The Liquor and Gaming Authoriy of Manitoba sets out the regulations for socials. Permits are required to hold fundraising raffles, and there are regulations on the value of prizes and the cost of raffle tickets. Always follow the requirements of your permit.
At a social you will usually see tickets sold near the door, and a display of prizes at the rear of the hall. Each prize package has a bag or basket associated with it. Guests purchase tickets and distribute them in the bags or baskets for the prize packages that they hope to win. Prize draws are usually held around midnight, and the prizes are distributed that night.
It's nearly impossible to get a full set of prize packages entirely from donations from companies. Typically some of the prizes (especially grand prizes) at a wedding social will be supplied by friends and family, or by the bride and groom themselves.
Getting Donations for Social Prizes
Curious about who to ask, and how to ask them? Take a look at our page on soliciting donations.
Once you know who to ask, take a look at a typical donation request letter.
Other Prize Sources
Consider cashing in any shopping reward points that you collect, and if it is a wedding social, talk to your wedding party to see if they have any that they are willing to donate.
Talk to people you know who sell through home parties, such as Avon, Scentsy, Tupperware or Passion parties. It is not uncommon for multi-level marketing salespeople to donate to events in exchange for you hosting a sales event.
You can always include hand made items like cookies, jams, salsa, or things like greeting cards or knit items. This is a great task to outsource to skilled family and friends.
Take a look at clearance stores like XS Cargo, as well as out of season sales at regular stores. If you are planning the social far enough in advance, you can get end of season clearance items, like cheap summer items for the children's, camping, or sports packages. Boxing day and Black Friday can be great sources of grand prize items.
Have a theme for each prize package, and try to make them as varied as possible. Each package should have a
major and several minor prizes. Each package will have a list in front of it, detailing its contents and
naming any companies that donated.
Common themes include:
- Cooking / Food / Kitchen
- Sports / Golf / Camping
- Car enthusiast
- Home Entertainment (movies, popcorn, wine)
- Romantic / XXX
Think outside of the box. Most socials will have the standard prize packages, so try to get at least one prize package that will stand out and get your guests excited. Consider trying to get tickets or passes to unusual activities like archery, dance schools, or tarot readings.
A "Perfume Draw" is a raffle for a bottle of liquor, usually a Texas mickey of rye.
Liquor can be raffled at socials, but it can't be opened or consumed until the winner gets it home. For more information on the legality and restrictions of both liquor and raffles at socials, check out the Liquor and Gaming Association.
Many socials have a 50/50 draw. Usually these tickets are sold by helpers that walk through the party once it gets lively. These tickets are sold either individually, or by the "wingspan" (arms length).
Sometimes events will sell two different colors of tickets (worth the same, and used in the same draw). Some people are superstitious and may want to buy an equal number of tickets of each color, and as such may buy more tickets.
Ticket prices are regulated by the Liquor and Gaming Association.
Tickets can be bought online, or at party supply store companies. Sometimes tickets are available at dollar stores, but be careful because dollar stores will sell small quantities per dollar.
Some companies will refund unopened prize ticket bundles - it's worth it to ask about this before you purchase them.
Make sure that the different types of tickets at your event are all of distinct colours, and that there is no chance that the numbering will overlap.
Some socials opt to use decks of cards for door prize draws.
It's common to have a door prize or another free draw of some kind - it's a courtesy to your guests and it helps keep people around until the end of the party.
Most commonly social tickets will have a number printed on opposite corners. This way when the guest enters, the ticket is torn in half. One half is kept by the guest, and the other is kept for draw at the end of the night.
Sometimes socials will not use the numbered ticket system, and instead will hand out raffle style tickets upon entrance.
Putting it all together
Make sure that the prizes are clearly visible by putting them in baskets and using clear plastic to wrap them up. Boxes make your prizes into too much mystery, while leaving prizes loose makes them a temptation for sticky-fingered guests, and a nuisance to try to pack into the car for the winner.
Each prize package will need a sign indicating what is included. You will want this to be clearly visible, especially if the package includes small or hard-to-idenfity items. You can use your creativity here to make the price packages sound appealing.
When you design the prize signs, make sure to include the names of people and companies who have donated to the package.
The raffle, 50/50 and door prize draws are held around midnight. Turn down the music, turn up the lights, head to the microphone and pull winning tickets from a hat (or basket). It is common practice to get the winner of a draw to pull the name for the next draw.
Prizes can either be handed out during the draw by helpers, or can be handed out at the end of the night.