In January 2000, the monthly Homemaking Night was changed to Home, Family and Personal Enrichment in order to better instruct and edify the vast needs of the nearly four million members of the Relief Society in over 160 countries worldwide. The problem lies in making Enrichment actually enriching for the women in your ward. It can be difficult to plan a new activity and lesson each month, especially when your ward is made up of a very unique blend of women.
In her book, Easy Enrichment Ideas: Thinking Outside the Green Gelatin Box, Trina Boice discusses hundreds of Enrichment ideas, how Enrichment should be organized, and other fun ideas you can try on your Relief Society.
Spiritual development is probably the most important aspect of the Enrichment program. Unfortunately, it can also be the most difficult to plan. The key is to keep these activities simple. Plan a night to make white coat hangers with crotchet or satin fabric for sisters to hang their temple dresses, or schedule a time the sisters could meet in the temple to do work together. Make scripture or prayer journals. Discuss how to properly use them and the importance of prayer and scripture study. Do service. Spend an evening repairing the old hymnals in your chapel. Sing the sisters’ favorite hymns together and discuss why we sing hymns in our worship service.
Proceed with caution: not all homemakers are created equal. There are some women who can sew a quilt while pulling taffy and scrapbooking pages about their latest family vacation. And there are some women who don’t like to sew, cook, or (gasp) even scrapbook. Don’t expect to please everyone, but try to keep homemaking lessons reasonable as to not intimidate the sisters who might not be as good at these skills. Teach a class about proper home decorating. Talk about fun, inexpensive ways to give your home a quick makeover. Discuss how to get rid of clutter in you home. Share organization tips that can help de-clutter your home. Learn how to make decorative soaps, bubble bath, and bath salts or potpourri and scented sprays to freshen up your home.
Marriage and Family Relations/ Strengthening Relationships:
Everyone has relationships, whether it is family, friends, spouses, or boyfriends, making this topic applicable to everyone. Learn how to make decorative displays of the Family Proclamation and discuss its importance. Have a night dedicated to sharing creative date nights and tips on how to keep the romance going in a marriage. If there are several newlyweds or expectant mothers in your ward, teach a lesson on prenatal care, infant massage, breastfeeding, etc. Teach a class on how to love people who are often hard to love. Talk about understanding and communicating with difficult people. Have a class on the power of forgiveness—whether it is for others or for yourself.
This is your chance to really get outside the stereotypical homemaking box. Teach a class about basic first aid. Put together your own first aid kits or have the sisters become certified in CPR. Have a class on how to set up a reasonable household budget. Talk about finances, investments, and the dangers of debt. Invite a mechanic to teach the sisters basic auto mechanics – how to change a flat tire or oil, how to check the fluids in your car, etc. Have a night dedicated to discussing women’s health issues.
Service projects are usually the easiest to plan, but the most difficult to make unique and memorable. Though a very worthy project, don’t always settle with visiting a nursing home or hospital; really try to be creative with this one. Teach the sisters how to organize a block party for their neighborhood. Gather school items for low-income families before a new school year starts. Gather and clean toys for your ward’s nursery. Do someone’s yard work in your ward who is out of town, sick, or can’t do it themselves.
Physical and Emotional Health
Enrichment activities about health can be great pick-me-ups for women under a lot of stress. Have a class about yoga, aerobics, dance, or martial arts. Have the sisters wear comfortable clothes and serve nutritious snacks. Learn about child obesity and how to keep our kids healthy and strong. Have a pamper night. Decorate the cultural hall like a spa and take turns at different rotations, teaching fun tips like skin care, relaxation techniques, eyebrow shaping, facial massage, etc. Hold a spouse appreciation night. Share helpful ideas about being patient with your husband and how to let him know that you appreciate him.
Personal Development and Education/ Literacy
Some of these activities can really become a life-altering experience for many of the women in your ward. Have a lesson about the Abrahamic Covenant and its application in latter days. Discuss the tribes of Israel and their spiritual and literal linage. Discuss the responsibilities of being of the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh. For those women in your ward who started but didn’t complete their college degree, talk about different options for earning a college degree through independent study programs or on-line courses. Teach a class on how to start your personal history or autobiography. Organize a ward book club. Learn about bettering your public speaking skills. Have the women in your ward read books out loud and record their voices on audiotapes. Donate the books on tape to someone with bad eyesight or someone who can’t read.
Remember that there are women in your ward who can’t sing or play an instrument, so make sure to plan activities to involve them as well. Have a “Name that Tune” night with popular songs or hymns. Attend a local drama or opera. Have a mini-lesson on how to speak a foreign language. Have a western night and teach the sisters how to line dance. Learn about a different culture and prepare a meal from that country.
Instead of dreading the next time you’re stuck planning an Enrichment Night, have fun with it. With a little creativity and fun, you can make Enrichment a fulfilling experience for the sisters in your ward.
Enrichment is not the only thing that needs to be planned each month. There are many ideas for monthly traditions that you can develop in your Relief Society to help keep the sisters united.
• Each month spotlight one or two service organizations to give sisters ideas for family service projects.
• Start a friendship basket. Fill it with treats that are indicative of your personality and give it to a sister in the ward. Have her fill the same basket with items representing her personality and give it to someone new.
• Challenge the sisters to give a Book of Mormon to a friend each month.
• Start a recipe book with recipes of the treats that were served at Enrichment each month.
• Meet at a local restaurant and eat lunch with sisters in the ward. Or, pack a brown lunch and meet at a local park.
• Organize times to meet with other sisters with small children at parks for playtime.