Have you ever gone to a banquet or party with a big fancy centerpiece? Sometimes they’re so tall you can’t even see over them to hold a conversation with someone on the other side of the table. Sometimes they’re very elaborate and the jockeying begins to see who gets to take it home. I recently took part in planning a large awards dinner for the Minnesota Lodging Association. When we were discussing what to put on the tables, our first instinct was to go with something festive and expected at a holiday party. Then I remembered an event I attended a few years ago in Washington DC. Instead of flowers or greenery, they had baskets of donated food. That was our A-Ha! moment.
Our idea started out with a prototype. Once we knew what we wanted, and about how much we’d need to have to fill our baskets, we set out looking for sponsors. It didn’t take long for USA Today and AAA to step up and volunteer to sponsor our donation. We ordered the baskets from Michael’s, got some glittery tissue paper for lining, and made a detailed spread sheet listing what kinds of food and the amounts we would need for each. After a quick trip to Sam’s Club, we had everything we needed to get ready.
We lined up our baskets and divvied-up the cans. The food was arranged nicely, and a card was placed next to each basket on the center of the table. No one missed the tall, view-obstructing traditional centerpieces. The event went well, the room was full of lively conversation, and a very sizable donation of non-perishables was given to the Second Harvest food bank from the Minnesota Lodging Association.