Who Can Host?

Anyone can be a host - sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge and a good excuse to come together.

The most repeated feedback from hosts was that people enjoyed attending or hosting an event so much that they’ve decided to continue it as a weekly dinner, monthly meetup, or quarterly tradition. Conversation ignited action and inspired next steps for many – a ripple effect we hope will continue long after the tables have been cleared.

So how do we create moments of purposeful gathering? Let On the Table be your reason to gather, and use our resources and tips below to help guide you! If you can embrace your own vulnerability with hosting, you set the right tone for real conversations. And real conversation is what helps us all feel known, understood, and encouraged.

How to Host an On the Table

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Almost ready to host?

We’ve answered five things you might still be considering with some helpful tips we’ve collected from hosts just like you. And if you’re looking for a general overview of what to expect, you might like this primer, available in English, French, Simplified Chinese, and Punjabi.

View Primer (PDF)

1. Who should I invite?

When deciding on your guest list, consider what your desired outcome might be. Is it to nurture deeper relationships with the connections you already have, or perhaps to meet new people and broaden your horizons? From neighbours to work colleagues and community groups, your guest list will start to shape your conversation.

  • Expand your circle

    If you want to host 6 people and also meet some new faces, ask 3 of your friends to each invite a guest.

  • Get to know your neighbours

    If you have a specific topic you're jazzed about and would like to find other people that share the same passion, consider sending out a save the date card with the topic to a couple people and ask if they have suggestions on who else might be interested.

2. What should I talk about?

You can talk about anything that matters to you. This could be something on your mind that you’d like to reflect on with others, an idea you’re passionate about, or even something you’re struggling with. One thing we can pretty much guarantee: whatever you choose to talk about, it will lead to some incredible conversations! Putting a topic out there gives your event a focus and motivates your guests to commit.

Check out the list of topics from previous hosts that shared what’s on their mind.

  • Open up

    It takes courage to move beyond the small talk and bring hidden feelings out into the open intentionally. However, it's this kind of sharing that creates deep bonds. People want to connect deeply and you can be the one to lead them there. Reflect on your own life and chances are what you want to talk about, others do too; what you’re struggling with, others are too. If you can open yourself up, others will follow.

  • Get Curious

    What inspires you? What would you like to learn more about? Being curious in the world is the first step toward finding others who share similar interests. Declare your topic or ask a question. This can be your magnet to attract like-minded individuals in your community.

Previous Topics

  • 1. Community Engagement & Participation (25%)

    1. Better-connected Neighbourhoods
    2. “Love where you live,” Steveston edition
    3. A flourishing neighbourhood
    4. Age-friendly communities
    5. Being neighbourly
    6. Building community (x7)
    7. Building community in our community
    8. Co-operation
    9. Community building in small towns
    10. Community care
    11. Community chats
    12. Community connections (x3)
    13. Community for all
    14. Community inclusion
    15. Community involvement
    16. Community participation
    17. Community resilience
    18. Community visioning
    19. Community
    20. Community activities
    21. Creating a caring Dunbar
    22. Enjoying neighbourhood connections
    23. How can we build a better community
    24. How to create a safe and welcoming community
    25. Let’s connect
    26. Let’s talk community
    27. Meeting the neighbours (x2)
    28. Neighbourhood association
    29. Neighbourly chats on Forest Hills Drive
    30. Nova Scotianers
    31. Socially engaging minority communities
    32. How VR builds community
    33. Encouraging volunteerism (x2)
    34. CPAWS
    35. Life in Vancouver
    36. Macbeth neighbourhood block watch
    37. Making Vancouver fun
    38. Micro communities
    39. Politics
    40. UN Convention on the Rights of PWD
    41. Shared economy (library of things)
    42. What’s good in the hood?
    43. What service means to me
    44. What’s your favourite place in town and why?
    45. Who lives in our hood?
    46. Will you be my neighbour?
  • 2. Inclusion & Belonging (15%)

