Try some of these fun ideas intended to keep you meaningfully connected to your family, friends and fellow UUCNHers.  One of the Board of Trustee’s top priorities this year is to find ways that we can overcome the “Covid Blues” and be reminded that each of us is valued, loved and missed during this crazy time when we only rarely, if at all, see one another. The Youth Group, Board and the Connections Team all brainstormed and made this list of activities – try one – or more than one!  Please note that some of the ideas are time sensitive and require you to contact the Connections team by November 10, 2020 to participate. 

Things you can do by yourself (or with a child)

  1. Bucket O’ Plenty (Thank Rachael Smart & Robin Travers for this idea & for stocking the original cache)  – There is a covered container near the church’s front door labeled the “Bucket O’ Plenty.”  Stop by the church and look in the box to see if there’s anything in it that you could use to brighten your or your child’s day.  Take what you want – or leave something you don’t want anymore (only good stuff please) for someone else.  It’s kind of like those little libraries you see around, only with coloring books, activity sheets, crayons, small toys, or cookbooks instead of just books.  There is also a notebook inside that you can use to write messages to other church members.  Or just read through the other messages to see what people have been writing.
  1. Mail Someone a Care Package Here’s a great way to “make my day!”  Well someone’s day at any rate.  Mail a random care package to someone – anyone!  If you have a UUCNH Directory, try this:

Take your birthday and figure a letter from the easy chart below:

Birthday Letter Familes
January 1 to 15  – A 4
January 16 to 31 B 21
February 1 to 14 C 18
February 15 to 29 D 19
March 1 to 15     – E 4
March 16 to 31 F 11
April 1 to 15 G 11
April 16 to 30 H 21
May 1 to 15 J 6
May 16 to 31 K 11
June 1 to 15 L 9
June 16 to 30 Mac to meh 18
July 1 to 15 N 6
July 16 to 31 O 1
August 1 to 14 P 14
August 15 to 31 R 13
September 1 to 15- Sa to Sn 12
September 16 to 30 T 15
October 1 to 15 V 5
October 16 to 31 W 16
November 1 to 15- Y 2
November 16 to 30 Z 5
December 1 to 15 Mei to Mye 18
December 16 to 31 St to Sy 13

Get out your handy dandy Lifetouch Church Directory and find the list of names covered by your birthday from the chart above and then count out the number equal to your birthday DAY thru the names and find the name and address of someone to receive the Care Package.  If there are more numbers in your DAY than people in the list, keep going back to the beginning until you reach your Day’s number.

    1. For example, if your birthday is June 26, you’ll find that the name is Kathie Maloney.
    2. If your birthday is any day from July 16 to July 31, you’ll find that the name is Michelina Olmstead – LUCKY!

To make it more fun, put clues to your identity into the package and hope they can guess who you are.  Make sure they know you want to be “unmasked!”

To send more random Care Packages, use a different date, like today (well the day I wrote this – Nadine Trenton!), or your (this writer’s) wedding anniversary (Lainy Carslaw!), or your (my) best friend’s birthday (Abby Vaughn!).

  1. Randomly Call Someone – Maybe From the Directory Here’s another great way to make someone feel warm and fuzzy.  Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.    You could use the same system described above for the Care Packages to find someone to randomly call, but to find a different person, use your Mom’s or Dad’s birthday.  If I called Bernita Clover randomly, could you guess my Mom’s birthday? (It’s February 10.)  To make more random phone calls, use a different date, like yesterday (the day before I wrote this – Robin Travers!), or your (my) child’s birthday (Julie Kant!), or your “half year” birthday (Sandra Akacem!).

Things you can do in small groups of friends or congregants

Themed Zoom Meetings:

Themed Zoom meetings with your friends or extended families are great ways of connecting.  If the pandemic has done nothing else it has made us experts on the use of Zoom, or Apple Facetime.

The themes could be of these meetings could be serious.  Items like – a book you’ve all read, or the meaning of life and perhaps your deepest regret.  Or in Pittsburgh which is a great sports town, it could be the makeup of your all-time professional baseball team, or football or hockey team.

The themes could be silly (good for families).  Perpahs have people wear a funny hat, or tie, or slogan button, or full costume.  Or tell jokes – silly, funny or real groaners.  Or tell stories – Ghost stories on a rainy evening, or funny stories about your real life, like “The Moth” .  Or maybe a board/parlor game theme (good for families).

Here are some game ideas if you are not a fan of board games.

