Throwing Parties During the Apocalypse

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After the presidential election in November, we were suddenly (at least it felt sudden) confronted with the holiday season—for many Americans a time of celebration and gathering. But enjoying Thanksgiving can be difficult when your president-elect is filling his cabinet with people whose only qualifications are being white and rich. Watching lawmakers play games with people’s healthcare can make it hard to enjoy unwrapping gifts. Though the holidays were a salve in some ways, providing a distraction and an opportunity to spend time with people we love, they highlighted the fact that we need to change the way we live. Hopefully more of us who have had the privilege and disgrace of ignoring things for so long, are waking up.

Having the time, energy, and resources to throw a party is a privilege. Having something to celebrate is a privilege. I hope in the new year we can all spend some time thinking about how we use that privilege. I propose that it is possible to have fun and throw parties while also doing some good. In fact, I think our hosting and homes will feel better when we combine the two. Remember, everything is political. And rich people seem to throw fundraisers all of the time, why can’t we? They rent ballrooms and have Beyoncé perform, we might have to settle for our backyard and a boombox. Our parties will be more fun and have better food.

We hosted a small holiday open house in December and turned it into a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. The deal was, I would bake a lot of cookies (cookie parties are the best parties), Bryan would make some drinks, and our guests would bring cash to be donated to Planned Parenthood. We made it clear that our guests should not bring anything else (no host gifts or cookies or bottle of wine or whatever—CASH. But we all stressed that it was not necessary, we do not want to make friends who may be strapped for cash feel bad about not being able to donate—there are other ways to help.). I put some latent crafting skills to work to make a donation box. We designed and produced three custom buttons for the event (I bought a button maker years ago). And I printed some fact sheets about the great work that Planned Parenthood does and had them available throughout our apartment. Otherwise, it functioned as a fairly standard holiday party, though with perhaps a bit more talk about politics. At the end of the night we had spent time with some of the people we love, had eaten our fill of cookies, AND we had raised $750 for Planned Parenthood. Not a bad score for an afternoon with friends. Even if we had only raised $50 it would have felt like a success. Something is always better than nothing. The revolution starts with lots of little things. We need a revolution—now. (We needed it ages ago, but now is all we got.)

So, my fellow homebodies, entertainers, and bon vivants—what can we do? What have you done? What do you need ideas for? How do we make our domestic spaces RADICAL spaces of RESISTANCE? Let’s use the comments below to collect ideas that other people might be able to use.

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Some thoughts to get us started:

  • Follow our lead and turn your next party into a fundraiser. Maybe instead of birthday gifts you ask for donations in your name to a favorite non-profit? Host a cocktail party where you suggest a $5 donation per cocktail with all of the donations going to your favorite organization? You could even have guests vote on which organization they would like to receive the money.
  • If you are going to dinner at a friend’s house, rather than bring the standard (and usually unrequested) bottle of wine, donate money (even $10 would be great!) to an organization you know your host would support.
  • Host a clothing or food drive at your place. People bring their useful old stuff and you agree to do the annoying part and deliver it to an organization who can use it. Maybe everyone gets an ice cream sundae for showing up.
  • Do you and your friends make stuff? What if you had a one-day only stoop sale where you sold your pottery or prints or knitwear and all of the profits went to charity? Or throw a big bash and ask friends to donate work for a silent auction?
  • Have an old-fashioned change jar where anyone who lives with you or visits you can dump spare change and then donate to an organization. Make it clear where donations will go. Keep it by the front door.
  • And it isn’t all about money! Make it educational—bring people together to share ideas for activism and resistance. You can make a pot of fondue and your friend who volunteers as a tutor can share what that work is like to help convince others to join them. You can have a brainstorming sessions to come up with ways of connecting with others in your community. Or spend your time writing to government officials to let them know what is important to you.

Like many of you and millions of others around the world, I took to the streets on the 21st to participate in the Women’s March. It was a great day (though I certainly acknowledge its shortcomings) that really did feel like the beginning of something. And then this weekend our airports were flooded with people who were protecting the American ideal. We can do this. But now the work gets harder and we have to be relentless. Please join me. Imagine how good it will feel to discuss what we cooked AND the good it did?!

I love you all, even the hater and losers. (too soon?)

