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Help with a festive board
Posted: 11 October 2016 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Brethren, I am looking for some assistance. My WM is wanting to do a festive board for our next meeting. I have been tasked with finding information and resources on one of these. I am reaching out to anyone who can point me in the direction of some resources I can gather, quickly, as I know this will take some time & effort to put together.
I am located in MA, and am just starting my research (having just had lodge last night). If any Brothers know of resources I can use, preferably online (as a trip into Boston isnt likely in the near future), it would be greatly appreciated.
I know that festive boards are at least partially open to the public-and, as such, some of the rituals are guarded. If the information is sensitive in nature, please feel free to PM me.
Thanks in advance!

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Petitioned September 2015
Ballotted November 2015
Initiated January 11, 2016
Passed February 8, 2016
Raised May 9, 2016

Caleb Butler Lodge.

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Posted: 11 October 2016 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Bro Bill - 11 October 2016 03:34 PM

Brethren, I am looking for some assistance. My WM is wanting to do a festive board for our next meeting. I have been tasked with finding information and resources on one of these. I am reaching out to anyone who can point me in the direction of some resources I can gather, quickly, as I know this will take some time & effort to put together.
I am located in MA, and am just starting my research (having just had lodge last night). If any Brothers know of resources I can use, preferably online (as a trip into Boston isnt likely in the near future), it would be greatly appreciated.
I know that festive boards are at least partially open to the public-and, as such, some of the rituals are guarded. If the information is sensitive in nature, please feel free to PM me.
Thanks in advance!

It’s quite easy, actually.  I’m in MA as well.  All you need to do is find someone who knows how to put on a “Table Lodge”, then remove all of the really silly ritual in it (involving butter knives and banging tables), all of the ridiculous rules about the 7 sips of wine or grape juice only, and there you have it.  A festive board. 

You might want to check out the book “Observing the Craft” by Sean Hamer.  It describes the concept as well.  It’s not an exact science, but should be a formal dinner, sometimes with a head table (although I hate these as I find them exclusionary), and the Master of the Lodge should lead the lodge in toasts, make presentations, and celebrate the lodge.  Imagine something more formal than a normal lodge dinner, but less structured than a Table Lodge.

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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Posted: 11 October 2016 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Thanks. I will look into that book, but, with less than a month, I dont know if I will be able to glean the info from it before then.
I did find a couple online resources, from other GLs, that have done it-nothing from MA though. So, I am assuming that, as you state, barring the ritual, its pretty open to interpretation-which means we can sort of mod what I find to suit the Master’s taste and ideas.
My first concern is violating any GL bylaws by using another state as a template. I am on the mass masons site now, and cannot find any info on either a Table Lodge or a Festive Board.
That book will be added to my library though :)

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Petitioned September 2015
Ballotted November 2015
Initiated January 11, 2016
Passed February 8, 2016
Raised May 9, 2016

Caleb Butler Lodge.

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Posted: 11 October 2016 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Honestly, I don’t think there IS a real solid definition on what a festive board is.  It could be that your Wor. Master has something specific in mind.  It might be best to start by asking him what he is envisioning, so you can be sure to give him what he wants. 

At the very least…you’d need to know your budget before you begin to plan!  How much money can you spend on the caterer?  Does he want passed appetizers or stationary?  Does he want buffet style or seated?  If seated, what’s the budget for servers?  What’s the budget for libations?  Will the DDGM be invited with is suite, or will it be lodge only?

So much to drop in your lap. You need some answers :)

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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Posted: 11 October 2016 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I’ll tell you this….I would consider the standard lodge dinners for most 1st District lodges to be pretty darned close to festive boards.  Too bad you couldn’t come visit one of those, but most don’t meet in the second half of the month, and time is not on your side…but if you want to know how to plan a dinner like we do them….I can assist you.  You just need to know your budget.

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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Posted: 11 October 2016 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Dan-O - 11 October 2016 04:09 PM

Honestly, I don’t think there IS a real solid definition on what a festive board is.  It could be that your Wor. Master has something specific in mind.  It might be best to start by asking him what he is envisioning, so you can be sure to give him what he wants. 

