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Moments: A Cash Mob for a Beloved Local Businessman

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Moments: A Cash Mob for a Beloved Local Businessman

This is a guest post from Everybody's Invited contributor, Celeste Hamilton Dennis. When she's not creating rad muppet-themed Save the Date videos, she's organizing "cash mobs" for local businesses. We think you'll find this pretty inspiring.

This past June, I organized a cash mob—where people flood a local store and pledge to buy stuff—for a good friend named Avi who owns a stationery store in my hometown of Levittown, New York.

From the minute my husband Craig had the idea, I knew it was something we wanted to do for Avi. His was a good story. Originally from India, Avi had been in Levittown for the past ten years and was an essential part of the community. Generous and charismatic, his position behind the counter often went beyond cashier to good friend—and even, sometimes, to therapist. I knew this firsthand.

But like many small businesses on Long Island and across the U.S., he’d come up on hard times and was likely going to shut the store down. So we saw this as an opportunity to show just how loved and supported he was in Levittown and in the process, hopefully give him some extra cash.

The result was renewed hope for Avi, and this short documentary.

My not-so-secret goal of organizing the cash mob was it would also inspire others to do the same. So if you’re keen on organizing a cash mob for a beloved local store owner you know, here are some things to keep in mind:                  

1. Make sure a cash mob is something they’d be comfortable with.

I didn’t know if Avi would hate or love it, or if there were cultural mores I should be aware of.  The last thing I wanted to do was embarrass him or make him mad. So I made sure to get the go ahead from his wife first before doing anything.

2. Start outreach at least one month out…

The success of this event depended entirely on people showing up. Since it was summer and people have lots of plans, I wanted to make sure people could pencil the date in. The very first thing I did was create a Facebook page where I could post updates and reminders.

3…and be comprehensive.

Via the Facebook page, I invited everyone I’d ever known in Levittown and asked (read: begged) friends and family to share it with their networks. The invite list instantly tripled.

I then reached out to the local paper, The Levittown Tribune, to place a mysterious ad and also contacted someone at the Levittown Historical Society I knew to send an email to various groups and associations around town.  

Avi also helped with getting the word out. Under the guise of me wanting to interview his elderly customers for a book about Levittown, he unwittingly got me their phone numbers. Two weeks prior, I sent them a flyer via snail mail. I also had a friend deliver that same flyer to the houses immediately surrounding the store.

It worked! In total about 100 people showed up.

It worked! In total about 100 people showed up.

4. Don’t be shy about enlisting the help of family and friends.

I found people were more than willing to be a part of such a happy, community-oriented event if you only asked.

I had an editor friend proofread my copy for both Facebook and emails, the good people here at Everybody’s Invited! help me talk through logistics and decorations, a web designer friend create the flyer, video producer friends document the whole story, etc.

5. Add a personal touch.

I wanted to make this extra special. So I had a “Levittown Loves Avi” sign made in the NY font from Etsy, provided food from a well-known and loved deli next store as a thank you for the people who participated, and asked my uncle to bring flowers for Bharati from his florist shop.

We gave Avi this sign afterward as a keepsake.

We gave Avi this sign afterward as a keepsake.

6. Have a plan, but roll with it.

We wrote out a cue-to-cue, a method stolen from the theatre world, that gave a minute by minute run down of the day of and who was doing what.  Of course, it didn’t go exactly as planned. (The bright sun shining down on a table full of deli meat could only end badly for everyone, for example.) But nothing was too difficult and we adjusted as necessary.

7. Think beyond the day.

Encouraged by our video producers, we set up an “Everyone Loves Avi”  Fundly account (also our hashtag for the day) so we could keep the momentum up long after the event ended.

The goal of this was to buy Avi some more time, help offset some of the costs of the event, and spark the idea that this was possible for small businesses anywhere.

Because we know that wherever you may be in the world, there’s a good chance that there’s someone you interact with on a daily basis who goes above and beyond - whether they’re the guy who knows your coffee order the second you walk in the door, or the saleswoman who always gives you an extra big smile when you’re checking out.

Who’s your Avi?                                             

For more detail and my do-differently’s, check out a longer version of this post on Cash Mob for Avi. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions: cellyham@gmail.com.

