The Importance of Gatherings
Bees do it, birds do it, heck even lions in the wild do it. Fall in love? Yes. But, I’m talking about getting together.
Call it what you will: Fellowship; Circling the Wagons; Celebration; Partying; Tribal Connection.
A gathering by any other name...
With Thanksgiving coming up, it’s a great time to sit back and reflect upon why we get together. Why are group activities, and the company of friends and family, so important?
Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday.
Everything about it is thrilling. From the decorations, to the savory food, the sweet desserts, the apple cider and the chance to really enjoy cooking for and visiting with other people. And to reminisce, create new memories, have a laugh…
About a year after moving to Bogota, Colombia (the home of Beckett Simonon), my partner and I introduced the holiday to our Colombian friends. We also invited expats from the US, the UK, Europe and the Middle East. From around the world actually.
What started as a relatively small guest list quickly grew to over 60. It was great fun, but not exactly my idea of an intimate gathering.
Whew! That was an amazing way to kick off what has become a favorite tradition here. But, we have paired down the list considerably. It’s now limited to about 12 guests.
Thanksgiving (or holidays in general) isn’t the only opportunity to get together. Actually, you never need an excuse. And, I think, the best reason is simply to be together.
Despite what movies about dysfunctional and disastrous holidays tell us (and they do happen!), fundamentally, getting together at least once a year is an important factor in maintaining relationships, catching-up and taking stock.
We all know what the most common gatherings are; Holidays, birthdays, weddings and graduations.
Why wait for one of these milestones?
Get it Together
There are so many reasons for organizing a get together, including:
Catch up with family and friends - we all can let time go by without keeping up with what’s happening with those nearest and dearest to us. Or at least close enough to make us care. So, why not send up smoke signals and gather whoever you can together? Even if it’s just for a quick coffee or a brunch. You never know when any one of those people will no longer be around.
Exercise your social skills - We all need to stretch our social muscles from time-to-time. Observe how you interact with people. How do you break the ice? Do you tend to dominate conversations, do you ask questions and listen actively, do you interrupt, do you stay quiet? Do you suddenly impose yourself into a conversation, ease into it or just get up and walk away? In this era of self-interrogation, some inward reflection is a really good thing.
Meet new people - It can be a lot of fun and sometimes intimidating when meeting new people. Some of the stress can be softened when that new person is actually a “plus 1” of an invited guest. This can be at either your or someone else’s party. But, don’t just say “hello” and walk on by. Try to really engage with the new person, and make them feel comfortable in an environment that might be strange to them. No one likes to feel like a fish out of water.
Experience other cultures - Piggy-backing on the idea (and value) of meeting new people, open yourself up to experiencing a new culture. One of the easiest ways to do this is to host an event where the theme is a culture you really don’t know much about. For example, Sweden. You can have fun researching the customs, music, food and drink and what decorations would work. You get the idea.
Make It Happen
Here are a few non-complicated ideas for non-holiday and non-milestone gatherings:
Picnic - Weather permitting, this one is easy. Get the gang together and ask everyone to bring something shareable to eat and drink to an easily accessible park or field. Kids and dogs welcome. And don’t forget the lawn games!
Movie Night - Each month decide on a movie genre. Ask everyone in the movie club to throw out titles and pick one at random. Then all gather round the screen with your favorite movie snacks, drinks, and cozy blankets.
Cheese and Wine - The name says it all. Ask half of the group to bring a particular type of wine and the other half to bring different cheeses and adornments. Delicious!
Mocktailing - Non-alcoholic cocktails, a/k/a mocktails, are a big thing right now. Look for recipes online, ask your group to bring different ingredients, and let the experimenting begin. Remember, mocktails should be more than just glorified punch.
Game Night - Charades, Tag, Guess Who, Pictionary, Twister, board games… so many fun and creative choices!
Walking Group - Get out and get the blood pumping. Morning, noon or night, walking in a group is a fun and easy activity. Even though it’s exercise, you can still socialize. Pick a different route or path each time you go out to keep things fresh and fun. Remember to “step lively.”
Dinner and a Show - Sure, this one takes a bit more doing, but it can be a very special experience. Maybe once every three to six months. With your friends, choose a new restaurant and a live performing arts show (dance, theater, concert, etc.). This is an event. Get dressed up for it and enjoy the night on the town.
Old-Fashioned Ice-Cream Social - Another “weather permitting” gathering that hearkens back to another time. Ask each guest to bring a different flavor ice cream (milk or water based, or even vegan), with the trimmings. Set up festive tables with balloons and other decorations, maybe even an old-timey popcorn cart and photo booth and costume pieces.
TIP: Organizing a get together with friends and family can be a lot of work, yes, but you can also do it pretty easily and it doesn’t need to cost that much either.
It’s less about being flashy or spending a ton of money, and more about using your imagination and keeping valuable connections alive. The possibilities are endless.
An interesting question recently came up: How many people does it take to be a gathering?
What do you think? Tea for two? A party of a hundred (or more) close friends? A dinner for four?
What kinds of gatherings do you enjoy?
Drop us a note in the comments section and let us know your thoughts and ideas. We’re really interested!
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts.
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