    1. A more equitable society
    2. Breaking the isolation
    3. Building inclusive community
    4. Building more inclusive cities
    5. Belonging: what it means to each of us
    6. Belonging to the community
    7. Club 50+: supporting older women finding work
    8. Diversity in our community
    9. Gender equality (x3)
    10. Fat-friendly spaces
    11. Friends of the Similkameen
    12. Friendship
    13. Friendship as we age
    14. From around the world
    15. Helping new Amica residents feel welcome
    16. Home is where the heart is
    17. Immigration
    18. Inclusivity and personal well-being
    19. Interracial collaboration
    20. Interracial relationships
    21. Migration stories
    22. Navigating life in our 30s
    23. Potluck, People, and PRIDE
    24. Reconnecting
    25. Senior’s issues
    26. Social acceptance
    27. Social isolation and resiliency
    28. What is home?
  • 3. Wellbeing & Vitality (12%)

    1. Autism and friendships
    2. Being with change
    3. Brain injury in our community
    4. Connecting
    5. Connection
    6. Conversation
    7. Conversation
    8. Conversations about community
    9. Conversations with neighbours
    10. Coming home:what does it mean to you?
    11. Creating a sisterhood circle
    12. Domestic violence NPD abuse survivors
    13. Dying well
    14. Gut feelings: how our guts affect us
    15. Joy and responsibility
    16. Life in the balance
    17. Living
    18. Menopause
    19. Mental health
    20. Mental health week launch
    21. Self care: finding love and joy
    22. Things that help us thrive
    23. What brings you joy
    24. The labour of love
    25. Autumn hikes
    26. Let’s chat about the next chapter
    27. Expanding horizons
    28. Food, sport, daily life in Vancouver
  • 4. Learning & Storytelling (8%)

    1. Doing battle with overabundance
    2. Family Traditions x 2
    3. Following Jesus
    4. FSJ northern learning cohort
    5. High school angst
    6. How do we get ABA in schools?
    7. Learning
    8. Patients in education
    9. Sharing stories of our home waters
    10. Storytelling & oral heritage
    11. Storytelling and burnout
    12. Support university students initiatives
    13. Underlying connections
    14. Talent management
    15. Job Search
    16. Work force shortage – revisited
    17. WBS-“That the World May Know”
    18. Small Business
    19. Social Media Scams
    20. Team Building
    21. Tech supporting Humans
  • 5. The Built Environment (8%)

    1. Daycare, shelter & transportation
    2. Future Homes for our Amazing Kids
    3. Shaping the City and City Wide Plan
    4. The Granville Connector
    5. Vancouver
    6. Vancouver as a new home
    7. Vancouver eco transportation & mobility
    8. Wastewater treatment, and contaminants
    9. History and future of heron point
    10. Co-housing Conversations
    11. Fresh Ideas for Salmo
    12. New cities
    13. Sustainability in our building
    14. The future of Steveston
    15. Preserve legacy world heritage sites
  • 6. Climate Action & Climate Emergency (7%)

    1. Business for Climate Action
    2. Climate Action x 3
    3. Climate change action
    4. climate emergency
    5. Connecting to nature for climate action
    6. Our world & global warming
    7. Steps to going green
    8. Sustainable food systems
    9. tackling environmental issues
    10. UN sustainable development G=goals
    11. What does zero waste mean to you?
    12. What the world needs now is…
    13. Your actions on Environmental impact
  • 7. Arts, Culture, & Creativity (7%)

    1. A creative conspiracy
    2. A guide to making better creative work
    3. Community arts & culture in the Koots
    4. Connecting with local creatives
    5. Democracy
    6. Democracy and belonging
    7. Culture
    8. empowering Vancouver musicians
    9. how live theatre has changed our life
    10. Music in us
    11. Should barriers to artistic freedom exist ? What are the most common barriers ? Are they personal or social ?
    12. Sustainability in the arts
    13. The genocide of a culture
    14. The Vancouver art scene
  • 8. Social & Environmental Shifts (6%)

