The only thing better than doing something creative is doing something creative with a friend. Lately, I've been reminded of just how nice it is to sit down with people that I care about to make something together. I love all of it: how the creative energy from one person feeds the next person, how you seem to have really important, satisfying conversations with a creative project in hand, and those long periods of silence when you're focused on what you're doing but are still enjoying the company of the person next to you. Here are some of my favourite ways to combine creative time with quality time: call up your friends and let the creativity blossom.
Seasonal crafting parties - I started a tradition years ago of hosting seasonal crafting parties and now look forward to making Christmas ornaments and decorating Easter eggs with friends every year. You can use any holiday as an excuse to gather people together: carve pumpkins at Halloween, make Valentines day cards, or make decorations for St. Patrick's Day or New Years Eve. Ask everyone to bring supplies, or to pitch in for the supplies you provide. Make snacks, have drinks, go wild!
Cooking or baking - This year a friend suggested that three of us get together to do some Christmas baking for a local charity that was asking for donations. We spent a lovely afternoon in the kitchen and donated a few dozen cookies. You can make your favourite recipes or choose new ones to try, and don't feel bad about keeping the results all to yourselves! You can also invite other people over to be guinea pigs.
Discovery/photo walks - A lovely springtime activity, photo walks give you a great reason to get out of the house and invite a friend along. All you need is your smartphone or a fancier camera if you have one. Pay close attention to what you see along your walk, and see how many photos you can snap. Look for interesting colours, textures, shapes, or compositions. Don't forget to take a selfie to help you remember the fun times!
Take a class together - I took a printmaking class recently and was thrilled when I learned that a good friend had signed up for the same one. It's so much easier to try something new when you have a friend to learn with. We were able to bounce ideas off each other, fill each other in when one of us missed a class, and remind each other of any steps we'd missed. We also met up one afternoon to work on our homework and it made struggling with a new skill so much more fun.
Send mail - There's this amazing project called Dear Data where two women on opposite ends of the Atlantic Ocean sent each other postcards every week for a year, each time recording data about a particular aspect of their lives. If you have friends in other cities, staying in touch is the perfect excuse to create some mail art. You can choose a theme, like the ladies in Dear Data did, or make it up as you go along. Send letters, drawings, handmade postcards, or little handmade gifts. Alternatively, you can gather friends in the same city to make mail art for mutual friends, or even for strangers!
Play drawing games - For this one a bottle of wine will go a long way to help loosen things up and increase the wackiness factor and bigger groups lead to more energetic explosions of fun. Here are some games to try:
- Exquisite corpse: Fold a paper into 4 parts, horizontally. One person starts by drawing the head of a creature and letting the neck lines go down a bit into the next section as a guide for the next person. The first person folds down their drawing so that only the neck lines are visible. The next person draws a torso and some arms, then extends the lines into the next section, and folds down their piece. The next person draws the legs and the last person draws the feet. Unfold the paper to see what kind of crazy creature you came up with.
- Telephone: One person writes a one sentence story at the top of a piece of paper and passes it to the next person. The second person draws a picture to depict that story, then folds the story down so that only the drawing is visible and passes it. The next person writes a story based on the drawing, then folds it so that only the writing is visible. The paper keeps getting passed from one person to the next until you've reached the bottom of the page. Then you unfold the paper and see how ridiculous the original story became.
- Pictionary or headbands: For Pictionary, one person draws something while everyone else tries to guess what it is. For headbands, everyone but one person sees the word or phrase and tries to draw it, with one person guessing.
Art supplies swap - Are your shelves overflowing with art or craft supplies that you never use? Invite your friends over and swap materials! Ask everyone to bring something they're not using any more and you can either commit to using the supplies together that night, or you can go home and make something and share it with the group later.
Host a workshop - See if there is anyone in your town who will bring a workshop to your house. Provide snacks and wine (always a good accompaniment to art and crafting) and invite your friends over for a night of experimentation. Hint: if you live in Edmonton or surrounding areas, I will bring a workshop to you! Email me for details.
Pinterest DIYs - Are you tempted to try some of the crazy DIY projects you've been finding on Pinterest or your favourite blogs? Invite some friends over to try them with you! If you get stuck you'll have extra minds to help you figure it out, and you'll have people to laugh with if it goes horribly awry.
Collaborative collage - Get a big piece of foam core or a large canvas, pull out your magazines, old maps and other found papers, scissors, glue, and paint and make a collage together. Either decide who will work on which section or take turns adding something that you think will fit. You can decide on a colour scheme or a theme, or just let it happen organically.
Crafting in public - Take over a large table at your favourite coffee or tea shop and tell your friends that you'll be there for a certain time period. Invite them to drop in and bring their own projects to work on. This is a great way to bring together people who haven't met since having a project to focus can help ease social pressure. People are free to converse or to work quietly. Folks can knit or crochet, draw, paint with watercolour, or anything else that's easy to transport and not very messy.
Throw a theme party - This has become another tradition of mine as I often host theme parties for my birthday. I encourage everyone to get dressed up and have activities to help engage people and overcome the awkwardness of meeting new people. Theme parties are a lot of work, so gather a group and work on it together!
Make gifts - Need some incentive to make your own gifts at Christmas, or for birthdays or anniversaries? Get some help! Gather some friends to make gifts for your loved ones. Again, you can pick a project or follow a theme, like homemade bath products, or you can each bring your own thing. Sharing supplies can make it a lot easier on the budget!
Teach a project - Did you just learn some amazing new skill? Share it with your friends! Teach them how to make pop up birthday cards, or show them that new watercolour technique you just learned. You don't have to be a pro to do this and you'll probably learn even more as you try to explain your process to someone else.
Which of these ideas would you like to try? How do you combine creativity and socializing? Leave a comment below!