Passion: Hosting dinner parties to intentionally develop friendships.

Background: Halah has been hosting dinner parties and events for her friends over the past five to six years. She loves to cook and serve people, and she also loves to bring in her signature sense of humor to the theme of the party. She is willing to celebrate any occasion, especially when they are light-hearted and fun. As you’ll read, Halah’s friends now expect a twist or laughter-inducing requirement on the guests as they are invited to her dinner parties.

You may hear her conversation and think that this is all about throwing great, fun dinner parties. But Halah’s story roots itself in her childhood as someone who struggled to understand friendships, claiming only one or two personal friends in her life until she was 20 years old. Halah is a self-described introvert, who now sees the value of developing a social side to her life, even becoming the person in her group of friends who initiates, plans, and hosts these frequent get-togethers. 

Halah understands that her children are watching her and learning how they will build quality, significant relationships in their own lives. The best glimpse I can give you into Halah’s passion for pushing herself to grow in her ability to build positive social engagements is the simple story of what led to our conversation. Remember how Halah is not naturally disposed to making friends or reaching out to new people? Well, she immediately accepted my request to come to her home and talk and take photos. We had never met, except through social media. Not only did she allow me to come meet her family, but she also invited my wife, daughter, and I to one of her dinner parties. I cannot express my gratitude for authentic people who are so willing to open up and share their passions with me as I continue this project. I hope that through Halah’s story, you are encouraged to find ways to share your passion with others and pursue relationships that help you to grow and learn.

“In my personal development I started extremely introverted and closed off with practically no friends. I realized that wasn't the way I actually wanted to live my life. As I decided to start to become a host for friends and family, I started to gain a level of comfort and control while engaging with other people and building relationships. I am years past the point of not having  friends, but this process really helped me find joy in the planning and the prep work that goes into these events.”

“Growing up, I did not have friends. My family just wasn’t a group of social people. I was never really encouraged to be around people, nor was I shown the idea of social friends. When I started dating Caleb, I noticed he had a large social circle. It was something that we discussed within our relationship. As a married couple, it became something that he wanted me to grow and develop. It is so healthy to have people, in addition to your significant other, to rely upon and to talk with. So, Caleb was the one that encouraged me to learn how to make friends.”

“One of the ways I learned how to develop friendships was to host things here at our home, because I’m not really comfortable in other social settings. Having dinners at my home gave me a little more control over the pattern of the event, and who would be here. There wouldn’t really be surprises for me. I knew what food was going to be served, and I already really loved cooking. Then, I realized that I also really loved cooking for other people. It was an easy way for me to interact with people.” 

“No party ever goes exactly the way you planned it… some detail or something will just not go according to what you had thought. The people are what make the event. It doesn’t matter if the food is just average, or something doesn't quite work out, because it’s really about the friends, family, kids, and conversation.”

“I try to have someone over for dinner once a week. I enjoy it. It gives me motivation to not just get caught in the day-to-day. It gives us something to look forward to, and to be creative with what I cook. About once a month, I usually do a larger party, with themes and decorations. Last night was (my dog) Bruce’s birthday party. We asked the kids to dress like superheroes, and the adults were supposed to dress up like their spouse. Now, with parties, my friends know that they can’t count on expecting something… there’s probably going to be a twist on the party.”

“Earlier this year, I threw a surprise party for my cat. Everyone that I invited had thought they were coming to a Mother’s Day brunch, and when they arrived… SURPRISE it’s a 21st birthday party for my cat, Bingo. Everybody had to wear cat ears, and it was all cat-themed. I had games to celebrate her, and costumes for Bruce and us. All of the food was themed; I had ‘Avo-cat-o’ toast, and ‘Paw-faits.’

All of my friends are avidly not cat-people. Three of my friends are actually allergic to cats... But, I had gotten her when I was five years old, and did not expect to have her around for 21 years.”

“I was raised pretty secular, but when I became a Christian, my life did a 180-degree turn. The choices I started to make lined up with this greater view that I now had of myself.

In my past I had always been a very angry, depressed, and anxious person. I used to hate myself, and I wasn’t happy with who I was as a person. I think that was reflected in my relationships with people.  I’m not that person anymore. It’s a relief to be who I am today.

Now I can trust who I am as a person. I never really had friends before all of this. I literally had like one or two friends, maximum, until I was 20 years old and got married. Now, I have an actual group of people that I would consider good friends.

“I’ve always been pretty sarcastic and dry. Most of my friends say that it takes about three times of doing something with me before they feel like my walls start to come down a little bit and I begin to be more of myself. 

I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine with me. I’m not meant to be best friends with everybody. But those who stick around have become really close with me.”

The aftermath of a great time!

Seeing people having good conversations and smiling and reminiscing on past events is what fuels the fire for me. Sometimes my parties are elaborate, and sometimes they are simple dinners or lunches. Ultimately, it's about creating points in time that I hope people can reflect on and enjoy in the present and future. Specifically, for my children, it's also about modeling healthy friendships and letting them see the value and importance of socializing!”

“I want my kids to see me have quality friends. I hope my kids gain confidence to make their own friendships, and have the foundation of seeing solid friendships. 

I won’t stop a deep conversation from being had in front of my kids. I don’t hide or protect most conversations from them, I try to be open with them. I don’t want them to just see the surface-level relationships. I want them to see the deeper side of relationships, too. And hopefully they’ll see the value in that and seek those types of relationships with the people around them as they grow up. Between that and the stability those relationships provide, they see that it is good to be around people, and it is good to have people like that in your corner.”

“It’s all about people. It’s about having a connection with people. Allowing it to be real in the moment. Being able to experience something that can be reminisced upon. The memories. It’s about the moments in time with people and the memories that I am hoping they are creating and having… that there is something to look back on for them, and to be happy about, or joyful, or laugh. I wanted that for myself, I wanted that for other people. And I wanted that for my children. It’s about the people, they are the ones who make the event.”

Miss Naomi was in a slumber for this one!

The location of lots of fun!