Griping about endless crafts at Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Meeting is a Bloggernacle staple. I’d like to try something different.

What are some HPFEs that have been great? What ideas do you have that you think would be great? I’ll start:

(1) The best HFPE I’ve been to in recent memory was designed to help the women in our (rather transitory) ward get to know each other better. We sat in a huge circle and had refreshments. We wrote on a little card what service we’d be willing to perform for another ward member. The HFPE leader collected those cards. Then she went around the circle. Each woman told a little bit about herself and then got to pick three cards and put back two (if I am remembering this correctly). The end result: I took a sister out for Indian food. Another sister came to my home and washed my kitchen floor. It was a blast. (Now, if the theme for the night had been service, this would have been, well, literally self-serving and I wouldn’t have liked that. But as a get-to-know-you event, it was great.)

(2) I wish we did more meaningful service projects, but it is hard to fit service into a 90-minutes meeting of 30 people. I recently had this idea that I think would be fun and would be useful for the ‘service’ month and the ‘home management’ month: every sister would be asked to spent 2-3 minutes telling the group about some things that she does to save money. (Mine? Internet shopping, particularly www.icampus.com and watchlists at www.ebay.com.) The sisters would be encouraged to go home and try out whichever moneysaving ideas would work for them and, most importantly, to keep track of how much money they had saved and then . . . donate it at the end of the month to a charity.

What are your experiences with (or ideas for) great HFPE meetings?

17 comments for “HFPE

  1. July 21, 2005 at 1:54 am

    honestly i enjoy the crafty ones… or at the very least something where there is actually activity and interaction. the ones that i hate the most are where we just go and listen to a lecture for another hour or two. how does that build sisterhood? how are you even going to get to know each other when you are supposed to be listening to a speaker??

    so, things we have done that i have liked the most included hiking, aerobics, crafts, service projects, or just having a nice evening with food and chatting.

  2. Andrea Wright
    July 21, 2005 at 3:12 am

    I would love to learn how to cut my kids’ hair. I cut their hair all the time, but I would love to actually know what I was doing.

    I too love the get-to-know you type activities. It’s amazing how much we don’t know about our fellow ward members.

  3. Mike W.
    July 21, 2005 at 3:18 am

    Why is there no male version of HFPE? I felt slighted at the lack of fellowship in the EQ meetings and jealous of my wife’s interactions at HFPE. So in one ward (I was temporal and spiritual welfare committee guy) we decided to have a quarterly priesthood version of HFPE. I moved after the first one, but it was a success and fun. I think there is generally a lack of fellowship in the church except at social activities and that we are missing out on a more profound fellowship that can happen in more spiritual, yet informal settings.

  4. Julie in Austin
    July 21, 2005 at 10:01 am

    Mike W.–

    Actually, the ward that we are in now used to have monthly Garagemaking Meetings. But it kind of petered out when the EQ Pres. changed.

  5. Katie
    July 21, 2005 at 10:44 am

    The best HFPE activity I have been to was set up by my best friend. She had three people from three different faiths-Judaism, Islam, Hindusim-come and speak about their faith. The women were broken into three groups and rotated around each person’s “station.” The guests outlined the basics of their beliefs and the sisters asked questions. It was illuminating and great!

  6. Carrie W.
    July 21, 2005 at 11:23 am

    My favorite Enrichment night (then Homemaking night) was in college. It was a Thanksgiving-themed one and we rotated between cooking tips, some sort of craft, and something else I’ve forgotten. But the cooking tips lady honestly admitted she had never done a whole Thanksgiving by herself and so instead she gathered cooking disaster stories from her friends. We all laughed and laughed and then shared our own stories. Nothing brings women together more than cooking diasters.

  7. Ana
    July 21, 2005 at 1:06 pm

    In our ward in Salt Lake we had one of the Church archivists. She taught one evening about preserving photos and documents. Kind of the more smartypants version of a scrapbooking (aka crapbooking) night. It was really interesting and fun.

    I do enjoy crafts sometimes if they are simple enough that I can work on them and chat with the sisters around me at the same time. Recently we made greeting cards. That went pretty well.

    We had one HFPE that was a panel discussion about teenagers and peer pressure. The panelists were a professional family therapist, a mom with kids who strayed and came back, and a mom with kids who are still straying. It was one of the best discussions I’ve ever been in.

    I ditched HFPE last night. It was crafts and salads. I chose kid-snuggles and Harry Potter instead.

  8. Sue M.
    July 21, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    Our ward seems to have a food storage fetish. Every Enrichment for six of the last seven months has focused on food storage. COME ON. And they wonder why they have low attendance.

