Giving Nature: Upfront with James Collins


The saying—“in giving, we receive”—seems especially apropos during the holidays. Now that we’re entering the holiday season, many of us will focus our efforts on giving in some fashion, whether it’s hosting a memorable holiday fête or donating meals to those who are less fortunate. Giving is a true art form, requiring not just generosity, but also authenticity, openness and grace—qualities that James Collins holds in the highest regard. These are the reasons why Collins, an Alpine, N.J.-based luxury real estate veteran specializing in luxury residential properties in Bergen County, N.J. and Rockland County, N.Y., embraces the holiday season each year.

“It’s a time to connect with family, friends and the community,” says the partnered father of four. “The holiday season—every season, really—is a time to be grateful for all of the things in my life…to take account of all of the experiences I’ve had during the year…both the good and the challenging. I connect with my joy and gratitude, and give and receive from this place.”

His family gives to several charities and non-profit organizations throughout the year—and especially during the holidays. Some of his current passion projects include The Ali Forney Center, Human Rights Campaign, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Lambda Legal and Previews® Inside Out turned to Collins for his insight on giving everything from a festive party at home to holiday donations for charitable organizations.

My idea of perfect happiness is: At the beach with my family, friends and our two pugs on Fire Island, New York.

If I wasn't a real estate agent, I'd be: An artist, chef or leader of a non-profit organization! Did I say the president of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC?

Greatest passion: Uncovering truths about myself so I can be more free.

Most treasured possession: I don’t have a most treasured possession! But I do love my George Smith Kilim chairs!

Favorite holiday tradition: Setting a beautiful table for dinner and having all the kids and good friends there.

Best advice for hosting a holiday charity event: Plan a long time in advance! The goal of a charity event is to raise money! The people who are most able “to give” are generally completely booked for the holidays so plan way in advance. I would plan a charity event several months before or after the holidays. That way, everyone could come and you’d have more possibilities for raising money!

Best holiday party I ever saw: I was at Studio 54 in New York City…but that is another story!

Best way to give: A great holiday gift to someone who has everything is to give to a charity in their name. I think it is an elegant and a sophisticated way to say thank you for being in my life!

Dream party venue: Anywhere soulful! The party must reflect the values of the host and the occasion, must be convenient for guests to attend and doesn’t bankrupt your pocketbook! Home is always a great place to have a holiday party so you can create exactly the type of party celebration you’d love to go to!

Best advice for sellers who want to decorate their home during the holidays: If you want to decorate and you have small children or are planning several holiday parties, go for it! All buyers and agents know it is the holiday. Some agents would say to tone down the decorating and keep it non-religious. I believe you can have the holiday decorating and keep the space clear of clutter and still make the home appealing to purchasers.

My essentials for hosting a holiday party at home: 1) Early preparation. There is nothing worse than working at your own party. Be prepared (including getting your invitations out) so you can mingle and enjoy your guests and party like the fabulous host that you are. 2) The right guest list. The correct mix of people can make or break your fête. Select a diverse, dynamic group of people who you think will mix well together. If you really want to get into it (like I do), why not invite your liberal political activist friends and your Tea Party uncle? 3) Good food, good drink, good music, good lighting, cut flowers and candles. All of these elements will enhance the essentials above, but won’t save the occasion if you’ve gotten them wrong! 4) Give a speech. Welcome everyone to your party and give a short speech from your heart. This will set the tone and invite guests to connect with each other in a much deeper and meaningful way.

Looking forward to: Having four college-age girls back home for the holidays! Not getting overwhelmed with feeling like I have to buy something…but remembering to stay present and in the moment so that I can give the love. After all, isn’t that what makes for a great holiday?

James Collins is a Previews® luxury specialist with Coldwell Banker Previews International® and has ranked in the top three real estate agents in the Alpine/Closter area’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office for the past 12 years. Active in civic and philanthropic organizations, Collins was a founding member of Earth Action in New York City, and awarded New York City's Volunteer of the Year in 1986. He is also a member of the Mankind Project where he was the 2011 recipient of the Volunteer of the Year award. More information on James Collins can be found here.


Related Posts