Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: GSNW on April 20, 2013, 02:32:00 PM

Title: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: GSNW on April 20, 2013, 02:32:00 PM
DH and I are having a destination celebration this summer at an all-inclusive resort.  We invited friends and family to come with us and we're looking at a group of about 35 at this point.  If anyone has input or thoughts, I'd be interested in hearing about it on several points:

1.  I want to put together "Welcome" bags for everyone that the resort will give them at check-in, nothing ostentatious, but kind of a goodie bag.  So far I want to include:

-A small bottle of local liquer
-A box of locally-made cookies
-Some kind of local candy/sweet (still looking for this)
-Some kind of wearable - we have gone between flip-flops, hats, tshirts (which I find cheesy)... debating this still!
-Any other ideas (small sunscreen, neat local toiletries...?)

2.  We are also putting together an events list.  Our group reservation is a week long and I want people to have time to do their own things along with getting together with the group.  In the gift bag I want to include an itinerary, for example:

Monday:  Snorkeling @ 11am, meet at xyz location
Tuesday:  Private tequila tasting @ 8pm, meet at xyz location
Thursday:  Beach dinner @ 7pm, ...
(I'm sure you get the idea)

These are events hosted by DH and I, meaning we are paying any extra costs associated with said events.  People are not obligated to attend but of course we hope they will, esp the beach dinner as this is the "main" event and we're paying per head, ahead of time.  Can I include a request for RSVP at the bottom of the itinerary, or is that just too nit-picky for a relaxing vacation?

3.  We have a photographer coming to the beach dinner.  For each guest, we are purchasing one 5x7 "group" shot (to be sent to them in a photo frame post vacation).  The IDEA was that guests will have the chance to have individual/family shots taken as well, which they can purchase themselves through the photographer.  It has occurred to me that people might find it tacky, or feel pushed to pose/buy individual photos.  If that's the consensus, I'd happily just do the group shot and tell the photog to forgo the rest.  I don't want people to go, "Ah, nice beach dinner - surprise money-grubbing guy!" 

I'm happy to hear any thoughts people have on the above topics.  Thank you!
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Black Delphinium on April 20, 2013, 02:55:17 PM
I'd start mentioning the photog now, so people have time to decide if they'd want to purchase extra shots or not.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: cicero on April 20, 2013, 03:03:00 PM
sounds lovely

1. for the welcome bags - this may just be me but less is better and eatables are better. remember - people know they are coming to a week-long event at a resort, they will undoubtedly have their own flip flops, hats, and sunscreen. These are things I wouldn't put in - remember, your friends will have to toss them or bring them back on the plane (where airlines are allowing less and less weight in your luggage).

so stick with the local goodies and a bottle of water, map etc.

2. photographer - it seems to me that nowadays everyone just pulls out their camera/phone/i-whatever, and take their own photos which they then post on FB etc. at a wedding i was at recently, that was what everyone was doing. so, i don't know how much people are going to want to purchase photos. but if you do - then as Black Delphinium said, make sure they know upfront.

3. for the events list - i would also let people know in advance that (a) there are all kinds of activities and (b) that you are paying for these things. I think there is no problem asking for an RSVP - "please let me know by Friday morning which events you will attend".
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Sharnita on April 20, 2013, 03:09:44 PM
Definitely include water since it sounds like there will be a lot of outdoor activites.  The RSVP request would be fine.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: JenJay on April 20, 2013, 03:35:55 PM
If the photographer isn't a surprise you could mention ahead of time that you've booked him to take a group photo at the dinner, you're purchasing everyone a 5X7 as a gift, and then add something like "He's also available to do smaller sittings if anyone is interested. For pricing information call (number) or visit his website at (address)." That way nobody feels pressured, you don't end up with people asking for extra pics under the assumption you've already paid for them and the photographer has a good idea going in how much time and materials he should expect to plan for.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Black Delphinium on April 20, 2013, 04:12:03 PM
What about, instead of a "wearable", you added a customized, BPA free water bottle?
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: kudeebee on April 20, 2013, 09:24:18 PM
i would mention that you and dh are hosting/paying for the events on your itinerary.  Definitely include RSVP information so you know who will be coming and not to wait around for stragglers.

I would do a separate note on the beach dinner since that is the main thing.  Mention the photographer==a pp had a nice wording.

