Friday, January 2, 2009

Getting together with friends...

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received the food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people... ~Acts 2:46-47
What a blessing it is to get together with other believers and celebrate faith and friendship. Christmastide traditionally was a time for parties and visits from friends and family. Even in modern times, kids are out of school and many people take the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day off of work, making it a great time to socialize.
Of course, if your week between Christmas and New Year's is like ours, it is usually filled with organizing and cleaning and resting from the frantic pace leading to Christmas Day. The last thing in the world we would do is bring others into our "transitional" homes... homes that are in transition from the holidays to the daily routine of life in the winter. But let's take a challenge. Let's purpose in our hearts to fellowship with other believers sometime during the month of January.
It doesn't have to be at some one's home, but there IS something special about coming together in a home. Make it simple. Let the guests help. Here are some ideas...
~Host an ice cream sundae dessert. You provide the ice cream and paper products and drinks. Ask your guests to bring their favorite sundae toppings. Enjoy a couple of hours of fellowship in the evening.
~Game Night. Invite guests to bring their favorite sweet or salty snack. You provide drinks, paper products and games. Set up different games in different rooms and play for about 45 minutes, then rotate 2-3 times. Games like Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, Catch Phrase and Mad Gab are great for large groups of people.
~Movie Night. This popcorn-filled night is perfect for anyone. Select 5 or so movies appropriate to the guests you invite and place them in a non-see-through bag. Ask the guests to bring their favorite soft drink or juice and you provide the popcorn and paper products. Draw a red star with a Sharpie marker on the bottom of the paper cups. Whoever has the starred cup gets to select the movie of the night out of the bag.
~Keepin' Warm Night. Ask guests to bring new winter scarves, gloves or hats for a local charity like the Rescue Mission. Serve tea, hot chocolate and coffee with a variety of creamers along with warm brownies or cobbler and ice cream.
~Pizza Night. Prepare pizza dough and sauce and ask guests to bring toppings. Let the guests take turns creating their own mini pizzas and sampling each other's. You provide paper products and drinks, in addition to the pizza "bases."
The only thing that would limit your celebrations is your own imagination. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you entertain:
1. Think about what groups of people would be a natural fit. You don't want to create any awkward situations if you can help it.
2. You don't have to have a full dinner party to enjoy food and fellowship with friends. Make it simple so that you can focus on your guests.
3. Guests generally want to do something to contribute to the evening, but not all of them want to have to stay in the kitchen all day cooking to be there. Don't be afraid to ask guests to bring something to the gathering, but be careful to make it something easy and inexpensive.
4. If you plan activities like a movie or games, incorporate natural breaks in which people can leave if they need to go early. Otherwise, make certain to specify a start and end time for the evening.
5. Inviting families to evening events can be tricky. Make sure you have available a place where smaller children can go to change into jammies or even drift off to sleep. Diaper changing and nursing areas are also a nice way to make families feel welcome. Many high schools now require students to have a certain number of community service hours to graduate. See if you can find 2-3 high school girls who would be willing to earn community service hours by supervising a kids' room during the party.
We would LOVE to hear the ideas you have for fun, simple entertaining opportunities. Please take a minute to share...