If the never-ending election and the devastation of Hurricane Matthew have taught us anything about this upcoming holiday season, it’s that we all need some joy and laughter right now! Friends are leaving Facebook in droves because they just can’t handle the stress anymore. Even the American Psychological Association is talking about the extreme stress people are under as we near the end of 2016! And lest we forget, this is the year we lost Bowie and Prince! This holiday season may be this year’s last chance to redeem itself and bring a little happy back into our lives. And what better way to do that than to host a party and do some good at the same time.
For 10 years, I’ve worked with several dear friends to host a Giving Party on the first Thursday after Thanksgiving. The idea is simple: Invite four to five local nonprofits to attend and share their story, invite all of your friends, purchase some simple food and drink, and host a big party where people mix, mingle and give. Over the past 10 years, this idea has spread to cities across the United States (and even Canada!) and we’ve raised more than $350,000 at Giving Parties.
Every year, when we meet to discuss our party for the year, our main goal is to keep it simple. Oftentimes people avoid hosting a holiday party because they get caught up in the complex details of cleaning the house, making the food, designing the invitation, purchasing beverages and then cleaning it all up. The beauty of the Giving Party is that it is never hard! We purchase our food at Costco and our wine at Trader Joe’s. We don’t feel the need to have the house perfectly decorated, and once you fill it with 100 people, who even notices if it’s clean? By keeping the party simple, we have more time to relax, enjoy and we have more resources to give to the organizations we include.
Throughout the year we keep our eyes open for what we call “scrappy” nonprofit groups. These are often under the radar groups doing a lot with a little and bringing about real change in our community. We invite four or five of them to attend. There is no formal presentation, just casual conversations with party goers about the work they’re doing and how a little gift can go a long way. People write checks or use a credit card to make a donation, and at the end of the evening, we tally up all of the gifts and make a toast to giving. And yes, I always cry a little.
While many of us are ready to kick 2016 to the curb, pause for just a moment and think about how much we could all use a party right now. And if you’re going to host one, why not make it a Giving Party? Think of the organizations around you that you know could benefit from a little extra money this year. Invite your friends who are desperate to have something to be joyful about! Let’s turn that collective 2016 frown upside down and enter the season of giving with some much needed goodwill towards all!