I agree with consumables/water bottle for the bags.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: NyaChan on April 20, 2013, 09:54:28 PM
I think your plans sound lovely!
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Figgie on April 20, 2013, 10:25:17 PM
I would include a small bottle of something, maybe with aloe to help with sunburn and maybe something for an upset stomach.  I also have a small bottle of alcohol handwash that I carry with me for emergencies and that might be nice for people to have.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Shortylicious on April 21, 2013, 09:05:32 AM
Is the resort in an area where mosquitoes will be a problem? I have gone to some places only to find there are tons of bugs and I have no spray! If you think it'll be an issue, include bug spray in the baskets.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: jpcher on April 21, 2013, 01:11:39 PM
I think your plans sound lovely!

POD! ;D

I almost think you should mail out your preplanned itinerary before the trip instead of including it in with your welcome basket.

My thinking is that guests probably will go to the resorts web site in order to see what events are available and plan or make reservations (do they have to pay in advance?) for their own time. It might be a case of "Oh! Happy couple is planning on snorkeling on this day/time, let's do that with them instead of doing this on our own."

Sending out your itinerary prior to the trip allows people to schedule around your plans.

I also think that you should include the photographers info (like what JenJay said) with your itinerary.

Asking for an RSVP is perfectly fine.

Maybe this is a bit out there, but for organizing 35 people for many events? Possibly include a "ticket" for each event and request that the tickets be turned in 2 hours/the day before/whenever your reservations need to be turned in prior to each event so there isn't any confusion ("Oh, wait, did Mark and Mary say they were snorkeling with us?" "I don't remember, maybe it was just Mary" type of thing.)



For the wearables . . . what about a customized beach towel?

http://www.4imprint.com/tag/170/Towels/t/433?mkid=1od9_02_002&s_kwcid=TC|6256|beach%20towel%20printed||S|p|19031437682&gclid=CJHZsKKs3LYCFegWMgodunMA7w

This was one site that I found that doesn't charge a set-up fee. $14.00 each, probably the price you'll pay for tee shirts, but far more expensive than cheapy flip-flops, which might be fun. However, this will probably be a remembered and often used keepsake from the event. Just a thought.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: betty on April 21, 2013, 08:47:36 PM
I think sunscreen is a great idea: If flying, it's hard to travel with a large enough bottle of sunscreen to last a few days (unless you check bags, something I prefer not to do).

Enjoy your celebration!
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: GSNW on April 22, 2013, 12:46:50 PM
Thank you so much for all the helpful suggestions... and please keep them coming if anyone has anything to add!  I love love LOVE the beach towel idea and we're definitely going to include it.  I also like the bug spray thought - we might do a mini-kit of after sun lotion, sunscreen, bug spray to be included in the bag. 

I think maybe emailing an itinerary out to our guests as a "just FYI" and then including a printed copy as well should cover us.  Doing it ahead of time is a good plan.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: blarg314 on April 22, 2013, 08:05:27 PM

Personally, I'd skip the bug spray/sunscreen etc.  The problem is that unless people know that you're providing it, they will bring their own in the first place, so it becomes redundant, so you've gone through a lot of effort to provide something that won't get used, and may even be thrown out before leaving if luggage space is tight. Same with clothes or shoes, and then you have size issues.

I'd lean towards edibles. If it's appropriate for your crowd, a bottle of a local drink (plus mixer if appropriate), alcoholic or not, and some snacks.  If there are kids, some sort of cheap beach toy or colouring book for entertainment.

The towel idea is a good one, if it's a non-specific design (ie, towels with your wedding date printed on them don't have much re-use value). Another option would be sarongs - I have some I picked up in Thailand, and I love them for vacations - you can use them as a towel to sit on at the beach or on the grass, wear them to and from the pool, make an improvised head covering when riding a camel in the desert, carry stuff in them, and they pack really small and dry really quickly (avoid tie-dyed ones, though, because they leak colour).

I have a mixed view of goodie bag stuff. Part of me gleefully says "Oooh, free stuff!!!", but another part of me recognizes that about 80% of the time the contents of the basket of free stuff eventually gets thrown out unusued.   


Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: lowspark on April 23, 2013, 07:19:14 AM
I would definitely send out the itinerary in advance. And I'd present it something like this:

Dear Fellow Travelers,
Here are the events at Vacation-Spot that we will be hosting. Please let me know by xx-date which you will be able to attend so that we can make appropriate reservations.