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I thought I would share one recipe from our December cookie extravaganza that was a big hit with our friends. These Cardamom and Walnut Snowballs are from my friend Malika Ameen’s beautiful cookbook Sweet Sugar, Sultry Spice. They are a wonderful variation on the basic Mexican Wedding Cookie or Russian Tea Cake or whatever wonderful immigrant group they may be named after in your house. They have a remarkably long shelf life (at least a week at peak deliciousness, but they can also be frozen for longer storage). Bake a batch and invite some friends over to discuss how you’re going to change the world.

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Walnut Cardamom Snowballs (from Sweet Sugar, Sultry Spice by Malika Ameen)

  • 16 tablespoons (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups raw walnut halves
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and cardamom until light and fluffy. The tenderness of the cookie depends on how much air you incorporate in this step. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Add the flour and beat on low speed until no streaks of flour remain. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the walnuts and continue to beat on low speed until evenly distributed and lightly crushed, about 30 seconds. Chill the dough for about an hour.

Spoon tablespoon sized mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spaced 1-inch apart. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the pans until they can be handled but are still warm to the touch, about 5 minutes.

Put the confectioners sugar into a medium bowl. Gently lift each cookie from the baking sheet and bury it in the sugar until all of the cookies are completely covered. Let the cookies cool completely in the sugar, about 10 minutes. Once cool, remove the cookies from the sugar and gently toss each cookie between your hands to shake off the excess sugar. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

 

47 comments to “Throwing Parties During the Apocalypse”

  1. Thanks so much for this post. This is perfect. We are moving into a new house soon and it seems like this is the best way to celebrate while staying with the times we live in.

  2. Hi Sara! Congrats on the new house!

  3. Never has the “what do you think” on your comment section been so loaded. Short version, this is a great idea. Thank you for it.

  4. Ha! True.

  5. I love this idea. I had friends over after the Women’s March in San Francisco to celebrate my birthday, and at first I wondered if it was crazy to ask my friends to celebrate with me during such a difficult week, but instead we all felt really energized by the march and continued to talk about ways to be active and fight back against whatever is coming. It was a good time to be together. Community feels more important than ever. I only wish I had had the idea to use it as a fundraising opportunity!

  6. This is the easiest link (not all the extra stuff from the UCSC page): https://www.mealsharing.com/groups/university-of-chicago

    I can’t help but feel like Michelle Obama (who founded the UCSC) is urging us to care for each other right now AND fight like hell.

  7. for Chicago-based folks:
    The University of Chicago Service Center (UCSC) has a Dine with a Purpose Initiative that’s hoping to inspired 50 meals hosted in homes across the city on Saturday 2/11. The meals are an opportunity to bring people together to talk about important issues of social justice and care for each other.

    My wife Bridgette and I are hosting a brunch at our place in Pullman, with what I think is a pretty L&D-inspired menu–“Vibrant Vegetarian Brunch” hosted by Ellen on the mealsharing site. We will know a few guests, but it has an open invitation to anyone interested. Some meals have a fee as a fundraiser, but ours is free.

    Check it out!: https://www.mealsharing.com/groups/university-of-chicago

  8. Thank you. What a great idea. I’m in a closed group on FB – actually two – of women trying to figure out ways to get active. I’ve been standing in the hallway at my studio, at the shop where I work part-time, on the street, talking with others about how to organize. This is inspiring. I hope it’s okay to share this.

  9. This is the best. You totally inspired me. I just emailed my upstairs neighbor to start planning on a joint fundraiser party. Thanks, Tim. Feeling miserable over here but this makes things slightly better. xoxo

  10. Ellen- Thanks for sharing! these sound great.
    Naomi- Yes! Share and let us know what ideas you come up with.
    Mary Anne- YES. I wish I could attend. Come back and share and ideas that work well. Joining together to host is a great idea. Share the work, share the power!

  11. This is beautiful Tim. I appreciate all you and the others are writing. I’ve been doing lots of advocacy (writing Senators, donating money) but also trying to reach our to my neighbors and show kindness anywhere I can. I make it a goal to do one kind thing for a stranger every day. I know it sounds overly simplistic, but it’s doing me…and I hope the world…some good. Best. D

  12. PS We live in a small town but we have lots of immigrants. I am going to lobby for our town become a sanctuary town.

  13. Thanks, Dena. Good ideas and a good reminder that being kind to our fellow citizens is an important part of this.

  14. You got my wheels a-turning, what a great idea! This is a great excuse to finally bake all those cakes I’ve been wanting to bake and throwing a party. Love the box idea, too, so people don’t feel pressured to give more than they can.

