Mark your calendars with an artistic flourish; on June 18, Etsy will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a globally synced craft party.
The online resource for all things handmade and vintage paired up with the new Meetups Everywhere Web platform to promote craft gatherings anywhere in the world. Through Meetups Everywhere, crafters can find nearby events or sign up to start a party.
Danielle Maveal, Etsy's Seller Education Coordinator, explained that the idea for the craft parties sprang from a Facebook challenge run by comedian Paul F. Tompkins. Tompkins asked his fans to join city-specific Facebook groups, such as "I Wanna See Paul F. Tompkins in San Francisco!" If the Facebook group reached a certain number of fans, Tompkins promised to bring his comedy act to that town. Sparked by this, Etsy organizers decided that they could use social media to encourage craft parties. The Meetup Everywhere tool launched at the right moment for coordinating a global event.
In keeping with its community spirit, Etsy hopes to attract 10,000 attendees in as many locations as possible. At this writing, they had nearly 5,000 people signed up for craft parties in 47 countries, from Argentina to Turkey to Japan. It's already Etsy's widest-ranging event to date.
To find a nearby party, search "Etsy Craft Party" on the Meetup Web site. The site will list parties that are scheduled near your current location; once you select a given party's listing, you can hit the "I'm Interested" button to RSVP. If you don't see a gathering near your town, you can sign up to start one. You do need to have either a Facebook or Meetup account to RSVP or start a craft party listing, but both services are free. (For more details on hosting a party, check out Etsy's Storque blog.)
Every event organizer will be able to download a free Craft Party Kit from Etsy, including craft project instructions, tips and templates. You can cull more craft ideas, from fabric flower pins to lightbulb terrariums, from Etsy's blog. The Etsy team is also devising a Craft Party Challenge, which will be revealed on their group Flickr page.
We got the scoop on hosting a craft night from Etsy's talented staff, honed from hosting and attending scores of craft nights. For party snacks, Maveal championed "homemade cupcakes, hands down!" Julie Schneider, Etsy's Events Coordinator, seconded this vote. "I'm still talking about the cupcakes from last year's Cupcake Craft Night!" she told Holidash.
Maveal's choice of drinks: "PBR and some kind of sparkling mint lemonade. Now doesn't that already sound like a good time?"
While food is important, there's more to a successful party than just cupcakes. Schneider chimed in with an important reminder: "One of the most important keys to a successful craft party is making everyone feel welcome! Say hello to everyone who comes in and be sure to introduce like-minds to each other."
For party music, take a page from Etsy's craft labs and let the first arriving guest choose a band for Pandora, creating a personalized Internet radio station. Maveal uses certain songs to signal the end of a party. "We also tend to play 'Closing Time' by Semisonic when it's time to pack up and we noticed the glue guns haven't been unplugged yet."
Feeling inspired to host a craft night? Here's one more reason to participate in Etsy's global celebration: The 50 parties with the most attendees will get gift boxes with goodies from sponsors like ReadyMade, Kenmore and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Texan cities will be cleaning up, with Houston, Dallas and Austin in the top ten locations. Other top-ten sites include Brooklyn, Seattle and Sfântu Gheorghe in Romania.
The Etsy team hopes that this will become an annual event and then some. As Maveal put it, "we hope that people make friends and have a great time at the Etsy Craft Party and they turn these connections into regular meetups, craft nights, skill share sessions and more!"