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The Top 6 Items to Have on your Retreat Hospitality Table

The-top-six-300x296Every retreat should have a hospitality table where women can find items needed to make their retreat experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Women forget to pack essential items and things that they didn’t realize they would need, and we try to anticipate those items to have them available. We have our table of supplies in the back of the meeting space and during announcements, we point it out so women will know it is there.

After every retreat, we store unused supplies until the next year, when we replenish and expand our offerings, according to need.

We have miscellaneous items available, including umbrellas, pens, toothbrushes, Kleenex, etc. But from my observation, here are the six most popular items to have available at your hospitality table:

#6 -Earplugs – you can purchase these very cheaply, and they may help some ladies have a good night’s sleep in an unfamiliar setting with roommates.

#5 -Toiletries (of course) in sample sizes in case your women left home without them.  If you retreat at a hotel, the hotel provides some of these things (shampoo, soap, etc.), but if you are in a camp-style venue, you need to have supplies such as shampoo/conditioner, soaps, toothpaste, lotions, etc.

#4-Feminine care products – this goes without saying. Women come unprepared!

#3- Throws – Venues are normally kept cool (even in the warmer months), which is acceptable for the majority of your women, but others will be uncomfortable and distracted because they are cold.  If we could offer something for the middle-aged ladies who run hot, we would!

#2-Basic medical supplies – Tylenol and Ibuprophen, antibiotic creams, bandaids and throat lozenges are a must.  If you are in a more rural setting, bug spray, Benedryl and calamine lotion may be indicated.  We have even had pain relief patches available in our more recent retreats.

#1. Can you guess what #1 is?  CHOCOLATE!  Are you surprised?  We always provide mints, hard candies, and small chocolates.  Chocolates disappear first!

Posted in: Ingredients for a Great Retreat, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, Ministry at the Retreat, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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Decisions and Deadlines

dont miss deadlineDoes having a deadline change the way you make women’s ministry decisions?

As I write this, we are still weeks away from our annual women’s retreat. By now, all the “big” decisions have been made.  To the best of our ability and by God’s grace, we have tried to hear and follow the Lord’s direction.  We have a location, a date, a theme, a guest speaker and a preliminary schedule. Many, but not all responsibilities have been assigned.  Our retreat remembrance is already purchased, as are some of the decorations.  The big decisions have been made. Sounds like it should be downhill from here, doesn’t it?

But in ministry as in life, sometimes it is the minor decisions where it is the hardest to discern God’s will.  And we have a lot of decisions on the line…and a deadline that is looming. So, what are our options?

  • Take the decision to the women’s ministry team and take a vote?
  • Assume that what we did in past years is best for this year?
  • Use our logic and common sense and just go for it?
  • Wait on God?

When you look at the options spelled out like that, the obvious answer is “wait on God.”  Not so easy when you see the deadline approaching and other tasks can’t be completed until those decision are made.  Here’s one example:  We want to offer workshops at this retreat.  How many do we offer? Should there be three? Should they be repeated? Who will teach the workshops? Those decisions need to be made soon, as they affect the timetable of other tasks.  We cannot finish the booklet and send it to the printer until those decision are made.

Remember, God is always on time, and He promises wisdom to those who ask.  I have no doubt that things will fall into place. It’s tempting to run ahead to get it done! But our job is to pray about the decision, pray for wisdom and direction, ask God to close or open doors and then….wait for His direction.

 

Posted in: Lessons Learned, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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A Little More about Guest Speakers

I believe that weGuest-Speaker-Event-400x400 all receive more from a speaker when we feel a personal connection with her.

For instance, last year our guest speaker was a fairly well-known retreat speaker.  The whole circumstance of her being here was a miracle in many ways, because we, as a small church, normally couldn’t afford a more well-known speaker.  However, because she had been a personal friend of our late pastor’s wife, she offered to do this retreat, knowing that it would be our first without our beloved pastor’s wife at the helm.  The majority of our ladies had never met the speaker, but I believe that all of us felt a deeper connection to her and her message because we knew that she understood and had suffered the same loss.  In addition, as she shared some difficulties that her family had faced in the previous year, more connections were made with ladies in similar situations.

Yes, that was a very unique year.  However, the same holds true with every guest speaker.  If they share from their personal life or highlights of their testimony at the beginning of our retreat, often these moments will provide that personal connection for our ladies.  That connection will be a conduit for the message and application of the truths she shares.

Posted in: Lessons Learned, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning, Your Guest Speaker

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A Speaker Speaks

5208fdc422fbc.imageI recently had an opportunity to sit down with a popular retreat speaker and ask her some frank questions. I believe her answers will help us serve our guest speakers.  I am going to bullet point her comments below. Remember, I am speaking from a small church perspective!

  • Questions to ask prior to the event:
    •       What drink or snacks do you prefer?
    •       Do you have any allergies?
    •       What equipment do you need?
    •       Do you like to have breakfast served in your room so you can prepare for the day?
  • Assign someone to be the speaker’s helper–someone she can call upon for any problem or need.  Give the speaker a number to text to get this person’s help.
  • Do a sound check with the speaker, as well as confirming that she knows how to use any other equipment she needs (for instance, if she is using a pointer or projecting slides).  Microphones and other equipment differ from place to place.
  • We don’t do this, but apparently some churches will decorate the speaker’s room, even to the point of leaving her a cozy robe. But the question arises: Do they mean for me to take these things home? If you do decorate her room, be sure she knows what is hers to take.
  • Announcements directly after a speaker’s session can distract from what God is doing.  Give God time to work. A time of reflection after a teaching session can be helpful.
  • Give the honorarium check discreetly, after the retreat, and enclose a specific thank-you written after the event.  Giving your women an opportunity to contribute their comments and thank-yous to this is an added blessing.
  • If you leave a gift basket for your guest speaker in her room:
    • Remember: if she is flying, a basket may be difficult to carry on an airplane.
    • Hotel or camp water may not be to her liking; include bottled water if it is not provided.
    • Eating prior to a session may be hard for her; include some snacks in her gift basket (healthy protein snacks, trail mix, bananas).
    • Socks are nice.
  • It is nice to have a coffee pot (or tea, if preferred) in the speaker’s room.

 

Posted in: Lessons Learned, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning, Your Guest Speaker

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Make Your Name Tags POP

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I believe that if you host a women’s event, you need name tags. Personally, wearing name tags helps me avoid those awkward moments that begin with my well-rehearsed line:  “I know we’ve met, but I’ve forgotten your name….”  Name tags can be functional when they are simple and plain–BUT they can POP with very little extra effort. Name tags can actually become a memento of your event. As you can see in my somewhat photos above, I have kept mine over the years.

Here are some suggestions for easy ways you can enhance your name tags.

  • Use a large, block font for the name!  Ever been to an event where you either had to squint to read the person’s name, or the font was so fancy that you were unsure if you were speaking to Tori or Lori?  Put the person’s first name in a big, bold easy-to-read font. As you can see, we often put both the first and last name, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be as big.
  • Add a border!  Yes, it takes up space on the name tag, but it can draw your attention to the name tag.
  • Add color!  Black and white is boring.  Make the border bright, or make the name colorful.  Use black ink on a something-other-than-white paper (but make sure the black shows up well on the paper). Add a colorful, relevant sticker. Or use the graphic from the retreat, as we did.
  • Identify your event on the name tag–event, theme of the event, date (at least the year) or relevant scripture.
  • We add promise verses to our retreat name tags (on the reverse side)–but that’s another blog!

Feel free to share your suggestions! We’d love to hear them.

Posted in: Ingredients for a Great Retreat, Little Things Make a Big Difference!, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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