Appreciation Dinner-Valentine's Day or any day!

Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to host an appreciation dinner to encourage and honor your family and friends.  A couple of years ago, Valentine’s Day fell on the same evening as the routine meeting of our prayer group, so I decided to host a dinner for them. It was a great success! 

Welcome activity:

Even adults can have a lot of fun doing an activity or craft.  It may bring back memories of kindergarten but will lead to lots of good laughs!  Put out paper and supplies and as people arrive, ask them to make a couple of Valentine’s Day cards. You will use these later for an activity.  It is great for people to have something to do while waiting for all the guests to arrive.

The Table:

I decorated the table using a white table cloth with a strip of tulle (ballet dancer's fabric) with little, white LED lights under it.  It looked so festive.  I added red and white heart napkins/serviettes and used shop bought cookies as part of the table centerpiece. I arranged the cards that had been made on the side table.


I chose pink and red food to tie in with the theme.  Check out the Easy Valentine's Day Dinner blog for all the details and a video that shows step by step what to do.

Affirmation Exercises:

After dinner (or in between the main course and dessert), ask people to take 5 minutes and write a note of appreciation for someone else at the table.  Give them prompts such as, “Write about the character trait that you appreciate about them or how they have touched your life in some way.”

If everyone knows everyone else, have them write a card for the person to the left of them, or you can draw names.  If people do not all know each other, pre-decide who should write about whom and let them know.  Encourage people to be quiet and stay focused while they write.

After everyone has finished writing, give them the chance to read the card out loud to the person before giving it to them.  Encourage the person receiving the affirmation to listen quietly and soak it in just like a sponge. You will be amazed how deeply people are impacted by hearing powerful and loving words being spoken over them.

Second Activity:

Give everyone a number of small pieces of paper, equivalent to the number of guests.  You can also give heart shaped pieces of paper if you have the time to make them.

Get everyone’s attention.  Explain that you will call out one person’s name and then everyone will write the first thing that comes to mind that they appreciate about that person on a piece of paper.  They will only have a few seconds to do it. Once they have written the word, they will hand it to the person face down.  That person doesn’t read them but just leaves the pile of words in front of them.  You randomly call out name after name until people have written one word for each person.  Then give people time to look at their words.  Many times people begin to laugh (and sometimes even cry) as they read what people have said.  Then go around the table and have people read out loud what others have said about them.

As people declare out loud the truth of who people see them to be, they feel encouraged and strengthened. 

(I have even done this exercise with executives in a start-up company in San Francisco and seen the same powerful result.  When I asked one of the women attending, she told me in front of everyone, that this had been one of the most significant moments of her working career.  How much we need to hear encouraging words, even from our colleagues!)

I encourage you to host a special dinner and spend the time affirming one another.  It will be one of the most meaningful evenings ever!

Please share this post with your friends, add your comments and sign up to receive our newsletters!

Holes in the Floor

While visiting the Kalaupapa leper colony on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai, I was deeply impacted by what I saw in the small, historic chapel on the cliffs of the infamous bay where lepers used to be thrown overboard. 

There were holes in the floor.

Grotesquely disfigured lepers hid in the lush Hawaiian foliage, intently watching as Father Damien, a 33-year-old Catholic priest, arrived on the remote island of Molokai. It was 1873 and there was not yet a cure for the dreaded and highly infectious disease that was present in the islands of Hawaii. Heeding the call to come and serve, and eventually die with the lepers of Molokai, Father Damian left his native Belgium and arrived on the tropical shores. 

On his first Sunday, Father Damien prepared for the service and with eager anticipation waited for the congregants to arrive, but only a few sat on the wooden pews.  Mystified, Father Damien asked why more people were not there and was told that many of the residents of the leper colony had been embarrassed to attend. Due to losing feeling in parts of their bodies, they were unable to prevent themselves from drooling and did not want to expose themselves to ridicule or worse yet, anger from the newly arrived priest.

The following week Father Damien was seen to be hard at work in the small chapel and he encouraged everyone to attend mass that Sunday. When they arrived they noticed a curious sight. Large, tropical leaves had been picked and twisted into funnel shapes and were standing upright with their bases pressed through holes in the floor. Spittoons made of leaves. Up and down the rows in front of where the parishioners would be sitting, Father Damien had chiseled  holes through the beautiful wooden floor of the chapel to make drains for his makeshift spittoons.  

The comfort of the people was to Father Damien way more important than the beauty of the building. He disfigured the floor so that castaway people would experience welcome.

As I saw the holes in the floor and heard the history, I was profoundly moved and challenged by Father Damien's bold and creative act. This captures the heart of true hospitality.

To ponder:

  • As I host people, are they more important than the mud prints they may leave on the carpet or the crumbs on the couch?
  • Would I be willing to lay aside my pride, comfort or embarrassment to invite people home, even if my house is far from perfect?

What are your thoughts?  Please share in the comments section below.

Please sign up to receive our newsletters. They are filled with inspiration and practical tips.