 

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Mad Men Fun

To close out our series on our Mad Men Premiere Party, we’re sharing our ideas for favors and activities to keep the party going!

Favors

Tara collected some pretty amazing favors including mini bottles of whiskey, candy cigarettes, and matches. When presented with a typed Thank You card, you’ve got a perfectly-themed party favor for your guests to take home.

Activities

We recommend keeping it simple. Vintage records like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Aretha Franklin will encourage some serious hip-shaking.

Vintage games will provide some nostalgic fun. Life, Mouse Trap, and Twister were all created in the 60s.

We guarantee your guests will get a kick out of perusing the ads in magazines from the era.

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And what would a Mad Men party be without some Madison Avenue advertising pitches? Give your guests a theme and let them create a vintage-style advertisement, perhaps using collage materials. Award points based on presentation, creativity, and authenticity (how dated does their copy sound?). Here’s our example:

If you’re throwing a Mad Men premiere party, be sure to let us know how it goes in the comments!

And if you’d like to throw another one-of-a-kind theme party, get in touch. Let us help you plan the perfect party!

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Mad Menu

We’re still going gaga over our Mad Men shindig!

Here’s a closer look at the inspired menu and highlights from the recipes. As you can see, they’re simple to make and fab to look at. Scroll towards the bottom for a complete list of ingredients.

Snacks
Popcorn, chips, pretzels, and peanuts. Neato!

Pimiento cheese spread on Ritz crackers
In a medium bowl, mash pimientos using a fork. Mix in cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise. Season with garlic powder and black pepper. Chill until ready to spread over Ritz crackers.

Tuna salad-stuffed cherry tomatoes
Cut top off each tomato, scoop out seeds and pulp with a small spoon. Dry and drain over paper towels. Combine tuna, mayonnaise, black pepper, chopped celery, and minced onions. Fill tomatoes and garnish with parsley.

Pigs-in-a-blanket
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate crescent rolls and flatten into triangles measuring about 1 1/2 inches on each side. Wrap each sausage in a half slice of cheese and a triangle of dough. Place on lightly greased baking sheet and bake until golden. Serve warm and with some mustard dip.

Waldorf salad

Combine celery, apples, walnuts, and grapes in a medium bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and a cup of marshmallows for a touch of sweetness. Serve chilled.

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Jell-O fruit salad
Put Jell-O and soft cream cheese in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Add remaining water and mix well with a mixer on low-speed. Put in fruit salad and pour into your choice of cake mold. After an hour (or when firm), frost with some cool whip. Serve chilled.

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For a print-ready list of ingredients, click here.

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Our Events: Mad Men Season 6 Premiere Party

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Mad Men, AMC’s award-winning period drama, will return on April 7 for a sixth season. We here at Everybody’s Invited! think that sounds like a reason to party!

We recently hosted a Mad Men pre-premiere party with some of our friends. We hope our 1960s shindig will inspire you to bust out your whiskey glasses and dust off your record player!

Mad Men Premiere Party Elements:

The Vibe: Imagine it’s 5pm on a Friday in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices. Mr. Draper has just landed a big client, and everyone — the creative team, secretaries, sales guys — is celebrating this victory with a little post-work week happy hour in the office. Grab a cocktail, loosen your ties, and kick off your heels. Get ready to twist and shout!

Decor: Mid-century madness! We took our inspiration directly from the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices: Tapered-leg furniture, starburst clocks, whiskey decanters and vintage barware, a vintage typewriter, rotary phone, and Rolodex. Vintage advertisements (all found for free online, and mounted on cardstock) adorn the walls and inspire the employees (a.k.a. party guests) of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Vintage matchbooks, candy cigarettes, cocktail napkins, an issue of LIFE magazine from 1968, and 60s fashion books cover the coffee table.

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Styling: Dapper, Draper-style narrow-lapel suites and cardigan sweaters for the fellas. Pearls, pencil skirts, and false lashes for the ladies. Teased updos, winged eyeliner, bright coral-rose lipstick, form-fitting frocks, and high heels were also part of the working gal’s guise in the 1960s.

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Music: Drop the needle on vintage records! The Beatles, Beach Boys, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and more 60s hits. If you’re feeling bold, Zou Bisou Bisou your way into the spotlight (most likely after you’ve had a few cocktails). We also recommend making a playlist on your computer or iPod for when you get sick of flipping records. (Vintage is cool and all, but modern technology wins when you’re busy hosting a bash!)

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Favors: Party favors include Mad Men “essentials”: mini whiskey bottle, candy cigarettes, and vintage matchbooks inside a whiskey glassMore information about favors coming later this week on the blog!

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Food: Simple, vintage-style appetizers, like pimento cheese spread on Ritz crackers, tuna salad-stuffed tomatoes, and Pigs in a Blanket. More details about our “Mad Men-u” coming later this week on the blog!

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Drinks: Cocktails, of course! Mix Don Draper’s favorite, Canadian Club whiskey, in a classic Old Fashioned. Top it with an orange slice and a cherry or two.More details about our cocktail menu coming later this week on the blog!

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Activities: Brainstorm your best ad copy for a mock sales pitch! More information about activities coming later this week on the blog!

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And it wouldn’t be a Mad Men party without secrets, lies…

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… and scandal!

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Are you attending a Mad Men season six premiere party? No? Well now you’ve got the tools and ideas to host your very own event! Tell your friends to be there or be square.

See more photos of our Mad Men Season 6 Premiere Party on the Everybody’s Invited! Events Facebook page.

Credits:

Event design, styling, and coordination by Everybody’s Invited! Events

Hair and makeup artistry by Wendy Wood 

Photos by Stefani Hanneman Photography

Special thanks to our retro-fied friends who let us doll them up like Joans and Dons – you’re the bee’s knees!

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Our Events: TEDxLive

You may have heard of the annual TED Conferences, which generate the amazing TED Talk videos that get passed around on the internet, leaving plenty of inspired people in their wake. (Some that fit in well with our themes of play, surprise, and adventure are: Gaming Can Make a Better WorldPlay is More Than Fun, and The Surprising Science of Happiness.)

Seeing the TED Talks live as they happen is pretty difficult to do, since attending TED Conferences cost several thousands of dollars and requires an application. Fortunately, there’s another, less exclusive way to see the talks as they happen—organizers licensed to run TEDx events (independently organized events held all over the world) can host a livestream of the TED Conference and open it to the public. We were fortunate enough to be asked to help organize a livestream party with the TEDxConcordiaUPortland team.

The event was held on Concordia University’s campus and allowed nearly 200 students and community members to be amongst the first to see this year’s crop of awesome TED speakers. The event has a somewhat challenging structure, as it runs from 8:30 in the morning to 7 in the evening, has several long breaks, and allows people to drop in as they like. To keep people engaged during the breaks, we offered a selection of board games, kept the food buffet stocked with different items throughout the day, featured a Retro Candy Bar, and had a photo booth where attendees could share their ideas as they related to the TED themes of the day.

The donuts that kept people coming back for more, from Tonnali’s.

The donuts that kept people coming back for more, from Tonnali’s.

Our Retro Candy Bar featured classic favorites like Pop Rocks, Nerds, Ring Pops, and Candy Necklaces (largely procured from Cosmic Candy)

Our Retro Candy Bar featured classic favorites like Pop Rocks, Nerds, Ring Pops, and Candy Necklaces (largely procured from Cosmic Candy)

The candy is ready for its closeup.

The candy is ready for its closeup.

What goes better with retro candy than a tub full of icy Capri Suns!

What goes better with retro candy than a tub full of icy Capri Suns!

We opted for a simple photo backdrop and let attendees play with the bright red TED letters or add their thoughts about the day’s themes on mini whiteboards

We opted for a simple photo backdrop and let attendees play with the bright red TED letters or add their thoughts about the day’s themes on mini whiteboards

Some people dream big.

Some people dream big.

A super casual pose from Marcus of Central City Coffee, who donated coffee for all the attendees

A super casual pose from Marcus of Central City Coffee, who donated coffee for all the attendees

Thanks very much to the faculty, students, and community members of the TEDxConcordiaUPortland planning team for inviting us to be a part of the livestream event. It was a blast!

By the way, while it’s too late to get tickets to this year’sTEDxConcordiaUPortland event on March 23rd, you might want to follow them on Facebook to get updates about next year’s event. It’s sure to be amazing!

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