Creating Global Gratitude Potlucks
I truly believe that for each time we gather around good food and deep / silly / quiet / shared Gratitude, the ripples make their way to exactly the places they need to go to create some really good stuff into the world.
I am so glad you want to be part of this.
(here is a checklist of what you may need)
1. Allow it to be simple
Invite your Grateful peeps!
Lots of ways to do this.
You can just send an email to 4-5 friends. You can make a Facebook event. You can - especially if you are doing it in a public place and like the idea of making this a community event - put a free ad in a local paper. You can make posters and post them around town.
My sense is that it may be good to start with people you know, and let them know that they can invite their friends.
When you invite them, again keep it simple. This is what I wrote on our last Facebook event:
"Let's start the summer with a grateful heart and a tummy graced with beautiful food.
Maybe make a few new friends, too.
We'll eat, we'll share a few minutes of blissful meditaton and take a moment to amp up our gfits.
Then we'll go home - or down the street for some music - HAPPY.
Oh - invite some friends, if you'd like. Kids are very much welcome."
See? Super simple.
And then, you add an RSVP button if you want an idea of how many people will show up. Or not.
For me, this is where #1 and #2 help keep me focused on the simplicity of the event.
Also, I don't try to figure out "who's going to bring what." I just trust that there will be the perfect blend of main dishes and desserts, salads and meat etc... Usually it works out just right.
Gather your Team
In keeping in line with #3 and #4, I will usually ask a couple of people to help me with (or even better, take care of) the set up, and a couple of people to help (or even better, take care of) the clean up.
For the sake of #2, I suggest allowing about an hour before everyone arrives, to set up - although if you stick with #1, you will probably get it done more quickly.
Once you have passed on your vision to your team (sharing your Essences is a really easy and effective way to do that), let them have at it. Allow, Allow, Allow!
Someone wants to decorate the table with fake lemons? Perfect. Someone likes the idea of folding napkins into dinosaurs? Grand.
By this time, if you have done your job well, this will no longer be "your" project but rather, a community project. This makes it much easier for you to have fun, and also makes it easier for everyone involved to express themselves.
As far as the plates / silverware etc... we have done it a couple of different ways:
- Option A
We provide the paper plates, plastic ware etc...
- Option B
We ask people to bring their own "real" plates, silverware, glasses etc... it makes for a nicer table setting and there is nothing to throw out.
We also set up a dessert table to the side.
This is a really good time to remember #1 and let things be simple. A few blooms on the table are nice, but not indispensable. We like to place a little Sprinkling Card on each plate, reminding people that they are loved, or thanking them for how cool they are. Come from the heart, don't make it complicated. And remember that when people show up, the table will be covered in delicious food. It will look great!
A little background music is great, especially as people walk in. No music is just fine, too.
Because we don't know how many people will show up, we will usually set the table for "our best guess," and then have extra chairs, tables and settings ready to add, as needed. I would rather experience the fun of adding seating for late comers than to have empty spots around the table. The energy feels more festive to me.
At that point, I also like to set up a "Gratitude Station." It can be a small table, a desk, or even a small podium.
On it, I put a small bowl of marbles or colored pebbles, as well as clear vase of water. You will use this later.
Greet your guests
It can take a lot of courage to show up at an event, especially if you don't know anyone there. Or even if you do.
So I like to make sure that someone (me or someone else) has the sweet job of warmly welcoming everyone who walks through the door.
We have a sign up sheet and invite people to give us their email addresses so that we may let them know of the next Potluck. We have a little plate with chocolate on it, mostly we have smiles and are generous with them.
Recently, we have started using name tags, and it works well.
Because I feel really strongly about the joy of seating "family style," as opposed to "buffet style," we ask people to put their savory dishes somewhere on the main table. The desserts go on the dessert table.
You can also hand out little cards for people to write down if their dish contains any allergens, or maybe just what it is.
Let people know that they can pick their seat and that we will all gather to eat very soon.
Go for it!
NOTE: you don't have to do what I am about to suggest. What I mean by that, is that while I think that it is a really good idea, someone else can do this. #2 and #3 remember?
I have a little bell I brought back from Mexico and I love to use it in classes, or larger group to get people's attention. It's fun and it works great. A spoon on a glass works well, too.
About 10-15 minutes after the time when you asked people to arrive, you can get your group's attention and ask them to sit down. This is a good way to see if you have enough seats, settings, or if you need to add more (see above).
At that point, I like to give them an idea of what's to come. Usually, the format goes like this, although for sure, add or remove anything that you want!
With everyone sitting down:
- Thank them for being here, maybe share what has prompted you to create this Potluck.
- Let them know the plan for the evening / afternoon:
- short meditation with private Gratitudes
- main part of the meal
- invitation to share more Gratitudes with the grup (make sure to add that this is optional)
- Invite them to join you in taking three deep breaths together. This unites the group and allows whatever nervousness might be lingering to melt a little bit more. You can suggest that, as they take their deep breaths, they imagine breathing in their favorite smell.
- Guide them in a short Gratitude meditation. It usually only lasts a couple of minutes and goes something like this:
"Close your eyes and get comfortable.
Allow your chair to hold you all the way, without you having to put in any effort at all. Trust it to carry you.
Now take a moment and think of one or more people for whom you are deeply grateful.
Sit with that feeling for a moment.
Next, think of a place or places, for which you are grateful. Spend a little time there, really being with the feeling of gratitude for this place.
Finally, sink into a deep feeling of gratitude for yourself. For all the things about you that work well.
Thank yourself fully."
Now, find one more thing for which you are grateful, in your life.
Send some love to that one thing.
When you are ready, open your eyes and join all of us in the room, a room which is now filled
with the Essences of Gratitude and Appreciation."
Now it's time to eat!
Enjoy the heck out of this special time. Pass the dishes to one another. Share, laugh, mostly ENJOY.
This is the time for you to look around the table and see how beautiful this gathering is. How sweet and simple and so special, too.
When the main part of the meal is slowing down, you can invite people to share some Gratitude with the group by walking up to the podium, picking up a pebble and telling everyone what they are grateful for. Then dropping that pebble in the vase of water. Often, I will start the process by doing the first one. It is important that as people share, everyone listens and really receive and honor the Gratitude being expressed. Some of these will be funny, sweet and there will be laughter. Others may be deeper and more touching. You may see a few tears.
Know that it is all perfect and just at is should be.
Once everyone who wants to share has shared (and some people may go for seconds), you can announce that it is time to have dessert, and that if anyone feels compelled to share a new Gratitude, they may walk to the podium anytime, ring the bell for attention, and pick up a pebble.
At this point, people may mingle around with their desserts (which is served buffet style) and talk, socialize and enjoy!
Clean Up Time!
When you feel that the potluck is coming to an end (and I am really careful not to rush this part), you and your clean up team can start bringing the space back to its original state. At this point, you may find that several people want to help, and because of #2 and #3, I suggest you let them. There is something significant about being part of the clean up crew and I would never want to take this away from anyone.
Take your time, enjoy, be soft with it. You don't want to create an energy of "we're done, time to go home," but rather an energy of "this is part of the whole thing, and it's fun because we are doing it together."
That's it. Easy. Lovely. And ripples that will go on for days.
I would love to know when you host your Gratitude Potluck. I would love to see photos, too. Maybe some day we can organize a world wide Gratitude Potluck day. Wouldn't that be FUN?