  15. Lisa M Beaudet says:

    January 31st, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Thanks for the good ideas and the yummy recipe! I’m so happy to hear that people all over are having the same reaction and doing the same kind of organizing that we are doing. Here in Takoma Park, MD, we have an exponentially growing movement called Takoma Park Mobilization (website: tpmobilization.org and we’re also on facebook) comprising a number of grassroots committees, three of which I am a member of, including the Breaking Bread Together committee. I am sure that some of your ideas will end up on our potluck agendas (and tables) in the near future! And, I’m going to try to host on 2/11 as a result of reading these comments, in solidarity with UCSC’s Dine with a Purpose!!! Keep up the good work in all your communities – you are not alone!!!!

  16. This is so inspirational.

  17. Nia Bowling says:

    January 31st, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Thank you for using your piece of the internet to spread love, goodness,cookies, and invitation to act in anyway one can. I love this!

  18. I love this! The next party we throw I’m going to do a fundraiser for our local food bank and give people the option of offering cash or food (and provide a list of the foods that are most desired at food banks to make the donation as effective as possible). I’m all for fostering community AND making our domiciles, as you say, radical spaces of resistance!

  19. Logistical question on this, if you don’t mind: Did you ask for actual cash donations? Just wondering in case anyone is interested in the tax write-off. If guests bring checks, in theory, the org could send a receipt, then the donor could write it off, correct? I was just curious because I really like this idea!

  20. Hey Gene- Good question! Our friends were fine giving cash and not taking the write-off (which I think only requires receipts over $500–but I may be wrong). But we had suggested that if friends wanted to donate online before the party they could write the amount on piece of paper to deposit in the box, or print the receipt and deposit that. I like the idea of having a record, because the next day we sent an email to everyone letting them know what we, as a group, had accomplished.

  21. I think nothing is more admirable than being a force for peace and justice, so I guess there is no one more admirable than you and all the people who try to keep everyone lifted up during this trying time. I agree that this should be a “teachable” moment for all of us. It’s difficult to remember that something really good can come of this, but you are an example that it can. It is never too soon to tell everyone that you love them. I love you, too! As MLK said, nothing defeats darkness other than light, nothing defeats hate other than love.

    I think you should consider selling buttons. I would buy them! Thanks, Tim, for this wonderful post.

  22. I applaud your ideas, we all need to do our part. My husband is thinking of running for office, and I’m brainstorming how I can make the most impact. I appreciate your ideas.

  23. Thank you for this post. I’ve been increasingly frustrated with food media and bloggers staying staunchly apolitical in recent weeks. I understand these are not the spaces people turn to for news, but I personally read these blogs because of the personalities backing them- and seeing no mention of current events feels so disingenuous. So, thank you again for utilizing this space as a means of empowering people both in the kitchen and beyond :)

  24. Tim, thank you for this idea and for your (always brilliant and inspiring) writing. You’ve inspired me to add a dash of activism onto my upcoming lip-sync battle birthday party: I think I’ll have everyone compete for the cash prize on behalf of their favorite organization. <3

  25. you inspire me x

  26. Thank you! Wandered over from Deb’s place – Smitten Kitchen – and yes! Thank you for daring to mix your politic in with your recipes. I’m a Canuck and live in Labrador which is about 114 thousand square miles. I organized the only Women’s March on Snowshoes in the world. But I can’t rage and fight all the time. I need to draw, write and make spaghetti pie now and then. Great ideas for fun-draisers. May I suggest that as well as Planned Parenthood, you could raise dough for the American Civil Liberties Union. They really know how to kick butt! Thanks again for being sane and I’ll be back to read recipes and stuff!

  27. These are such tough days we’re finding ourselves in. I live in a very reed state (SC) and while having thrown myself into multiple resistance initiatives keeps me going, it’s so hard not to get discouraged with each new news item. That said- that Cookie Monster button was exactly what I needed to see today to put a smile on my face. Comradery is so important now more than ever. Bring on the cookie party! Thanks for this!

