Loveys, I had a friend ask about the supper club I'm part of so I thought I'd share a little more about how that came about and why it's a great idea and how you might start one! I joined a group of women reading through Bread and Wine together this summer. It's an amazing book and one I highly recommend. In the book, author Shauna Niequist talks about the supper club she's part of. She writes in such a beautiful, heartfelt way that the thought of women around a table, with crumbs between them and half-empty glasses of red wine, well, it makes you wonder, Could I have that? Could I have a group of women who come in and flutter around my house and know where the forks and spoons are . . . could I have friends who meet me around the table?
We finished reading the book together and some of the girls started reading a second book, but not all of us could squeeze that into our schedule for fall. So one of the women just threw out the idea--can we have a supper club? No reading necessary. No deadlines or anything like that. Just once a month, let's eat together at one of our houses (or a restaurant if that's what needs to happen). We had just the right amount of women to fit comfortably around a table (which I think is important for a couple of reasons--you want this to be fun and for dinner to be a big part of it, and you want the group intimate enough so that people feel comfortable sharing real-life stuff on a regular basis). So our supper club was a spin-off of our book club. We have a sort of "group leader," which helps. Evan does all of our organizing and keeps us on track. (In fact, the picture above is of Evan's beautiful table.) We meet once a month and one of us does the cooking for that evening. I know some supper clubs use a potluck style. I think that works really great too. And it doesn't have to be a forever club. We have a certain number of women, so we started with a certain number of months. You can go with whatever kind of schedule works for all of you. After you've all hosted, maybe you branch off and start another supper club, another opportunity to meet new people. Or maybe you meet with everyone once every quarter, so you stay in touch.
So if you want to have a supper club, here are a few things to keep in mind: You don't have to be an awesome chef! Good grief. Sometimes I make hamburger helper for my family. I'm not a great cook. But I love dinner parties. So I've found a couple of good recipes I'm comfortable with. Those are the ones I pull out for company. You can keep it simple, like spaghetti and meat sauce and salad, or try something new--your friends won't mind (as long as there's wine! Ha!). Start with once a month. More than that gets crazy, and we all have enough crazy. Come up with at least three other names. I'd start with six, but four works for most tables. We have eight people, I think. More than that gets tricky. For one thing, you need to make enough food for at least an entrée for everyone (even if you're doing a potluck) and that gets expensive when you're feeding eight people. Every family is different, so keep finances in mind and be sensitive to the group members. It needs to be affordable for everyone. Plus, the conversation factor. If this is the kind of club where you want to be able to share very sensitive topics, then of course you don't want to bring new people all the time. It takes a while to build trust and relationships. The larger a group gets, the lighter the topics are for me. I don't want to share too much if I don't know the women around me well. It all depends on what you want to get out of a club like this. And there's no wrong way to do it! Talk about expectations early on so no one feels taken by surprise or frustrated by a change of direction.
Invite a few women you really like or you're interested in knowing better over for dinner and then pitch the idea to them. See what happens!
These are the holiday months--seriously, food is a big deal. Dinner with family, holiday parties, kids winter parties--the calendar gets crazy. Starting a supper club smack-dab during the holiday months might be too much. That's okay. It could be one of your resolutions for January! Or you can get together with friends for some holiday celebration and bring up the topic, see who's interested.
One more thing. It's okay not to force relationships to happen. I've experienced this before. Where you want to be friends with people, so you reach out and invite and host and include--but it sort of falls flat. Do you know that feeling when you want to be someone's friend, but it doesn't seem to happen? Maybe she's just not as into it, so she says no every time. Maybe she already has enough friends and doesn't have room for you (sad, I know, but it happens to all of us--or maybe it's just me). Maybe her interests are very different from yours and you feel like you can't be yourself around her. I think friendships that sort of grow organically are the best kind. I hate the thought of pushing myself on people. So if I've reached out a few times and things never work out, or if I'm getting the feeling like I'm the only one into this--I usually pull back, and that's okay. You don't have to be best friends with everyone. If I get the feeling that someone doesn't like me, I tend to panic and wonder what I've done. The truth is, you can't please everyone. And you don't have to. If your heart is in the right place (open and willing), you'll make it through regardless. But let me encourage you, if finding friends is hard, you're not alone in this process. We're all looking for our people.
I do know most of us have felt left out at one time or another. And most of us have longed for authentic friendships at one time or another.
Community is important. For me, Jeff and my kids are my number one fans. My sisters are my best friends for life. I've got friendships that have already stood the test of time, women I will always care about. And God continues to bring other women in my life who are special to me. Also, my relationship with God is life-giving to me. Still, even with all that, we can feel lonely sometimes, can't we? I know I can. That's why putting forth the effort to grow friendships can be worth it at times. Letting go and reaching out are both parts of life that we continually go through. There's nothing better than becoming friends over a cup of coffee and lemon cake, or a glass of chardonnay and bacon-wrapped dates.
We've talked about this before, there are all kinds of friendships. Some might be super-close, share-a-kidney kind of friendships. Some might be the "smile and say hi at church" kind. Both are good. I like going to church and knowing names and saying hello. I like going to the library and running into moms I know at story-time. I also appreciate just sitting together with one or two women whom I really trust, crying and being honest and sharing difficult moments in life. I value all those kinds of friendships.
It can be scary to try to start a supper club or book club or movie club or anything that has to do with friends! You might feel rejected. You might feel left out. But it might be awesome. You might find your people. You might have a moment where your house is filled with women talking and laughing and going through your cabinets as they pull down glasses for wine. Don't worry too much about impressing anyone. If the invitation alone doesn't make them happy, they probably aren't your people. And if they are your people, they'll love whatever you do and however you decorate. Find women with open hearts who love people. It's not helpful to be around people who pull you down. You know yourself. You know what kinds of relationships are healthy for you. When you spend a morning or afternoon with a friend--and you come away from that time feeling better, feeling heard, feeling loved, and feeling safe--it's a recipe for a good relationship.
Are you that person for the women in your life? I want to strive to be just that. For my mother. For my sisters. For my children. For my friends. I want to be a source of good community. I'm not a perfect friend. I say things I wish I could take back. I get my feelings hurt. I'm sad when I'm left out. I'm not a perfect guest and I'm not a perfect hostess. I'm not a perfect Christian. I'm just ordinary. Good days and bad days. I make mistakes.
We all do, lovey. Even so.
We cry, we're sad, and we still do the laundry. And God wraps us in grace when we fall.
I'm just going to be very real with you, I can have insecurities when it comes to hosting people and starting new friendships. Every time I plan a party, I worry people won't want to come. Or they might not show up. Or if they do, what if they don't have fun? Recently I was talking to Jeff about an idea for a Christmas tea party with my neighbors. All those insecurities surfaced. You know what Jeff said?
He told me: "It's who you are to reach out and do these things. Just do it. You'll be glad you did."
It's who you are.
I felt better in that moment for two reasons. One: Jeff knows me so well. Two: He's right.
We need friends. We need other women to hear us, to show that they care in tangible ways. If you need friends, I know just how you feel. I understand. There is something magical about time spent with a special friend.
Be open. Make a pot roast and set the table. See what happens, lovey.