Family Time Calendar: Get Together - iVillage

Ever find that it's hard to make dinner plans with your friends now that you all have kids? Between baby-sitter conflicts, school events, and the fact that the kids are often too tired and cranky to be civilized dinner companions, evening meals are a challenge for parents of young children. So try a Sunday brunch instead -- stick to one or two other families, depending on how many kids each of you have, and plan for plenty of play time for the kids, so you can have a good catch up with your buddies.

What you'll need:

  • Red, yellow and orange construction paper
  • Fresh leaves (large maple leaves work well)
  • Sausage Strata
  • Apple Muffins
  • A selection of cheeses, such as chevre, cheddar and Brie
  • Grapes
  • Pear slices
  • Coffee, tea, and other beverages
  • Fall-themed paperware

What you'll do:

Invite friends at least a week in advance -- your weekends are busy; so are theirs! A call will suffice -- this is a casual affair, but if you are inclined to send actual invitations, make them as follows: Lay out the red, yellow or orange construction paper on a flat surface. Let your children draw the shape of a leaf onto the paper. Write the details of your invitations inside the leaf, and cut out. You can either mail the leaves as is (just address and stamp them on the flip side) or scan them to send by email.

The day before the brunch, prepare the strata and bake the muffins. The next morning, all you'll have to do is pop the strata in the oven and set up your cheese-and-fruit plate. (And make the coffee!) Using paperware keeps the day casual and reduces stress for both you and the guests. You won't worry about clean up, and they won't worry about what their kids will do to your china!

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