gather new recipes, hone our culinary skills, expand our culinary boundaries, catch up and enjoy each other’s company. But mostly the latter.

At the first Friends and Full Bellies we pulled names out of a hat and allowed people to choose which month they’d host. As each month approaches, the hosts choose their weekend. Whoever can attend, does.

The Stipulations

  • Each month will have a theme, chosen by the hosts. The themes will be broad and vague to allow for creative interpretation (i.e., Appetizers, Recipes Mom Made, Vegetarian, Cultural themes, Gluten Free, Yellow etc.).
  • Each couple/individual will be assigned a different “course/type” for each meal (i.e, appetizer, dessert, entree) based on the theme and determined by a basic drawing of names (conducted at each month’s club).
  • A different couple/individual will host Friends and Full Bellies each month, but you are not required to host.
  • Each month’s hosts will not cook, they will provide beverages to match the theme.
  • Everything must be homemade, by hand.
  • Each couple will be expected to bring or email copies of the recipe for their dish to share/add to the club recipe book.

The Benefits

Selecting who to include in F&FB was difficult for us because we both have our own individual groups of friends and while we have become good friends with each other’s friends, they’re two completely different groups of people. Because of the intimate nature of bringing people into your home and the large number of friends Seth has here, F&FB is mostly made of people he’s known since he was a toddler and their significant others. There’s a special dynamic within this group specifically because there’s so much history – but also a lot of future. The group is primarily couples and several of us have kids – so we’re not just gathering as friends but also as families. It means a lot to Seth to see our boys form relationships with his best friends’ kids and I’d be an asshole if I didn’t get that. (Heartwarming, right?) Through F&FB I’ve also had the chance to get to know and enjoy people I’ve mostly socialized with at parties and bars after (one, two, three) too many drinks. And it’s been really refreshing.

4 in pralines

Our “unique” praline puddles.

As a couple, F&FB has given Seth and I the opportunity to collaborate in the kitchen (HAHAHAHAHA) which is mostly me having a hard time following a recipe or not knowing where to find things in the store and Seth taking over. Last weekend we were assigned desert for southern/cajun cuisine, we decided on pralines and sweet potato pie. It was easily the most disastrous collaboration we’ve ever done. Not only did I buy regular potatoes thinking they were sweet potatoes, we baked the regular potatoes for 45 minutes before we realized they weren’t sweet potatoes. We ended having to go back to the store and then making and baking the pies at our friends’ house. The last step was to top with marshmallows and broil until brown…well, let’s just say I’m thankful for smoke detectors and people who are more attentive than myself.

 

WATCH OUT FOOD NETWORK! We’re comin’ for ya.