The decorations: The colors we chose were: dark/navy blue, white and gold. We set up round tables with white tablecloths. In the middle of each table, we laid out a few larger pieces of blue and cream/white scrapbook paper with small gold doilies. Then we placed a brown paper sack with a white doily folded over the top and secured the two sides with a blue ribbon. We added gold ribbon around the handles and tied two balloons (one white, one gold) to the handles.
On the serving table, we used the same blue and cream/white scrapbook paper and gold doilies. Then we placed labels for each food item on the table using blue paper and white labels (I designed and created these using my Silhouette Cameo.)
For the paper goods, we purchased soup cups and blue striped paper straws. We already had plastic forks and spoons and white napkins. I rolled the fork and spoon into the napkin and tied it with cream/gold baker's twine and slipped the straw in the front. We laid the silverware in each place at the table so it was already there and didn't need to be carried. (The soup cups, paper straws and twine was purchased from a lady in our ward who owns a darling Etsy shop with all the party supplies you could ever want.)
In the center of the room, we had a well (made from styrofoam and wood) that had been used for our ward's Christmas party (we had a Jerusalem theme). In the middle of the well, we placed a metal bucket and put ice and bottled water so the sisters had to get their water from the well. *wink*
The food: To keep things simple, we decided to bring four varieties of soup (one of which was my Crock Pot Minestrone) and serve them with rolls (from Costco) and a green salad. The soups and salad were on one table and the toppings for both the soup and salad were at a separate table.
For dessert, we bought plain cheesecake and pie filling (cherry, blueberry and raspberry) for the topping.
The message: The woman at the well is a fairly well known story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at a well as He and His disciples are traveling to Galilee through Samaria. When Jesus speaks to her and asks for some water and the woman is confused and replies with a question of her own: "Why are you, a Jew, speaking to me, a Samaritan. Everyone knows the Jews and Samaritans don't deal with each other." (vs. 9, paraphrase) And His answer, which is the message I wanted to share, was: "If you knew who I was, you would be asking me for a drink and I would give you living water...for if you drink of this water, you will never be thirsty again." (vs. 10, 13-14, paraphrase) After hearing the Savior's message, the woman left the well and returned to the city to share her testimony and brought others with her to hear his message as well (vs. ). Many people were converted and it was all because a woman listened to the word of Christ and shared it with others who then came to hear it for themselves.
The lady who gave the message talked about how we are all in need of "living water" and that it is our responsibility to share that living water with those around us. She connected the sharing of the gospel to being a mother and teaching our children. Because really, we are all mothers, even if we do not have children of our own. Women have natural tendencies toward nurturing, loving and empathy. She used part of Elder Holland's talk "Behold Thy Mother" (October 2015) and quoted him: "To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle--and all will--I say, be peaceful. Believe in God and in yourself. You are doing better than you think you are." She gave each of the ladies this quote (which she purchased from this Etsy shop) and printed it out at Costco on 4x6 prints. (Obviously, this message was geared toward the sisters in our ward. But if you feel like it could work for your ward too, please feel free to use it. Or maybe it will just be a jumping off point for you.)
The activity was a huge success! The best part was that we were all able to get together outside of church and meetings and away from the craziness of kids and just be women and friends getting to know each other better and create a stronger bond between us all.
What have been your favorite Relief Society birthday dinner themes?