I realized I haven’t actually written a blog post on Articles Club since we launched it over five years ago! After having a few requests to share more about it and how to start your own, it is time to happily oblige and share more about one of my very favorite evenings each month!
I first learned about the idea of an Articles Club from the blog Cup of Jo, way back in 2014. I lived in Washington, DC at the time, and my friends and I decided to start our own articles club there. We met monthly til I moved, and they continue to meet all of these years later! I was very involved in a book club during my six years in DC (which is also still going strong), and I thought it would be really fun to do something similar – yet different – with another group of friends in DC. I love reading books and read 72 each year, on average, but not everyone has the time or desire to commit to reading so many books. What is an Articles Club, you ask?! Essentially, it’s a book club… but with articles instead of books! Every month, we gather together and discuss 2-4 articles on a given subject that’s been decided together in advance. An articles club is the perfect blend and a much shorter time commitment to prepare for meeting: simply reading a few articles beforehand, which could easily be done during your lunch break or on the metro to your destination!
When I moved to Raleigh in 2015, I knew I wanted to have an articles club here, and I also wanted to meet new friends who had similar interests. I reached out to my friend Emily (we had known each other online before my move) to see if she was interested in hosting an articles club with me, and the rest, as they say, is history! Emily and I each shared about the articles club online and invited strangers to be a part of our little group. It worked out better than we ever could have dreamed, and in October, we will be celebrating five whole years (and not a month missed!) of our beloved articles club! These strangers have become the dearest of friends, for sure.
It’s hard to put into words just how special articles club has become and how much these friends mean to me. It really is one of my very favorite evenings of every month and is such a highlight of life in Raleigh. Almost every one of these ladies became a dear friend simply through articles club, as I didn’t know most of them before it. I treasure these friendships and our time together every month, and articles club is so highly anticipated. From the gathering of friends to the delicious meals we share to gathering around the table together to laughing and talking for hours, every get together is magical. I am incredibly grateful for each lady’s friendship, laughter, insight, wisdom, thoughts, experiences, and love. I learn so much from them and am a better and more loving, open-minded, thoughtful person because of it. Most of us have been around since the very beginning five years ago, and a lot of life has been lived together over the years: from first babies to second babies to dating/engagements/weddings/marriages to new jobs and some moves (we miss those friends so much!) and everything in between. It is a joy to walk through life with one another, and I can’t adequately express just how much these friends mean to me!
Here’s how to host your own articles club:
Just do it!! Jump right in and start one today, even if it’s meeting virtually for now. I’m not too shy about meeting new people or getting something started, and I would encourage you to begin anywhere and dive right in. Don’t be too nervous about whether things are perfect, if anyone will want to be a part, or anything else: it’s so, so worth it to put ourselves out there, to try to build community and make new friends, to open our schedules and hearts to new experiences, and to try something you may be afraid to start!
I’d also go into it with a fairly solid game plan: if you’d like to share hosting duties, find a co-host or friend to coordinate and plan with! Decide how many people you’d ideally like to have (and how many can fit in your space). We have about 12 very, very active articles club members and usually 10 come each month. Anywhere from 4-10 sounds like an ideal number to me: it’s so much more about the community, conversation, and developing friendships than the number present.
Decide where and when you’ll meet. I know times are so uncertain and abnormal right now, and gathering is so much harder to do than ever before, but find something that works for you and is allowed. Before the pandemic, Emily and I alternated hosting every month. We typically meet on the second Tuesday of each month (occasionally it’s the third Tuesday), so everyone knows to keep that Tuesday open. We both love hosting and inviting friends into our homes, so we have both been very glad to have articles club in our houses (pre-pandemic, of course). We figured it was easier to alternate between two locations than to constantly rotate amongst everyone’s homes or to have one person host every single month. We live about thirty minutes apart, so my house is closer for some ladies and her house is closer for others. Find what works best for you! Since March, we have been meeting online every month at our normal time, and while that’s been great… it’s just not the same. A couple days ago, we finally decided it was time to meet together in person and see each other face to face! We decided to meet at a very large, spacious park in Raleigh, bring our own blankets or chairs, sit 6+ feet apart from one another and have masks, bring our own dinners and drinks, and be especially cautious in this day and age. It was 100% worth it to gather (safely) in person, and it was a magical evening being back together in person! So whatever you need to do to be safe and cautious about gathering, it will be worth it. I’m so, so glad we haven’t let the pandemic diminish our friendship or our time together!
In pre-pandemic times, we gather at 7:30pm at either mine or Emily’s house, and everyone brings an item for dinner! At the previous month’s articles club, we decide which date we’ll gather the following month, what our general theme of the next month’s articles will be and who will choose the articles, and decide what our dinner theme will be.
For the first 1.5 years or so, we just did appetizers, desserts, and drinks, and making the switch to dinner was one of the best things we’ve ever done. There’s just something about gathering around the table with dear friends for a few hours and sharing a meal and conversation with one another. It feels so much more intimate and fosters even better conversation, for sure. I send out a Sign-Up Genius a few weeks prior to our articles club with the dinner theme, and everyone signs up for one or two items (main dish, sides, drinks, and/or dessert). It’s worked out incredibly well for us… and it’s a totally judgment-free zone! Store bought items are perfect, while others have more time (if they work from home or don’t have children) or desire to cook something from scratch. Either way, every month is the best meal, truly! We always joke that we need to write a cookbook together, as we’ve had exceptional dishes and meals every single time. We often coincide our dinner themes with the articles we’re reading or the season. Some of our dinner themes include: Mexican night, Asian food, a British tea party, salads, family recipes, summer cookouts, Thanksgiving food, Greek food, a baked potato bar, a mac and cheese bar, cheese and charcuterie boards, soup and salads, and dozens of other delicious and fun meals.
Some of the fascinating topics that we’ve discussed over the years include:
family, friendship, mindfulness, kids and technology, etiquette, relationships, poverty, money, work and the gender gap, aging and dying, minimalism, self-improvement, the Enneagram (comes up all the time!), patriotism, routines, race in America, sustainable fashion, parenting now, the magic of summer, being stuck, how our families shape us, being a nuanced American, books and reading, raising curious kids, blogging and privacy, millennial burnout, becoming a parent (or not), the worth of work, and so much more!
Whoever chooses the 2-4 articles for the month typically comes prepared with a couple questions to get us going… but we honestly could talk for many hours straight and our conversation and discussion is very, very organic and natural.
Emily has done an excellent job of recapping and directly linking all of the articles we’ve read over the last five years, and I’d love to share those with you:
Here’s to embracing a fun new venture all of those years ago, great articles that foster conversation and learning, delicious meals and gathering around the table, magical evenings together, and to strangers turned friends that remind you of the very best parts of life!