By Kim Fox
Holiday Season, 2008. It goes something like this: Thanksgiving sneaks up on you like it always does. You extend the invitations, plan your menu, and make a list. Take a breath, make another list. Clean your house. Do you have enough place settings? Is this the year your 21-year-old nephew who just graduated from UVA will move to the “adult table”? Fresh or frozen? Paper or cloth? Apple or pumpkin? The day comes and goes in a whirlwind of activity. The meal you planned for three weeks is over in 20 minutes. The kids are upstairs playing video games and the men are watching football. You can finally sit down. Well, relax while you can, because Christmas is in just four short weeks. Make a list!
Now, imagine this same scene, but put yourself in Galveston, Texas. Instead of wondering if you have enough dessert plates, you are wondering how you are going to get six inches of mud out of your newly papered dining room. You are wondering when your electricity will be back on so you can use your refrigerator. You are wondering how you are going to explain to the kids that Santa still comes to the Holiday Inn, even though you
aren’t sure yourself. Kind of changes your perspective, doesn’t it?
This fall, the evening news never failed to stop me in my tracks. Instead of wrapping presents while watching yet another holiday movie, I’ve been riveted to scenes from the Gulf Coast. I watch every newscast, listen to every heartfelt story. I want to help, but I have a job and three kids. I don’t know how to help. The one thing I do know is that I can raise money. I work in the development department of a private high school, and my job is planning parties. Yes, the parties are fun, but the bottom line is always…the bottom line. In other words, I’m a fundraiser. Not cheese and sausage, not wrapping paper, but capital funds to keep our doors open for another school year. This holiday season, I am adding Ike to my gift list. Hurricane Ike, that is. As a nation we are quick to respond when disaster strikes; it’s the American Spirit. Why not make your annual get together one that really reflects the spirit of the holidays? Consider a fundraising party for those in need. It doesn’t have to be for hurricane relief; it can be something closer to your heart and your home. Here are some festive ideas and guidelines that will ensure a great turnout and an even greater feeling of gift-giving spirit.
Choose your cause
There are so many people who devote time and money to local or national charities. People feel passionate about the organizations they are involved in. Ask around; I’m sure you will get several ideas and one that inspires you too.
Determine your guest list
People are generous, but we all get many invitations to donate to charities. Think of people who are sympathetic to your cause. You may not want to invite your super-conservative lawyer friend to your presidential fundraiser if you don’t share similar political views. Also, some people may not be in the position to donate right now. Be sensitive to people and their financial status. But by the same token, I am constantly surprised by people who gift our school unexpectedly. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask!
Spell it out
Make it clear that your party is a fundraiser. There are many ways to word your invitation, such as “Gift Gathering Party.” Your stationery store can help you with a catchy phrase to fit the occasion. You may ask your guests to contribute with a donation up front when they make their reservation, or you may “pass the hat” during the evening. This part is up to you!
Plan for fun
Fundraising parties are just like any other; careful planning will ensure your guests have a great time. Make your friends and acquaintances glad they came by hosting something unique and fun. Here are some party ideas that are proven “FUNRAISERS.”
• Hollywood Premier. This black-tie event is inspired by black and white films. Decorate with tulle and old movie posters. Make your guests feel glamorous by having them arrive on a real red carpet. Serve several different flavored martinis and a buffet of beautiful appetizers. If you know a combo that plays Big Band music, ask if they would be willing to donate a couple of hours to make your party seem truly vintage.
• Venetian Holiday. How about engaging the talents of your favorite Italian chef and knowledgeable wine expert to team up for an Italian feast? A buffet is easier than a sit-down dinner and sets a casual atmosphere. Decorate with the colors of Italy and put on some music from the Three Tenors. Bellisimo!
• Castaway. If you have a college in your town, chances are they have a steel drum band. The minute they start playing, you’ve been shipwrecked! Light up the tiki torches, truck in some sand and serve up a bountiful raw bar.
• Night at the Museum. This is for the little ones. Use your local children’s museum to host a party for the younger set. Parents can pitch in to help as children search for hidden treasures in a scavenger hunt, do a holiday craft, eat pizza and finally curl up in sleeping bags to watch a movie (maybe “Night at the Museum”?). I guarantee they will be sound asleep before you tuck them into bed. That alone is worth the donation!
Open your home and your heart to those in need this holiday season. After all, it truly is better to give than to receive.