    Some of the most popular Enrichment nighs I’ve attended were:

    – Mini Massage class – For the Valentines enrichment, two massuers in the ward gave us a class in how to give an, ahem, romantic massage; record attendance – the men didn’t seem to mind having to stay home with the kids for that one
    – Home Improvement Night – we had different people from Home Depot there to teach us how to install tile, how to install laminate flooring, how to make valances, and how to do different kinds of paint finishes (leather look, plaster, etc.), etc.
    – Girls Night Out – they split us into groups, we played a few games, and we had dinner and socialized. No redeeming message or anything – purely for sisterhood.

    I really dislike crafts – don’t like making them, definitely don’t want them hanging around the house…

  9. maria
    July 21, 2005 at 3:42 pm

    Good HFPEs we’ve held:
    -humanitarian service projects (these usually can be stuffed into a 90 minute block, if organized well in advance)
    -Christmas caroling on a busy street corner near the chapel
    -attending a free Metropolitan Opera performance in Central Park
    -book club night (everyone shares about their favorite book for 1-2 minutes)
    -make-up night (professional runway model make-up artist taught us the tricks of the trade)

    Just as a general comment, however, I get really depressed when people say that they don’t come to Enrichment because they don’t like the topic/activity. I’m really trying not to sound judgmental here, but I think that this is a pretty selfish attitude–Enrichment shouldn’t be about YOU and your interests but rather about YOU building friendships in the ward. The topics/activities are secondary to the friendship building.

    If the topics don’t interest you–TELL your leaders! Most every HFPE leader I have ever known has been dying to improve attendance and would be more than willing to hear what you have to suggest. And not just about topic ideas, either, but other suggestions you may have for improving attendance. Take it from a frustrated HFPE leader–we would love to have more feedback!

  10. maria
    July 21, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    Another general comment: I think it is really sad that Enrichment is so poorly attended (maybe that’s not the case in your ward, but it has been in all of mine, whether in UT, CA, or NY). I think Enrichment is one of the few opportunities that women in the Church have to really “do their own thing,” meaning, at every other meeting we’re essentially told what to study, talk about, discuss, etc., by the men (either through correlation or our local priesthood leadership). While there are some basic guidelines for Enrichment, we really are given free reign to do whatever we feel like doing, and to talk about whatever we feel like talking about. Yet, so few women actually ever attend! What a shame!

  11. Mark Martin
    July 21, 2005 at 4:45 pm

    When I was in a Boston singles ward, it seemed that warm-weather Enrichment nights often involved high (or at least medium) adventure. Every year there was a rock-climbing night, and also an annual sailing night. For the Strength of Women!

  12. N Miller
    July 21, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    My wife has thoroughly enjoyed her Enrichments.

    One was a pampering night. Similar to above, they had professional masseuses (only foot massages and shoulder rubs, no gettin undressed at church, you know, but my pregnant wife loved the foot massage), light, yet scrumptious food (according to all the women who attended), and the RS president was a runway model make-up artist and taught them all how to do their make up. My wife, who I would consider a master at make-up, came home excited with her new found ability to look all done up from morning to night with a little baby powder. Aside from the make-up and a message for about ten minutes at the beginning, nothing was learned, and everybody enjoyed it so much that I believe it is going to be a yearly thing.

    Recently they had the local drug enforcement people come talk to us (the men were invited to this one) about the drug problems in the area (I didn’t think there was one, we live in a good area). I don’t have kids that are even in elementary school yet, but the whole thing was disturbing but educational. We left with a greater understanding and less naivety about what is going on with teens, alcohol, and drugs. They talked about what to watch for in your teen and to know that any teen could easily participate with drugs even when parents think they are perfect and wouldn’t touch it. It may have been 90 minutes of “talk” but it enriched our lives, that’s for sure.

  13. Vicki
    July 21, 2005 at 9:33 pm

    Well this wasn’t an enrichment meeting but last week our RS made 13 meals for the compassionate service leader’s freezer; ultimately to be given to people who have new babies or illnesses or otherwise need that kind of help. It took about an hour and a half, and we had some dessert afterwards courtesy the woman who hosted the event.

    Other good enrichment meetings:
    *learning about car maintenance
    *one where several sisters talked about what they do to continue their personal education
    *organization lessons

    I’ve had RS callings for several years now (secretary, then enrichment leader, now enrichment committee) and have learned to appreciate HFPE a lot more than I used to. Especially after being the leader–that is not the easiest calling. I think if people have suggestions for improving enrichment they should let their RS president or HFPE counselor or enrichment leader know! Or if there’s something you want to do, a service or extra activity, just do it. In my last ward there was a book club and a Christmas activity that were announced routinely in RS yet they weren’t officially sanctioned events or anything. Relief Society can be what you make it.

