The holiday season is just around the corner. At this time of year, companies have their annual Christmas parties and family friends are throwing their annual Christmas get-togethers and you can begin to feel like for once your parents have more of a social life than you do.
Although clubbing may continue to be fun week after week after week, it definitely doesn’t quite ‘fit’ with the feeling of the holiday season. This seems to be more of a time to spend with family and family friends, to reconnect with loved ones and celebrate the generosity and excitement of the season. So how do you actually have fun and party like the ‘oldies’ without actually being or getting stuck with the ‘oldies’?
Well, throw your own. Today’s world is one in which youth have more autonomy than ever. Rather than just throwing your own typical house party, throw an event for a good cause. You’d be surprised at how well people will respond to an effort by a young member of society to raise funds for charity. It is refreshing to see, and if you are organizing it, it is extremely rewarding and an absolute blast.
Allow yourself the chance to dress up in your finery too! Throw a fundraising ball or gala. This is not only the most fun, but it can also raise the most money. It is not as difficult as you might think – organize a fundraising team out of your friends and divide the duties among all of you.
This makes the goal achievable, fun (because getting together for fundraising meetings is a great excuse for going out for pizza) and will make you seem more responsible to all adults whose opinions are important – i.e. your parents, future employers and college admission representatives. Follow the steps below to organizing your first fundraiser and make a difference in your life and others’.
Choose your charity
What’s wonderful about this event is the difference you can make. Put some thought into which charity – or charities – you want the funds to go to, and if you want to be even more specific, decide which cause (for example, the Red Cross operates many different programs over the Christmas period, so you can opt to donate to a specific program).
This is a decision worthy of some consideration. Also, you will want to know which charity you are supporting when you approach potential sponsors.
Find your venue
Approach a hotel about renting out their ballroom for the night. If you mention it’s for a charitable cause, they may discount the rental or donate some services.
Hotel ballrooms tend to be the most elegant, large locations available for the best price, but you can also try your local community centre or gymnasium (from your school, perhaps) if you think that you have a crafty decorating team who will be able to transform the space for the night.
There are no limits when it comes to venue – you could even host an outdoor party on someone’s large back lawn or on the beach.
Get some food!
If you are using a hotel ballroom, inquire about the catering service that most hotels offer for the event. If you prefer, you can go elsewhere and approach other catering companies about donating some time or food.
If your party will not be as large numbers-wise, you and your friends could get together the day before and make large batches of buffet food that could provide the nourishment for all the party-goers.
Find some entertainment
Approach your local radio stations or local TV personalities about emceeing or performing at the event.
Having someone to keep the crowds happy adds variety and interest to your night, and most performers would be happy to donate to such a worthy cause.
In Cayman we are fortunate to have multiple sources of local talent, particularly musicians. And who doesn’t love music?
Approach potential sponsors
The category of ‘potential sponsors’ is a very broad one. First you should draw up a list of areas you want sponsors for. For example, you may want companies to purchase a ‘table’ (usually 10 tickets) or two. Many companies do this, and offer the tickets out to employees who have worked hard as an end-of-year bonus.
Also, you will almost definitely want sponsors to help pay for the cost of throwing the ball, as not many teenagers have the financial means to throw a party of this size!
If you want to include silent auctions or raffles in the itinerary for your event, you might also want to approach businesses who could donate a prize or two for these fundraisers.
Bake, bake, bake!
You will also want to do some fundraising to help foot the bill. It’s not necessarily fair to rely solely on donations.
Although organizing is a lot of work, it is important to put the legwork in yourself too.
Hold bake sales, put on garage sales, even throw much smaller parties every weekend or so to raise some money. Put your thinking caps on and get out there!
Get those tickets sold! Decide on a price for each ticket that will help to cover any remaining costs of the event while still donating considerably to charity. Then contact every media source in town and set up booths in popular public locations to sell your tickets.
Make up posters and distribute them to local schools and companies to display on their bulletin boards. Get the word out about your party! But remember to save some tickets for you and your organizational committee!
You would be surprised how many people forget to account for themselves when organizing an event such as this
Now you should have your entertainment, venue, catering, donations and support lined up. Here is the most nerve-wracking but fun part! You get to put the final touches on your event. This involves organizing who will be in charge of decorations, who will be in charge of printing and assembling programs, who will greet people at the door on the night and who will be liaising and looking after your ‘staff’ – the caterers, the entertainers, the venue operators and others.
Get gussied up!
Go out and treat yourself – after all this, you’re worth it! Get your hair and nails done, buy a beautiful dress or suit and prepare for your grand entrance.
Have a great time!
Enjoy your party. You did this, you put the work in, and you’re raising money for a fantastic cause. You can rest and enjoy this Christmas knowing you had the best party of the year (forget your parents’ potluck dinner!) and you gave to help make someone else’s Christmas enjoyable too.