A few weeks ago, I engaged in a support group discussion about “meeting and greeting.” A recurring concern, it seems, is that most people WANT to feel “welcome” in a group, feel a part of a group by feeling welcomed, but more importantly want to be befriended or approached FIRST! Welllllllll... if the majority of the members each feel the same way, thennnn... who meets who? Who welcomes who? Who ends up feeling welcome in the end? So I thought, this may be a nice chance to share ways on how to BE THE ONE to make the first move, to take the first step in creating possible friends and maybe even long-lasting relationships, AND to give you artistic ideas on how to start the “relationship growth process.”
So you’ve either been invited to or chose to join a support/social group, and you find yourself at a meet-and-greet event. You see smiling faces everywhere! :) It’s you and your family surrounded by “them and their families.” You WANT to feel welcome… Many other families are thinking the same thing. So, you wind up hanging with your family in a small corner while they hang with their families in their small corners, each hovering over each other within your/their own, private, safe, personal “circle.”
Suddenly, YOU make up YOUR mind that YOU will not only smile back at the next smiling face that passes, but you will also introduce YOURSELF and your family to them and theirs. VIOLA! The ICE HAS BEEN BROKEN AND SHATTERED!!! Once you make the first move, take the first step, you’ll be surprised at how the domino effect takes place… avenues are bound to open up and other people will start introducing themselves to you, and/or you will feel more and more comfortable repeating what you’ve just accomplished. YES!
Now that you’ve begun to mingle, and your kids have begun to mingle with other kids, you (the parents) have finally met a few other parents that you kinda feel “nice” about. You may even walk away thinking (or secretly hoping), “he/she seems nice... I wonder if we/our kids would make nice friends?”
Here’s the second hardest thing to do this evening… RE-APPROACH one of the families you met earlier. Yes, YOU! YOU re-approach one of the families you met earlier (whether you remember their names or not!) and YOU ask if y’all can “exchange contact information.” PAINLESS, RIGHT!!!? Well, at least now YOU will have at least ONE other family's contact information. You'll probably mentally (or verbally, on the ride home) re-live this wonderful night... the night you met new, wonderful families. In the event you decide to proceed to Step Three, you will have contact information! You just never know.
Days or weeks have passed, and maybe by now you and the kids have seen this/these new family(ies) a few times at various events or locations since your first meeting. Now you really would like to share a little more personal time with them, just your kids and theirs. If you’ve made it past Step One and Step Two, here’s where the artistic part comes in!
In order to “get to know” these “nice folks” a little better, YOU could try one or all of the following.
1. Plan a Playdate
If you’re not quite ready to invite “strangers” into your home, plan a playdate away from home. It could be at a local park, the zoo, a museum you’ve been wanting to explore, or even a restaurant with a play area. Or, you could even meet at a yogurt bar. Almost any inviting gesture that YOU initiate and extend will speak volumes, and they will immediately feel...welcome! I can almost guarantee that YOU will feel good about yourself, too. 😉 Sometimes, WE must GIVE (first) in order to GET.
2. Host a Paint Party
It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. No one is required to know how to paint. All you have to do is provide and/or plan just a few, simple items:
3. Host a Sweet Treats Feast!
Invite your new friends over to help make DESSERTS!!! Kids (and adults) LOVE SWEETS, so make something fun yet simple. There are tons of desserts that don’t require baking or difficult recipes to follow. Just be creative! You could even pre-bake (or buy) a cake (or cookies) and let the kids enjoy mixing their own customized-colored icing using white cake frosting and food coloring! (pictured)
Simple sweet treats we enjoy making with friends include:
There you have it! Three easy, doable, fun, relationship-building activities to share with new friends. Of course, for some this may be easier said than done, but with a little practice, and thoughtful, conscious intentions, YOU CAN DO IT! You never know what potential heights you and your friends may reach…together!
Tell us all about your friend-building skills in the comments sections below. Have you approached new friends first? Do you generally wait to be invited or befriended by others? How do you move from your comfort zones to take the first steps?
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Believe you can and you’re halfway there.
To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.
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The contributors of ArtEase! consist of various authors and artists who thoroughly enjoy all elements of art and music, at heart! They enjoy drawing and painting, photography, theater & stage performance, scrapbooking, singing, playing piano, and more. They truly enjoy working with and teaching children how to engage in artistic expressions, how to become a part of active visual creativity, and how to express artistic critical thinking.
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