HFPE as we fondly call it. It changed its shape a few years ago when we went to the "new program" and now only have 4 HFPEs a year. I was involved with HFPE (big surprise) when the change occured and I will say it was a little bit of a challenge. We found that we would plan 4 big HFPEs and then 8 slightly smaller HFPEs the rest of the months. It took us a while but then we realized that this was not the goal of the new program. The months where there is not an HFPE, there should/could be smaller activities...these can be things that only apply or interest some sisters in the ward, they do not have to have universal appeal. So, in the interest of your own sanity...DO NOT HAVE 12 HFPEs a YEAR! Its a LOT of work and not really what the program is meant to be. This is what we did...
We picked 4 months that we knew we wanted large HFPEs. We chose March for the RS Birthday, September for the beginning of school (We have a huge influx of new people at the beginning of every school year because we are a college town), and then 2 other months. We have a few months that are traditionally lower attended so we did not choose those months..for instance, December is a busy time and we have lots of students taking exams, so we do a low key fun night in December. January is also a lower attendance month because usually school has not started back up for the college students and they are not back in town from the holidays.
#1. So, pick your four months for the BIG HFPEs.
#2. Look at the other months and see what is out there. Our stake has a Stake HFPE on a Saturday during the Spring. we are given the option of not having an enrichment night during that month and encouraging our sisters to go to the stake HFPE instead. If this is an option...do it! With HFPE, its a NEVER ENDING calling and as soon as you finish one activity, you have to start another...so take a break for a month when you can...and besides, the stake may ask you to help with their activity anyway!
#3. For the non-large HFPE months, remember these can be low key. We decided to come up with a different name for those months instead of calling them HFPE, because in fact, they are not HFPE. We call them "Sisters Nights". For our "Sisters Nights", we took a survey of the sisters and what they were interested in. There were people interested in all the normal things...sewing, scrapbooking, card making, sports/fitness, book club, etc. So, small groups were formed and we asked people to be leaders of these groups...its really not a calling, its just an "assistant" in your HFPE. These groups had the option of meeting at some one's house or at the church on whatever would be your normal HFPE night if it were that month. They could meet every month, every other month, or however often the group wanted. Our wards play group is also considered one of our groups. Some of these groups only met a few times, like we had a photography group that only met for 3 months and was a teaching class done by a lady in our ward. We also did a crochet class that met 2 times, the first one was to teach you how to crochet and the second was to help you learn new things or to help you fix any problems or just crochet and chat with friends. Really, these groups can be anything you want and you do not need a ton of them. If one month you only have one group that is meeting, that is fine as long as it is still open to the whole ward if they wanted to come. Sometimes our groups would also meet at the same time at the church...we would have a sewing group in one room, basketball being played in the gym, and the crochet group in another room. Its your program so decide what will be best for your ladies in your ward...pray for guidance because you will need it and try not to get discouraged if a group doesn't work...people are busy, it could be a great idea but the timing may be bad. There have been many times when we have planned an activity for some specific people at their request and then they don't show up! Oh well! So, to recap...Sisters Nights are smaller, don't have to appeal to everyone, and if a group of 5 people is meeting and having a good time and sharing talents and friendship...that is a success!!