At the very least…you’d need to know your budget before you begin to plan!  How much money can you spend on the caterer?  Does he want passed appetizers or stationary?  Does he want buffet style or seated?  If seated, what’s the budget for servers?  What’s the budget for libations?  Will the DDGM be invited with is suite, or will it be lodge only?

So much to drop in your lap. You need some answers :)

All good points! We have a regular caterer that does our monthly meals, so that would be covered. As to appetizers, I will certainly mention that, but that can likely be put into the caterer too. Libations, something we briefly discussed last evening. Sort of unsure on the alcohol part and, to be honest, sparkling grape juice is cheaper, for toasts. But, these are all great points, and things I will certainly bring up.
I did email our DDGM (I wish I had known the plans prior to last night, as I sat with our DDGM on the sidelines for about 20 minutes), as the mass masons website directs any queries regarding a Table Lodge to him. So, I am waiting on an answer from him as well.
I may take you up on a future visit though. I enjoy traveling-particularly as a new Mason. I am attending a lodge of a friend of mine in Natick next week. First official visit as a Mason outside my own district :)

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Petitioned September 2015
Ballotted November 2015
Initiated January 11, 2016
Passed February 8, 2016
Raised May 9, 2016

Caleb Butler Lodge.

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Posted: 11 October 2016 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Bro Bill - 11 October 2016 04:22 PM

Libations, something we briefly discussed last evening. Sort of unsure on the alcohol part and, to be honest, sparkling grape juice is cheaper, for toasts. But, these are all great points, and things I will certainly bring up.

Trust me, there’s nothing festive about sparkling grape juice.  Maybe things are different out in Ayer…...

Of course I’m HALF kidding.  You seriously need to come to Boston for a visit!

Feel free to PM me if you’re looking for specific suggestions.

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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Posted: 11 October 2016 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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RW Brother Stevens will definitely point you in the right direction.

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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Posted: 11 October 2016 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Dan-O - 11 October 2016 05:25 PM

RW Brother Stevens will definitely point you in the right direction.

He certainly will. I am just waiting to hear back from him now :)

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Petitioned September 2015
Ballotted November 2015
Initiated January 11, 2016
Passed February 8, 2016
Raised May 9, 2016

Caleb Butler Lodge.

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Posted: 11 October 2016 07:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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When it comes to waiters to serve at events like a Table Lodge, we have a tradition that works very well; we serve at a neighboring Lodge’s event, and they serve at ours. They feed us when we’re serving, and we feed them when they serve, where there would normally be an associated fee to attend (typically $20 - $25).

Table Lodges are a lot of fun - if you’ve never been to one, I encourage you to attend. They are quite common in the districts here in New Hampshire. You’re welcome to attend ours, but alas we only have but one per year, and that in the month of May.

Seven courses, and seven toasts. Typically a prime rib main course. To give you an idea, with a dinner for 30 it’s not uncommon to spend more than $600 just for the meat. A fundraiser it is not. Typically operates at a (reasonably) small loss. Still worth it.

One other small hint; it’s a lot of work beforehand - there’s a lot of prep-cook and cooking work to be accomplished. Get a handful of brothers to help the man doing the cooking if you do this yourselves. If you go with the caterer it will be much easier in terms of labor, but expect a more serious cost per head. We’ve got a brother that’s a chef in our Lodge - he makes doing this look easy, and having been in the middle of the effort before he joined I know for a fact cooking a serious meal for 30 people is anything but easy. A festive board or Table Lodge isn’t like making a bunch of chicken-pot-pies before a Stated - doing that by myself I don’t mind, but cooking $600 worth of beef? Call in someone that knows how to make it happen!

Best of luck, and have fun!

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Posted: 11 October 2016 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Brother, I may take you up on that come May! I would be honored to attend one!

Again, thanks to all who have responded. This is entirely new to me, and it seems a lot of work-with a great payout.

