06/26/2012 03:12 EDT | Updated 07/18/2012 09:39 EDT

Charity Parties: How To Raise Money And Have A Good Time

CNW Group/KitchenAid Canada

During the summer, it feels like there's a party around every corner, whether it's a friend's birthday or an impromptu park gathering that turns into an all-night hangout. And while we're certainly not complaining about the multitude of festivities, we think we could be doing something to get a little more out of your leisure time -- like say, donating to charity while you dance the night away?

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and KitchenAid celebrated their 10th year of collaborating on Cook for the Cure this week with PINKnic, a massive 400-person, all-white potluck picnic in the middle of downtown Toronto, with guests bringing dishes that ranged from Jell-o moulds to devilled eggs. Each participant donated a minimum of $20 to breast cancer research.

"It's about spreading the word, and sharing a really fun evening with a lot of people that love food and wine," said Ruby Watchco chef Lynn Crawford, who is also a KitchenAid spokesperson.

She noted how easy it can be to turn one of your summer events into a fundraising effort, just by asking guests to contribute to the cause when they RSVP, and making sure the parent organization knows about your efforts -- in Cook for the Cure's case, KitchenAid Canada will add a $50 donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to any funds raised at a party.

"It shouldn’t be a stressful event, it should be fun," emphasized Crawford. "Stick to the recipes you like and theme it up -- that way there will be a bit more direction for everybody."

Here are six suggestions for hosting a charity-oriented party this summer. Have some of your own? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter at @HuffPostCaStyle.

Photo gallery Hosting A Charity Party See Gallery

Tea Party

Remember those tea parties you had a child -- but never quite got around to hosting as an adult? Use your favourite charity as an excuse to get friends over and sipping a cuppa. Gather a variety of tea cups from a garage sale (just wash them well!) and serve things like finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, punch, cupcakes, and of course, tea.

Bridal Shower

If the bride-to-be has a favourite charity, ask guests to make a donation to the organization in lieu of a gift -- or let them know they can bring money to the event that will be donated in her honour. Finger foods keep the party costs down, so consider offering dishes like a cheese and vegetable platter, mini pizzas, spring rolls or chips and dip.

World Cuisine

If you're planning to host a potluck party (and especially if your charity is based in another part of the world), ask guests to bring foods from different regions. Ideas could include empanadas, shish kabobs, escargot, tapas and samosas.


Many charities are affiliated with a colour (like breast cancer or red for AIDS awareness), so theming your party towards the hue for the charity for which you're raising money keeps the cause top of mind -- and allows for a dose of creativity. Think about drinks in the appropriate colour, either naturally or with food colouring, decor that matches, and foods that fall into that end of the colour wheel (beets, anyone?).

Cocktail Party

Cocktail parties are a mainstay of charity events, and for good reason -- it's hard to resist a gathering with fun drinks and yummy appetizers. This is the easiest party in which to ask for a 'cover' for charity because of the number of people that usually attend, so don't feel embarrassed about having someone posted at the door. Don't forget to create a signature drink for the charity being celebrated, and pass around easy-to-hold foods like bruschetta, melon and prosciutto bites and olives.

Backyard Barbecue

When the weather's nice, it's hard to resist a meal served al fresco. Setting up the barbecue buffet-style lessens the workload and keeps everything casual -- and placing outdoor-friendly games (lawn bowling, hula hooping) will not only keep guests entertained, but offer up a chance to win prizes. The menu can include a variety of salads (like pasta, corn, or bean), different kinds of burgers, and chicken wings for a bit of mess.