Party hosts are putting their guests to work at these charity parties in lieu of gift giving
These parties have a purpose.
When Jennifer Moxley celebrates her 41st birthday on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., guests will be put to work packing up items like cleaning supplies and canned food for victims of Hurricane Florence.
“In lieu of gifts (or shots) I’m looking for a nonprofit that will distribute the hurricane supplies we didn’t use! Feel free to bring food, cleaning supplies, water — and I’ll see to it they go to people in relief areas,” a Facebook invite to 115 of her closest friends reads. Dozens have already RSVP’d yes.
Moxley, an entrepreneur, purposely picked the lively VBGB Beer Hall, a German-inspired pub in Charlotte, to host, so guests can enjoy food and plenty of beer while they pack up their donated items.
“I knew I wanted a donation party this year because honestly, I don’t need candles, coffee gift cards, pedicure gift cards, or even the idea my friends would stress over finding something or choose to not attend if they didn’t’,” Moxley says of inspiration behind her hurricane relief-themed birthday party. “I’ll do the work to get the items donated if my friends will pack it up. No donation will go to waste and Hurricane Florence relief is the priority,” she says.
Moxley joins a number of adults who are turning their birthday parties into a platform to give back instead of, or in addition to, simply asking for money. Recently, Kim Kardashian’s former assistant Steph Shep wrangled together her starry group of friends to make 500 packed lunches to hand out to homeless people in Los Angeles.
“Although our number of lunches seems small in comparison to what needs to be done, the smallest act of giving can make a difference in someone’s life,” she wrote on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
In lieu of a birthday party this year, my friends and I decided to make 500 packed lunches to hand out to those living on Skidrow. Nearly 58,000 people are living on the streets of LA County, about 4,500 of them in the Skid Row area ― a four-mile stretch of downtown Los Angeles often dubbed “the homeless capital of America.” Although our number of lunches seems small in comparison to what needs to be done, the smallest act of giving can make a difference in someone’s life. Huge thank you to my friends for coming together and giving their time to this cause that needs our attention! follow @hashtaglunchbag to see how you can host your own event/get involved in your community! #cooltocare #livingthroughgiving 📹 @samieedotcom
The rise of social media has also made it easier to reach out to friends asking them to contribute to a cause you’re advocating for. Facebook, for example, let’s users choose from a number of different charities and share a status with friends asking for their help.
In a similar vein, French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld celebrated her birthday on Wednesday and asked her social media followers on Instagram: “As a present, give to Unicef USA.” The former model posted a link on her Instagram profile page — promoted by model friends like Gigi Hadid — with a goal of raising $15,000. She raised $6,220 after one day.
People are feeling especially giving as of late. Americans gave $410 billion in 2017, up 5.2% from 2016, with the majority of charitable donations given to religion (31%); education (14%); human services (12%); grantmaking foundations (11%); and health (9%), according to data from the National Philanthropic Trust.
Some parents are even using their kid’s birthday themes as an excuse to party for a cause. Iowa native Brigitte Brulz played off her 9-year-old daughter’s veterinarian-themed birthday party as a way to collect supplies for the local Humane Society. She created invites that looked like vet appointment reminders and included a list of needed items. Then she purchased stuffed dogs and created makeshift kennels in her living room and let the kids play “adopt a puppy” with the stuffed animals when they arrived.
“The kids had wrapped the items that they brought and it was fun to open them during the party. My daughter ended up receiving a lot of items to donate to the Humane Society,” Brulz recalled. “The kids got to take home their adopted dog, certificates, collar, and the identification tags [they made].”
Another fun way to give back on your birthday is by throwing a party for a less fortunate kid on theirs. The Birthday Party Project hosts a “Share Your Birthday” event where people can sign up to help throw a party for a homeless child living in a shelter. Birthday attendees set up, decorate and partake in the party by handing out cupcakes and high fives to kids in need. Since it was founded in 2012, The Birthday Party Project has thrown 7,000 birthdays with 42,000 kids in attendance.
Giving doesn’t just do good, but it makes us feel good, too, perhaps a reason why so many are taking their special day to do so. A study from the journal of Science suggests that spending our money on others can boost our mood. Researchers gave a group of college students money and half of them were told to buy something for themselves while the rest of the group was told to spend money on someone else. At the end of the experiment, researchers asked students to gauge their happiness and found that the participants who spent money on others reported were much happier.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved