Monday, November 28, 2011

Holidays with a Heart

Get a Cocktail Recipe that Raises Humane Society Awareness, Plus Other “Paying It Forward” Ideas that Start in the Kitchen

Right now, the outside of supermarkets smell like pine needles and you can hear jingling bells as the red and green clad volunteers take up collections for good causes. This holiday season, I’ve got a few humanitarian initiatives of my own, starting with a cocktail that’s designed to raise awareness for humane societies across America. You could say my “pet peeve” is the idea of lost or abandoned dogs and cats in need of veterinary care, which is why I’ve been so active in the Avery Humane Society near my home in North Carolina.

In my quest to help the Avery Humane Society this year, I’ve created a special cocktail I like to call the “PAWSmopolitan”. With it’s refreshing combination of vodka, triple sec, fresh cranberry and lime juices and crushed peppermint as a garnish, this cocktail is perfect at your Christmas party and can be renamed just about anything that fits the charity you’re benefitting this year. You just have to put on your Santa/thinking cap!

Here are a few tips on mixing your next party with raising awareness and making the most of charitable donations.

Tip 1: Serve What they Want and They Will Come—Ask yourself: When you host a party, who usually comes? Knowing your regulars’ preferences will help you decide on a theme and menu that come across on the invitation, enticing the whole crowd into an RSVP of “YES”.

Tip 2: Suggest a Donation Amount—Whether it’s by word of mouth or evite, make sure you give a “suggested donation,” but make it clear that any gift is welcome. Ask the charity or organization you support for donation envelopes or blank credit card forms that can be filled out at your event. A good way to collect the envelopes, checks and forms is by wrapping a box in holiday paper, keeping it at the bar where your cocktails are being served, and marking that box as “Drop Donations Here”.

With efforts like these, organizations like my local humane society can raise enough money for positive community altering goals, like a new Adoption and Humane Education Center; click here for details on that. You’ll notice that Avery lets you donate online in ways that look good in your garden or courtyard: buy their specially marked bricks and pavers to show you care.

Save these links to my best recipes for wrapping up and giving as gifts this X-mas.

Bake & Take Savory Items:

• Grandma can heat up a serving of your Chicken & Broccoli Lasagna and enjoy it from her Lazy-Boy!
• Treat Someone You Love To a Cozy At-Home Dinner of Veggie Enchiladas

For Your Friends and Relatives with a Sweet Tooth…
• Santa’s Helpers could use a little crunch! Give ‘em the best Peanut Brittle!
Butterscotch Blondies are a hit in every X-mas tin!
• Adorable Individual Lemon Tarts make that someone special smile!

Bringing someone a holiday tin of fresh baked cookies or cakes, or a premade hearty meal is a wonderful present for birthdays, major holidays or any occasion where your aim is to help someone in need. Since the Christmas season is a wonderful excuse to check in with our elders, consider taking the meal in this handy, insulating thermo cooler bag I found, and stockpiled by the dozen for my gift-giving this year. The bags say “PAY IT FORWARD” on them; you can click around for this tote (and simular items!) on this fab website called The idea is to think of them a little bit like an edible chain letter. You give the stuffed-full-of-goodies bag to a neighbor, and they hold onto it until they feel like paying it forward to the next hungry person in line.

Sharing good food, drinks and memories over the holidays and blending these with charity efforts is the best way I can think of, of putting your money where your mouth is. Eat well and be merry. Happy holidays everyone!

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