Any time you have guests traveling to you for an event, you want them to feel immediately comfortable, welcome, and sense your gratitude for their effort, time, and money involved in being present for you. Whether its for a wedding or you're hosting a conference or event, these tips will help you assemble an amazing welcome bag that is useful, thoughtful, and as environmentally-friendly as possible. I've also tried to put a focus on finding local items to your area, both for support of local business and also for the meaning associated for guests.
It all starts with the bag:
I like the idea of the guest welcome bag being reusable and space-friendly. I love to keep small zippered totes in my purse for those moment at the grocery store when I'm in the checkout lane and realize I've forgotten all of my bulky reusable bags in the trunk (but want to save at least a little plastic). I also appreciate having one or two in my purse when I need just need to pick up a few things.
I love these zip-up shopping totes from Custom Ink as a starting place. They are a little pricier at $7.82 each for an order of 100 bags, but they are of a higher quality. (That quote includes free shipping and a print of your choice on one side of the bag.) I also like these eco-friendly bags from Becca Bags which boast "no child-labor" in production and these taffeta bags from One World Projects that help provide steady meals to artisans in India for $15 each or these really stylish printed bags from Baggu for $10 each.
If you're crafty and have the time, here is a pattern to make your own!
If this isn't the area of your wedding where you want to spend tons of money, check out this option, Oriental Trading has some good tote options that also allow you to purchase in dozens rather than in hundreds like this folding tote or this fold-up fruit tote or even this one for about a $1 each. Even these canvas-like bags, which are a little smaller but cost less than $1 each. Some of the colors at Oriental Trading are a little on the bright side so matching with your color scheme might be a little tricky, but some bags are offered in single color groupings like this one at $11.99 per dozen.
What goes inside?
For the holidays, we love the rhyme for what to get our kids: "Something You Want, Something You Need, Something To Wear, Something To Read, and Something to Light Up The World." We can think of this similarly to make our guests feel totally cared for.
Our pneumonic devices will be:
Something to hydrate, something sweet, something salty, something neat.
Something essential, a thing you can't resist, a note of thanks, and an itinerary checklist.
Something to Hydrate:
Bottled water is a must! We recommend at least two bottles per room. Some other wedding bag posts suggest sparkling water, but I wouldn't. That is a matter of taste preference and most people prefer natural water, especially when they are very thirsty, which we often are after lots of travel.
Add in a few wedding-color coordinated paper straws for the ladies to sip even after lipstick has been applied!
Its nice to include something sweet (and you'll see my salty recommendations below) to suit all guests preferences.
So many towns have wonderfully creative bakers or specialty popcorn stores. In Altoona, we have several sweet options unique to our area! We have Bedford Candies which has an amazing popcorn selection. My favorite is a chocolate peanut butter drizzle! Our area is also home to Boyer Candies, which is known for their Mallow Cups. (Incidentally, my Grandma worked here probably in the 1950s.) Altoona also boasts a creative cookie duo called "A Couple Smart Cookies." I've purchased their cookies for my son's birthday party and they were some of the best cookies I've ever tasted, not to mention that they are decorated beautifully and are custom designed!
Locally, we have a good resource in Benzel's Pretzels. Local resources are wonderful to give out-of-town guests a glimpse into what makes your town unique as well as a treat they might not get elsewhere.
If you wanted something a little more gourmet than pretzels for your "something salty," try The Billy Goat Chip Company.
Real Simple also did a post on 10 Gourmet Chips We Love
I'm from Blair County. This is where the Slinky was invented. If I decided that enough of my guests had children or would themselves be amused by a toy like this in their bag, I'd go for it and get them one of these.
We have an amazing local store that makes handmade soaps, natural deodorants, bath bombs, and natural chapsticks. This neat store is run by a husband and wife team and is called Trade Secrets. This is a great gift that your guests can enjoy and is really unique and of a high quality.
If you're hosting an outdoor wedding, you could includesunscreen for your guests. You can purchase sample packages that is just enough for the event!
You could also include Advil Packets
Tylenol is not a good combo in the event that your guests use these to recover from a hangover. See why HERE.
A Thing You Can't Resist:
My husband and I love specialty coffees and teas. So, for us, it would be a really natural gift for our guests to give them one of of our favorite teas or coffees for the morning they check out.
We have a wonderful local coffee shop called The Clay Cup that would be a good resource for coffee to gift to your guests.
When it comes to tea, we don't have as much locally. However, we personally love two tea resources. One is Everything Tea in Bedford and the other is a larger company called Upton Tea. We might choose a favorite tea to include as a gift to our guests. If I included tea, I might package it with honey sticks to give them a special sweetening option.
A Note of Thanks:
I recommend that this note is hand-written. These can be done well in advance and don't have to be personalized in case the bags get mixed up from guest to guest when hand-delivered through the hotel. However, the handwritten aspect is important. Letting your guests know you appreciate the efforts they made to travel in for your wedding won't go unnoticed.
Thank you so much for being here this weekend for our wedding. We are So glad you could make it. We hope this bag of treats helps you settle in and feel welcome. We can't wait to see you!
An Itinerary Checklist:
Let your guests know what is going on for the weekend. Give times, addresses, and event details. Share the shuttle schedules and how long the ride is so they can anticipate timing their arrival to your wedding with ease.
Share Where Everything Came From!
If your guests get this amazing bag of local goodies, they may feel inspired to go out and explore the town! Let them know on a half-letter sized sheet of paper that you can tuck in with your handwritten note to let guests where each item came from and what the addresses for those places are!