12 Ways of Giving and a Message of Gratitude

giving-tuesday-blogThis Giving Tuesday (and everyday), Brown Paper Tickets is grateful.

Before we get to the season of turtle doves and French hens, we’re taking a gratitude pause to reflect on the little things that aren’t little at all. Food and water. Speaking without fear. Reading, writing, dancing, singing. Health. Safety. View our UNselfie video or see it posted below.

Read on for 12 ways of giving and find charity and fundraising events in your area.

1. Give Time

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2012 and 2013. Volunteering may not require an intensive time commitment—there are walk-a-thons, community gardens, outreach and all kinds of one-day activities.

Volunteers often come away from the experience with lasting friendships, perspective and maybe even improved health. The Corporation for National & Community Service reports that those who volunteer have lower mortality and depression rates and feel more connected to the community.

Check out Volunteer Match to find a volunteer opportunity that matches your interests and schedule.

Throw a Fundraiser

Or put the fun into fundraising—organize an amazing, out-of-the-box, knock-their-socks off concert, performance or dinner to raise money for causes. Learn how you can use our Fee-Free Donation Tool to set up your page and collect funds with or without selling tickets.

Some examples of creative fundraising:

2. Have a Wine Competition

Put your palate to the test with competitive wine tasting. Form teams and have them bring two identical bottles of wine then do a blind taste test. Proceeds go to a good cause.

3. Laugh Out Loud with a Comedy Cabaret
Your charity event doesn’t have to be a bake sale or a black-tie benefit. You can make people laugh and raise money like this comedy cabaret that helps Team Towanda Foundation, a non-profit that provides women in need with funding for mammograms and other health services.

4. Stir Things Up with a Cook-off

If you’re planning a food-related charity event, stir things up by adding a competitive element. In Holiday Chefs Challenge, an event in North Carolina that benefits food banks, chefs compete to create delectable appetizers, desserts or entrees based on a list of everyday items distributed by the food bank.

5. Dance-a-Thon

Want to get physical with your charity fundraiser? Think outside the 5k. Shimmy, shake and move for a good cause with a dance off or dance-a-thon. You could even theme it to the dance like Zumbathon.

6. Treat a Veteran

Give military members a well-deserved night of entertainment. Brown Paper Tickets Salutes is a partnership with Veteran Tickets Foundation that donates event tickets to active military men and women, veterans and family members of those who gave their lives.

Giving-Tuesday7. Give Tickets to a Charity or Holiday Happening

Tickets make great gifts. They are more personalized than sweaters, almost guaranteed to be used and don’t clutter up the house. Buy your friend or loved one tickets to a charity or holiday happening and give back with your gift. Some ideas:

8. Broads for Bones
For your friend who loves to laugh, give tickets to see some of Los Angeles’ funniest women and help raise money for Ankylosing Spondylitis, a crippling bone disease. The hilarious line-up includes top-tier comedians, directors and television writers.

9. Green Generations Holiday Party
Send your favorite environmentalist to a swanky celebration with a signature cocktail and silent auction. Proceeds help Green Generations, Inc. an organization that teaches NYC children about sustainability.

10. Meowy Catmas Cat Circus
Surprise the cat-lover in your life with tickets to see acrocats walk tightropes, perform death-defying jumps with the greatest of ease and yes, rock out on keyboards and drums.  A portion of ticket sales goes toward cat rescue and the organizer strongly advocates adoption.

11. The Nutcracker
Bestow the gift of holiday ballet magic and sugar plum fairies while supporting the Alameda Civic Ballet, a non-profit and charitable organization.

12. Happy Giving
Who doesn’t love happy hour? When it’s for a great cause, it’s even happier. Enjoy wine, beer and appetizers while benefiting the Head Start program. Bring a toy and take joy in the act of giving.

We hope you enjoy our video. Feel free to share.

Good Causes >

20 Creative Ways to Support Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday Brown Paper Tickets is big on small business—shops, restaurants, theaters, local makers, movers and shakers.  We were the first solution for small businesses to ticket events for free and we continue to offer a wealth of free resources and services to events of any size.

November 29 is Small Business Saturday. Discover what’s new in your neighborhood. Catch a band in your town. Buy gifts at a local craft fair. See what’s shakin’ at the local theater. Shop microbreweries and distilleries.

According to the Retail Merchants Association, for every $1 spent at local businesses, 45 cents is reinvested locally vs. 15 cents or less from non-local purchases. Local stores also tend to hire local people and make neighborhoods more visually appealing.

