This tip sheet is meant to complement the League of Women Voters’ publication Debate Watching 101. Watching and discussing debates can help citizens reflect on the issues and participate more fully in the 2012 elections.
Following are some general party tips and ideas for different types of parties that you might want to host.
General Party Tips:
- Consider hosting a debate watching party at your home or that of another LWV member, or at a local university, restaurant, bar or club. Invite your guests to come at least a half-hour before the start of the debate so that you can get acquainted.
- Encourage your guests to bring beverages and snacks (that way you won’t be solely responsible and others will feel more ownership for the party).
- Have a specific RSVP date and time (this helps you anticipate your party size, and makes your attendees accountable for showing up).
- Invite more potential guests than you can accommodate, and then do follow-up calls and/or emails. Think about integrating your debate watching party with other group activities you participate in, such as book clubs or volunteer activities.
- Give your guests directions to the party location. It’s always helpful to include a map of the area (check out http://maps.google.com/).
- Ask organizations that you are in coalition or partnership with to join your debate watching party or to consider hosting debate watching parties of their own.
- Use the sign-in sheet provided to keep track of who attended your party and sign them up for the LeagueE-Voice, the League’s monthly e-newsletter. They can sign up at http://www.lwv.org/get-involved.
- Ask non-League members to join the League to continue the work of strengthening our democracy and citizen engagement in our communities. To get involved in making democracy work they could join the LWV online grassroots lobbying efforts at http://www.lwv.org/get-involved.
- Keep in touch with everyone who attends your event, especially anyone who is not currently a League member. This is an excellent opportunity to recruit and retain new members and engage new members. Invite participants to attend other League functions.
- Get creative! Keep it fun! Enjoy the debate as much as your guests!
Making Debate Watching Fun for the 18 – 30 Year Old Crowd
Try to organize these gatherings in places where you already go. Rather than a house party, plan to get together at your favorite coffeehouse or bar. Take advantage of the free Evite site to create a fun invitation - Just go to www.evite.com and sign in (registration is free) in order to create your own Evite. They offer a whole set of designs focused on Election 2012, or you can upload a copy of the League of Women Voters logo into the invitation to create your own design..
Candidate debates can spark interesting and controversial discussions about how politics affects your lives. To add some spirit to your debate watching party, invite your guests to arrive early so that you can offer some viewing tips to keep things lively. The key is to find ways to make the ‘watching’ part of the party a more active experience. Here are some suggestions:
- Assign guests roles to follow – moderator, candidates, questioner, etc – and after the debate talk about how that perspective affects your view of the debate and the candidates;
- Talk about the issues in advance to decide what you want to hear about;
- Make predictions about the topics that will be covered in the debate and which candidates might ‘win.’ After the debate, you can compare your expectations with the outcome;
- Make a game of it – award points or prizes to the guest who can best argue for and/or against statements made by the candidates during their debate; and
- Turn the TV off once the debate is over so you and your guests can discuss what you heard and share your thoughts.
After the Party
After the debate is over and your guests have gone home, you can continue to be engaged in the election process. Do the candidate’s proposals make sense? Were your main issues of concern addressed? If your League is participating in VOTE411, have they responded to your League’s questions on VOTE411? Are those answers in sync with what was said during the debate? Use the sign-in sheet you put out to arrange follow-up parties for future debates or to continue discussion of the issues that came up in your first gathering.
Don’t forget to have your guests sign in! A sign-in sheet is included with this debate kit and will be your invitation list for your next League event – candidate forum, issue dialogue, etc.
Best of luck to you and your party!