How to Host a Gift Circle
For those of you who are keen on exploring gifting within the context of community, I witness and experience wonderful success with what are called Gifting Circles. Typically organized with no more than twenty people (it can get a little overwhelming with more), gifting circles involve three rounds of sharing. There is no ‘set’ way to facilitate a circle and once initiated to the process anyone feeling inspired can offer such experiences. (Connect for bookings if you wish to bring this incredible tool to your community space).
I encourage play with a ritual to open (and close) the gifting circle – perhaps a song, meditation, visualization, or icebreaker activity to create a group resonance. Have each person draw a line on a piece of paper and put the pieces together to make a circle connecting the ends together. Say your name and make a gesture the others are to repeat. Sharing in a meal also brings the circle together more completely. Pot lucks and “stone” soups are incredible gifting opportunities that are always well received in community and fit nicely with the overall gifting circle experience. Sharing in the circle can be done in a rotation order or ‘popcorn’ with each person sharing when they feel they need to.
The first round is essential for a strong foundation – it is a round of expressing gratitude. This is opportunity for the community to express who or what they are grateful for. Expressing gratitude (especially toward those present) opens invitations for generosity and gets the inspirational and connective juices flowing. During subsequent gifting circles (it is useful to set up a regular cycle to meet) the gratitude round is encouraged to focus on giving and receiving that resulted from previous circles. This creates space for the witnessing of generosity and inspires the amplification of giving and receiving within the community.
The second round is a chance for each person in the circle to share one or two (or more) needs they currently have. Needs can be a ride to the airport next Friday, someone to babysit their children, a wood saw for a project they are working on, or a hug – whatever they feel is needed. At any point if another person wants to fill the need, they can jump in with their gift. Needs are not limited to the here and now of the circle. This is practice of the art of asking.
The third round is an opportunity to express the gifts each person wishes to offer. Maybe they have a talent with computers or love to teach piano. Perhaps they have a bunch of scrap wood in their backyard or are available to drive someone around to do their errands on Saturday. Once the flow of offering gifts begins, this round can easily explode into beautifully expansive realms of service. Again, anyone with a need can jump in to receive a gift at any point. Imagination is the only limit to what constitutes a gift!
Ensure that the group is complete in their sharing before closing the circle. Groups hugs are a wonderful way to close. This is also nice to offer to anyone who has an idea for closing. Let it arise spontaneously if someone has a fire burning to share.
It is important for one person to be a story teller and to record contact information (encourage exchange among participants giving and receiving as well) and summarize the needs and gifts in order to connect after the circle has closed. Emailing the information out afterwards is a simple way to do this. The summary also allows people to fill expressed needs with the gifts of friends beyond the present circle. Follow up is essential for the continuation and positive feedback of the gifting circle. If no connections are made afterward, there is potential for the experience to run counter to its intention and generate contempt or doubts in the whole process.
But most of all, remember that there is no wrong way to do this! Very quickly the rounds can start to blend together and overlap. Sense into the circle and honour times when it is appropriate to transition between each round. Please let me know if you have any questions or desire to have a circle facilitated at your community space.