Flying Spaghetti Monster Feast
|Planning time||6 to 8 weeks|
|Event Date||September 19th |
- Activity Overview
- Planning Timeframe
- Material Requirements
- Cooperating Organizations
- Really Important Note!
- Suggested Walkthrough
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. Whichever 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.
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 eight to twelve weeks in advance.
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 three to six coordinators, and more for really large events. You will need volunteers to advertise and make and serve food, which will probably require four to sevem volunteers - coordinators who have concentrated on pre-event planning should double as event volunteers, of course.
Set a goal for how much money you'd like to make for your group or for a charity. Consider how much tickets will have to cost for you to make that much after the cost of the food and party favors.
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.
Check the Student Union for space you can rent out. Look around your community and find an appropriate venue - this is a little trickier 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 two to three people per lb. of dry spaghetti, and three to four people per lb. of sauce. 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 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 there is space to wash dishes, use regular dishes to cut down on waste. If you're serving drinks, get cups as well. If the venue doesn't have them already, make sure that there are tables and chairs for people to eat at.
Some venues and most catering companies will provide all of the serving equipment necessary.
Consider having other fun materials, like eye patches and "Pin the Noodle on the FSM" as pictured below. Any kind of FSM related decor will help set the mood.
Promoting your event is the key to making it successful. In-group promotion will involve announcing it at meetings, in your group emails, and on your social media. For promotion to the general campus, you'll want to do flyers, chalking, put the event details on online event calendars, do awareness tabling, and send out a press release. For additional promotion ideas, see the Group Promotion and Media Relations guide.
In 2012, the Secular Alliance at Indiana University had live music from the band of one of the founding members!
- Determine within your group who will coordinate the event, solicit volunteers, and select a beneficiary of the fundraiser (your group or a charitable organization). 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.
- 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!
- Eating usually requires cleanup afterwards, so discuss charges for custodial services with the university.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. The Group Promotion Guide will help you with advertising ideas.
- 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.
- Depending on whether you make your own food, or get it elsewhere:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make sure that there are trash cans and recycling bins available!
- At the event, you'll want one person heating the food, one person bringing food to the tables, two or three people serving, and one or two 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 one trustworthy person at the cashbox.
- 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.
- 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 too 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."
- 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!
- 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.
- Make sure all outstanding bills have been paid. You should now have money for other activities!
- Be sure to thank all of your coordinators, volunteers, and your dinner attendees!
One of our best resources to find out what works and what doesn't is you - our student leaders! If you've employed a strategy that worked well, let us know about it so other groups can also use that idea. If you've learned a lesson of caution about something we suggest, point out the pitfalls. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!