December 03, 2012

Holiday Giving Traditions—With a Focus on Fun

I love tradition. As long as it doesn’t involve too much decorating, cooking, or detail work. Martha Stewart never loses sleep worrying that I might encroach on her holiday empire.

I heard of the most wonderful holiday tradition at lunch recently. Kathy Meath, president of the St. Louis Arc, told me that a former board member started a tradition of going to a diner a few weeks before Christmas with some friends and each leaving a hundred dollar bill for the waitress. The trick was to sneak out before they were spotted. The board member has since passed away, but the tradition remains. The participants leave a note for the waitress that this gift is in honor of their deceased friend.

It is harder to get away without being noticed since the group doesn’t walk as fast. In fact, one is in a wheelchair. Last year, the waitress ran after them, crying, to say that she and her daughter were living in a hotel trying to save up for a deposit on an apartment and that now they could move.

I volunteer every year for my first client 18 years ago, Nurses for Newborns. I wrap Christmas gifts for donations every Christmas Eve at Plaza Frontenac mall, in St. Louis. It is not like I am going to be home cooking. I am blessed with a daughter-in-law who was in the catering biz.

Like most volunteers, I am also a donor.

I love the husbands who gush about the great find for their wife. (At least I am assuming the gifts are for their wives.) Plus, Christmas Eve guy shoppers tend to be very generous when you say, “Thank you for making a donation to help Nurses for Newborns give every infant a healthy start. I am a volunteer, and 100% of the money goes to care for children.” So far, my biggest donation was $100 for wrapping a tiny box from Tiffany’s. I hope to beat my record this year.

Does your organization have a giving tradition that makes your donors look forward to giving as much as this AARP version of "The Little Rascals" or the Nurses for Newborns gift-wrapping fest?

What are you doing to make giving really fun and joyful for your donors?