As far as the photographer, I'd probably ask for feedback in advance.
We have hired a professional photographer to take a group photo and will be distributing one 5x7 to each family as our treat. The photographer has offered to do additional individual photos at a cost of $xx per photo if there is any interest. If you might be interested in setting this up, please let me know. If there is no interest I can let the photographer know that it will just be the one group shot.

I have planned group trips (on a much smaller scale) and my experience is that the more information people have in advance, the more smoothly things go. It's good to know what times you are expected to hang out with others and what times you'll be on your own. Also, whatever activities you plan might help your guests decide what they want to do with their free time. For example, if you're going snorkeling on Monday, they know they already have one snorkeling outing scheduled and can plan accordingly.

Regarding the goodie bags, no matter what you end up putting in, some of it will end up being redundant or unneeded by some of the people and some of it will get used. Some people will forget the bug spray/sun screen/aspirin and be grateful you've provided it and others will have brought everything they need anyway. But to me, it's the thought that counts so the very fact of receiving a goodie bag in addition to all the other stuff you are hosting incredibly thoughtful. So I wouldn't sweat those little miscellaneous items too much.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: gellchom on April 24, 2013, 01:21:39 PM
Please please consider giving people refillable water bottles instead of bottled water.

I'd skip telling them that the photographer will do more photos for them at their own expense.  They can figure out to ask for that if they want it.  But you don't want to sound like you are advertising for the photographer.  Assuming this photographer uses a digital camera anyway, if someone asks them to take a separate shot, it won't waste film if it isn't bought by you or anyone else.  Just tell them that you will be taking a group shot and when, so they can dress for it and be on time.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: WillyNilly on April 24, 2013, 05:42:46 PM
Lots of people bring flipflops, etc but you know what might be fun? To put some inflatables in each basket. You could to the same for everyone, or a random assortment:

https://www.google.com/shopping/product/4842477283352782851?client=Flamingvixen-a&hs=5OU&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=inflatable%20pool%20mat&spell=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45645796,d.dmg&biw=1366&bih=664&sa=X&ei=f154Ucq8FoWj4AOh1YCQBQ&ved=0CGEQ8wIwAQ

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=shop&q=beach+ball&oq=beach+ball&gs_l=products-cc.3..0l8j0i5l2.18987.20767.0.20985.10.8.0.2.2.0.140.702.6j2.8.0...0.0...1ac.1.11.products-cc.uBRcv-WYpFg

https://www.google.com/shopping/product/6153428834749828713?sclient=psy-ab&q=inflatable%20swim%20ring&oq=inflatable+swim+ring&gs_l=serp.3..0j0i5.19372.20146.1.20833.4.4.0.0.0.0.96.335.4.4.0...0.0...1c.1.11.psy-ab.12r_Ql4nt_s&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45645796,d.dmg&biw=1366&bih=664&sa=X&ei=yl54Ub0tyOLgA8K3gMAI&ved=0CG8Q8wIwAg

If there will be kids, or even just crafty folks, a nice detail might be to use a sandcastle bucket instead of a bag or basket:
https://www.google.com/shopping/product/11376701139614350513?q=sandcastle%20bucket&oq=sandcastle+bucket&gs_l=products-cc.3...88835.92259.0.92426.17.6.0.11.11.0.102.531.4j2.6.0...0.0...1ac.1.11.products-cc.rzzJFtEEebY&sa=X&ei=Ll94Uem2G_DC4APd-IDQDw&ved=0CF8Q8wIwAQ

Another IMO, very handy thing is a beach safe (personally I think the rectangle ones are better, especially in this day & age of key cards):
https://www.google.com/search?tbm=shop&q=beach+safe&oq=beach+safe&gs_l=products-cc.3..0.59934.61594.0.61835.10.7.0.3.3.0.187.737.4j3.7.0...0.0...1ac.1.11.products-cc.TnpsKOmmnGw#q=beach+safe&tbs=vw:l,p_ord:p&tbm=shop&sa=X&ei=eF94UaDEC4Xi4AOQ8YGACA&ved=0CGAQuw0oAg&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45645796,d.dmg&fp=6400e7303f64c1b1&biw=1366&bih=664
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Peregrine on April 24, 2013, 09:25:58 PM
If the tequila tasting is an actual activity you might include some hangover remedies  >:D

I love the idea of a refillable water bottle.  You might also want to toss in some wet wipes and ear plugs.  Cheap and disposable but always usable by someone.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: sparksals on April 24, 2013, 09:57:57 PM
Please please consider giving people refillable water bottles instead of bottled water.

