If you are interested in calming your spirit and creating a more nurturing physical environment, why not try simplifying your life while surrounded by others who want the same thing? Holding a Simplifying Party not only allows you to rejoice in getting rid of clutter you don't want -- and don't need -- but you'll also have the support of your friends helping you let go.
This type of party changed my life. Once I got rid of a few small items, I allowed myself to get rid of more. I can't guarantee such a party will have the same effect on you and your friends. I do feel certain that it will, in some way, positively affect your organizing goals. Here are some guidelines:
- You'll want to keep the size of the group small. Your invitation (written, phone or email) should specify this is a party with a purpose: to help jump-start your organizing efforts. Don't give out any other details. You want to encourage spontaneity.
- Ask each guest to bring an item that has meant something to her, one she would be willing to part with at the party. Give no other details.
- Have a good size pillar candle to light as the ceremony draws to a close, as well as tapers or votives for each guest.
- A potluck works best for this gathering. Try and make the area where the food is set out as beautiful as possible. After all, a beautiful environment is our ultimate goal -- why not experience it at the party?
- Arrange chairs in a circle. The hostess can say a few words about what the group will be doing during the course of the evening. If the group is amenable, feel free to begin with a prayer. If you're comfortable with it, dim the lights and burn candles.
- Ask each participant to hold her object in her hands. Working clockwise from the hostess, give each guest approximately two minutes to tell the story of her object. What has it meant to her? Does it have a unique story? Why did she choose it for tonight?
- A second round begins. This time each guest will have an opportunity to give her object away to someone in the group. Based on the stories that were told, she will now decide to whom they would like to give their item. Please have your guests be specific as to what touched them in the previous round and why they want this person to have their treasure.
- There will be a third and final round. It is important for everyone to realize that one person in the group may leave with everything! This is not about an even exchange. It's about giving our treasure a new home based on where we feel it is now needed.
- The hostess now lights the pillar candle. Moving in the same clockwise direction, each guest lights a candle the hostess has supplied. The hostess will light the candle of the person to her left, and again moving in a clockwise direction, each guest lights the candle of the person next to her.
- Everyone will have a few minutes to share. Ask your guests these questions: How did they feel about giving their items away? How do they feel about what they were given? If applicable, how do they feel about not having received anything? What is their wish?
- Would you rather have a party where everyone purges their items rather than giving them to each other? If this is the case, the hostess should let everyone know that she has researched a few charities in the area to give these items to.
- To end the party, the participants are invited to take their candles with them to remember the evening. At this time they can be extinguished. If the potluck meal is shared after the ceremony, the candles can be brought to the dining area. Each guest is then free to extinguish her candle as she leaves for the evening. The candle is not only her reminder of the ceremony -- it becomes the seed candle if she decides to host a party of her own.
This party tends to unleash a desire divest possessions we just don't need. Everyone who came to the party I attended couldn't wait to get home and start tossing! This simple ceremony enables everyone to see firsthand that there are indeed others who are truly waiting for the things we no longer need in our lives and environments. We experience this truth: Letting go isn't a punishment. It's a gift. When you add a tax deduction to the mix (that is, if you are donating the items that you are letting go of), you have a win-win situation for everyone involved!
There are multiple charities across the country that accept donations, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans, church or synagogue groups, and women's shelters just to name a few. Very often each has a unique protocol to follow. For example, do they assign the value for tax purposes or does the person making the donation do that? Will they pick up items or does one have to make the delivery to the charity? It is helpful for your guests if this information can be provided.
Read about how a Simplify-Your-Life party changed Regina's life.