Not sure where to begin? Here are 20 creative ideas:

San Francisco
1. Take a tour

Relatives in town for the holidays? See your city with fresh eyes and support local tourism with an eclectic walking and riding tour. Learn about local architecture and explore the impact of the Gold Rush.

2. Sign up for sake class
Love sake, but aren’t sure whether it should be warm or cold or what to eat it with? Take a sake education class with friends and support a Japanese eatery at the same time.

Los Angeles
3. See, cook, learn

Fascinated by Samurais? Tour the renowned LACMA Samurai exhibit and then get schooled on Japanese cooking techniques at Surfas in Culver City.

4. Catch a Krampus fashion show
Krampus walks are now a thing here in the US. Add a devilish scare to your holiday reverie by watching locally made Krampus costumes take the runway at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles.

Seattle
5. Support local theater

There are so many great indie theaters to support; we couldn’t possibly name them all. But this one struck our nostalgic side. Revisit old favorites from the Twilight Zone Live on-stage at Theater Schmeater.

6. Enjoy craft brews + burlesque
Can’t choose if you want to support local beer or local beauties? Do both. Check out Revelry—Seattle’s only Monday night burlesque revue.

New York City
7. Take a bite
literary-affairscooking-class
New Yorkers are serious about bagels. Explore neighborhood bagel shops and sweeteries with this unique food tour that works around your schedule.

8. Go to the Olde Grand Market
Celebrate the holidays and support a local performing arts center at the Grand Market celebration in Queens. Face painting, holiday portraits and more await.

Chicago
9. Drink in “A Beer Carol”

Drinking and writing tends to go hand-in-pen. A Beer Carol at the Haymarket Brew Pub combines them both with a theatrical output from craft beer advocates. One reviewer describes it as “awesome and tasty too.”

10. Visit your local Santa
Avoid long lines at the mall to see Santa and support a local bookstore with an Evening with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Miami
11. Pop-in to a pop-up dinner

Chef Bradley Kilgore is opening a restaurant in Wynwood named Alter. Sample an exclusive 4-course fixed menu and help support a new spot.

12. Show regional writers some love
Watch a battle of wits go down at the Laboratory Theater of Florida. In this 24-hour playwriting project, 5 playwrites are given a theme, director and actors. The audience gets to see the writers’ visions come to life when the plays are performed on stage.

Washington, DC
13. Spot the liar

Another great indie theater event in the District of Columbia. Four storytellers tell a story and only one is true. Vote and interrogate. Brace for the truth—it may be shocking.

14. Laugh locally
Need a laugh? Support the DC Arts Center by going to see local improv. Separate Beds is a senior-level improv show, so you’re practically guaranteed a few giggles.

Boston
15. Catch a cabaret show
There’s no place like home. Recapture the magic seeing this Judy Garland cabaret concert by a critically acclaimed tribute artist.

16. Get to know the North End
Boston is arguably one of the best food towns in the US. Take a neighborhood food tour and get to know the North End’s Italian fare. Find out about new restaurants and established ones you might not have heard about.

Austin
17. Go nuts

Do “The Nutcracker,” Austin-style with the Invisible Czars. Audience members are encouraged to dress up and let loose. Prizes are given out to the wearer of the best holiday costume and more.

18. Revisit a classic
Instead of big-box cinema, see a play. Bring the family out to see “Ebenezer’s Journey”—an interactive theatrical presentation in the old buildings of Pioneer Farms.

Denver
19. Sip brew made near you
Take a two-hour guided walking tour to the best local breweries in the historic LoDo. Learn the history of beer, how it’s made and maybe pick up a one-of-a-kind gift for the beer lover.

20. Brunch like a local
Forget mimosas. Drink 5 excellent Local Relic beers paired with brunched-up food at the Colorado House in Colorado Springs.

Comment below with your own ideas on shopping or supporting Small Business Saturday.

Photo 1: Shopping in Austin
Photo 2: Literary Affairs event

Event Tips >

The Mid-Week Beat: Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

Music >

The Mid-Week Beat: Paying Tribute This Weekend

elvis-impersonators-590x310As many musicians out there know, a large portion of learning to be a instrumentalist or songwriter is learning to properly steal from your influences. Many musicians struggle to be original but chances are, someone has played the combination of chords and notes that you “wrote” before. That said, if you really get down to it, the actual notes and chords don’t really matter. It’s what you bring to those chords that matters; your unique perspective and individual playing style. No matter what you do to differentiate your sound from sounds of the past, there’s bound to be a little of your influences in there somewhere. That’s okay, as long as you also bring a little of yourself into the mix as well.

