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.

Dinner:

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!

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Why the name Heartistry?

A friend invited me to join him and a small group on a trip to Morocco to investigate the possibility of coming alongside some of his local friends in opening a small eatery with a fun theme (keeping this part of it secret in case it happens!) It would be a safe place for young people and women in particular to frequent. I was so very excited about the possibility of going on this trip and tried to make it happen. Although unable to travel, I later found myself asking why I had been so passionate about being part of the team.  I realized that this trip was at the intersection of so many things that I loved.  I started to list them: 

  • Hospitality- I could picture the cute little shop and knew people would love coming there to hang out.
  • Entrepreneurship-I spent 21 years in a direct sales business helping hundreds of women entrepreneurs start businesses and continue to support entrepreneurs around the world.
  • Affirmation- I wanted to come alongside my friend and encourage him to pursue his big dream.
  • Relationship- I love to network and knew I could connect others into this project (my mind was filled with people on both sides of the Atlantic that I thought should be involved!)
  • Travel- Who wouldn’t want to go to Casablanca?  I am passionate about travel and I am good at it!  And I have taken countless teams of people all over the world with me.

 And then I realized that these spelled HEART and right in front of me I knew what I needed to do with a large part of the rest of my life!  I am sharing my HEART  and inviting others to learn and travel with me.

P.S.  My very good friend Ruthie is the one who suggested the word Heartistry and I thank her for that!