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Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner

Planning time6 to 8 weeks
Group Size15+
Staff #6-10
Event DateSeptember 19th

Activity Overview: While this is a fundraiser, it is also a social event (a fun-raiser!), one that should include a lot of non-members. This is an ideal way to introduce interested outsiders to your group, as well as to increase your profile on campus.

The way you plan this event will depend largely on whether you make the food yourself, or whether you purchase it. While we suggest the latter, both are perfectly doable. Whicever path you take, the number of people you host will depend on the amount of food available; ideally, you should have between twenty-five to one hundred paying attendees.

Planning timeframe: Actually making or buying the food can be done a few days before the event - it can be helpful if you cook the food beforehand, and warm it before serving. However, in order to reserve space, advertise, and be sure what you're doing is legal, you'll want to start planning 6 to 8 weeks in advance.

Coordinating: The main tasks for planning the event are securing the venue, working with the university on health requirements, advertising, cooking, and taking in money; this will probably require 3 to 6 coordinators, and more for really large events. You will need volunteers to advertise and make and serve food, which will probably require 5 to 12 volunteers - coordinators who have concentrated on pre-event planning should double as event volunteers, of course.

Material requirements: A critical limiting factor on this event is finding a venue, one with both kitchen access AND tables to eat at. Dorm cafeterias might work, but they might also not let students "behind the counter." Churches often have setups like this, and sometimes Moose Lodges or Rotary Clubs might as well. Look around your community and find an appropriate venue - this is a little more tricky than bringing someone's microwave to a meeting room.

As mentioned, you can either make or buy food. A rule of thumb is to assume 2-3 people per lb. of dry spaghetti, and 3-4 people per lb. of sauce. Dry pasta is available in large lots for as little as 29¢/lb.Tomato sauce comes in industrial-sized cans for relatively cheap amounts. You may want to substitute or supplement this with sauces prepared by your members. This can yield greater variety, and allows you to have a sauce competition! (This can be a great draw for off-campus people). However, unless many members can contribute a lot of homemade sauce, you'll want to buy some. Make sure that you don't just have meat sauce!

Besides food, you'll need at least two tables on which to serve the food, and a cashbox to collect money. Paper plates are too weak to (reliably) hold spaghetti. Look for durable disposable plates (Chinet, for instance), and plastic forks. If you're serving drinks, get plastic cups as well. If the venue doesn't have them already, make sure that there are tables and chairs for people to eat at.

Cooperating Organizations: You can run this as a fundraiser for your group alone, or to support a charity (such as a vaccination drive). For more information on that, see our Charities and Service Project activity packets.

Really Important Note!: We can't emphasize enough how important it is to make sure that your event is in compliance with health codes and university policies. When you're serving food to large numbers of people, the dangers of contamination are multiplied. Know what you're doing and keep everything clean!

Suggested Walkthrough

  1. Determine within your group who will coordinate the event, solicit volunteers, and select a beneficiary of the fundraiser (your group or somebody else). Find a place on campus where you can reheat and serve food; if the dinner is connected to another event (e.g. soul auction), make sure the venue can accommodate everything.
  2. Before going ahead, designate someone to check with the university that this dinner is in accordance with university and local guidelines, especially health codes. If they have any concerns, you should address them first - they will not hesitate to shut you down!
    1. Eating usually requires cleanup afterwards, so discuss charges for custodial services with the university.
    2. In some states, there is a "church potluck" exemption which covers these types of events. Ironic as it may be, this may get you out of stringent health requirements.
  3. Assuming all issues are worked out with the university, determine where and how you will get food (see above). Although prices can change, having a rough idea of the costs gives you a place to start. Look for discounts, and negotiate when possible.
  4. Promoting the event is crucial, since the number of people who come will make the difference between making and losing money. In particular, you'll want to send a press release (more info here) to campus and local media well ahead of time. SSA's Group Running Guide has a number of tips and ideas about advertising.
    1. A ton of FSM art and media is available at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster here, including a wide variety of pareidolia vaguely resembling Him.
  5. Depending on whether you make your own food, or get it elsewhere:
    1. A day or two before your event, make the food. Coordinate transportation from kitchens to the venue - nobody should have to walk across campus with a big pot of sauce.
    2. If you don't want to make the food yourself, you should place your order at least one or two weeks in advance. Local Italian eateries are an option; also talk to your school's food service department, which may be able to help cater.
  6. Before the event, set up your tables and eating accoutrements. If you're setting up chairs/tables for people to sit at, do so now.
    1. Since the Flying Spaghetti Monster's chosen outfit is full pirate regalia, feel free to decorate the venue with a pirate theme. A wide range of materials is available at the Church of the FSM's website. Volunteers can also wear pirate clothing, although this may be problematic for people serving food.
    2. Make sure that there are trash cans and recycling bins available!
  7. At the event, you'll want 1 person heating the food, 1 person bringing food to the tables, 2 or 3 people serving, and 1 or 2 people overlooking - they are there to make sure things are running smoothly, and able to jump in if someone needs a break. These numbers, particularly the servers, are adjustable, especially depending on the size of the crowd and the variety of pasta and sauce being served. You'll also need 1 trustworthy person at the cashbox.

    If you're going to be handling cash, there are some important things to keep in mind. You'll need a cashbox, which you can borrow from student activities or purchase, as well as someone trustworthy to handle it. Decide beforehand what forms of payment you can take - usually cash, sometimes checks, only rarely credit. Think about using a laptop for people to access PayPal. Customers may ask for a receipt - you can get a receipt book at an office supply store. This can help you inventory so nothing gets lost!

    1. Minnesota Atheists charges $6.66 for their FSM dinners - which, besides fitting in with the theme, encourages many people to pay $10 and donate the change.
    2. August Berkshire of Minnesota Atheists writes, "We precook the spaghetti the day before, then reheat it briefly at the event in pots of boiling water. You can use the same water to reheat multiple batches of spaghetti. Otherwise in would take to long to keep bringing new pots of water to a boil for each batch of spaghetti. Of course, from time to time you will want to use fresh water, but not every time."
  8. After the event is over, clean up and pack up your stuff. Even if you're being charged for custodial services, you should clean up!
    1. Extra food can be given to group members, if they want it. You may be able to donate it to a local food bank - check beforehand to see if and how this can be done.
  9. Make sure all outstanding bills have been paid. You should now have money for other activities!
  10. Be sure to thank all of your coordinators, volunteers, and your dinner attendees!
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