In a sense, I believe that all self-care takes care of those around us. If we don’t care for ourselves, someone near us is going to have to pick that burden up one day. But there are many acts of self-care that we can practice together, in pairs or in communities. And that is some of the most fun self-care available.
There are no new inventions on this list, really. You’ve heard of this stuff. But if it’s been a while since you’ve done these things, gather some friends, and try one again.
Host Sunday Lunch
Gabrielle Hamilton, of the beautiful miniature New York bistro Prune, and also Mind of a Chef, is that wonderful combo: great cook, fantastic writer. She has written often about feeding friends, family and neighbors all at once, and doing it on the regular, like an Italian grandma. Gabrielle makes this sound so romantic, and it is.
Much of the romance, of course, consists in the fact that Sunday lunch is a fading tradition. Most grandmas stopped offering lunch long ago. Which is good for you, because you don’t have a lot of competition out there. So announce your Sunday lunch by Wednesday, and cook it. They will definitely come.
If you want to go whole hog, issue a standing invitation, such as: my house, every Sunday, 1 o’clock, just show up. My friend Flavia has a Sunday supper club; she announces the menu on Facebook, and the first 16 people to RSVP are the night’s big winners. Parisian Jim Haynes does the same thing for up to 70 people. He’s been at it for decades.
Host Open Porch
Like an open mic, only unplugged. With snacks. Beverly Army Williams, sister knitter, says: “In the summer I host Open Porch Wednesday. I put out snacks and drinks, and anyone who wants to stop by is welcome. I love spending time on my porch with friends, and it’s nice to share my beautiful space with them.”
Knit a Blanket for Charity
It’s good for you, good for conviviality, good for cold people, good for the stash. My friends, this is in our wheelhouse. Dead center. We can do two blankets, perhaps three, while we’re in there!
My true favorite pattern is the Mitered Crosses Blanket. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were yours, too.
Love Your Neighbor (With a Casserole)
This is not an every week to-do, but an emergency measure. And not just for disasters, but anytime a neighbor is in need. Solution: have a no-fail casserole or other one-pot dish you can make quickly to deliver in a pinch. Work out the details, and perfect it before disaster strikes. When the Joneses are spending a lot of time at the hospital, they will be very grateful for the non-cafeteria fare, believe me.
And supporting one neighbor makes the whole neighborhood stronger.
Give Your Server a Raise
It doesn’t have to be much! Two or three dollars won’t put a big dent in your wallet, but if it bumps her up to an even $5 or $10, the raise packs an extra punch of goodwill.
Take it from a former waitress (Dot’s Diner of Boulder, Colorado: the best German pancake west of the Mississippi), this is a low-expenditure, high-return way to deliver a message of appreciation to your server, and a measure of pleasure to both of you. As the ancients said, Generosity is the virtue that produces peace.
Host a Clothes Swap
Exchange away those non-joy-sparking things. It’s good for you, good for your space, good for your friends with holes in their wardrobe, and good for the planet. It’s like an Easter egg hunt for grownups! Rules of conduct may be important, so here are some suggestions from Samantha Harmon of Remake.
Or a Book Swap
You’re probably not going to read that Tana French doorstop a third time. Take the leftovers to a Little Free Library. Find the nearest one with this official locator.
Build It and They Will Come
If there isn’t a Little Free Library near you (I have eight within walking distance, but my cross-country travels reveal that not all communities are so blessed), you can build or buy one. The Little Free Library has plans for a few different designs. Or they’ll sell you one already built.
Write Your Will
This one is lacking in the frolic factor. But what it’s missing in party atmosphere, it will make up for in peace of mind. And writing a will, for many of us, can be a simple affair. Regulations differ by country and state or province, of course. But here are some basics to get you started, and it really won’t take long.
Non-pro tip (because I’m not an attorney): You can absolutely do this together with friends. Ooh! And maybe you can put together a Keanu marathon afterwards, as a reward.
Get Friends Together to Watch Beyonce’s Homecoming on Netflix
Did you know some of your girlfriends have not seen this yet?! I myself have seen it upwards of two dozen times, much the way some people watch favorite Keanu movies. (Or so I hear.)
Anyway, for those of your friends who have not yet been transported by the superstar genius that is Beyonce, you can give them the beautiful gift of front-row seats at the biggest show of 2018. And without the desert dust.
It is two-and-a-half hours of inexpressible beauty. Warning: You may weep. A lot.
Get a Lunch Buddy
And take a walk with her every day. She who walks at lunch gets exercise, fresh air, and perspective on her job. And maybe even some creative inspiration! Same goes for your friend.
Have a Soup Exchange
If you want to be savvy and frugal about what you eat, you’re probably trying to plan and prep meals. And that is the kind of up-front work that pays off big time.
But it’s still work.
Making a big pot of soup and trading some of it for a different flavor of soup is a way to dial up the return on your investment. All you need is some friends and containers.
Your Idea Goes Here
I hope you’re reading this list and thinking “How could she have forgotten X?!” I probably forgot Y and Z, too. Please put your ideas for doing self-care with others in the comments below, because doing things together is the whole idea. Thank you!
Mind of a Chef, Season 4 with Gabrielle Hamilton (on Netflix)
Little Free Library plans and building tips
Ideas for organizing a soup swap