The next month and a half of the year is super compressed for many people. College students are beginning to prepare for their final exams, the entire world of retail is about to lose its mind (Black Friday is not for the faint of heart), and everyone else has the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas have become more than just single days of celebration. They have been horizontally loaded into being week long celebrations with family. If fraternity events were holidays, then Thanksgiving/Christmas would be the Formals/Mountain Weekend/Beach Weekend/Bago to UCLA/whatever is the premiere social event on your calendar.
All of these outside obligations add up into decreased fraternal activity, but the holidays are a time for family, and each Alpha is every Brother’s family at school. I’m here today to throw out a couple of event ideas that are easy to execute, inexpensive, and can be used to help target multiple stakeholders (alums, girls, and PNMs – The three most important stakeholders).
Gingerbread Lodge Making
This is a terrific idea for a non-alcoholic event with a sorority or a grab-a-date. Here’s the step-by-step rundown:
- Run out to the supermarket and buy a bunch of candy, frosting, and eggnog.
- Make sure you have shoeboxes or cardboard that you can use as a frame for your house.
- Invite the women and a select few PNMs.
- Print off pictures of some Chi Psi Lodges.
- Create teams of 4-6 and give them a Lodge for them to try and recreate.
- Judge the best Lodges.
- Take pictures for your Alpha’s Facebook Group/Alumni Newsletter.
Not enough time on the calendar? Do the event the same night (but earlier) as your last mixer/social of the semester and issue a blanket invitation to a sorority. Girls love gingerbread house making and by putting a Chi Psi twist on things you can help educate them a bit on our national experience.
Not every Alpha I’ve worked with has a Thanksgiving Dinner, and it really bothers me. I always viewed my Alpha as my family, and families have Thanksgiving Dinner together! We always divided the duties by family. X family brings dressing/stuffing. Y family bakes the Turkey. It was an effective way to utilize the family system while creating a really awesome event.
My Alpha sees this event as a chance to engage with our alumni and PNM stakeholders as well. We do our best to invite local alumni and always bring 10-12 of our top recruits to the meal that we make entirely ourselves. We’ve even paired it with our scholarship in the past by announcing the winner at the meal. The result is fantastic. Brothers go all out trying to make the best dish. Sometimes the food turns out comically awful, but at the end of the day it represents our fraternal experience. It’s not always perfect, but the end result is only as good as the work we put in.
Fast Food Thanksgiving
Ok, so maybe your Alpha is small or too busy/LAZY to pull off a full Thanksgiving Dinner. Maybe your Alpha is looking for a last-second recruitment event. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby came out when I was in high school. There’s a scene where the entire family sits down to a meal that features food from several fast food restaurants. Every year since in some capacity we’ve made it a tradition to go out and enjoy a meal comprised entirely of fast food. Here’s how it works: You come up with a dollar amount that everyone agrees to spend (we usually said $10) and then everyone goes out and brings back all this fast food from every place under the sun. Tons of fun. You almost always find something you like that you would never have ordered on your own. This is a great event because it’s easy to execute, fun, and very easy to invite recruits to. Oh, and just in case you doubt that it can be successful—I’ve been pitching it to all the groups I work with, and Alpha Beta already has their own version.
Secret Santa/White Elephant
At this point I can’t remember ever hearing of an Alpha that does not do some sort of Secret Santa. So if your Alpha doesn’t, it should. What I will say, though, is that some Alphas make this event more fun than others. Chi Delta has a tradition that whatever someone gets you to wear for Secret Santa you have to wear it the whole night. This gives Brothers additional incentive to go out and find a terrific gag gift. Other ideas include making it more of a Secret Santa/White Elephant hybrid where people can exchange or steal the gifts that they are given. At any rate this is probably the only event listed here that is Brotherhood only.
Don’t get caught up in the Holiday season and not make some time for your family at school. These events show how we can build Brotherhood and engage other stakeholders with minimal effort on our part in meaningful ways.