01/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Seven Ways to Bitch for Charity

Dread the holidays? Stressed to the gills? Your misery could benefit worthy causes if you Bitch For Charity.

Just donate a dollar (or more) to a worthy cause each time you complain between now and New Year's and you could turn your burning urge to vent into happiness for others.

Enlist your friends, family and colleagues to bitch with you and you could turn your holiday staff meeting, family party or neighborhood potluck could turn into a powerful fund-(and-mood)-raiser.

Bitching for Charity is simple, slightly perverse and has huge help potential. And that's exactly why my friends and I are doing it this year. Here's how:

1. Choose your charity. Some of my faves are my local food bank, Humane Society, after-school/literacy/clean water program, along with The Red Cross, the Sierra Club.

2. Pick an actual or virtual place for your Bitch-For-Charity. Some ideas:

*Conference room
*Happy Hour spot
*Facebook page
*Comments section of this post
*Your car
*Your head (the ideal spot for Bitching For Charity au solitaire)

3. Points of Order: Everyone at your Bitch For Charity can -- nay, should! -- bemoan, whine or decry one thing per round in exchange for a pre-determined donation to your cause.

Basic bitch-for-chari-tiquette:

3. A bitch is a complaint, whine, grouse or vent about a topic that's working a last nerve, spiking blood pressure, and/or itching one's inner pessimist like psychic poison oak.

3a. Suitable Bitching Topics: Your boss (if truly outside of ear-shot/email-shot/gossip loops), your S.O., the weather, your bank account, your Snow White stepmother-quality run-in with a mirror.

3b. Unsuitable Bitching Topics : Anyone present, in person, or by degrees of intimate connection.

3c. Length of Bitch,(per Round/per person): One-minute live, or one written paragraph is a good length for an individual complaint. There's always the next round, if you pay for the privilege.

4. Bitches Pay First: Each person Bitching-for-Charity must donate before s/he speaks live. Onliners can attach a charity's URL at the end of each-post to publicly confirm their commitment to pay.

4a. Matching Donation Programs: If you are holding a Bitching for Charity event at work, check to see if your company runs a matching grant program. That's right. Each of your bitches can do twice as much good. How great is that?

5. Snacks: It is a lovely holiday gesture to serve snacks and drinks.

5a. Scrooginess: If you want to give folks another reason to bitch, you may choose not serve anything.

OK. You've picked your charity. You've got your location. Your guests are showing up. But, if negative projections hold true, some naysayer will show up at this point and start, a bad way. "Bitching for Charity?" the sayer will ney. "What's the point?"

6. Ignore the mixed metaphor and explain why Bitching For Charity fits with this year's zeitgeist:

* In today's "can do" culture, complaining, aka "bitching" is considered way-uncool, normally. But the holidays are not a normal time. Why not celebrate by indulging in a little uncool?

*Dressing up for Halloween lets us act out our physical shadow. Bitching for Charity lets us parade our darker emotions in public, creating space for potential light.

*As money mistress Suze Orman says in a totally different context, you can't teach abundance if you're broke. And you can't teach merriment if you're feeling drecky. Owning your bitches is the first step to disowning them.

*Bitching for Charity KO's the fear that we aren't/don't have enough. Happiness and connection doesn't come from we have or don't have, B for C shows, but rather, from what we are willing to share, and give away.

Which leads me to Bitching for Charity's final step.

7. Embrace the Gs of B for C: You've bitched your brains out. You've raised your cash. Take a sec now to review how much you had to complain about...and how crazily wonderful that stuff is. The beau whose socks-on-floor drive you crazy also makes your heart go pitter-pat. That job that's boiling your blood means you're employed.

To Bitch for Charity, viewed in this way, is a verson of the artists' technique of drawing familiar objects upside-down to rediscover their true form. Its upside-down holiday-time view of life can expunge the blues while mobilizing our greens, wiping the stress-dust from our view of the sky.

My friends and I are psyched to get Bitching for Charity this year. We're tough-talking girls. But there are training wheels on our inner Harleys.

Despite its in-your-face-ish name, we know, somewhere below our urge to grouse, that Bitching for Charity embraces the classic holiday Gs of giving, gathering, gratitude and generosity.

And we'll drink a sweet egg nog to that.