creative play group starter kit


For almost a year three friends and I have met once a month to play creatively together. Creativity has comfortably and easily turned acquaintances into pals and revealed possibilities that stretch beyond our times together.

We often remark on how the good vibes from our get-togethers last for days afterwards, and we’ve noticed a cumulative effect of being inspired toward courage in other parts of our lives, too.

If you’re not already doing something like a creative play group, maybe you’d like to try it. There are, of course, many options for how to organize a creative group and what to do in it. This starter kit is just one way to give it a go and see what you discover.  


the set-up

One person began by inviting us to have dinner together and discuss what we might want a creative play group to look like. We all liked the idea of meeting once a month at one of our homes, rotating so we each host the group in turn.

The play group meets in the evening, right after an early dinner, and we keep the focus on creating together rather than drinking or eating. We only serve each other tea and set out small snacks for nibbling as needed.

The host of the play group decides what the creative topic will be and provides the materials. If additional materials (or whatever) are needed, the host asks people in advance to bring it along.

Arrangements are made by email and we often get rides with each other, as we live all over town.

the structure

We’ve developed habits around how the evening progresses, which we keep doing because we keep liking the results.

The host starts things off by presenting the theme and activity for the evening. Then we do a freewriting session on a topic chosen by the host and related to the theme.

For the freewrite, a timer is set for about eight minutes and we write without pausing. The table jiggles as we all write at once and the air becomes infused with delicious nourishment, like we’re pulling creativity into the world.

Every time we read what we’ve written out loud to each other, we’re struck by how amazing we each are. We’re so different from each other and our writing is so different, but as we read and listen, dropping into each other’s just-written words – love, admiration, and wonder bloom around the table.

Then we dig into the host’s suggested activity, eager to see what will happen. As the evening progresses, there are always unexpected developments and surprises.

Even if we’re doing something collaborative, we pause a time or two during the evening to have a show and tell, which tends to include saying a bit about what we’ve done, how and why we did it, and how we’re feeling. We’ve found that our engagement and direction often shifts after show and tell, because we’ve been influenced by what was shared. This feels right and good, like we’re weaving together something bigger than ourselves.

At some point, we wind down. We’re done or satisfied or at a natural ending point and it’s time to head home.

We have a group journal that we pass from hand to hand – the host for the next play group takes it home at the end of the evening. In the journal we list each evening’s date, theme, and activities. We also record moments we want to remember – slices from the evening, revelations, quotes, and reminders of things said or done that touched us or made us laugh.

We part with tender fondness. We’ve seen and been seen. We’ve tried something new. We’ve risked into open arms. I always feel like a clearer, softer, wiser, truer version of myself as I walk out the door into the night air, or close the door and turn to start gathering up the teacups.

Tension is who you think you should be.
Relaxation is who you are.
Chinese proverb

themes + activities

Here are a few of the theme + activity combos we’ve done so far:

  • Leaves + focusing on quantity (see the boxed quote on this page) using a variety of art materials
  • Journey + dancing; painting with India ink on rolls of butcher paper
  • Blanket + collaging paper quilts using old magazines
  • Togetherness + creating together with pastels on the same big sheets of black paper
  • Together + making friendship bracelets
  • Story + creating a play and acting it out; collaborating on comic strips


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4 comments to creative play group starter kit

  • Helen

    Hi Grace,
    Tension is who you think you should be.
    Relaxation is who you are.
    Chinese proverb
    I think this stuck in my mind when I read because after a session I feel relaxed to be me. Like the Eckhard Tolle ‘me’ just feels chilled and like there is nothing, not even silence, to be frightened of.
    The ‘me’ that is trying to be me all day, just quietly leaves without me even noticing.
    Thank you very much for this.

    • I feel that way too after our play group sessions, Helen. I feel it in the room at the end, that all of us are calm and excited at the same time, which is a very true-self-affirming space to be in: nothing more is needed, everything is fine, and isn’t this perfect. Then that feeling spreads out into the rest of life. Yummy. And thank you.

  • Melissa Frykman-Thieme

    Hi Grace,
    Thanks for this kickstarter kit for resuming creative pursuits, a la Vashon Art Night of yesteryear. Those were some of the most fun times I’ve had. I love remembering the long evening hours sharing, laughing and creating. Thanks to YOU, I started learning what creativity felt like. I came to know that my life is pretty empty without creativity. So nowadays, I write EVERY morning, mostly recollections of important stuff, like the morning that a white dove walked into my childhood living room, just a week after my Mom died. The wee bird walked solemnly around the room, stopping at each teenaged girl to look her in the eyes, somehow forming a pact, then moving on to the next girl. None of us spoke a word, though some of us had sharp intakes of breath as the wonder bird calmly walked into our lives, then, just as casually, back out the open front door.
    we all agreed that this was a visitation from Mom. Just stopping by to make sure we were OK, and to let us know she was, too.
    thanks Grace, for allowing me to open up to white doves in the living room, for carrying this story with me, never to be let go entirely, but to be shared when time came to share.
    I miss you, and delight in hearing from you.
    Keep on doing and feeling and forging forward.

    • Ah, Melissa, you quiet something inside me. Thank you for you recollections and the amazing story of the white dove. You paint a word picture that’s easy to drop into.

      There’s a parallel universe somewhere where I still get to hang out with you and our other island pals: lounging in hammocks around the campfire on a summer’s evening, getting up to all sorts of interesting things during Art Nights, and (lest we forget) making miniature worlds (with stories) out of this and that found on the forest floor. Those are nice memories to visit.