Friday, December 15, 2017

Almsgiving Preparations - Schedule

I have an almsgiving preparations schedule/to do list that I put together several years ago.  Every year, I print out a copy of it, make any adjustments, and check things off as I go along.  I first posted it here

This is the schedule for this year:

2017 Almsgiving Checklist & Schedule:

Week 1 (Dec. 1-7):
- Set date/invite monks/invite participants - DONE
- Decide on donations/get them ready - DONE
- Make menu/check supplies/make grocery list - DONE
- Check supplies (non-grocery)/make shopping list - DONE
- Check table linen, chair covers, etc., wash if needed, iron, etc. - DONE
- Shop for non-perishables - DONE

Week 2 (Dec. 8-14):
- Cook ahead and freeze: cashews, garbanzos - DONE
- Confirm date with monks - DONE
- Remind invitees; share menu/assign dishes - DONE
- Start cleaning the house (Dust/vacuum/tidy living room, dining area, family room, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms) - STARTED

Friday, Dec. 15:
- Rearrange furniture - sofas, coffee tables, tall round side table (for reliquary), trolley (for plates of offerings), remove blue & white vases near fireplace (so I can set the small sofa in front of the fireplace)*
- Take down dishes used only for almsgiving and wash them*
- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, serving spoons, etc.
- Take out plates, bowls, etc. for guests
- Final cleaning - dust, vacuum, etc. - living room, dining room, family room*
- Kitchen - counters
- Clean bathrooms/set out guest towels, etc.
- Put cashews and garbanzo beans to thaw
- Set out items needed for the transfer of merit: teapot, cup, and water basin; fill teapot with water
- Candles/incense sticks & holder; lighter/matches
- New bottle of water for blessing; bowl to catch drips when blessed water is poured out
- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins

* My gardener friend will help with these tasks

Saturday's To Do List:
- Take out chair covers, table cloths, napkins, etc.; cover chairs, tables
- Buy flowers/pick from garden
- Grocery shop - fruits, vegetables, yogurt, etc.
- COOK!  Cashew curry, lentils, egg curry, fry lentil wafers (pappadum)
- Clean the kitchen
- Bake brownies, cookies, make flan
- Any undone items leftover from Friday

Sunday, Dec. 17 (Day of Almsgiving):
- Arrange flowers in vases
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets (candy, cookies, brownies, etc.) in saucers; cover
- Dish out yogurt into bowls; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Dish out flan/pudding, cover
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red)
- Make salad
- Warm up curries; dish out into smaller serving dishes for serving to monks; bigger serving dishes for guests
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks
- Boil water and keep in thermos for those monks who prefer hot water
- Pour water and juice into glasses

10:30 a.m. - Everything should be done and ready; guests arrive and their contributions added to offerings to the Buddha and the Order of Monks

11:00 a.m. - Monks arrive; Offerings to Buddha, Order of Monks, etc. take place and service begins with devotions being recited.

11:30 a.m. - Lunch is served to the monks

12:00 noon - Monks finish their lunch, plates are cleared, a sermon is said, blessings are chanted, merit gained from almsgiving is transferred to departed loved ones, donations are offered to the monks.

1:00 p.m. - the monks leave, the religious ceremonies are concluded, lunch is served to all those who participated.

Followed by washing up and cleaning and putting things away until the next time!   My family and friends usually help me with the washing up and putting away the food and putting the furniture back in place.

It's a lot of work, I know, but I will try to pace myself.  I will have help on Sunday morning, with the almsgiving, itself.  I have taken Monday off from work, in addition to Friday, so I have a day in which to rest before going to the office, next week.


  1. You are very organized, but it's a big event. Good luck and don't forget your rest.

    1. Yes, it IS a big event. I will try my best to pace myself. My main task for today (Friday) is to get the house ready. Main task for tomorrow (Saturday) is to grocery shop and cook!

  2. Your preparations are so organized, precise..... and fascinating. Wishing you much success.

    1. Thank you, Susan. The monks always comment on how organized my almsgivings are, with minimal fuss and fluster during the event. The ones who always attend know about my lists (I have one with the order of serving, etc.) and they often tell any monks who are here for the first time, about my lists!

  3. I think you would love to watch this. It's a time-lapse video map of the history of India and Sri Lanka through all of the various Empires. It's not short but it's not very long either. Maybe you can watch it when you need to take a break from your preparations.

    1. Marylynn, you are right! I loved watching it! I recognized some of the names of the empires from my history lessons when I was at school! I remember we would have to draw maps of the various kingdoms. Something like this video would have been very helpful back then! Thank you for sharing the link with me.

  4. I'm so pleased to read that you're able to hold the almsgiving service this year Bless. There is a lot of prep involved, but some of it sounds very nice - the flower arranging, cutting fruit and arranging sweets in particular :)

    When the water has been blessed by the monks do you keep it for the year? I suppose I'm thinking of my friend's Mum who always flung blessed holy water on her when she or anybody else visited. Or is the water just blessed and used during the service? xx

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. I am telling myself not to jinx it! :D

      Yes, I keep the water for the year. I keep a gallon jug of water for them to bless! I fill a smaller bottle from the gallon jug and drink a sip from it every night and give daughter to drink whenever she leaves after a visit home. I also use it to sprinkle around the house every night, when I say my evening devotions, to bless and protect the house. My daughter laughs at me, but that doesn't matter; it helps me feel better. Daughter knows it's important to me - she used to wake me up (back when I used to sleep practically all day after treatments) so I could say my nightly devotions and bless the house.

      In addition to the blessed water, I also have bottles of holy water from Lourdes that my cousin brought back for me. It is all good, as far as I am concerned. :)

    2. Thank you, Joy. It was very meaningful to me. :)


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