Happier Holidays Part 1: Throw a Charity Ball

(This is the first post in a series on enriching your holiday festivities with acts of generosity.)

This weekend abolitionists will don gowns and tuxes for the Capital City Ball in DC.

Now in its fifth year, this gala sprang up when a group of friends decided to turn their holiday party into a fundraiser to help local anti-trafficking charities.

This crew has all the works: a VIP lounge, elaborate after-parties, an open bar and silent auction. But chatting with their planning committee earlier this week, it dawned on me that anyone can recreate this gala, even in a time of economic hardship for those of us who aren’t socialites.

If you’re already hosting a holiday party, make the event more formal than your area’s typical get together. Gowns, khakis, whatever!

Then have your guests provide a service, skill or craft for auction. Not everyone may want to offer something, but most people have gifts they could include: professional skills, babysitting, lawn care, brownies, or even an item from your home you don’t need anymore. Have everyone bring some money to bid rather than extra drinks or secret Santa gifts.

I’ve been a part of something like this once, and it was a really cool way to build community. It works well with people who are already pretty good friends. One person raised $10 for a jazz solo on the spot, and someone else bought babysitting services that she gave to a friend for Christmas.

It also helps to put the money toward a local charity instead of a national organization. Invitees feel a closer connection to the cause, and it makes it easier to provide brochures or even a representative so your guests can learn more if they’re interested.

What ideas, suggestions or memories from your own holiday experiences could help bring cheer to other people?

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