  14. ann
    July 22, 2005 at 4:46 am

    I love to socialize with my RS sisters but often find the classes often not suited to my tastes. Last month we had ‘making a skirt’ or ‘cookie making’, neither of which appealed. We are quite relaxed, so I just took along my knitting (sore bandages for humanitarian work) and enjoyed visiting with the ‘skirt makers’. The previous month we had an ‘Italian’ evening from a sister who had recently been and told us all about Rome, Pompei, etc. with overhead presentation of photos she’d taken. We had a fun quiz on Italy (artists, music, identifying cities, etc). We ended with Italian refreshments – can’t remember what they were. I came home having had a good time and learning and being reminded of the culture.

    Whenever I was in charge of the homemaking meeting (as it used to be then), if we did learn a new craft I would always kind of couple it with a service project. When we knitted we learned by knitting bandages, when we sewed we made little premie items for the local hospital, when we learned cross-stitch we embroidered corners of hankies which we gave to a local old folk’s home (we did this near Christmas and sang to the old folks and visited with them, gave them the hankies as we left).

    The best thing we did was last Christmastime when we put service items up for auction – no money involved. First our President gave us a list whereby we could award ourselves points for various things we had done over the last month. Examples: read the scriptures every day, earned you so many points. Calling or visiting with family earned so many. She designed it so that even non-members attending could earn lots of points for ‘good’ things they had done for themselves, friends, family, community. A couple of weeks before the event we wrote out our ‘service’ offerings – we were asked to give two or three each, more if you wanted. Then we had an auctioneer who read out the services and we bidded with our points. It was really fun and some of the services offered were really useful. I won a day’s one on one at the family history centre, to help me get going again with my family history (my hostess even brought along a lovely packed lunch for us to enjoy on the day), a trip out to a local beauty spot, to be taken in the spring. I ‘gave’ babysitting and an ironing session, also a cross-stitch which was auctioned on the night. The service giving went on for a few months afterwards and gave a lovely spirit to the Ward as well as building relationships because you didn’t know who had offered what, so I ended up ironing for a young sister who I didn’t know very well, but by the end of doing all her ironing, we felt our relationship had grown.

    Drawbacks: some sisters were very creative working their points out – one had been to a family wedding the week before and had seen 65 members of her family, so gave herself 650 points for a start. Another table of 8 sisters all added their points together and were able to out-bid on many items. But I didn’t get too worried about it – after all I was more there to give than to receive, but some sisters were a little upset. Another drawback was that you didn’t know who had offered the service, which made some mums think twice about bidding for babysitting services, when you didn’t know who you were getting. And the offer of a home baked cake would be more welcome from one sister than another (If you get my drift!).

    All in all though, it was a really worthwhile Christmas activity.

    Keep ideas coming – I’ll pass them to our President.

  15. July 25, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    When I was Enrichment Counselor, some of the most popular evenings we did were Basic Auto Repair and Yoga. One I personally enjoyed, but never got repeat requests, was the one I did on gardening, i.e., how to keep houseplants alive. Everybody got to plant a lily bulb in a pot and took it home. One woman was amazed that it lived!

    One that we did here that I LOVED was with a crime prevention police officer, who gaves us tips about how to keep our homes and families safe. It was really awesome, and something I think every ward should too. Apparantly a lot of police precincts have an officer who goes around and does this stuff all day long. It was very informative.

    My very very favorite one that was not well attended in our ward was when the Temple matron came and talked about the temple. Very spiritual, very uplifting, and very enriching. I just wished more women would have come and partaken of the Spirit.

    I HATE round robin classes ones. I think they are boring and overwhelming and too much work. There, I said it.

  16. JKS
    July 25, 2005 at 11:58 pm

    I think one thing to remember is that for Primary and YW leaders, Enrichment is the only meeting they have to be side by side with the other RS members. However, understandably, working moms who go to YW activities every week have a hard time tearing themselves away another night in the week.
    This month we are having no classes, just a social. I plan to go so that I can get to know some people better.

  17. July 26, 2005 at 10:50 am

    “it is hard to fit service into a 90-minutes meeting of 30 people.”

    About the easiest service project you can do with 30 people in 90 minutes is a blood drive. Mormons generally make good donors, except the ones who have been off to exotic countries doing missionary work. Call the Red Cross, they prefer about 50 or more donors before they will come to your church. You can always go to them, by appointment. Don’t just show up in a large herd.

    You have to coordinate with the blood bank because they have very strict procedures. Some people really shouldn’t donate for a variety of reasons, not just that they might have AIDS and it is improtant not to embarass or put social pressure on those who can’t or won’t donate, for whatever reason. They can help out with other parts of the activity, refreshments or logistics, etc.

    What the blood bank really needs is a number of reliable donors who can donate often and consistently over a long period of time. Less risk and overhead. So if you manage to convert a small number of never donated folks into consistent donors, you have done a world of good and saved lives.

    Summertime is a good time. The demand for blood is high due to increase in accidents and the supply can drop due to less structured livestyles and vacations of regular donors.

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