Every year I think it gets harder and harder to maintain friendships. As I get older, my circle of friends expands and the group gets larger and larger. Some friends may move far away creating the chance for that friendship to fade if not nurtured. Trying to find time to make personal connections while everyone’s lives are getting busier and busier is a challenge. But it is a challenge worth championing!
Part of the issue is that friends come from many different circles in your life and sometimes it’s hard to blend them together. But we manage to do that at least a few times per year with some sort of big group activity! I am lucky to have a friend in my life like Phung who is also a natural born planner.
For my work peers, the biggest hurdle is scheduling with people on multiple shifts to consider. I used to fret if we couldn’t accommodate everyone, but you have to let that monkey go. Pick a date and hope for the best.
Activities we have Tried
Bar of the Month Club
Several years ago some of my coworkers, their spouses and I formed a small group that set out to have dinner and drinks about once a month. To keep it fresh, we rotated choosing the site and tried to go someplace different every time. I even planned a weekend trip for the group to Traverse City for wine tasting and amazing food. We always had a great time and we got to explored many restaurants in the area.
I have worked for a hospital for several years. My friends are often scattered through the big institution in various departments and shifts. So to have a chance to hang out we formed the Martini Monday group. A local Establishment has 1/2 off martinis on Monday. Who doesn’t need a martini at the end of a Monday, right! So about once a month one of us would pick a Monday. Since we always went to the same place it made it simple. Just a fun girls night with appetizers and Martinis. I miss these girls who have mostly moved to states far away now.
Eating Around the World
Similar to Martini Monday’s, some friends and I formed a small group who go out to dinner every 6 weeks or so. For this we came together to explore foreign cuisines. Each time, one girl is the planner who sets the date and picks the place. Some foods we have tried are Jamaican, Ethiopian, Korean, Nepali, German, Cuban and Chinese. When we go, we all order something different, and try everything on the table. This makes for adventurous eating and a chance to catch up with good company while trying lots of new foods.
Yes, we will celebrate anything. But we do love Halloween. Who doesn’t? I love the enthusiasm when Phung rolls out a party idea. Everyone has a great idea to contribute. She even had a photo booth for this Halloween event. Our friend, Tom, brought a pink porta-potty. So thoughtful!
Cookie Baking Party
This event started as a way for coworkers to bring their kids out for a fun day of holiday cookie creations and quickly became a tradition. We would make baskets with the extra goodies for people who needed some holiday cheer. The group is different each year, some long timers and some new to the event from all different groups of my friends. The party morphed a lot over the years, as the kids who once attended are mostly grown and now it’s just us girls…but we still have fun.
Everybody brings their favorite holiday treats and containers to take home their goodies. We drink a lot of mulled wine and enjoy decorating too many cookies. I try to find fun new cookie cutters every year like Ugly Sweaters and silly Elves, 3D Gingerbread houses that keep it interesting. Sometimes, the decorating gets very competitive. (Phung-I’m talking bout you girl)
I am fortunate to have a friend, Kim, who is an artist. We have planned several Paint Nights at her studios over the years. She makes it fun and flexible for us to hang out. The Girls and I bring in snacks and drinks and try our best to be artists. Now for some this is easier than for others. I am awful at painting, but very good at planning the event and drinking wine. We have done this for theme parties, like Halloween, Bachelorette and even done holiday wine glass painting. The nice thing about this event is we can plan one fairly quickly and choose whatever project sounds the most fun.
Last year we had our first Girls Weekend. We carpooled north to our base camp which was a tiny house. After finding the place and dropping off our bags, the girls jumped in my car and I headed into town to check out a food truck park for lunch. They had about a dozen food trucks and a centralized seating area. Very cool. After that we took a scenic drive to a local brewery where we met up with the 2nd car of girls and enjoyed snacks and some flights of beer. Everyone packed snacks, drinks and games so we had plenty to do later back at base camp. We spent the next two days travelling the local wine trails and visiting some foodie destinations before heading back home. It was a great little get away.
I guess the take away here is that we are all busy. We all think about how much we would like to spend time with this friend or that friend. But do we actually make the time to do it? Sometimes, we have to take the bull by the horns and be the planner to actually find a way to make that happen. I think making that extra effort to nurture my friendships has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in life.
I always say that I don’t have A best friend, I have THE best friends.
I hope that this inspires you to plan a gathering with some friends you have meant to get together with or haven’t seen in way to long! It doesn’t matter what you do really, it’s the fellowship you enjoy together.