Fundraising Ideas: How To Have A Chocolate Festival For Valentine's Day

This article discusses how a youth group can use a chocolate festival at Valentine's Day as a fund raising event.

Youth groups are always looking for ways to raise money. One unique way is to plan a fundraiser around Valentine's Day and hold a chocolate festival. This event does not require a great deal of money invested and has the potential to raise a good bit of money. This idea is best for a church group or other group that has a permanent meeting place they can use, and can hold a large group of people.

First, the youth leader needs to present the idea to the group, and to the parents to enlist their help. They will need to agree to help supply the chocolate treats. The group should set the date and start getting the word out that the event is on the horizon. They should make certain that flyers are posted and announcements made in church. The youth director should keep a list of who is bringing what, so as to make certain there will be enough food. Parents who are not great cooks can supply paper plates, cups (for cold and hot beverages), napkins and plastic forks and spoons. Most discount stores will have an abundance of these in Valentine's Day colors and motifs. Other parents should also volunteer to supply soft drinks, ice and to make coffee.

The youth group should go in the day before the event, if possible, to decorate. They can do pink and white paper tablecloths and can have bunting in front of the tables. They can also twist red and white and pink and white crepe paper streamers together and tape each end to the tablecloth, allowing it to swag in the middle in front of the table. The taped-down place can be hidden by a pink, red or white candle in a holder. Heart-shaped mylar confetti is available and can be strewn lightly on the tables, for a colorful effect. Serving items should be placed, still in their packages, at one end of the tables, ready to be opened the next day. Drinks can wait until the day of the event, but everyone should be at the venue at least two hours early to prepare.

All sweets should be on attractive trays. Plastic trays that look like silver are available at party supply stores, for next to nothing. Paper lace doilies can also be placed on the trays, to enhance the look. Plastic trays resembling cut glass are another attractive option. These are also inexpensive. Using this kind of serving ware means no one leaves Grandma's heirloom silver tray at the church, or breaks her crystal serving platter. It is helpful if a note is placed in front of goodies containing peanuts, so those allergic can avoid them. A few volunteers should also bring a non-chocolate item, since some people are allergic to chocolate, as well.

Drinks should be at a separate table, with a youth member or parent filling up cups with ice, and offering coffee cups for those who want it. Serve decaffeinated coffee and offer at least one soft drink without caffeine.

The group can sell advance tickets, but simply asking for donations usually results in a better outcome for the group's coffers. A basket can be placed near the door with a sign for donations, and a parent or responsible youth member can sit with it.

With the advent of multi-CD players, continuous music is possible. Some ideas are love/pop songs by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Classical music is also always appropriate "" even light opera is apropos for setting a "love" theme fitting for the day. If someone wishes to donate their time and talent by singing or playing guitar, this can also add a festive air to the proceedings.

An event like this is a more formal one than a car wash. Therefore, members of the youth group should be dressed nicely""no shabby, low-riding jeans, middy-tops, platform flip-flops or wannabe "gangsta" wear. Boys should wear a dress shirt or polo with khakis or other dress pants. Girls should wear dresses, a nice skirt and blouse, or dressy pants and top. Piercings may be all right otherwise, but it bothers some people to have their food served by someone whose lips and tongue are pierced. Ask the pierced ones to take out their jewelry for the duration of the event.

Youth members and parents should be roaming the tables, making certain all items that need serving pieces (such as pie and cake) have those available, that napkins, plates and other single service items are kept replenished at the tables, and carrying garbage bags to collect the dirty plates.

Seating can either be at tables, or with chairs placed around the hall. If seating is at tables, each table should have a cloth and some sort of centerpiece, such as a candlestick.

One of the youth members or parents who is computer-literate should collect copies of each recipe used at the festival, and should print them out. They can then either be stapled together or taken to an office supply store and spiral-bound for a small fee. This booklet should have some artwork on the cover, and the date of the festival, as well as the name of the sponsoring youth group. These booklets can then be sold for an additional fee that covers the printing costs.

When the festival ends, the youth and parents should be prepared to clear away and clean up the remains, and ready the hall for its next use. If necessary, chairs and tables should be taken down and stored in their proper places. The hall and kitchen areas should be swept or vacuumed and left neat and clean.

A chocolate festival requires more advance preparation than do other fundraising events, but the results are usually good. Careful, detailed advance planning is the key to a successful event. A chocolate festival also leaves a good, lasting impression on those who attend. They often become annual events.

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