toby goddard-williams

Twelve-year-old Toby has a three-step approach to deepening friendships, and it really works…

1. Just invite them. Every week or two, Toby will stroll into whatever room I’m working in and casually announce: “Claire’s family will be here at 6 p.m.” Or “Raj and Kaori are coming by for ice cream tonight.” He will have made the executive decision to text family friends and invite them over for that evening; and 75% of the time, they are free and will accept.

2. Be chill. Since the plan is so spontaneous, we often don’t even tidy up. (As Jenny says, “Busy, happy houses are messy,” right?) The other day, my friend Zack’s family came over, and I was still finishing up work, and nothing was set up, so they let themselves in and flopped on the sofa with the boys and answered the door for the pizza delivery, and it was SO familial and laid-back and cheerful. At the end of the night, his four-year-old said, “You are turning into our family,” and I teared up. Is a super informal hang the key to leveling up a friendship?

3. Choose a loose theme. This part is optional, haha, but one of my favorite things about Toby is that the kid LOVES a theme. He’ll say, “Let’s do a Greek spread tonight!” and we’ll walk to the grocery store for grape leaves and a container of hummus. Sometimes he’ll pick a dress code, like “wear your favorite hat.” And other times, he’ll center the hang around a TV show. It doesn’t even have to be new — a couple weeks ago, we had friends over to eat popcorn and watch the Fuller House episode where they flew to Japan!

That’s it — three simple steps. NBD. And it really works.

Last week, he texted my friend Alison: “Want to come over for dinner? The dress code is fancy OR pajamas.”

Alison’s family went the sleepwear route…

…whereas my kids pulled out their wedding blazers.

I love that Alison’s family casually walked 20 minutes to our house in pajamas. No one cares or notices anything in NYC, haha.

“Literally wut.”

Overall, I love Toby’s casual approach, and it makes me feel inspired to welcome people over through a revolving door, like Kramer in Seinfeld. Thanks for the great reminder, Tobes!

baby toby

Even as a baby, Tobes loved hosting a party.

What about you? How do you prefer to have people over — spur-of-the-moment or more thought out? What do you like to serve? Any pro tips?

P.S. The secret to female friendship, and 14 things to do with friends (other than dinner).