Is your club getting ready for the seasonal celebrations to come? It’s a great time to change things up and host a themed meeting, invite the community, and inspire your club to think outside the box!
A special club event can be as simple as establishing a theme for the club meeting, inviting speakers to address the topic, and developing Table Topics questions and a Word of the Day around that theme. A few ideas:
Thanksgiving family traditions: Stories about family are excellent speech topics, and questions inviting tales of turkey are suitable for Table Topics that everyone will have an answer for! Simple decorations can also add to the special theme – cover tables with a roll of kraft paper, and collect beautiful fall leaves to scatter.
Talking turkey: For a humorous meeting, ask speakers to tell crazy tales of holiday meals or events gone awry. During Table Topics, ignite the food wars; ask speakers to weigh in and convince everyone: “stuffing” or “dressing” and why? With or without sausage? Mashed or baked? Pumpkin or Apple pie? Jello with fruit cocktail, yes or no?
Make Thanksgiving Count: Invite a guest speaker from a community organization to come to your club to share what they’re doing. Or get into the giving spirit, and encourage club members to take on a community activity together like gathering donations for the local food bank or a local shelter; writing letters to deployed military; or specifically inviting families of deployed military to a meeting.
While Kwanza isn’t my area of expertise, the themes of the candle lighting might strike a positive chord with lots of people.
There are probably other December holidays that could come into the discussion. A little research and we might find Muslim, Hindu, etc. traditions that are relevant at this time of year that we might incorporate in a way that is both respectful and fun. Those are my thoughts. I hope you find them helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback! Phil
Let it snow! Create a winter wonderland by inviting children of club members to make paper snowflakes you can hang from the ceiling in your meeting room or lay on tables with light blue cloths. Speakers can tell stories of winter excursions – and Table Topics can seek out more of those stories from members and guests. Serve vanilla ice cream floats with whipped cream to top off the wintry theme!
Carols: Choose a song like Deck the Halls, or let club members choose a carol to speak on for prepared speeches. For Table Topics, ask participants to share stories of memories centered around caroling or radio singalongs. Invite members to bring a small plate of their favorite cookies, and have everyone vote for Best Cookie!
Seasonal Toasting: Invite speakers to deliver 5-7 minute inspiring tributes to someone who has changed their lives…and ask Table Topics participants to follow that up with toasts to fictional holiday characters like the abominable snowman! Serve up sparkling cider in plastic wine glasses for everyone to enjoy.
Holiday Banquet: If your club is really feeling the spirit of the season, host a sit-down potluck dinner! Turn down the overhead lights and decorate with lamps and battery-operated candles, intermixed with fresh greens from outside. Nix speeches, and instead host a crazy White Elephant gift exchange, in which each member opens their gift and makes up a 2 minute story about how thrilled they are to receive the gift and what they’ll do with it. (Bring extras so guests can participate.)
Invite Santa! If you have a friend with a beard and a red coat, invite them to be a prop at your meeting; speakers can tell stories about special Christmas mornings. And for Table Topics, ask each participant to persuade Santa to finally bring them the dreamt-after toy they never received as a child. (No lap-sitting, please!)
Celebrate your club’s culture! While not everyone comes from the same background, brainstorm with members about other ideas that incorporate different seasonal traditions and expand everyone’s horizons. These were submitted for addition to this article – let us know if you have more ideas to add to our growing list!
- Have a “Best latke, doughnut, or Sufganiyot recipe competition.
- Have a humorous debate: e.g. “Are baked latkes are really latkes at all?” Or, “is it Hanukkah, Chanukah, or Hannukah?”
- Share some Hanukkah songs, especially the contemporary parodies. (See “Maccabeats Hanukkah” )
- Speech contests or activities surrounding Menorah Building 101 using LED “candles”.
- Prepare imaginative “fill in the details” speeches about the Hanukkah story. For example, somebody might share a tall tale that starts with: “You know all about Judah Maccabee, but did you know how his best friend in high school changed Judah’s path in life?”)
- Invite a local Jewish leader to be a guest speaker to share his/her insights on the “holidays.”
- Use a Dreidle to assign table topics.
- Speeches about great bravery in the face of impossible odds. A club could even incorporate this with your “inspiring tributes” speech and table topics ideas.
Whatever special meetings you decide to do, be sure to get the word out in your community about the special meeting – guests like to join clubs that have fun!