No matter what holidays your family celebrates, they usually involve a lot of family togetherness…and a lot of feasting. But love, connection, and gratitude don’t have to be limited to holidays—and there’s no need to spend days making pies to give and receive all those good feelings. That’s why my family regularly holds Encouragement Feasts!
Encouragement Feasts are a time when families (or classmates, teammates, or colleagues) take turns saying positive things about each other to each other. They can be hosted or held anytime: to celebrate birthdays, before challenging events like a performance or game, or just anytime you want to build connections or lift up someone’s spirits.
Here’s how we do it in my family (but feel free to develop a method that works best for you):
- One person sits in the center of the group. (We just plop ourselves down in the living room.)
- Each member of the group takes turns sharing words of positivity and encouragement to the person in the center: “What I really love, like, admire, respect, or appreciate about you is __________.”
- The person in the middle simply takes in what the others share, and offers a simple “Thank you” after each encouragement. (Accepting so many compliments can be harder than it sounds, which also makes this great practice in openly accepting praise!)
- After everyone has shared, the person in the middle of the circle offers some words of encouragement to himself: “What I love about myself is __________.”
- Then another person takes the middle position and the process repeats until everyone has had a turn.
Encouragement Feasts require zero prep time, and the benefit is awesome: In a matter of minutes, each person has received some loving, uplifting words and has likewise encouraged others. While Encouragement Feasts may seem a wee bit awkward at first, the energy and love they produce is pretty addictive. Just let it flow—don’t worry about the outcome or any initial resistance from participants.
At a loss for words? No worries. Here are a few ideas on how you can express encouragement and love:
- What I really appreciate about you is that you make sweet cards for me, because you know words mean the most to me.
- What I value about you is how you invite all your friends to play with you at recess, and you make sure no one feels left out.
- What I love about you is how you stayed positive when your soccer team was behind, and you gave the game all your effort.
- What I appreciate about you is that you help your younger sister with cleaning up her toys, and that is really kind.
- What I love about you is how you offered to carry Grandma’s bags to the car for her. That was really sweet and helped her out a lot.
These experiences are particularly powerful for children, because they are given the chance to create encouraging statements for themselves. (And hey, most adults can use a little practice in self-encouragement, too!) Encouragement Feasts also help us to slow down and acknowledge the progress, growth, and improvements our children are making. Best of all…there’s zero cleanup!
We hope these feasts fill you and your family up!