A quilting weekend with family and friends is an amazing experience, but planning the retreat can be a daunting task. Below are steps to make planning your a retreat easier.
1) Decide what type of quilt retreat your want to coordinate.
- Self-service Retreats are properties you rent typically for a private group. Occupancy numbers vary, and some retreats will accommodate smaller groups by combining another group reservation. With self-service retreat options, meals are on your own and can be prepared in the retreat's fully-stocked kitchen facilities. Often, the retreat owner can provide catering options as well as area restaurant and food delivery suggestions.
- Full-service Retreats are also known as hosted retreats. The retreat owner or manager will be on site during your retreat. Meals, snacks, and drinks are provided. Private group reservations can be made as well as single reservations. If you are looking to be pampered, this is the retreat experience you want to plan.
- Event Retreats take place in larger venues such as hotels or resorts. Typically these weekends are centered around a theme. Most meals are provided and activities are planned such as project demonstrations, spa services, raffles, and contests. These events are a ton of fun.
2) Choose a location, set a date, and make the reservation
Search for retreat options on the Quilting Retreat Finder or Google "Quilt Retreats" by state. Find the location, type of retreat, and occupancy that works for your group. Choose an available weekend or retreat event. Make the reservation online or by emailing/calling the retreat owner. To secure the reservation, a deposit may be required or the retreat owner may put your desired weekend on hold for a certain time frame. If a deposit is required up front, make sure to check the cancellation policy. Many retreats will not refund the deposit if you need to cancel or may only apply the deposit to another weekend reservation.
3) Invite your friends and family
Below are a few ways to invite family and friends. The important thing to add to the invite is the final commitment date. You want to add: Please let me know or RSVP by Month/Date if you can attend the retreat.
- Ask Directly - In person, personal email or text. A bit time consuming, but adds a more personal touch.
- Group Email - Send an email to the group. You can decide either to make the email list public or use the Bcc or blind copy. The public list is good as the everyone will see who is on the list and reply all can be used. However, this can make the email chain very long. The Bcc works well in avoiding lengthy email chains, but you may get questions as to who is all invited and who is coming.
- Facebook Event (Private) - A Facebook Private Event is a great way to invite your family and friends to a retreat. Not only will everyone be able to see who is invited, who is coming, who cannot make it, but you can also add a payment option making it easy for people to pay. The only drawback to Facebook is that not everyone has an account and those that do might not always check it often or look at their events page.
- Evite - This online invitation platform works nicely for inviting friends and family to a retreat. There are many ways to customize your Evite, and the guests list can be hidden if desired. The best part of Evite.com is the reminder function. You can add 2 automatic email reminders that can be emailed to your invited guiests on the desired days before your event.
- Shindigg - This online platform is similar to Evite, but Shindigg is event focused with the invitation having the feature of taking payments for the event for a nominal fee.
3) Getting Commitments and Payments
This is probably the hardest part of planning a retreat, but certain tools and processes can make it easier.
- Be firm on the date you need to get the commitment and payment as you more than likely have a retreat weekend on hold or have paid a deposit. It is very important to let your friends and family know when they need to commit and when they need to pay. If you don't get enough attendees to reach the occupancy # needed, you will then need to expand your guests list or ask your family and friends if they have family or friends they would like to invite. You can say "I have two spots left for the retreat, and send your invite link or contact details.
- Make it easy for your friends and family to pay you. Online payment options are convenient, and if you can add an online payment option in initial event invite, this will be ideal. You might also ask the retreat owner if they can invoice each guest directly, similar to separate checks in a restaurant. If you are still struggling getting payments from your committed guests, be up front and direct. Let your friends and family know you need payment, and if you don't receive by a certain date, you will assume they no longer want to go, and you will extend the invite to someone else.
- Dealing with your friends and family backing out. Retreats are planned 6 months to a year+ in advance. There is a possibility that a friend or family member will face a competing priority on the retreat weekend and will need to back out. If this happens after the guest has paid, it is important to let them know that you cannot refund their money as there are fees associated with cancelling. You can tell them they can find someone to take their place or you will also let the group know there is another spot available if someone has another friend or family member who can take their spot.
4) Plan the menu
If you are coordinating a self-service retreat, meal planning can be fun for the group. In order to avoid the chaos of people asking you want to bring, you can create an online sign-up list. SignupGenius is great free tool to use for online meal coordination. You can also use SignupGenius as an invitation option, but since retreats are planned so far in advance, it is best to focus on the inviting, getting commitments, and payments and then do the meal planning closer to the retreat date.
5) Coordinate Ride Sharing
Ride Sharing will be important especially if the retreat is a distance away. You can easily coordinate ride sharing using email, or you can also us SignupGenius for carpooling. Your friends and family may also do this amongst themselves.
6) Planning activities
The great thing about quilt retreats is the main activity is creating projects. If your group is attending a retreat event or a full-service retreat, activities will be planned out. If you want to plan retreat activities for a self-service retreat, work with your retreat owner on options. They will know area information and can give suggestions. Many retreats also have onsite spa services available.
7) Managing expectations and having the time of your life
Great retreat experiences are had by all the if the coordinator is detailed and organized when planning the retreat. Wonderful tools are available online that make retreat planning fun. Many retreat owners offer a free retreat to the coordinator making the planning even more worthwhile. As you form your retreat group, it is common for the group to reserve the same weekend each year. Retreat groups often pass the baton to another guest to coordinate the next retreat. This works out well to not put the burden on the same person each time and also, new activities and ideas are brought to the retreat weekends following.
Retreat. Create. Rejuvenate. Plan a Quilt Retreat Today!