Not long ago I read this New York Times article on The Power of Positive People. After reading about the unsurprising benefits of having a constant support group, I was inspired to think of how I could create opportunities for people in my social circle to get together and support each other. Here is what I came up with:
I chose one day of the week that could be consistent, and sent an email to the women I know, sharing that I would plan to walk a certain trail each week, on that same day, at the same time. If they were interested in joining when able, then I would send a weekly email reminder. I also encouraged anyone to bring along a new person to the group anytime. It’s been a few months now and I’ve really enjoyed the predictability. This day is now my walking day and there’s always a chance I may see one or more of my friends.
For the most part, people want to get together with other people, it often just takes someone to initiate. The same applies to meeting new people. It can be hard to approach someone if you’re not sure they are interested in meeting new people as well. One person taking the lead and putting an idea out there can give others the opportunity they were looking for to join in. Even if you don’t perceive yourself to be an “initiator”, I challenge you to give it a try. And why not be creative?
I’ve hosted brunches at my house, asking those invited to bring items to create a basket donation for a family in a transitional housing program. Any gathering can become an opportunity to collect canned goods or other items that may be low cost to each person individually and collectively can equal a great amount for a donation.
Here are some other unique ideas I’ve admired over the years…
A group of friends get together once a month to view a few selected TED talks and then talk about them.
In this post, my coworker Lisa Allred writes about hosting a “Selfies and Sangria” fundraiser for a friend who had cancer. She provided the Sangria (for the adults) and her teenager gave lessons on how to take selfies. A win for supporting a friend in need, a win for building connection with your child by having them teach you something they know, and a win for a fun and unique gathering of friends.
I met someone who knew the importance of advanced care directives but also understood his family’s reluctance to complete them. So – he threw a party. He invited his family and other important people in their life. Over drinks and food, music and laughs, they also each shared their wishes for care and completed the documents.
I had a friend who really loved pesto. Unashamed of this, he and another friend organized a “Pesto Palooza”. They created multiple types of pesto and everyone else brought foods you can eat with pesto. They may or may not have also made shirts... it was ridiculous and also a great memory.
For a friend’s birthday, a group of us met at the Raleigh train station and took the train together to Durham for the day.
Are you single? A quick google search should find opportunities for speed dating in your local area. Invite a single acquaintance or two to go with you. You can get together afterwards for a debrief – which I’m sure will be full of fun stories.
Creativity can also help with lowering the cost of get-togethers.
Instead of brunch on Saturday morning, can you find a “workout of the day” and invite people to meet you at a park to do the workout? Could you organize a touch football game? Find out who has corn hole, can jam, bocce ball etc. – and have everyone meet at the park for a game day.
My coworker Lisa had a few other low cost ideas:
- Have everyone go through their closets to do their spring cleaning for what they no longer want. Then, get everyone together to swap. The rest of the clothes are then donated.
- One friend was really skilled at doing makeup – everyone brought their own makeup and she gave everyone else makeovers.
- During the week after Halloween, host a get together where kids can bring all of the candy they don’t like and then kids can go around and “shop” from that pile. Meanwhile the parents can get together. She even had a name for this party: Halloween isn’t over until we say it’s over.
- Have friends and their children over and set up a few very simple craft stations in different rooms. The kids can travel room to room and make the crafts as their holiday gifts for their family.
- For parents looking to meet new friends, simply put out there to an online or social group: “this day we are going to try a new park if anyone wants to join” – the worst that can happen is that you spend time at a new park.
For other opportunities look up MeetUp groups or try googling a topic or hobby of interest and see what comes up in the local area. If you stay up to date on events happening in the area, you never miss an opportunity to suggest a unique outing. Here are some local ideas:
I would love to hear from you about the unique gatherings you have experienced or coordinated. Share your ideas here! Looking for ways to expand your community? I'm happy to meet with you one on one to talk about ideas.