Night of 100 DinnersWant to warm up a cold, dreary Saturday night in March and raise funds for our local school district? I am proud to announce that, for the third year in a row, the Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group is Top Chef sponsor of the 13th annual Night of 100 Dinners! The Achieve Foundation of South Orange and Maplewood is hosting its annual event on Saturday, March 4, 2017. During this fun night of great food, friends and drink, local families host parties to raise awareness of the foundation and to raise money for the South Orange/Maplewood school district.


Night of 100 Dinners

In early March, the Achieve Foundation, an organization that raises money to promote excellent public education in the South Orange/Maplewood community, throws a huge neighborhood get-together. Local residents host parties in their homes (or a location of their choice) and invite their friends and neighbors. The Achieve Foundation sends out and tracks the invitations. The hosts donate their party costs to the Achieve Foundation, and their guests, in lieu of a hostess gift or bottle of wine, contribute $50/person to the foundation. Each party is unique and can be formal, casual or somewhere in the middle. Some of the past themes have included murder-mystery evenings, casino events, ladies’ night, Mardi Gras, sit-down dinners, wine tasting, and birthday bashes. No matter what the party theme is, everyone always has a great time!


Last year, 62 hosts or co-hosts held 44 parties. Approximately 1,200 guests were invited to the parties and almost $70,000 was raised. Since 2005 when the Night of 100 Dinners first began, more than $400,000 has been raised to fund the Achieve Foundations programs and benefit the schools in the district. Each year, more and more families are becoming involved and hosting parties. If you are interested in donating or hosting a party on March 4, 2017 to benefit the Achieve Foundation of South Orange and Maplewood, go to their website (Achieve Foundation) to sign up. The Night of 100 Dinners is the Achieve Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser.


The Achieve Foundation

Night of 100 DinnersThe Achieve Foundation is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that raises funds to support excellent public education within the South Orange/Maplewood school district. The foundation’s funds are distributed to all the schools in the district for classroom grants, innovative pilot programs, volunteer tutors, professional development, facilities and technology improvement and more. This organization, formerly known as the South Orange-Maplewood Education Foundation, was established in 1987 by a group of parents and community members who realized that supplemental support was needed to maintain a high level of education. The organization has been active ever since and has invested over $1.8 million in the schools since 1999.



Dinner Party Tips

  • Plan ahead. As you plan your menu, make a list of everything you will need, from food items and beverages to miscellaneous items such as paper goods and decorations. This will save you from running back to the store multiple times. Set the table for your event the night before. Lay out all of the serving pieces and utensils, flatware, napkins, dishes and glasses you will need. Use post it notes to label each serving piece for its intended dish. On the day of the event it’s wise to have a step by step “itinerary” with times for each task to guide you- i.e. 2 pm defrost cheesecake, 5 pm put roast in the oven.  This is the best way to make sure each menu item is ready at the proper time and nothing is forgotten.


  • Keep it simple. Your guests are happiest when you are relaxed so keep it simple. A few nice appetizers, a great lasagna and salad and a yummy dessert will be much appreciated. No need to get fancy if that’s not your thing. You do not want to be in the kitchen cooking all night. So, the more you can make ahead of time, the better.  Go with recipes you already know. You know the ingredients you need, how long the dish takes to prepare, and how it should taste. This is not the time to attempt a new or complicated dish.


  • Don’t do it all yourself. Rather than taking all of the party on yourself, you might co-host your event with a friend or make it a potluck. Remember, people love bringing things to a party. You could ask your guests to bring their favorite dessert or appetizer. They will be happy to contribute and it will save you from doing all the work yourself. Having a few extra hands to help so you can talk with your guests is a big plus. Whether it’s a professional clean up person, a few teenagers to help serve appetizers, or a bartender to cover the drinks, the splurge may be well worth it.


  • Make it pretty. Pick simple and attractive service pieces, plates, etc. A festive table cloth, flowers, candles, music and some fun decorations will make it feel like a party. Make your table colorful with a variety of foods that are nicely presented. It creates interest and makes for a beautiful table.


  • Put yourself in your guests shoes to ensure their comfort. Make sure there is proper seating, ample food and drink and then also consider other practical issues. Are the paper plates too flimsy to hold a real dinner? Do you have the right serving utensils for guests to take what they’d like easily? Are the ribs too messy for guests to want to eat at a party? Do you have enough napkins, flatware, cups so that you won’t run short?


  • Have fun. Remember to relax and enjoy yourself. With proper planning, your party should go smoothly. Keep in mind that your guests are there to have fun and enjoy your company.


Please join me and the Achieve Foundation in hosting a party for the Night of 100 Dinners on Saturday, March 4, 2017. The evening is sure to be warm, fun and rewarding!


The Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group is a top producing real estate group based at Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct in Maplewood, NJ. Allison Ziefert, a local market expert, specializes in Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn/Short Hills and West Orange, NJ real estate and homes, and the surrounding towns. Allison’s success as a Maplewood/South Orange realtor is driven by earning great testimonials from sellers and buyers of homes in her marketplace. You can read her testimonials at