It’s beginning to look a lot like A Christmas Affair (ACA) as The Junior League of Austin (JLA) prepares for its 45th annual holiday shopping and fundraising event from November 18-22.
However, ACA will look a little different this year as the event goes fully virtual for the first time!
“The new standards and health and safety precautions of COVID-19 have truly invited the ACA 2020 team to cast aside ‘what’s always done’ and instead strategically develop new ways of fundraising, event planning, reaching audiences and engaging participation in this new decade,” shared Keri Bellacosa Walling, the 2020 ACA Chair. “Boundaries have indeed been pushed this year.”
I am excited to share a few ways JLA reimagined the iconic shopping event into a virtual holiday marketplace and why I look forward to this year’s event more than ever.
ACA holds a warm place in the heart of the Austin community and is a beloved holiday tradition for mothers and daughters, friends and families, and JLA members alike.
I can vividly remember the festive sights, sounds and spirit of the event (plus its Christmas-themed spirits!) the first time I attended as a member of the Austin community.
Then, as a JLA Provisional Member, my first-time ACA volunteer experience brought a whole new perspective to the impact the event has on giving back to the Austin community. As JLA’s largest annual fundraiser, ACA provides necessary funding to support our signature In-League projects and over 30 community partner programs.
When asked what makes her most excited about this year’s event, Bellacosa Walling had a couple of reasons to feel especially proud. “First, the 45th Annual A Christmas Affair IS happening (it just looks different!) In the middle of this most challenging year, we need this happy tradition–one that brings people together and funds the community. Second, Taking ACA virtual actually expands our reach! Our reach for merchants, our reach for shoppers, our reach to all audiences, which means we appeal to greater sponsors, and in turn, we raise more funds.”
A Christmas Affair 2020
Faced with the challenge of social distancing during a time that is usually full of social gatherings, JLA has pushed all boundaries to bring this same giving spirit to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A Christmas Affair 2020: Felicidad will be a fully virtual marketplace, available to more vendors, shoppers, and giving opportunities than ever before.
In keeping with your usual ACA traditions, grab your girlfriends, mom, kiddos, or significant other (and credit card!), and be sure to tune in to your favorite reimagined virtual experiences:
A Christmas Affair Virtual Events
- Virtual Party Packs
- Salida del Sol Brunch – Continue your ACA Brunch tradition with a drive through experience at the League’s new home, the Community Impact Center. You will receive festive food and drinks, as well as opportunities for shopping perks!
- Sip & Styled (Girls’ Night In) – Girls’ Night Out has traditionally been my favorite ACA event, so I’m excited to still be able to bring the girls’ night “in” this year! Enjoy a virtual home styling tour with Austin jewelry designer Kendra Scott herself. And what’s a true girls’ night without the cocktails (included with your ticket!)? Grab five of your girlfriends and take advantage of the group ticket option to also receive light bites from a local Austin eatery.
- La Noche Buena (Date Night In) – Fa-la-la-la-la-Lotería! Join virtual Lotería and also receive a muy delicioso cocktail kit with your ticket. Go all in on the group option including fajitas and cocktails for two, or purchase additional Lotería cards to double down on your odds.
- Virtual Children’s Events
- Cascabel, Cascabel, Jingle All the Way! – Grab your shakers and cascabeles and join us for a virtual holiday fiesta of singing and dancing from Mi Casa Es Tu Casa. Enjoy an interactive, bilingual sing-along experience for the whole family. This package also includes a cookie decorating kit and virtual decorating lesson with festive ideas and techniques. (Perfect for ages 0-5 years.)
- Feliz Llamadad – This party offers both a festive art activity and amplified youth entertainment by the fabuloso Mr. Will Dupuy. Tickets include an ornament painting kit and dance party with Mr. Will for all ages!
- Cocina Feliz – This pancake cooking experience for the entire family is led by kids and assisted by parents! This package provides your kiddos with a fun and educational cooking lesson from your own kitchen. Through a virtual lesson, Chef Pascal of Kids Culinary School by Bake Austin will walk your child through learning to read the recipe and the skills needed to prepare a festive pancake breakfast.
- Buen Provecho – Parents: take the night off from cooking! Let Chef Pascal from Bake Austin lead your kids through instruction on how to cook a dinner and how to serve it to their families. The menu includes enchiladas with homemade tortillas, rice, beans and Mexican Snickerdoodle Cookies for dessert. (Perfect for kids 12 years and up.)
- Bailamos Juntos – This virtual interactive party will feature engaging music and magical holiday dancing. In his signature style, Mr. Will will lead a fabuloso music and dance party, certain to get all children in the holiday spirit. After moving and grooving, children will enjoy building a gingerbread house from Make It Sweet. (Perfect for kids four years and up.)
- Felicidad Máximo – This all-inclusive package will provide your kiddos Felicidad for days! What you get in this premium package is: a virtual Spanish-English music class with Mi Casa es Tu Casa, a virtual music class by Mr. Will, a gingerbread house kit from Make It Sweet, a gingerbread cookie kit from Make It Sweet and a DIY ornament painting kit from Brushed Strokes and an apron for your child to wear while baking and crafting!
- “Raffle The Ultimate Bag” Raffle – For only $10, a Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote could be sitting under your Christmas tree. And what’s better than unwrapping a Louis Vuitton bag on Christmas morning? Knowing this bag helped feed children in Del Valle ISD, provide a coat for a kid in Central Texas, or supported one of JLA’s community partners as well! Purchase one ticket for $10, or save and snag six tickets for $50.
- Silent Auction – From private dining experiences and University of Texas football games, to getaways in Vail, New Orleans, and Port Aransas, this year’s ACA virtual silent auction items are virtually incredible! Start making your list and checking it twice to plan your bids in advance. (Registration details coming soon.)
- Santa and Family Photos – Although this year’s portraits with Santa sold out faster than you can say “Ho, Ho, Ho”, you can still snuggle up with your loved ones and snag that perfect holiday portrait in the lobby of The Junior League of Austin’s Community Impact Center. A Felicidad holiday background will set the stage for festive photos by local photographer Michael Barker.
As you can see, the lineup for this year’s virtual ACA is pushing the boundaries on bringing the usual holiday spirit to you at home. I hope you are able to join us this most wonderful time of the year because the Austin community needs your generous support more than ever during these unprecedented times.
“Serving on this key fundraising and event-planning team in 2020 has been a great life reminder: the only thing constant in life is change,” said Bellacosa Walling. “The life lesson is – keeping our eye on the ball (the ball being our JLA mission of raising community funds and training along the way), controlling the only thing we can: our attitudes, and allowing for growth, progress, and improvement along the way.”
The ACA virtual marketplace will be open for unlimited shopping from November 18-22. You can gain early access to the marketplace on November 17 by purchasing a VIP Early Access ticket.
Purchase your marketplace tickets now to help provide local children with backpacks filled with nutrition for the weekend with our Food In Tummies (FIT) program, a warm winter coat through Coats for Kids, or a new pair of athletic shoes through our Kids In Cool Shoes (KICS) program.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s first-ever virtual ACA?
About the Writer: Krystin Gresham has lived in Austin for six years and is a third-year member of The Junior League of Austin. She’s enjoyed serving children in Del Valle ISD through FIT, volunteering with our community partner ZACH Theatre, and building friendships during her time in the League. Krystin works in the tech industry and loves traveling with her husband, playing golf, learning to cook, and cheering on the Fightin’ Texas Aggie football team!