Entertaining Matters

With Dr. Kara Coe 

Party With a Purpose: A Charitable Reason this Fall Season

As the summer heat dissipates in Coastal Virginia, late August ushers in our annual Fall customs. For many of us, the frenzy of school supplies, anticipation of cool crisp weather, and pumpkin-flavored everything, will also bring a sense of togetherness. Kids return from camp, fathers get out their football jerseys, and mothers start making plans for Thanksgiving and holiday travel. 

In Hampton Roads, we are blessed with the good fortune of warm Autumn evenings well into October, as well as, brilliant foliage and harvested crops; the perfect conditions for both indoor and outdoor entertaining at home. Do I ever need an excuse to host an event? No! I just need friends, food, and plentiful cocktails. But this month, casual gatherings could make a meaningful impact.

While we are beginning to stress about shopping for holiday gifts, other parents are stressing about pencils, lunch money, and paying past-due electric bills so their family will have heat during the winter months. As our children are returning from their vacations, other children are losing their seasonal odd jobs of the tourist season. While we are cleaning out our closets to make room for new clothing, others are searching their closets for coats to fit siblings who have outgrown their own. 

October, November, and December are not only months of annual holidays, but also those of annual charity. August and September however, are a time of struggle for both non-profits and those they serve. This year, consider using these coming months entertaining for a cause. And if you ever did need a reason to party with a purpose, host one of these:

Ladies Luncheon Supply Drive

Invite friends over for a casual lunch and ask them to bring a bag of extra school supplies. The event can be al fresco and there is no need to slave in the kitchen – grilled chicken salads, a decadent dessert spread, and an afternoon of conversation will be well-received after busy summer schedules. 

Beach Blanket Party

Take advantage of the cooler end-of-summer evenings and plan a beach BBQ! Tell your guests the price of admission is new or gently used blankets and bedding that will be donated to a local church, shelter, or halfway house. 

Supplemental Supper Party

For those of you already planning a formal dinner or cocktail party, ask attendees to bring a donation in lieu of what they would have spent on dinner at a restaurant. Be sure to select a single cause and donation goal prior to the evening, so guests will enjoy and increase their contributions. 

Community Corn Hole Competition

Who doesn’t enjoy corn hole on a warm autumn night? Gather your community for chili or BBQ and some family-friendly competition. Donate all proceeds to a charity close in proximity and give bragging rights to the winner until next year’s event.

Canning for a Cause

Wondering what to do with your bounty of tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers? Schedule an afternoon of canning and cocktails. Friends will have fun learning, participating, and donating the preserved vegetables to a local homeless shelter or food bank. You could alternatively consider selling the canned goods and giving those funds to a worthy non-profit. 

Neighborhood Wine Auction 

Collect donated bottles for a charity wine auction hosted at home to avoid costly venues. September is the perfect time to divest your wine collection of unwanted variations and restock your cellar for the upcoming holidays!

Pumpkin Potluck Coat Collection 

Capitalize on the pumpkin craze! Host a pumpkin potluck, asking guests to bring a pumpkin-flavored dish and clean out their closets for coats to contribute. You will touch many lives while devouring deliciousness!

Any of these activities will be much appreciated by both attendees and recipients of your good will as you… party with a purpose.

Dr. Kara Coe is the owner of The Bishopsgate Department Store and a Harvard trained psychologist.