The upcoming holiday season has me thinking about seasonal get-togethers. Here’s an idea around that theme.

I heard of an older couple who opted to forgo the silent auction gift ideas traditional gifts at their wedding. If any guest wanted to give a gift, the couple suggested bringing a bottle of wine so they could “stock the cellar.” (I like this idea! I’ve got enough “stuff” for my house, but the cellar can always be filled.)

Similarly, some bridal showers (co-ed) are “stock the bar” parties. The idea is to bring the happy, soon-to-be married couple “all the fixings” for a fully stocked bar for future entertaining of friends and family. So the guests would supply the couple with all the wine, spirits and related accouterments they’ll need. What a great idea!

We can use the same premise with benefit auctions. When is a good time to hold this “Stock the Bar” pre-party? Usually they are held a month or so before the benefit auction.A few of our clients host a party, which consists of heavy hors d’oeuvres (such as California rolls, baked cheese olives, etc.) and a wine tasting.

The attendees would pay an entry fee of a bottle of wine that costs $30 or more. The bottles of wine are collected at the pre-party and then sold at the benefit auction, sometimes in one lot. Or they can be sold at other times through different games involving wine.

If your crowd is more of a spirits crowd than a wine crowd, you might enjoy an adaptation of this activity. Just alter the wine donations to a “Stock the Bar” party. One way to conduct the party is to ask guests to bring whatever they want… wine, spirits, glasses, wine openers, olives, etc. Anything as long as it relates to the bar. It’s their choice. If you end up with 5 bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream, so be it.

If getting five bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream (or other duplicates) isn’t exactly what you were hoping to achieve, you might consider segmenting the guests in some way. You might suggest “Bring something to stock the bar that begins with the initial of your last name.” So in the case of Santa Claus — using the last name Claus as the guide — he might bring cognac, Coors, Courvoisier, or champagne… and some toothpicks thrown in for good measure. It not only ensures variety, but it will be a fun challenge for the participants.