Technology. Phones. WiFi. It’s never not there. You’re at dinner and want to know something, pull that phone out and look it up. You want to take a picture while you’re out? Pull out that phone and then…wait…let me check this message, and that one, and wait I have 54 notifications on Facebook. By the time I look up again I have been deserted and left alone. Does anyone really feel good about being on the other end of that? I know I don’t, so I have come up with a few ways to get off your f*ing phone and spend some quality time together. Take back control of your time and your energy from that blasted little brain-suck. Stop making excuses and gets ta steppin’. Give yourself the power to be present with the people who matter most. Here’s how I do it.
Host a Weekly or Monthly Dinner at Your House
I’m always looking to feed people. It’s in my genetics. My grandmother fed us constantly. She never let us come over without some glorious meal whipped up in a flash. She never made it seem like a big deal, either. She was always prepared for company. I take that to heart more than ever since I welcome people to pop in or come over at a moment’s notice. Recently, I decided to host a weekly Monday night red beans and rice dinner at my house, starting with our families, with the intention of including others who want to stop in for some grub. In New Orleans, our tradition is to eat red beans and rice on Monday. Every Monday. Beans are some of the least expensive things you can feed people, and everyone loves them, at least in New Orleans. It’s a win-win, and it provides a space for our family and friends to have great conversations. Pick a favorite meal, or change it up, and have your favorite people join you for a dinner however often you want. Trust me, it’s a joy, and it typically gets everyone off of their phones.
My Bestie, Tater Tot, on a Walk
Walk, Talk, and Photograph
What better way to spend time with someone than to walk, side-by-side, and have no technology distracting you from one another? Amendment: I am guilty of pulling out my phone to take photos, but mostly I’m there for company. Walking became a big mental release for me during the pandemic, and I’ve continued to rely on it for breaks in my day. Sometimes I walk with my bestie (my dog whose name is Tater Tot), but when I want to see a friend, walking is a great way to see each other and catch up. I especially love going to parks, the swamp, our local sculpture garden, and specific neighborhoods. Best part is that it’s healthy, too. Wrangle someone and walk (and sweat) it out.
Watching a Band at a Converted Church
There is Nothing Like Live Music
I know not all cities have a heartbeat that sounds like live music, but New Orleans does. It’s why people live here, move here, and visit. You can find it all over the place. Walk through the French Quarter streets and see full bands playing on the street at no charge. Well, you could tip them to be generous. For little to no cover cost, you can pop into the dozens of venues along Frenchmen Street with music playing any day of the week, anytime. Heck, restaurants and little local dive bars even have music. My point is, you can enjoy music with your peeps by just walking out of the door of your house. And, you probably won’t be on your phone because it’s way too loud!
French-Themed Wine Party!
Wine, Wine, Everywhere is Wine
Did someone say wine? How about getting a few of your favorite pals together and doing a blind taste testing? Each person brings a bottle of his/her favorite wine. Winner gets bragging rights! I have had so many great moments with friends over a glass of wine, and that is not going to stop anytime soon. Maybe a wine tasting is not up your alley. Grab a reasonably priced bottle and enjoy it on your back porch or on a blanket near a body of water. In New Orleans, we can also take alcohol to the streets, so sitting on Bayou St. John or in City Park could be another beautiful setting to enjoy your favorite vino and spend quality time with one another. In the photo above, I planned a French-themed wine party and invited my favorite gals and it was an absolute delight. Wine and conversation are hard to beat. Nobody gets on the phone on game night. The game options are endless. From badminton to Scrabble, I love a good game night. Keeping it on the smaller side is my cup of tea, so 2-6 people is my ideal night for playing games. It gets the brain going, gets you thinking, talking about topics you may not think of unless you’re playing a new-to-you game. Personally, I’m a creature of habit when it comes to games, so Scrabble is my go-to and favorite, but I also like Bingo, Po-Ke-No, Battle (card game), and I love, love, love puzzles. Trivial pursuit is another fantastic one, and so is Apples to Apples. Try one out for yourself and your pals and put together a monthly game night.
A Few of the Books I've Read and Loved
Go Clubbing. Book Clubbing, That Is
Starting a book club has been on my list for, oh…years? I finally pulled the trigger and started one after meeting a lady while traveling solo. I told her how I wanted to start a book club. She asked me what has been stopping me. I had no response. That night, I went back to my hotel, put a message out on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to join, and several folks did. The deal is that we read an improvement book and I get to pick it. I have read a plethora of books that I have been dying to share with people, and I finally have my moment to shine. I started a book club! And random people come each time and contribute amazing stories and anecdotes. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done for myself, and I am so glad for the lady I met who pushed me out of my comfort zone and into being a book nerd. Establish the rule early: no f*ing phones allowed!
Floating in My Stock Tank Pool
Relax in the Comfort of your Stock Tank Pool
When I heard of it and then saw it, I had to have it. I didn’t want an inground pool because they would cost me an arm, a leg, and all three of my pets. And maybe my husband. No above ground pool, either. Sorry, but that ain’t my style. But a stock tank pool? That is my version of an adult baby pool and I am here for it. I had a deck built around it and my dog and I float on my big cat raft and enjoy a cocktail in the 90 degree water. It is like heaven on earth. Additionally, we invite our loved ones over for a sip and soak. Even kids love this thing, at 10’ round and 2’ deep. They are not the first on my guest list, but sometimes they come with the package and we do enjoy their joy out of this quirky little investment.
Coming together doesn’t have to be a production. It also doesn’t have to be expensive and fancy. There are options for all kinds of personalities, and I’ve given you my personal favorites. From hosting things at home to walking to wine-ing…there is an endless supply of fun things to do with the people with whom you want to surround yourself. I hope this list sparks some ideas and you get socializing. It really is food for the soul.