Out of all the parties I have ever hosted, all the events I have planned, all the gatherings I have organized, hands down one of my favorites is a Sip & Stitch.
I want to start by saying that even if you are not a stitcher, this idea translates to any sort of activity-based gathering. A book club. A game night. A knitting circle. A travel club. A scrapbook night. A watercolor tribe. If you have a hobby you enjoy, and you want to create connections with others who share similar interest, a Sip & Stitch type of event is perfect, and this blog post is for you.
It is normal to feel daunted by the thought of organizing a dinner party, baby shower, or holiday meal. But Sip & Stitches are the opposite. They are the easiest event in the world to host because your guests bring their own activity! All you have to do is choose a date and time, invite some fellow stitchers, make sure your dining room table is cleared off, and set out easy snacks and beverages. Truly, this gathering is perfect for beginner hosts.
If you have always wanted to host a party, but have doubts, start with a Sip & Stitch! I cannot emphasize enough how easy and rewarding this kind of event can be, and how you as the host will get valuable practice from creating an evening centered around an activity. I have put together some easy guidelines to follow for hosting a Sip & Stitch. Feel free to adapt these to your hobby of choice!
Allow plenty of space for each participant.
Right off the bat, if you are inviting people to come stitch, make sure the room is conducive to stitching. Good lighting and space for people to spread their tools out in front of them is key. Also keep in mind that in addition to their canvas, scissors, and fibers, each guest will presumably also need room for a beverage and a plate of snacks. Allow some room for everyone to have space.
If possible, gather at one table.
As important as it is for everyone to have space for their snacks and supplies (see above), it is even more important that everyone feels included and together. The point of this gathering is to socialize and connect, and if a few people have to sit at a different table, it kills part of the connective vibe. If you do anticipate using multiple tables, make sure you invite enough people to fill both spaces.
Keep the menu simple.
“Menu” is really too strong of a word, but you will need to provide some kind of nibbles. For snacks, I usually provide a simple cheese board, and then put some small bowls of candy or pretzels or popcorn on the table where we are stitching. My suggestion is to keep it simple. Stitch & Sip events do not need to involve an elaborate menu or spread of options.
For the beverages, I like to keep the drink menu simple as well. I usually offer a fun sparkling water, a sparkling wine, and a rose. I discovered that most people who needlepoint do not want to drink red wine while stitching for fear of a spill or splatter ruining their canvas. I have also learned that while people usually snack modestly at a Sip & Stitch, they drink amply, so plan accordingly!
Put some music on in the background.
There will be ebbs and flows in the conversation as the evening progresses. A friendly hum of tunes in the background is a great way to avoid any awkward silences. Plus, music makes any setting feel like a party, so turn on the tunes!
Lead by example.
As the host, people will take their cues from you. When people arrive, give them clear instructions. “Here is where we will be sitting. Find a place and set down your bag. Then help yourself to a drink!” If people are not helping themselves to a drink, I will ask, “What can I get you to drink? Rose or Champagne?”
Once the majority of people have arrived, don’t delay in getting started. Sit down and start stitching! Get some snacks. Pour another drink. Others will do the same. Everyone feels most comfortable when they know what to do, and part of your role as host is to model this for your guests.
Don’t be afraid to invite new people.
Part of the fun of gathering fellow stitchers together is meeting new people who share the same interest. Hands down, this has the been the sweetest gift of the Sip & Stitch events I have hosted at Hurley House. Complete strangers walk in, and by the end of the evening, we have a shared connection and a common bond that ties us together.
The social awkwardness at a Sip & Stitch is kept to a minimum because everyone has something to do with their hands. One easy way to bridge a gap with someone you don’t know well is to ask, “What are you working on?” Or, “Tell me about your project!” As an introvert, small talk can be daunting, particularly with new people, but if I ask a question about their stitching project, the conversation flows easily and effortlessly.
Prepare to stitch, but don’t be surprised if the evening is not super productive.
Are we there to stitch? We are. However, more times than not, the stitching becomes an afterthought and instead we spend time mostly talking and laughing. A Sip & Stitch is not where I make huge progress on a project, but is where I feel a sense of accountability to make progress before our next gathering. Which brings me to my final suggestions…
Make a plan to do it again!
While you have everyone gathered, enjoying a lovely evening, go ahead and make a plan for the next one. Pick a date and time that works for everyone, and remind your participants that they can bring a friend who stitches. I also like to remind people that attending a Sip & Stitch is a perfect place for beginners. The room is full of seasoned stitchers (or at least people who have done a bit of stitching), and it is fun to help newbies figure out the ropes. I love asking questions of more seasoned stitchers. I leave having learned something new or discovering a solution to a common problem I am facing.
I hope these tips help you plan and execute your own Sip & Stitch soon!