How to host an Arctic Garden Party

Garden Party in action.
Garden Party in action.
Birds of every shape and size build their nests and hatch their chicks in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge each year before traveling to every corner of the globe. Many of them visit our back yards—some to stay, and some to rest on their way further south. For these birds, an Arctic Garden is a place to rest and replenish themselves. For us, it’s a chance to get to know some of the many birds that come from the Arctic and return there each year. Arctic Gardens come in all shapes and sizes—from a bird feeder at your window, to a section of your yard that you share with migrating birds, to local parks where habitat is set aside for birds.

An Arctic Garden Party is an opportunity to share the idea of planting an Arctic Garden with your friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. Through these fun and unique parties, we can educate interested individuals and truly connect with a wider expanse of potential members. Hosting an Arctic Garden Party is a fun way to celebrate the first 50 years of the Arctic Refuge, inspiring your attendees to protect this special place for the next 50 years and beyond. Here’s how you can host an Arctic Garden Party of your own…

Email info@alaskawild.org with your address and head count to request an Arctic Garden Party Pack. For more information, here’s a seed list and some planting tips.

 

First: Cover the basics

Location: your home or backyard, in your office’s conference room, your apartment’s meeting room, your community center, your favorite picnic spot, your local natural history museum, a restaurant (maybe one with an outdoor patio), a neighborhood garden center or natural food store (that has an available meeting space) – think creatively. There are lots of great locations.

Date & Time: Pick a time that allows for daylight (if you pick an outdoor venue). Weekends are always the easiest time for parties. Is everyone one you know too busy on Friday & Saturdays? Try a late afternoon event on Sunday. Fewer people have plans at that time. If you would like to do it during the week, event planners swear by Tuesday or Thursday nights.

Guest List: Mix up your guest list. Try to invite people you know from several different social spheres. Consider inviting local elected officials as a way to introduce them to our organization. As the host, it is your charm and inclusive behavior that will blend different groups of guests together.

Garden Party Kit
Garden Party Kit
Favors: Seed packets, bird ID info, other bird-related items, flower pots, maps

Budget: Set your budget before you choose anything else. If you wish to have food and liquor, this will definitely impact how many people you will be comfortable entertaining. If you have chosen a restaurant as your venue and are concerned that an open bar will negatively impact your budgetary expectations, provide each guest a single drink ticket, and then create a cash bar situation for those who would like additional beverages. You may even be able to get food donated by a like-minded natural food store, restaurant or caterer.

Invitations: Alaska Wilderness League can provide downloadable formats

Food & Beverages: This is entirely up to you as the host. You might consider using wild Alaska salmon for your appetizers, using the League’s fun Alaskan wildlife cookie cutters for hors d’ouevres or desserts, bake cupcakes in small flower pots (don’t forget to cover the drainage hole with a small piece of foil). Again, be creative and work the theme into your food and beverage choices – it makes your guests more interested in the party and makes the party more memorable.

Next: Add your personal touch

Documentation: It is very difficult to be a good host and also take pictures! Assign the job to a shy attendee – they will love that they have something to do that isn’t stressful. Buy several disposable cameras and leave them on the tables at your party. Encourage attendees to help photograph the event. When you plan an activity (see below) there are even greater opportunities for fun pictures.

Arctic gardens: The end result!
Arctic gardens: The end result!
Decorations: Postcards, seed packets, photographs, flyway maps, Arctic Garden flowers that you’ve planted yourself.

Multimedia: If your event is taking place inside, you could show the League’s new DVD, “The Refuge,” written and narrated by acclaimed author Terry Tempest Williams to give them a first-hand picture of what we are working to protect for future generations.

Tasks: Don’t be afraid to have a “task table” where attendees can fill out postcards to mail to their member of Congress (the League can provide these) or provide the items necessary to plant seeds (potting soil, flower pots, plastic wrap to cover for germination.) Once people learn about their connections to the Arctic Refuge, they will likely be ready to take action to protect it by signing a postcard. You may also want to have a sign up sheet so folks can join the League’s email action network (these can also be provided.)

Donation location: If your goal is to have your guests join the League as members, have a separate table with donation envelopes and a basket for completed memberships. It would be great to already have a completed donation in the basket when your guests arrive as an example. You may even ask a guest to be ready to make a statement about their support of the League’s work and write a check in front of people. Peer pressure can be a great motivator!

 

The Arctic Is Alive
The Arctic Is Alive

Whatever form your event takes, the goal is for folks to enjoy themselves and learn more about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the work of Alaska Wilderness League. We truly appreciate your help and support in our work and are here to support you as you move forward with your Arctic Garden Party. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information or ideas: call 202-544-5205 or email info@alaskawild.org. Thank you!