    1. Elephant’s Foot Umbrella Stand – Elephamt’s foot umbrella stands may not be as common as they were in the Victorian Era, but the game named after them is still fun to play. The leader starts the game by saying “I went to the store and bought…” followed by an object. Whatever object the leader names has to fit a secret rule they’ve decided to follow throughout the game. For example, if the rule is that every object must end with the letter “E,” the leader might say “I went to the store and bought an orange.” Players then taking turns guessing the rule by naming objects they think apply. If a player says, “I went to the store and bought a boat” the leader would say something like “They’re all out of boats.” But if they said they bought a kite instead; the leader would approve their purchase without sharing why. The game becomes more fun the longer you play, assuming you’re not the last player to catch on.
    2. The Straight-Faced Orator  – This rollicking game is perfect for those with a flair for the dramatic. One zoom family/couple pairs up to perform for the rest of the room—one, extremely serious and deadpan, recites a speech while the other, in great histrionic gestures, acts out the words and emotions of the passage. Each zoom screen family/couple can print out ahead of time a few contemporary passages to recite, such as poems, movie passages, trite pop songs or celebrity diatribes. No points awarded – everyone wins.
    3. Wink Murder – To play this game, one participant acts as the “murderer,” while another plays the detective whose job it is to identify him or her. The murderer covertly winks at the other players in the circle, causing them to drop dead. Using his or her deductive reasoning skills the detective has three shots to guess which of the players left alive is the murderer.
    4. The Minister’s Cat – The Minister’s Cat follows the formula of many classic word games: Players sit around in a circle and take turns describing the minister’s cat with a different adjective. Each adjective must start with a different letter of the alphabet, starting with “A.” For example, the first player might say, “The minister’s cat is an angry cat,” followed next by, “The minister’s cat is a brilliant cat.” Players are eliminated if they repeat an adjective or fail to come up with a new one.

Socially Distanced Round Robin Dinners at Member Homes

Round Robin dinners are potlucks with 3 or 4 couples or single adults.  People who sign up for the Round Robins are assigned to a different group each month.  The hosting couple coordinates a dinner night when all the assigned couples/singles can meet by contacting everyone via email or phone, then gives directions to their home and makes a main dish and provides drinks.  The other couples are assigned to bring a side dish, salad, or dessert.  What you are assigned to bring and who hosts the dinner rotates on a monthly basis.  We’ll try to mix up the couples/singles as well, but that would depend on the number of participants.  (REMEMBER – Keep distanced and wear masks as appropriate at these dinners.)  This could even work using the church outdoor spaces in warm weather.

If you are interested in being included in this activity, send your name(s) to Connections by November 10, 2020 to join the fun.  We’ll send everyone who contacts us a schedule for the upcoming few months by November 17, 2020.  Then the hosts take over and schedule their dinners.  If scheduling doesn’t work, just say you can’t make it. Be responsible, courteous and kind to each other.

Things you can do with friends or the Entire Congregation

  1. Virtual Classroom (from the Board of Trustees) You could organize a series of virtual lessons where your friends take turns teaching subjects they love, e.g. exercising, drawing, storytelling etc.  If you are interested in a larger audience, send your name(s) and topic(s) to Connections.  We’ll arrange to have the eNews announce sessions everyone could watch.
  1. Virtual Travel (from the Board of Trustees) -You could organize a series of virtual travel programs letting your friends take turns presenting virtual slide presentations with narration from their travels.  If you are interested in a larger audience, send your name(s) and travel destination(s) to Connections.  We’ll arrange to have the eNews announce sessions everyone could watch.
  1. Identity Contest (from the Board of Trustees) If we have some people who like this idea, we can put up a gallery of baby/toddler pictures from congregants and ask viewers to guess who they are.  If you are interested in being included in this activity, send your name(s) and photo(s) to Connections.  If we get 10 or more photos, we’ll figure out how we can have everyone play.
  1. Secret Santa for the Entire Congregation (credit to Nancy Kepner for this idea)  If you are interested in being included in this activity, send your name (and names of any other participants from your family) to Connections by November 10, 2020 to join the fun.  We’ll send everyone who contacts us a random name (and address) from the group, along with whether the name is an adult or child by November 21, 2020.  Buy a gift ($20 or less) and mail or deliver it before Christmas.
  1. Book Reviews (from the Board of Trustees) – If we have people submit short, say one page, reviews of books they’ve read during Covid, we could post them to the website, or in the eNews.  If you are interested in sharing a good book, send your book review(s) to Connections.  We’ll figure out how we can share it with the congregation.
  1. A Question to Start our Meetings (from the Board of Trustees) – Begin meetings with a thoughtful, “connection” question. For example, Rev. Sunshine Wolfe asks:  “What would you choose to do, if you could do something knowing that you would not fail?”  Make up your own questions too, but consider agreeing to not discuss politics or personal health issues!  People want to experience laughter and joy again.

Can you think of any other fun, meaningful activities/ideas?

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