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How to orchestrate successful gathering

What is a gathering?

A gathering is the intentional bringing together of people for a particular reason such as: a birthday, Christmas or celebratory dinner; a work meeting; drinks with friends; or clubs to participate in shared interests.   Collectively, we will share stories and ideas and challenge each other’s perspectives.  We can give others our full attention by actively listening to them and in turn feel like we have been really heard ourselves.  We can solve problems or create plans for improving things.  These experiences can influence how we think and feel about things.  They can also improve our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.


The wellbeing benefits of gathering

Establishes stronger connections and bonds between family, friends and colleagues.  This can increase your sense of belonging and purpose which can make you feel happier.  For some, it can reduce feeling of loneliness and isolation.  In addition, the Mayo clinic reports that stronger connections can reduce high blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).

Increases your feeling of social supportThe Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, found that social gatherings with eating or drinking, and intentionally marking a positive life event allows you to think that others will be there for you in any difficult or challenging times that may crop up.  This belief is correlated with increased life-span and decreased depression and anxiety.

Sparks ideas. Shared stories and conversations can inspire you to do something enjoyable / / creative / useful / meaningful and gives you ideas on how to tackle difficult issues and overcome challenges. 


Allows for family or organisational heritage to be understood which can reduce misunderstandings and conflicts.  Equally, it provides the opportunity for creating new and improved traditions.


Encourages healthier habits. Depending on the type of gathering, it can encourage you to replace unhealthy habits with healthier ones.  For example, instead of going for drinks at bar have tea with your book club, soft drinks at your games event or move your body with your group by walking, swimming or dancing together.



How to orchestrate a successful gathering

Host a meal gathering

It could be breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner or cocktails.  Tips to consider:

Create an atmosphere that stimulates the senses:

  • Create a visually pleasing tablescape.  It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a pot plant, foraged wildflowers / branches and a candle can do it.  

  • Or create an inviting seating area – again use plants, flowers and candles.  Add some comfy cushions, foot stools and cozy throws if cooler weather.  A lit fire indoors or outdoors always helps create a cozy atmosphere.

  • Play some music to relax or enliven everyone.

  • Make your space smell lovely with a scented candle, aromatherapy (bergamot is known to facilitate good conversation) or simmer something like orange peel and a cinnamon stick in some water.

Stimulate conversation

You can purchase or download conversation starter questions (search online).  Place a question at each person’s seat and then get someone to start off the conversation with the topic from their card.  You can also ask people to come with a particular story to share such as an incident that in hindsight they can laugh at, something that made them feel really happy, how they helped someone etc.

Share the work

Ask others to bring a favourite dish or drink so you don’t have to do all the cooking!


Host a games or activities gathering

It could be board / card games, charades, crafting something, cooking together, a walking / swimming / book /movie / theatre club etc.

Tips to consider:

  • If it’s a games gathering, ask people to bring along their favourite game.

  • If it’s a craft gathering, make sure people know what they will be doing so they can seek inspiration before they arrive and collect any resources they might need.

  • If a book / movie / theatre club, make sure people have sufficient time to read or view what’s going to be discussed. Perhaps set the theme /s to be discussed so people can come prepared and ideas will flow.

  • Apply the tips from above to stimulate the senses and have delicious snacks and drinks on hand.


Use technology to your advantage

Want to gather with people in far away locations?  Then use video through Facetime, Whats App video, Zoom or Teams to host your club, games event or even cook a recipe or craft an item together in real time.


Useful resources

Get an abundance of further ideas at Priya Parker’s website or get her book


Over to you

What sort of gathering do you want to host?  Who will you invite? What resources do you need to gather?


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