    1. Dependency on plastics, preteen-teens
    2. Providing a welcome to refugees
    3. Blacks and Canadian policies
    4. Creative actions for social change
    5. Environmental stewardship
    6. Let’s talk food waste!
    7. Nanaimo’s low carbon future
    8. Rainbow Refugee
    9. REAL reconciliation
    10. Reconciliation
    11. Revitalizing the non-profit identity
    12. Second-hand clothes
    13. The journey of reconciliation
    14. Women in leadership
  • 9. Food Security & Nourishment (5%)

    1. A balanced breakfast
    2. Affordable health nutrition
    3. Breakfast with your neighbours
    4. Breakfast, lunch or appetizers
    5. Development and sale of local food
    6. Envisioning school gardens
    7. Food security in the Jewish Community
    8. Food Sustainability
    9. The Just Food Foundation
    10. Revelling in the fruits of our labour
  • 10. The Voice of Youth (4%)

    1. Millennials in mining
    2. Junior youth spiritual empowerment
    3. Working with the millennial generation
    4. Youth anxiety
    5. Youth engagement
    6. Youth from care
    7. Youth in food systems for the future
    8. Youth in the Parksville area
  • 11. Just for Fun (3%)

    1. Barbers who sneeze on you
    2. Girls just wanna have fun
    3. HELLO game
    4. Ice cream
    5. Karaoke
    6. Pet peeves
    7. Pets
    8. Poking fun at yourself
    9. Super Heroes
    10. What comes after Z?
    11. Your favourite books

3. Should I serve food?

It’s completely up to you! Be easy on yourself and plan for something you can comfortably manage, and ensure you’re following the COVID-19 health authority guidelines when it comes to sharing. For online events, you can get creative and suggest something that everyone can make themselves at home - or order take-out and serve in your backyard out of the box. You could even choose foods that compliment your theme – if the topic is about local farming, maybe something fresh from your garden or grown locally would suit.

Check out these recipe ideas designed for sharing.

View Recipe Ideas (PDF)
  • Get creative

    Think about how your food could relate to your topic or how the food sets the tone of what guests can expect. (e.g. Popcorn, Pop and Doc films or Coffee, Energy Balls & Managing the Toddler Years)

  • Make it easy

    Host your On the Table at a local cafe or restaurant, serve straight from the bag, or make it a potluck!

4. Where should I host?

Over the past years, we’ve seen On the Table gatherings pop up just about everywhere. Think about where you and your guests might feel most comfortable, and what type of atmosphere you want to create. Past gatherings have been held at these locations: Home 34%, Office 30%, Restaurants 14%, Parks 9%, Backyard 7%, Cafés 6%. This year we expect to see many conversations hosted online, which can increase the opportunity for access by many. Our host guide walks you through some steps to think about both prior and during your event day. Plus, download On the Table flags to add some decor to your space.

View Host Guide (PDF) View Flags (PDF) View Poster (PDF)
  • Match location to guest accessibility

    Consider your guest list and choose an environment that best meets their needs whether that be an on-line platform or an outdoor park setting. If you’re hoping for engagement and action, you might want to consider booking a room at your local community centre so that you are equipped with a work-style setting and whiteboards for guests to contribute ideas.

  • Create the vibe

    If you’re longing for a deeper conversation, creating a comfortable and intimate atmosphere for small groups will encourage openness and sharing.

5. How do I facilitate a meaningful conversation?

By declaring a topic, you’re already on your way to moving beyond the small talk. We will continue to add a few more tools here that support a purposeful gathering and help you keep things focussed. First, try kicking off your event by downloading and printing these Conversation Starters to warm up the group and get things off on the right track.

What happens after the conversation?

What we heard most often from On the Table hosts is that their event sparked some sort of action. If you’re looking to translate your conversation into a community project, have a look at Neighbourhood Small Grants, our partnership program, and get familiar with the granting cycle in your region.

Visit NeighbourhoodSmallGrants.ca


of hosts said that On The Table provided an opportunity to host a conversation that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.


of hosts said that after hosting an On the Table event, they felt an increased sense of belonging or connection to others.