  28. So many great ideas, friends!

    Becky- Thanks for the optimistic reminder, sometimes hard to keep in my mind.
    IGC- We so need people to run for office! That is great!
    Caitlyn- What an awesome idea for a birthday party and a great way to incorporate some fundraising.
    Jan- Yes to ACLU! Donated more money than I probably can afford to this past weekend. ; ) Also, Labrador! My husband’s family is from Cape Breton and we also have some Newfies in the family.
    Joanna- Yeah, I keep wondering how I would do if I wasn’t living in a liberal urban area. So proud of people who are resisting outside of these bubbles where it feels like everyone is on your side.

  29. I recently held an informational Planned Parenthood meeting at my home for twenty five women (and two men). We have been working tirelessly on behalf of the organization. Am also proud to say I marched with one hundred thousand proud activists in Madison, WI on the 21st. This past Sunday over 100 of us gathered to pen postcards to our politicians. Every day we plot and plan ways to be heard.
    Thank you for all that you do. Never. Ever. Give. Up. (And this is coming from a 69 year old woman who has always been an activist.)

  30. schneiderluvsdoof says:

    February 1st, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I love this post, and how you’ve motivated us to be active and helpful citizens. Thank you, Tim.

  31. I thought I couldn’t love you more Tim, but this post got you to 11. Thanks for the spark of hope and inspiration that I and much of the world desperately need right now. You have me brainstorming about hosting a Valetine’s Day party.The time is always now to share and spread love!
    XXX

  32. Thanks, Mary. That is encouraging. Will not give up.
    Cat- Valentines is a perfect time to do something. LOVE!

  33. This is the best. And now I want some cookies. Maybe Dorie’s World Peace cookies?

  34. Yes Tim! Lovely post, I read it the other day and it really got me thinking so I am doing my own fundraising dinner also inspired by the cookforsyria.com campaign! Thanks for the inspiration!

  35. Letter-writing party! Make postcards to send to your representatives. Provide templates for letters and scripts for phone calls.

  36. thank you, i needed this so very much. i go from despair to anger and back to despair. last night i went to a wmw postcard writing meeting, i managed only 6 postcards because my hand hurt from gripping the pen so hard.
    anyway, when i’m not being dramatic and i fight through my introvertedness, i volunteer through the IRC (international refugee committee), i mentor a family, tutoring them in english. it’s not much, only a few hours a week, but it’s a worthwhile organization and cause. <3

  37. Thank you for doing this. Down with gifts! Up with donations! And your buttons are spot-on.

  38. hello – i love your blog but have never posted. i will make a donation in your name to PP if you are willing to part with some of those buttons. I especially love the cookie monster. Possible?

  39. I have to join the chorus and THANK YOU for stepping out, standing up, and inspiring. We need each other now more than ever! I live in a little, rural town (which is also hideously conservative and Republican) but have managed to connect with a local group that is inspiring each other both philosophically, but also logistically by organizing car pools to marches and such. Let’s keep each other energized!

  40. Love you. Love your blog. Love this idea. Thank you.

  41. Tim – Longtime reader…It’s so good to hear your voice again. And as I suspected, you’ve been getting down to work. For all of us, the hard work starts now if it hasn’t already started. We’ll all grower stronger, together.

  42. Thanks, friends! Glad to hear from so many of you. Helps on the days when it is hard to muster optimism.

  43. Wonderful post. Just to mention the ‘huddles’ that are being organised in the wake of the marches – they are happening all over and may be a good way to keep momentum and hope alive. If there isn’t one near you, why not host one (with cookies). With solidarity from England, where we feel some of your pain, and are protesting loud alongside you.

  44. Thanks so much for this! Our ‘huddle’ had its first meeting yesterday and we were looking for something that was manageable for a group of political action newbies. We decided to replicate this idea for our kick off. It seems especially perfect since I baked a batch of your sugar saucer (or rainbow sprinkle, as I like to call them) cookies and handed them out at the Boston Women’s March. Big hit!

  45. Dina! This makes me so happy to hear. Thanks for taking the time to write. xo

  46. This is so brilliant and inspiring, thank you! xo

  47. Man, this post just made me so incredibly happy. Thank you so much for standing up for women’s reproductive rights. Seriously, you are just the best. My heart is warm and now I’m inspired to have a PP fundraiser party!

What do you think?