How do we form better connections? A Dinner Party

Check your email for a message with the details about the time and place for this dinner party.

Over dinner we’ll talk about what can be done to facilitate better connections between people. How do we transition from small talk to ideas that really matter to us? How do we make new friends at different stages of our lives? If our wellness depends on social connections, how is it that so many people would rather avoid social situations? Can we learn how to be more sociable while still being authentic? Is there really a “loneliness epidemic” and if so, what caused it?

Below are some things you can do to prepare for this gathering. You’ll also find a few “requests from the host” as well as a rough idea of what to expect. The evening will be more interesting if you can take a minute to read this.

In this message…

  1. Special Assignment #1 – Notice connection
  2. Special Assignment #2 – Bring 2-3 books to loan or give away
  3. The rough plan
  4. Food details
  5. A sincere request from your host
  6. Parking, transit

1. Special Assignment #1 – Notice connection

Sometime before we gather, try to intentionally notice connection. If it will help your memory, write down your observations. You can bring your list to the party.

What do I mean by “connection”? It can mean different things to different people and I’ll be curious to find out what it means to you. Here are some examples of connections that I’ve noticed so far:

  • Talking to Brian (strong connection to another person)
  • Petting my cat, the sound of purring (strong connection to an animal)
  • Enjoying the talkative birds gathered on a powerline (light connection to nature)
  • Someone put a lost glove on the fence post so that the owner would find it (observed light connection between strangers)
  • The cashier at the gas station made a joke that made me laugh (light connection between people who cross paths as part of a routine/commerce/service)
  • Driver stopped for pedestrian (light connection between strangers)
  • Calling my mother (strong connection between people)
  • Drinking water (connection to myself)
  • Receiving a birthday card (strong connection between people)

These are examples of being seen and heard and seeing and hearing others. Anything that makes you feel this way is partly what connection means to me. The connection can be something you initiate (e.g., “Calling my mother.”) or some small thing you encounter in the course of your routine. It could be obvious and super important to you or something you’ve never thought of as a connection until you made a point to notice it.

2. Special Assignment #2 – Bring 2-3 books to loan or give away

If you can, bring 2-3 books that you would be willing to either loan or give to someone you’ve just met.

  1. Write your name and email address inside the cover or on a piece of paper that you can put inside the book. Do this even if it’s your intention to give away the book.
  2. Alternatively, you can bring magazines, CDs or DVDs to give away or share.
  3. Books etc. can be on any topic. They should be something that you like and would recommend.

3. The Rough Plan

6:30 – 7:05 pm: Arrive, drinks, browse books that other guests have brought

7:10 – 8:15 pm: Dinner, group conversation about connection

8:15 – 8:40 pm: Experiential group exercise

8:40 – 9:20 pm: Dessert, tea, conversation by the fire

9:20 – 9:30 pm: Goodnight toast

4. Food Details

  • Chili (gluten free, vegan)
  • Various toppings
  • Rice (gluten free, vegan)
  • Corn chips (gluten free, vegan)
  • Corn Muffins
  • Dessert (It’s a surprise! My friend Tim has offered to make something!)
  • Beer, Wine, Mineral Water, Tap water, Tea

If you have other dietary preferences or needs that do not fit within the above, please feel comfortable bringing your own picnic.

5. A sincere request from your host

Arrive between 6:30 and 7:05 pm. We want to have an intentional gathering where we start and end as a group. If this arrival window does not work for you, then we’ll graciously accept your regrets and hope to see you at a future gathering. Unless I hear from you otherwise, I’ll assume that all is well and that you will be coming.

Come as you are. Let’s say that you couldn’t do the “special assignments”. Don’t sweat it. Just come. If you’re not up for talking much, maybe you just want to listen? That’s cool.

Please leave your mobile devices at home. Or be prepared to turn them completely off and surrender them at the door.

Shoes are okay to wear on the first floor, which is where we’ll be. Just wipe them off at the door. If your footwear is especially wet or dirty, you can take off your boots and go with socks or change into slippers or a dry pair of shoes that you bring.

Call instead… If you need to contact me after 2 pm on the day, please call (see phone number in email message). I get my email etc. on a desktop computer, so I won’t be able to see any last-minute email messages right away.

Parking, Transit…

There should be plenty of parking on the street. Though if the weather warrants it, keep snow emergency parking restrictions in mind. Hopefully that won’t be an issue.

There are number of bus lines that are close (#21, #63, #87). For more information, see