Ahhh themes. This week I have three themed get togethers for volunteers. Holidays are the easiest themes, because they are well, holidays, so yay, it’s a no brainer. The stores are full of holiday stuff to buy, maybe just pick a color or an elf or cute peppermint candy. “Brain, deactivate, the Dollar Store has it all in control!”
It’s the rest of the year that gets so hard. There’s the annual luncheon. There’s volunteer appreciation week. And then there are meetings, educational in-services, celebrations, nominations etc. Food becomes second nature. I can whip out a pot of coffee, hot chocolate, and a plate of yummy cookies with my eyes closed and my brain wandering into that little boutique window I saw on the way over. I even have a cute apron that says, (don’t laugh) “I’m serving YOU this time.” Clever, huh?
But every time there’s an event, it means figuring out what to call it, what to decorate with and what to say that ties it all in together. And what a lovely plethora of themes to choose from. You think LOL Cats is too cute? Let’s just look at some of our more common volunteer themes and the inexpensive ways we can decorate:
There’s “VOLUNTEERS, THE HEART OF (insert your organization)”. Hearts are great. If you get them after Valentine’s Day, they are really cheap. And we all learned how to cut out hearts in kindergarten, so this is an easy one.
There’s “VOLUNTEERS, OUR SHINING STARS”. Also a pretty easy one. There’s five-pointed stars to tape to the ceiling or you can staple clip art shooting stars all over the walls. My favorite is using movies stars. If you have a tween daughter, you can borrow posters of Justin Bieber or Katy Perry which costs nothing but then you’re living with an angry adolescent and it might take some bribery to make her happy again.
There’s “VOLUNTEERS, OUR TREASURES”. I’ve seen some pretty interesting attempts at treasure chests. But this is a good theme if you have a lot of junk, fake jewelry around that you can scatter about the tables. If you’ve made a trip to Mardi Gras and gotten tons of beads for doing things you regretted the next morning, this is the theme for you.
How about “VOLUNTEERING, A WORK OF HEART”. This clever play on words means you can put up random pictures of art work cut from that $1 art history book bought at a thrift store or you can raid your refrigerator door for some child art. Either way, it’s pretty cheesy so don’t plan on inviting the CEO.
“VOLUNTEERS ARE THE DIFFERENCE”. Tough one, but you can get free pictures of before and after pictures out of magazines. There’s a lot of before and after pictures of face lifts, so you can showcase the incredible results on the walls. If a volunteer should ask why you chose pictures of face lifts, you can slyly say that “Volunteers give us a lift.”
“VOLUNTEERS, A WORLD OF CARING”. Globes and atlases are fairly expensive so you might need to visit your local chamber for some free maps. That, and you can always swipe your son’s solar system science project for some additional punch.
“OUR VOLUNTEERS ARE CHAMPIONS”. I love this one. We all have random sports equipment in our closets. Personally, I use my work out equipment. All the brand new tags are still on it.
So, I was thinking the other day of some easy themes based solely on readily available and easy to get items. Here’s a few I might try.
“VOLUNTEERS HAVE CARING IN THE BAG”. I have so many of those plastic grocery bags, I thought I could just staple them around the room. I can make a game out of trying to throw wadded paper in the bags to amuse them.
“VOLUNTEERS, THE BRANCHES ON THE TREE OF CARING”. So, I can go into my yard and clip enough branches from my trees to scatter about the room. I might get scratched by a thorn or two, but at least it’s organic and free. Maybe afterwards I could start a small bonfire and we could roast marshmallows.
“VOLUNTEERS: THE PAY STINKS BUT YOU GET CUTE LITTLE PARTIES LIKE THIS!” This is where I will use all the left over stuff from all the other cute little parties that I’ve given. Cheap, easy and a good way to clean my back room.
“VOLUNTEERS: NOTHING CAN DESCRIBE HOW MUCH WE APPRECIATE YOU”. Yes, when all else fails, in keeping with the theme, I will use nothing. No decorations, no cute giveaways, nothing. I will act very avant-garde and when they leave, I will give each volunteer a handful of nothing while declaring “your worth is beyond paltry trinkets!” This probably would be the last time any volunteer comes to a function so I might have to save this one until I’m ready to retire.
So, please enjoy the upcoming holidays for what they really are: The chance to not have to rack your brain to come up with a clever theme!