Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to: throw a ladies lunch when you dont have time to throw a ladies lunch (an if table)

After being invited to several if tables, I knew I wanted to have my own, inviting a different set of women, and introducing the concept to a new circle and thus, the if table grows.  The concept is, once your inviting, you are suppose to have your own table with other women. We have an active if gathering in my area and I had been invited to three already,  but the time never seemed quite right for me to have my own.

After someone held me accountable, I  finally just chose a date that was three weeks in the future, but as it approached my life suddenly got crowded with events and I didn't have as much energy to put a fancy something together as I had hoped....  

But even with minimal planning, it was still a big hit. And women sat around the table and shared and left feeling more connected and energized. And that was the whole point. 

At least minimal planning is needed for that to happen and this is how I did mine:

First Step:
Pick a lunch day, select a general theme, start a loose countdown and pick a helper.

You can go with the pre-selected monthly theme, download the table questions (here), look through past months themes, or make your own.   I told my helper my theme (Christian friendship/women supporting one another) and assigned her the table questions.

Tip 1: Make a list of those you invite, because as much as you think you'll remember, you wont. You'll forget.

Tip 2: Plan a simple meal and start your grocery list early. Have two choices for dessert, one glutten free.

My simple meal was a  help yourself salad bar with grilled chicken and dessert was fruit, chocolate cake (that I baked from a box) or cheesecake (from the grocery store bakery) or fruit.

Wednesday evening:

If you have more than one grocery store to stop at, work it into your schedule for today. I like to get all my meat from the small family owned store that has an in house butcher department. I stopped and got chicken breasts.

Tip 3: Right before bed, send out a text with a little note reminding ladies of the lunch.

Thursday evening

This is the time to do the rest of the grocery shopping. I made a list during the day at work, and quickly got all the things I needed and stashed them in the fridge.

Tip 4: When someone asks you if they can bring something have an answer ready. I decided I would assign drinks and paper products to anyone who asked. Both were covered.

Friday evening:

I was tired after working all week, but I forced myself to put the chicken breast in the oven with some salt and pepper, and let them cook while I did minimal sweeping, dusting and picking up the first floor of the house.  I also made sure the dishwasher was empty and kitchen was clean before going to bed. It sounds like a lot, but it was really quick.

Saturday morning:

I got up  pretty early to throw my cake mix together and get it in the oven. I then made sure the kitchen was clean and everything ready to be put out quickly.  When the first few guests arrived, while waiting on everyone else, I assigned them to put all the ingredients out in bowls with utensils and so forth.  The little buffet line we set up was perfect. I put a variety of salt and pepper on the table along with the utensils.

Tip 4: turn down the air conditioner and light a candle or two first thing in the morning of the lunch. That guarantees the house will be cool and smelling good by lunchtime.

Tip 5: Although it is fun to use good china, sometimes paper plates and cups are just fine and make it a lot easier on yourself. Same goes for centerpieces, nameplates, and little gifts for each attendant. These are certainly a nice touch to have, but in a pinch, I didn't have any of it and the lunch was still successful.

Tip 6: Set the desserts on the dining room table with extra plates and napkins. This makes it easy to linger around the table after the meal, and everyone will end up sampling all the desserts.

Tip 7: Music. Put on music from another room. Nothing too loud so you can't easily talk over it, but nothing so low its irritating because it can't be heard.

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