I'd skip telling them that the photographer will do more photos for them at their own expense.  They can figure out to ask for that if they want it.  But you don't want to sound like you are advertising for the photographer.  Assuming this photographer uses a digital camera anyway, if someone asks them to take a separate shot, it won't waste film if it isn't bought by you or anyone else.  Just tell them that you will be taking a group shot and when, so they can dress for it and be on time.

They may be in a country with non-potable water.   I prefer bottled because it fits in a purse better. 
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: sparksals on April 24, 2013, 10:01:01 PM
I like the idea of an itinerary, but don't go overboard.  I would feel a bit put out if too many activities were scheduled and an obligation to attend.   Make sure people know they are optional. 
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Thipu1 on April 26, 2013, 09:39:28 AM
You mentioned a tequila tasting so I assume the destination is somewhere in Mexico. 

Often, localities have specialties such as spice mixtures, sauces or soaps.  These aren't heavy to pack or transport home.  One or another of these would make a nice addition to the welcome package.  also, luggage going to a warm-weather destination is usually lighter than luggage going to a place like Iceland. 

I like the beach towel idea and don't think that a custom model with the dates of the gathering would reduce the re-use option.  They'd be easy to spot on a beach at home or see good service as a bath towel in the house.

Definitely follow the advice about the photographer.  This gives your guests a heads-up that they can have photos taken at their own cost.  the service may not be used much but it'd be nice to know that it could. 

The schedule of planned activities should certainly be sent to your guests ahead of time.  An RSVP enclosure with check-off boxes for 'Will' or 'Will not' participate can save you a lot of agita. 

Another question.  Are the people attending this gathering all about the same age or do they span
several generations?  That can make a big difference.

Finally, your plans sound wonderful.  We hope you and your guests all have a wonderful time.  Please post a report of how things went. 

Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 26, 2013, 11:12:59 AM
Your event sounds lovely.

Since it is an all-inclusive resort I would assume it's pretty easy for them to grab water to take to their rooms. But if not, a refillable water bottle would be nice to have in their rooms.

Since snorkeling is on the agenda, how about putting in a disposable water proof camera? Fuji has one called a QuickSnap that is pretty good and I think waterpoof to 15-20 feet underwater.


Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: GSNW on April 26, 2013, 04:13:46 PM
You mentioned a tequila tasting so I assume the destination is somewhere in Mexico. 

Another question.  Are the people attending this gathering all about the same age or do they span
several generations?  That can make a big difference.


Yup, Mexico it is.  The resort should have lots of bottled water floating around... I really liked the water bottle idea but realized that it makes little sense to pour bottled water into another bottle... and no one will be refilling from the sink.

I got with the guy who does my field trip t-shirts and he can do some great towels for us with custom embroidery.  We picked a green-and-white striped beach towel (huge) with "Cabo 2013" in the corner with a palm tree.

As far as age range... my grandparents, who are both in their 80s, are coming.  Pretty much everyone else is in the 30-60 range, with a handful of kids 8-15.  I am going to assume the teenagers will want to be left alone as much as is reasonable because we are not cool enough to hang out with, and the under tens will need resting time. 

We also changed the plans a bit for the "big beach dinner."  I realized that the per head cost charged by the resort (which was a lot) would be better spent somewhere else.  We canceled the dinner and instead rented the resort's presidential suite, which has a full kitchen and formal dining seating for 20 plus smaller tables in the same room, bar seating, etc.... enough for everyone to sit and eat and hang out together.  This is more our speed than a fancy four-course meal.

So far, the itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 - Cocktail reception in our suite (evening)
Day 2 - Afternoon trip to the spa (pay your own way)
Day 3 - 3-hour snorkeling tour (pay your own way) Sunset cruise (hosted by us)
Day 4 - 4-hour kayak trip through the estuary (pay your own way), tequila tasting (hosted)
Day 5 - Celebration dinner (hosted by us)

None of the "hosted" events should be considered "mandatory" and I want to make sure the guests know this.  I just want to know if they're coming so we can plan accordingly.
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: jpcher on April 27, 2013, 11:02:39 AM

Yup, Mexico it is.  The resort should have lots of bottled water floating around... I really liked the water bottle idea but realized that it makes little sense to pour bottled water into another bottle... and no one will be refilling from the sink.

