Inviting the Community to Tea

Published on: October 14, 2015

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Did you know that Mother’s Day is the third most attended church service of the year in America? I happened upon this information one day while surfing the Internet, looking for fun ideas that would meet the requests of our congregation for more “fun social events” where people could simply spend time enjoying one another’s company.

Now, like most spiritual communities, we host an annual Christmas concert, and there is always an Easter egg hunt for the children, but Mother’s Day.… How were we not paying more attention to such a big Sunday? It was with this in mind that I set out to create an event that could evolve into an annual tradition, and it was easy when I started to think of my daughter’s and my favorite way to spend time together. We needed to have a tea party!

As with any event at our spiritual community, there are certain steps after the what, when and where that I try to think of to make them a success. Hopefully they will help you make your next event a success as well!

Will This Fill a Need?

While many mothers are swept off by their extended families for a brunch or family barbeque, there are many who are not. Empty nesters, older moms whose children are scattered, mothers raising kids on their own, the list of people who would enjoy and welcome a tea party grew and grew. In addition, our congregation had been requesting more opportunities to have fun for fun’s sake, and this was a great chance to encourage them to bring their friends and family members and spend a little time with one another.

Can We Use This as an Opportunity for Outreach?

Unity of the Triangle Associate minister Rev Ana V Quintana (center) with her daughters Lauren (L), and Claire (R).

Unity of the Triangle Associate minister Rev Ana V Quintana (center) with her daughters Lauren (L), and Claire (R).

In this particular circumstance, we were fortunate to have a congregant who is the local president of Dress for Success Triangle. Mothers celebrating Mother’s Day by lifting up other Moms was an idea that was quickly able to gain a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Not only were we able to have fun and appeal to others outside of our regular congregants, by teaming up with Dress for Success, we were able to create a marketing strategy that would get us in front of an entirely new part of our local community. And since a nonprofit like Dress for Success already appealed to people interested in helping others, we knew these folks would be a great audience for us as well.

Would Others Be Willing to Help Us?

This was where we were really able to see our Tea Party fall into place. While our community is in the process of building a new spiritual home, we are currently meeting on Sunday mornings in the beautiful Woman’s Club of Raleigh. You couldn’t dream of a better place to host a tea party! During the week when we are at our regular business offices, the Woman’s Club is rented by a local caterer “Irregardless Catering.” Our Sunday service manager contacted them and they were happy to donate all of the china, food and tea for the party.

Since we do business with a local florist on a regular basis, we contacted them, and again, we found another business that was more than happy to help. They were able to donate flowers and vases for all of the tables, which we raffled off at the end of the event. While many members of our community were happy to pitch in, we also had the help of the many volunteers who help make Dress for Success run so smoothly.

Before we knew it, we had servers, table linens and entertainment all lined up. As an added bonus, we were able to offer tickets at an extremely low cost, making this a great way to celebrate mom for those in our community who were on a tight budget, but wanted something worthy of their Mother’s Day celebration.

How Do We Spread the Word?

Cindy Nickels and her daughter Carmen.

Cindy Nickels and her daughter Carmen.

In addition to having access to additional email lists by partnering up with Dress for Success, I found us to be in a good spot from a marketing stand point for yet another reason. Our generous sponsors who had offered to donate the food and flowers were both very popular local companies in our area, having been in business for many years. Including them in our press release helped get the attention of the media in a way that we are not always able to. In a city full of churches, this was a great opportunity to make our event stand out from the rest.

In addition, we ran an online campaign with Facebook ads, specifically targeting people within a 5 mile range of the Woman’s Club’s zip code, with specific interests in spirituality, meditation, prayer, and similar key words. After chatting with several ladies at our event, it was apparent that this was a very successful way of reaching people who were otherwise unfamiliar with Unity.

After the press releases and online ads were done, we sent out three separate stand-alone emails to both our internal list as well as the lists provided by the charity, and then simply included the event in our regular promotional communications. People were encouraged to register online through our website so that we were able to give the caterer a good idea of how much food we would need.

In the end, we had a lovely party. Our tables were covered in white linen cloths with beautiful antique-influenced flower arrangements in pink and yellow to go with our advertising campaign. The white china provided by the caterer added elegance, and the folks from Irregardless were able to create beautiful trays of finger sandwiches and delicious desserts that were passed around by our volunteer servers, all dressed up in black and white.

Our guests enjoyed live piano music in the background while they spent time honoring the special women in their lives. Many from our congregation brought their own mothers, as well as aunts, sisters and special friends. After it was all over, we had been able to raise money for a charity near to our hearts, bring our congregation together, and provide a lovely way for people to celebrate Mother’s Day and learn about all of the wonderful things our community here at Unity of the Triangle has to offer. We are all looking forward to making this event an annual tradition, and with many new ideas in place, it will only get better as we are able to celebrate in our new spiritual community’s home this Spring!

Tricia Sauls
Marketing and Communications Director at Unity of the Triangle
Tricia ran her own business for 7 years and brings expertise in marketing, promotion and business management to UCT. She is married with 3 children, runs 40 miles/week and owns the 2-time state champion “Kissiest Wiener Dog,” Vienna Sausage Sauls.

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  • Patti Anessi

    Awesome! Did you actually do this on Mother’s Day?