Thursday, December 13, 2018

Almsgiving Preparations - 2018

I have less than 10 days left to prepare for the almsgiving, scheduled for Saturday, December 22.  Time to review my checklist and schedule!  This year's almsgiving is being held a lot later in the month than on previous years and I think that is why I am feeling like I am behind with my preparations, when I am not!  There is only so much I can do ahead of time.  My daughter will arrive on Thursday night (December 20) and she will help with the preparations on Friday.

So far, I have accomplished the following:

- Set the date/invited the monks/invited the participants
- Made the menu
- Checked supplies (non-grocery)/shopped for items needed
- Confirmed the date with monks
- Shopped for non-perishables

Almsgiving Menu:

Vegetable soup
White rice
Red rice
Bread and butter
Vegetarian pizza (daughter will make)
Cashew curry
Dhal curry (already prepared and frozen)
Garbanzo/edamame/carrot salad
Cucumber/tomato/red onion salad
Either boiled eggs to serve with cucumber salad or egg curry
Sauted green beans

- Variety of candies/sweets/chocolates
- Variety of fresh fruits, cut up
- Yogurt and treacle
- Apple dump cake

The menu is being adapted a bit to suit the dietary needs of one monk who can't eat any spicy food.  So, I will keep aside some of the boiled cashews and the boiled eggs, before I make the curries, and saute the green beans without any spices for him.  The bread and butter is also for him, as last year, he preferred that to rice.

Still to do:

Dec. 13 - Dec. 20:
- Go to the bank/Get donations ready
- Call and remind the invitees - STARTED
- Start cleaning the house
- Collect casserole dish from cousin
- Cook and freeze cashew curry
- 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
- Keep a curious kitty away from the dishes!  We do not want kitty nose prints on the washed dishes!

Friday, Dec. 21:
- Go grocery shopping for perishables
- Buy flowers/pick from garden
- Put cashews and dhal to thaw
- Set out items needed for the transfer of merit: teapot, cup, and water basin; fill teapot with water
- Set out candles/incense sticks & holder; lighter/matches
- Set out 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

Saturday, Dec. 22 (day of almsgiving):
- Bake apple dump cake
- Daughter to make vegetarian pizza
- Take out chair covers, table cloths, napkins, etc.; cover chairs, tables
- Arrange flowers in vases
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets in saucers; cover
- Dish out yogurt into bowls; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Dish out dump cake, 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 warm 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 and do as much as I can in advance.  My daughter will prepare some of the dishes for me.  Friend R has promised to come early on Saturday morning to help, as well. 

In the meantime, I need to get my Christmas gifts ready and attend the three medical appointments scheduled between now and the almsgiving!  I am off to put the cashews to soak and work on one Christmas gift!


  1. It all sounds very organised. I'm sure that having written such a comprehensive list will be useful as you can tick it all off as you do. Enjoy!

    1. My lists for this event help me so much! I love being able to check off the items as I go along!

  2. I am guessing that painting the front door is out? I remember that at one point it was on your mile long to-do list before the Almsgiving. Now I think you have too many other things that need attending. You're right. It IS a lot of work. You will have to move that goal to 2019.

    1. Susan, yes, painting the front door will be moved to 2019! Unless I buy the paint tomorrow morning, so M can paint it in the afternoon. I'll see how it goes (I have to go for a blood test, tomorrow and the post office).

  3. You have a well organized plan for the almsgiving as usual, and I'm sure the monks look forward to coming since you are such a good hostess and in tune with their needs.

    1. Thank you, Bushlady. I try to cater to special diets, as needed. In fact, I discussed the menu with one of the monks, today, to see if there would be sufficient choice of items for the one monk who can't eat rice and curries. :)

  4. That's a lot of work, but you are very organized. So I'm sure everything will go smoothly.
    I'd come help you if I lived nearby. :)

    1. Thank you, Nil. You know, you could still come and help! :D Don't you want to take a vacation in So. Cal? I can give you lemons to take back with you! LOL!

  5. Sounds like you are well planned. That's the first step to having a successful event. :)

    1. Yes; now I need to work the plan! I need to pace myself so I don't get too tired! And I need to remember to drink plenty of water! Don't want to get dehydrated as I did two years ago!

  6. I think I would find it quite stressful arranging an event like this, but you appear to have everything under control (aren't lists great?) and seem so very organised, I'm sure it will all run smoothly. X

    1. It is a little stressful, Jules, even though I've done this for several years, now. At one time, I used to make everything from scratch - all the sweets, the yogurt, etc. These days, I cut corners and buy chocolates and ready-made yogurt. And the lists come in very handy! You could say I've honed them over the years. :)

  7. What an interesting process and you are very organized! Thank you for sharing the details and how the food is served. To keep Dancer away from your table of dinnerware and serving dishes the night before, you could cover the entire table with a bed sheet. Or, is there a chance he might find that a too tempting means of climbing to the tabletop? :)

    1. Thank you, Carolyn. I try to be organized! It's a work in progress! :D Yes, I could cover the dishes with a sheet or table cloth. Dancer will still go to investigate, though! What I should do is clear the kitchen counters and keep the dishes there - he doesn't jump up on the counters. Or, keep them in the spare bedroom and close the door!


Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. Your comments are much appreciated. Please comment in English. Thank you.