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Petitioned September 2015
Ballotted November 2015
Initiated January 11, 2016
Passed February 8, 2016
Raised May 9, 2016

Caleb Butler Lodge.

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Posted: 11 October 2016 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Oh…another reason I prefer festive boards to table lodges….brothers don’t have to serve brothers. 
I’m just going to come right out and say, so that I am not misunderstood…I believe Table Lodge has lost its way.  It’s not fun.  Maybe once as a novelty, but there are actually 14 toasts, each done in the same repetitive manner, with often long stretches between courses (what do you expect when non-food services professionals are forced to serve brothers?)...which can be an eternity at horrible U shaped tables, unless you are fortunate enough to be sitting between two interesting people who are actually talking to YOU instead of the person to their immediate other side. 

I believe our table lodges are NOT in the spirit of the original table lodges, and I’ve seen no evidence that modern table lodges are actually based significantly on REAL table lodges.  Perhaps one day I’ll be proven wrong.  I would love to hear from our UK Brothers on this matter.  My guess is if they had to sit through one of ours…they’d probably commit harikari by butter knife!

OK, so I’m a bit harsh (have you guessed I have strong feelings on this?) but I’d much prefer a festive board.  Same quality meal and camaraderie, but without all the nonsense.  Keep the ritual in the lodge.

As an applicable anecdote….I was speaking with a newly elected Worshipful Master recently who said he was thinking of doing a table lodge in his lodge because one hadn’t been done in his lodge in recent history.  I advised him “Before you commit to this…you should go attend one first.”  He took my advice, and upon returning, he promptly stated “yeah…..we won’t be doing that.”

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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Posted: 12 October 2016 01:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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We have Festive Boards after every meeting. Generally they are 2 or 3 courses with wine normally being purchased individually. Provincial level meetings normally include wine in the price of the meal. The Master often ‘takes wine’ with a few people he particularly wants to acknowledge, with some formal toasts at the end.

One thing that always gets me (and our Provincial Grand Master has specifically asked for it to stop except on formal visits) is the top table syndrome that Dan alluded to. In our lodge, the top table is WM, IPM, Candidate, DC and if room Chaplain. Grand Officers sit in amongst the brethren. In some lodges they are all lined up on the top table. In some lodges, with these exceptions, you sit where you like, in others, the seating plan is worked out in advance, but particular friendships are normally taken into account.

Table configuration is usually E shape or U shape with the Wardens seated on the ends of the two outermost ends (in the case of E)

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Richard
Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Provincial Grand Treasurer (Royal Arch)
Member of Craft, Royal Arch, Ancient & Accepted Rite, Mark, Royal Ark Mariner, Knight Templar, Knight Templar Priest, Order of Secret Monitor, Royal Order of Scotland
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Posted: 12 October 2016 08:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Sounds like Table Lodges in Massachusetts are significantly different than what I’ve experienced in New Hampshire. Perhaps sometime you’ll be able to partake of one to your North. We’ve had guests from Massachusetts at our Table Lodge several times, and believe it or not they return year after year - so hopefully we’re doing something right.

As for delays in serving, it can be mitigated. Those leading the kitchen effort can get things staged in advance so there’s no artificial delay. Just takes some planning and closing the loop in terms of learning what’s worked well in the past, but especially what didn’t work well and modifying activity accordingly. 

I think I need to travel South and partake of a Festive Board or two, and perhaps one of your Table Lodges. It’s always interesting to see how things are done in other jurisdictions.

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Posted: 13 October 2016 05:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Carl_in_NH - 12 October 2016 08:20 AM

Sounds like Table Lodges in Massachusetts are significantly different than what I’ve experienced in New Hampshire. Perhaps sometime you’ll be able to partake of one to your North. We’ve had guests from Massachusetts at our Table Lodge several times, and believe it or not they return year after year - so hopefully we’re doing something right.

Alternatively, it could be that Table Lodges in MA and NH are identical, but that you actually like that sort of thing.  ;)

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Dan

Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
Shriners International, Aleppo Temple - Wilmington, MA

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Posted: 13 October 2016 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Let’s hope that’s not the case ;-)

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