With that said, there are two very different ways to approach a tribute show. Some artists attempt to re-create the exact sound of the artist they’re paying tribute to, others choose to re-interpret an artists songs in their own unique way. I find the latter to be more enjoyable because it really distills music down to its pure form and pays homage to the folk tradition, where songs were passed down over the years; constantly changing and being re-interpreted. By interpreting a song in their own voice, a musician ensures that those songs will continue to grow and change for years to come. Songs by revered songwriters like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen are constantly being changed and re-interpreted by musicians, while artists like Elvis or Neil Diamond often get impersonated, with musicians donning their cadence, look and stage presence.

Today on the Mid-Week Beat, we feature both kinds of tributes: impersonations and interpretations. If you’re a fan of the original artists, chances are you’re going to enjoy hearing the songs you love regardless of whether they’re done straight or in an entirely different style. What matters are the songs.
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Music >

Boozie Friday: Signature Cocktails and Other Fun Ideas

6540592675_bee065c187_bTis’ the season to be merry, jolly and, for some of us, buzzed. Winter is a perfect time to try your hand at your very own signature cocktail. Since we usually relax our calorie counting when it’s cold outside,  sweeter liqueurs, cream and half and half are more-than-welcome ingredients for a winter cocktail. This also means you can work with the spices and flavors of the season. This, my friends, is the perfect opportunity for mixologists of any skill level to try their hand at signature cocktails. Fun garnishes, interesting flavor combos, and lots of practice can easily turn a dull and dreary winter evening into a lively and festive soiree.

So, before you can start mixing, you will need a few things to get started. First, stock the bar with a few key liqueurs and pieces of hardware. A well stocked bar should contain at least one bottle each of gin, vodka, whisky, bourbon, tequila, scotch, rum (both light and dark and/or spiced) and brandy. I may have left out something here but you get the idea. Just make sure it’s quality booze. If you drink cheap stuff you might not feel like doing much of anything the next day. If you don’t want to lay down a bunch of cash on all these different flavors pick your three favorite, that’s a good start.

The next thing to add to your collection are liqueurs. Now there are lots and lots of these so you might break the bank trying to buy all of them. Add to your collection a little at a time. A bottle of Frangelico here, a bottle of Grand Marnier there will quickly turn into a respectable collection. Think seasonally when selecting your liqueurs. In the winter time, what flavors are most inspiring? Orange, hazel nut, chocolate, raspberry, maybe even pear? There is a liqueur out there for just about anything you are going for so play around. If you aren’t sure and don’t want to dedicate to a large bottle try buying the airline bottles until you find what you are looking for. These smaller bottles allow you to have lots of different things on hand to mix with.

Now that you have the hard stuff figured out, you can add the finishing touches. Fresh fruit and other garnishes are going to make your cocktail pop. Get creative and don’t be afraid to taste things as you go as this tends to “inspire” people. Play around with variations on classic cocktails by subbing a portion of the liqueur or adding spices. Cranberry, orange, and cinnamon? Yes these things taste good together.

Now that you are well on your way and hopefully have some great ideas, go out and get your drink on. Included below is one of my favorite concoctions. Please drink safely!
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Food & Drink >

Foodie Friday: Homemade Side Dishes for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to get cooking. Along with our main course or meat courses in our house we need a lot of sides. For some of us, the pressure can make the decision to grab a can of cranberry sauce or box of stuffing mix an obvious choice. This does not have to happen! While we all know it’s harder to make everything from scratch don’t we owe it to ourselves as cooks and our families to make them the good stuff? After all, these are the most important meals of the year, perhaps of our lives in some cases. Do we really want to remember the tin-flavoured green bean casserole or the canned candied yams? The answer is no.

This week, I wanted to share a couple of quick and easy side dishes that will hopefully take some of the stress out of your holiday meal planning. Along with these recipes I would also like to share some tips from a few of my other posts. Think of this post as a holiday montage show. giving us the chance to think back over all the other epic meals we have prepared. Armed with these tips and a little bit of luck, you can surely make your holiday meal go off without a hitch.

Let’s get started! Planning and organization are key as mentioned in my earlier posts “Mise-En-Place Part 1” and “Part 2”.  There is no substitution for working and thinking ahead. For example, if you want to make your stuffing from scratch you can make your croutons weeks in advance, the same is true for chicken, veggie, or turkey stock. You can freeze and store stock when ever you make a batch to be used later in a number of dishes. Practicing and perfecting recipes in the weeks leading up to the big day can also be a great way to grease the wheels. Your family and friends will not complain about a roasted turkey dinner believe me. Plus, this gives you a head start on preparation as you can pre-make some ingredients for certain dishes, as I mentioned earlier.
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Food & Drink >