the third

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The third interview question:

3. you recently threw a party for charity, which i think is just about the most awesome idea i've come across in a long time, and i'd like to know a little bit more about the actual nitty gritty of organizing it...sort of a how-to for others who might want to do something similar. (plus, i'm not sure you got enough publicity/credit for this, you see.)

My friend Cara and I talked about having a cocktail party over the holidays. I had seen a few ideas in Real Simple magazine for fun parties like a gift wrapping party, and other things, but Cara had in the past had a party to benefit DVACK (domestic violence association of central kansas) in our town. I loved that idea, but was unable to attend that party. Cara said that while it was fun, not as many people showed up as she would have liked.

We decided to have our party but this time benefit the Emergency Aid Food Bank here in our town. I wanted to be sure we were very specific with folks about that they should bring for a donation. I have learned over time that the more specific you are about what you need, the more likely you are to get it! I called the EAFB before we did our invitations and learned that they were in need of flour, rice and noodles, as well as any kind of canned vegetables except for corn and green beans. I decided that it was simpler to just ask for the flour, rice and noodles.

I had read in Real Simple about the site called evite. It is a really easy way to send invitations thru the email. As Cara and I started going through our address books and sending invitations, it became obvious pretty quickly that we had invited A LOT of people. Like over 120 people. Crap! But almost as soon as we sent the invites we got responses. We got many, many compliments on the idea, many RSVPs and just a few regrets. Most of the folks who regretted brought donations by even though they couldn't be there. The only hitch in the invite process was that some people assumed it was a couples thing (which it wasn't intended to be, but we would have been fine with men coming.) Suddenly our 120 people could have been 240! My recommendation is to be certain your invite is clear if you intend to only invite women.

The party was a great success. It was from 6-8pm on Monday, Dec. 22nd. I think the closeness to Christmas was good for us. Those who were still in town came, and it was easy because only one person of a couple need attend. No babysitters required! We served only finger food like walnut-bacon-blue cheese tartlets, spicy mixed nuts, a great different take on chex-mix. We had chardonnay, savingon blanc, and shiraz wine. We bought a little beer, but one of our friends donated a whole bunch of different flavored beers for us too. We also had a "signature" drink: lemon juice, cranberry juice, gran mariner, and champagne. It was a hit!

We were unable to count how many actually attended, but I think it was between 70 and 80 in those 2 hours...even with sub-zero temperatures, and the remains of an ice storm a few days before. Some folks stayed the whole time, others just dropped by on their way to other events. We parked a van in the driveway so folks could just drop their donations off on their way into the party (and so we didn't have to schlep everything back out to the car).

With that many invitees, you are bound to have a great mix of people, and that we did! We had way too much wine and beer and food, but we were really pleased with the outcome, and more pleased with the kind donations. I would definitely recommend that each of you try something similar. The impact we made was tremendous, and it was relatively easy to pull off!


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it's so cool! thank you for this! i wonder if the danes would get into such a thing...