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This holiday season, plan to have a good time for a great cause

By: Ellen Lampe


‘Tis the season for holiday parties galore. This year, set your party apart from the rest in an unconventional and meaningful way – one that truly embodies the reason for the season – by entertaining for a cause.

“If you’re going to give money already to a charity, why not put a party on? You’re donating more and you’re creating an awareness for the charity – more than what money itself can do,” said David Hults, who throws annual parties for charity.

This year, the Job Shapers Network [founded by Hults] is organizing a holiday toy drive party to benefit Whole Kids Outreach. It’s the latest of many parties Hults has planned for charity – ranging from gatherings at his home with friends to public events at larger spaces.

“The gifts guests bring to this party may be the only gifts some kids get for Christmas,” Hults said.

Hults plans the parties with his partner Brad Fuller, and the gala events have reached the point of next-level creative, with grand details that leave guests stunned: an Oscars-themed party with a red carpet and limos, a fundraiser for tornado victims featuring a yellow brick road, a party promoting rescue animals with dog tags for each guest, a mad hatter party benefiting cancer patients – you get the idea.

But Hults’ and Fuller’s parties began much smaller and with a simple good intention. After they bought a house together, they wanted to host people.

“We began thinking, ‘What would make an event memorable?’” Hults said. They decided hosting for a cause was a fulfilling idea.

Here are few suggestions for taking your holiday gathering to a whole new level.

Start small

Make sure you think through all the details of your event.

“Having people over for dinner is a lost art. People don’t know how to cook, it’s hard, it’s overwhelming,” Hults said.

Decorating and setting a party-worthy table also can be daunting.

“Part of what people dread is starting from scratch,” Hults said. He noted that many people “don’t have anything” when they begin hosting house parties. “Start small and, each year, add to what you have,” he recommended.

Of course, local restaurants for catering, boutiques for decorating ideas and florists for finishing touches can help tremendously.

Pick a cause

“Part of it is looking around at your friends. What are their causes? If a friend has breast cancer, do a fund

raiser in honor of them,” Hults suggested.

If you go out of your way to host, people are likely to dig into their pockets and give to a worthy cause – and they’ll feel great while doing it.

Give your party a memorable theme

Make your guests eager to attend. Hults recommended placing a banner, balloons or other eye-catching décor outside the house or event space so guests will get in the mood as soon as they arrive.

“You have to make the event memorable,” Hults said.

One way to make your party unique is by giving it a costume theme – perhaps one that coincides with the charity choice. And parting gifts or tokens of appreciation can help keep the event memorable long into the new year.

Charities often have small gift items available for donors, but other good ideas include photos, ornaments, wine charms, scarves – the list is nearly endless when you set your imagination free.

Don’t hesitate to have helpers

“If you’re not creative, hire people that are creative,” Hults suggested.

Consider hiring a caterer, bartender, decorator and musicians. And don’t forget to ask for volunteers.

Hults said, if people know the party is for charity, they’re more likely to offer their services.

“If you approach people and say ‘This is for charity, how can you help me?’ most people will help.”

Donations

When your guests arrive, have a plan for how they can donate to your cause.

Hults suggests inviting a representative from the charity who can collect money and give receipts. Having a brief speaker to educate people on the cause can be worthwhile as well.

If you don’t feel comfortable collecting monetary donations, consider charging an entry fee of a toy or toys, canned goods or other charitable items.

Entertaining for a cause is guaranteed to make you and your guests feel good this holiday season, and those on the receiving end will be better off because you cared.

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