Party with a purpose: Throw a soirée with a designer’s eye
Fort Wayne, Indiana (June 2, 2008) — Is your best friend’s milestone birthday just months away? Are you thrilled with the idea of hosting your cousin’s baby shower, but want to do something memorable for her? A party that focuses on fun and philanthropy instead of excess gifts might be the answer.
Parties that invite charitable giving rather than traditional gifts are growing in popularity and can be fun and rewarding for guests, host and the honoree.
Our favorite: The Pink Party, which helps raise funds for breast cancer research. Since everything is a little easier with a step-by-step plan, we’ve gathered a few fool-proof tips to help you plan your next fête. So, lower the lights and start raising your glasses…and some funds for your favorite charity. We think you’ll enjoy partying with a purpose!
YOUR GUIDE TO PLANNING THE ULTIMATE PINK PARTY
4-6 weeks ahead:
- Select your charity and date. Contact the charity to let them know that you would like to host a fundraising party. Let them know that you will be in touch within a few weeks with details about the party and ask if they have any printed materials that would be appropriate to send with your invitation. (Our choice: The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer)
- Choose the mood for the party you would like to throw. Will the event be casual or cocktails? A luncheon or a poolside soirée? Look in your closet. If your favorite outfit is a light tunic and jeans, then you will probably be most comfortable hosting a casual event. Cashmere sweater and linen pants? A sit-down luncheon might be for you. Sarong and leather sandals? A poolside gathering is the way to go. Choose the time of day and mood that best suits you. The more comfortable you are, the more fun your guests will have. Because it was tough for us to decide between “A Pretty in Pink Luncheon” and a casual “Poolside Pink Party”… we threw both!
4 weeks ahead:
Prepare your guest list and send invitations. Let your guests know the basics of the party: Who, what, when, where and why. When throwing a party with a purpose, include a note, such as, “In lieu of gifts, please bring a donation to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.” It’s also a good idea to include information about the charity with the invitation. Simply adding the organization’s website is helpful.
2 weeks ahead:
- Plan the menu. Catered, semi-homemade or made-from-scratch? The mood of the party, your budget and the time you have available will help you decide.
- Plan the décor. Pink, pink and more pink! For our luncheon, we went with white linens and pink accents. For our pool party—pink and green. Your best bet: compliment the décor of the setting and don’t be afraid to select two or three colors for your palette.
- Plan any activities you are considering. Activities can be as simple as asking guests to pay tribute to the guest of honor either verbally or on pretty note cards that can be added to a scrapbook. You might choose to ask a few guests to share why this cause is important to them personally. Group photos also make lovely mementos of the day.
- Gather music to set the mood. Choose music that is in keeping with the mood you’ve set for the party or put together a playlist of your guest of honor’s favorites.
- Shop for party favors. Just as you’d never go to a party empty handed, you don’t want your guests to leave without a memento of the event, however small. Consider a CD of the music from the evening;* or a place card that doubles as a gift, such as a potted plant with guests’ names written with a paint pen or piece of chalk, or a small elegant frame.
- Determine centerpieces. Fresh flowers are always in style, but if your budget won’t allow for them…be creative!
- If you are using place settings, determine the details.
1 week ahead:
- Check RSVPs. Confirm guests and call any invitees who haven’t responded.
- Inventory your party needs. Count out /clean glassware, flatware, dishes and linens. Press linens if necessary.
- Shop for beverages and make a food-shopping list. If you are using a caterer and/or bartender instead of preparing the food and beverages, now is the time to confirm the details.
- Check in with your charity. Call the charity to remind them of your party and ask if there are any materials that they can provide for you to distribute to your guests.
3 days ahead:
- Shop for food.
- Prepare for activities. Since our luncheon was a 40th birthday, we didn’t want the guest of honor to go home without some lovely gifts. We prepared a way for guests to offer the best gift of all: “Birthday Wishes!” We piled a glass vase high with blank strips of parchment and placed an empty vase beside it. As guests arrived and mingled, they wrote their wishes for the birthday girl on a piece of parchment. At the end of the evening, guests left feeling that they had been thoughtful, and our guest of honor went home knowing her friends love and adore her.
1 day ashead:
Prep as much as possible. Measure dry ingredients for food, chop vegetables for entrees, marinate any meats, arrange flowers, set out serving dishes, charge the battery on your digital camera and set the table.
After the party:
- Provide a complete list of your guests to the charity. This will allow the charity to thank your guests for their contributions. Also, you will want to immediately arrange to deliver the donations, so that checks are deposited in a timely manner. Checks should arrive at the charity no later than one week after your party.
- Write a personal note to each of your guests. Thank guests for joining you in support of the charity. Send along a photo of the event if possible and share how much the group raised in total.