I recently expressed a similar idea for combining the Festive Board with a Valley Library fundraiser, and I'll work with the St. Louis Valley to follow through on that. However, I'm also pushing to get more festive boards going in local lodges. This tradition seems to be overlooked by many, and how many new brothers were waiting on COVID before receiving the degrees? How many of those new Brothers would benefit from a good social time, honoring Masonic traditions, and learning a bit more about Freemasonry during a Festive Board? It can and should be included in the new Brothers' experiences, and who knows? Maybe those new Brothers decide to pick up the torch and organize the next one?
In some areas, Festive Boards and Table Lodges are close to the same thing. However, In my jurisdiction, (Missouri), they are quite different. I bring this up as you may need Grand Lodge dispensation before putting on a Table Lodge or Festive Board, and it's worth the time to investigate with your own Grand Lodge, your lodge bylaws, and the GL's bylaws what permissions are needed. This investigation may also generate interest from the Grand Lodge, and that's a good thing.
Recommendations for making the Festive Board or Table Lodge a success can be found in old minutes from various lodges, but the biggest initial recommendation is to play up the novelty. That is, focus on the positive of doing something different. Find a speaker. If you are fortunate to know local Brothers comfortable in presenting educational topics, have them do a short 20-30 minute presentation on a fun topic. Masonic Education may not be the only way to make the evening memorable, but it's a fair bet that a good education topic will start some discussion afterward. Does it have to be Masonic? Check with your Grand Lodge about how open your festive boards might be. Mine are not tiled, but we're still careful in topics and how we phrase certain words and subjects. Inviting the local Mayor or a City Council member to speak may get you closer to the community. Inviting the local officers of the Toastmasters organization to give a speech they wrote for Toastmasters can be an excellent lesson in Rhetoric. I'm sure you get the idea that a good presentation can come from many different sources with a little investigation.
Keep it short. What? Why? The Festive Board, or Table Lodge, itself shouldn't be very long. Multiple long toasts need to be broken up with announcements or quick topics for conversation. I found a couple of hours, including refreshments, to be the limit of my own enjoyment, and then I can retire to the patio or designated area for less formal conversation over a beverage of choice. Many Brethren enjoy an occasional cigar with that beverage, and that can mean another hour or more just hanging out, spreading the cement of Brotherly Love. Oh yeah, and definitely put the word out you'll all need designated drivers.
Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live in O'Fallon, MO just outside of St. Louis. Randy earned a Bachelors in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in telecom IT. He volunteers his time as a professional and personal mentor, is an NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol. He has a 30+ year background teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy's Masonic bio includes lodge education officer of two blue lodges, running the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, active in York Rite AMD, Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis co-librarian, Clerk of the Academy Of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, a trained facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. As a pre-COVID-19 pioneer in Masonic virtual education, Randy is an administrator of Refracted Light and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy enjoys facilitating and presenting Masonic esoteric education, and he hosts an open, weekly Masonic virtual Friday Happy Hour. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.