That's what I was thinking about the water bottle. While it's a great thought conservation-wise, I was wondering where guests would get the water to fill the bottle.

I got with the guy who does my field trip t-shirts and he can do some great towels for us with custom embroidery.  We picked a green-and-white striped beach towel (huge) with "Cabo 2013" in the corner with a palm tree.

Yea! The fact that you chose a more generic branding (instead of your names and special event) adds to the probability that these towels will be used and remembered even after the trip.

As far as age range... my grandparents, who are both in their 80s, are coming.  Pretty much everyone else is in the 30-60 range, with a handful of kids 8-15.  I am going to assume the teenagers will want to be left alone as much as is reasonable because we are not cool enough to hang out with, and the under tens will need resting time. 

We also changed the plans a bit for the "big beach dinner."  I realized that the per head cost charged by the resort (which was a lot) would be better spent somewhere else.  We canceled the dinner and instead rented the resort's presidential suite, which has a full kitchen and formal dining seating for 20 plus smaller tables in the same room, bar seating, etc.... enough for everyone to sit and eat and hang out together.  This is more our speed than a fancy four-course meal.

So, are you planning on cooking for everyone? Or having the meal catered by the hotel? I'm picturing a buffet-type deal where people can nosh or not. Just curious about your menu.

The in-suite deal does sound more relaxing and informal. People can move about and mingle rather than be seated at a certain spot for 4 hours. I really like this choice. ;D


So far, the itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 - Cocktail reception in our suite (evening)
Day 2 - Afternoon trip to the spa (pay your own way)
Day 3 - 3-hour snorkeling tour (pay your own way) Sunset cruise (hosted by us)
Day 4 - 4-hour kayak trip through the estuary (pay your own way), tequila tasting (hosted)
Day 5 - Celebration dinner (hosted by us)

None of the "hosted" events should be considered "mandatory" and I want to make sure the guests know this.  I just want to know if they're coming so we can plan accordingly.

Agreed. As a hostess, you should want to know the number of guests for each event, so that you can plan accordingly.

Which is why I think sending out the itinerary and asking for RSVPs prior to the trip is important.

eta: even if it's a "pay your own way" event, you'll still need to reserve enough spots for those that are planning on attending.



GSNW -- I think that you are an awesome hostess . . . thinking about the comfort of your guests and planning in advance will make the experience something special and one that will be remembered by all. ;D
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: GSNW on July 20, 2013, 04:30:25 PM
I wanted to write up a brief update since our vacation has concluded!  We had an awesome time.  I got a small jellyfish sting on my arm during one of our snorkel trips, but it's so tiny it's more like a badge of honor than an injury  8)

In the favor bags, we wound up including the following:

-Large beach towel (the huuuge ones) with "Cabo 2013" and a flip-flop logo embroidered in the upper center of the towel
-Bottle of quality after-sun lotion (from Bath&Body Works, good stuff) that takes the sting out of any burns
-Coral Reef scented mini bottle of hand sanitizer (not sure what a reef should smell like, but it was good)
-For the women, a selection of yummy mini-candles that were all beach-themed smells
-For the men, a bar of soap made with real Corona beer (I found these at Vat19.com, very cool website)

Most people used their towels all week.  They were nicer than the resort towels, you didn't have to exchange a towel key to get them, and it was easier to spot members of our group since ours were all brightly colored and the resort just had white and gray striped towels.

We also gave out shot glasses at the tequila tasting.  I had them engraved with "To Infinity and Beyond" and a replica of a matching tattoo DH and I got a few years ago (very simple design). 

The activities were all really fun, low pressure and no stress, and we wound up having a very easy mix of people doing their own stuff and us all winding up having dinners together at night.  If anyone is planning a trip to Cabo San Lucas soon, I'd be happy to make suggestions via PM about a few of the tour outfitters we used and the resort we stayed at.  Thank you everyone for your suggestions!
Title: Re: Looking for ideas... help!
Post by: jpcher on July 24, 2013, 06:08:09 PM
It sounds like an awesome vacation! It's good to hear that everything went well.

Thanks for the update. ;D