Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fair Trade Holiday Parties

A great way to support fair trade artisans, especially at this time of year, is to host a home party. There are numerous organizations offering home party programs, and they usually operate in one of two ways - many groups ship actual merchandise for you to sell, while others may just send a few samples, along with catalogs and order forms, and your party guests' orders are then shipped directly to their own homes after the party.

Most of these organizations provide plenty of advice and information about hosting your party. In addition to merchandise and/or catalogs, you will likely also receive educational materials, possibly a DVD documenting the organization's work, and sometimes even regional recipe suggestions and/or music to play during your party.

These informal social gatherings also present an excellent opportunity to educate your guests about fair trade food items such as chocolate, coffee, and tea. Be sure to serve fair trade refreshments, and to discuss your reasons for doing so with your guests!

With a little bit of effort and advance planning, you can organize an event - either in your home, church, or workplace - that will benefit fairly treated workers and their communities around the world, all while having a great time shopping for holiday gifts with your family and friends.

After the party is over, you'll just need to pack up any remaining merchandise (unless it was a catalog-only party) and ship it back to the organization, along with payment for the items you sold. Most of the groups offer a small consignment (10-15%) and/or a merchandise discount for the party hostess; of course, you can always opt to donate that back to the group to make even more of a positive impact.

I've listed below several fair trade oriented organizations that offer home parties; policies and procedures vary depending on the group, so click through to get the important details you'll need to start planning your event. (And don't delay too long - some groups require up to three or four weeks' advance notice to get the merchandise to you!)

Mayan Hands is a fair trade organization that has been working with Mayan weavers since 1989. They now work with approximately 200 weavers, organized in groups of 12 to 50 women, living in eleven different communities around the western and northern highlands of Guatemala. Click to read home party information.

Heavenly Treasures' mission is to equip and assist people in developing countries to break the cycle of poverty through their handiwork and creativity. They focus on handicraft projects that allow the development of a micro enterprise, leading workers down the path to self-sufficiency. These projects are very small enterprises, ranging from one refugee family to a group of village women, all in need of a consistent income. Click to read home party information.

For 60 years, SERRV have worked on behalf of the world’s Artisans and Farmers. One of the first alternative trade organizations in the world, SERRV is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (formerly IFAT) and a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). Click to read home party information.

The SPIRAL Foundation (Spinning Potential Into Resources And Love) is a non-profit humanitarian organization doing work in Nepal and Vietnam. Click to read home party information.

BeadforLife eradicates extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens. Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads. Women in Northern Uganda gather shea nuts and press them into shea butter for cosmetics and soaps. And people who care open their hearts,homes and communities to buy and sell both products. Click to read home party information.

The Rwanda Basket Company is a program of Rwanda Partners that is working to change the lives of impoverished weavers in Rwanda. Rwanda Partners is a nonprofit organization that is working to restore and heal the people of Rwanda through reconciliation and poverty reduction programs. Click to read home party information.

Trade As One aims to promote sustainable business and break cycles of poverty and dependency in the developing world. Click to read home party information.

MayaWorks is a fair trade nonprofit organization that promotes economic development for Maya women and their families by supporting a marketplace for their handcrafted goods. Click to read home party information.

If you know of any other fair trade organizations that offer home parties, please let me know. And if you host a party yourself this year, be sure to come back and leave a comment here - I'd love to know how it went!

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