If you can’t join the fun in Victoria BC, think about hosting your own hamper party. Here are a few HELPFUL HINTS
HOLD TO YOUR OWN HAMPER PARTY (or at least how we do ours)
1. Make arrangements in advance for the hampers to be picked up at your party’s appointed end time. Not all charities will accept perishables. We give to the Salvation Army here in Victoria; in Toronto we donated to Second Harvest.
2. The first year you have to spend a bit of time explaining the party. After that, people know what to expect and will show others.
3. Keep a rough tally of what’s coming in. Sometimes people know exactly what they’ll be bringing; other times, they’ll just say “carrots.” Don’t push for an exact amount if they don’t offer the information. You don’t want someone finding out at the store that what they’ve committed to costs way more than their budget—that would defeat the whole spirit of the party. Everything always works out in the end and your charity will be grateful to receive anything you can provide.
4. Set up the hamper-making area in advance. Lay out hamper checklists, pencils, scissors, small and medium plastic bags, scotch tape, ribbons to tie up the bags, and bags of bows or other decorations. I also put out bowls of glitter pipe cleaners cut into thirds to use as decorative twist ties. Download a pdf of the Hamper Contents Checklist here and then photocopy and include in each hamper.
5. Designate specific places for people to deposit various items. You won’t have to worry about this until your party is larger, but we found we had to tape up signage (“Turkeys”, “Cranberry sauce”, “Carrots”, “Recycling here”, etc.) so the hamper packers could find what they needed in the crush.
6. Keep Food Safe. Turkeys should stay in plastic bags at all times. We also tie a tag on each hamper indicating the weight of its turkey. This helps hamper packers know how much stuffing the hamper needs and lets your charity know how large a family should receive that hamper.
7. Quality control is respectful. We check for broken eggs and sort through produce to make sure we don’t accidentally include anything moldy or bruised.
8. Keep the checklist in the hamper until all items have been checked off. This is the most important thing to remember! Incomplete hampers can go outside to stay cold and have missing menu items added, then checked off the list, when they arrive.
8. Recycling is crucial. We found this out the hard way the year we discovered three turkeys buried under a mound of cardboard boxes—an hour after the Salvation Army had gone. We’re proud to say that even after processing tons of food and filling about 100 “workers” with eggnog, hot soup and munchies, we only have a bag or two of actual garbage left at the end of a party.
9. Runners rule. We always hold back some of our cash donations so we can send out our volunteer “runners” an hour or so before the end of the party to shop for whatever we’re lacking to top up the last hampers. We also have developed some volunteer runners who love the excitement of calling us near the end of the day, asking what we need, shopping for it and bringing it as their donation.
10. Always send out a post-party report. This is really important. Not everyone will be able to stay until the party ends to get the final hamper count, but they will all want to know what it was. Also, people deserve to know that their cash contributions were put to good use. (I’ve never had anyone ask to see them, but I keep all receipts till the next year.) It’s nice to quote or attach the thank-you letter you receive from the charity that accepts your donation.
Businesses that donate can be thanked in the post-party report, but it’s not a good idea to single out individual donors no matter how generous. A student’s bag of carrots may represent a proportionally larger contribution than a wealthier party-goer’s six turkeys.
Have a great time and let us know how your party went!