A New Take on Gift Exchanges

White elephant Christmas parties. Dirty Santa gift exchanges. Secret Santa gifts. I’m sure at some point you’ve been invited to take part in something like this and might have even fretted over what type of gift to bring. Is it in the price range? Is it too tacky? Not tacky enough? Does it fit the person you are buying for? Will everyone like it?

Assorted colored shopping bags including yellow, orange, red, pink, blue and green on a white background

Recently I came across a new idea on gift exchanges called a “My Favorite Things” party. While this idea can work for Christmas parties, it can also be a fun fellowship idea for a smaller women’s retreat. In addition, this is a great “get-to-know-you” activity.

Here’s how to host a “My Favorite Things” fellowship gift exchange:

  • Each participant brings five gifts – each item the same. The gift should represent one of the participant’s favorite things. Set a per gift price limit (very low) prior to the event. These gifts can include anything from a favorite type of candy or cooking item to a favorite type of household essential or a handmade item. (For example, if one of my favorites things is a certain type of pen, I would bring five of them to exchange.)
  • Place these gifts in a gift bag and have all participants sit them on a gift table.
  • Each participant writes her name on five slips of paper and places them in a basket.
  • In order to exchange the gifts, each participant will come up and tell about her gift – why it’s a favorite thing, what it means to her, etc.
  • The participant will then draw five names from the basket, and each of these people will receive their gift.
  • So, you bring five of your favorite things and leave with five gifts representing the favorite things of others!

In order to make this event a success, you must send out detailed instructions for your guests prior to the event. As with many women’s retreats, a lot of attention is given to the “cute” details, so include a fun invitation to this in your registration material. Decorate your fellowship room in a similar fashion. (As a side note, this can serve as a retreat activity or as a stand-alone event.)

As gifts are exchanged, women will undoubtedly learn new things about others in their group. And the greatest thing about this type of gift exchange is that you don’t have to worry about what someone else might want – you bring gifts you like instead!

11 Popular Posts From The First Half of 2013

Wow! Hard to believe we’re half way thru 2013 already.  We hope and pray your summer is going well. Our summer here at Ridgecrest is off to a roaring start, full of groups and summer activities.  In spite of all the busyness, we thought this might be a good time to catch you up on 11 of the most read posts so far this year. Hopefully you will find a helpful  post you might otherwise have missed…

clothes pins

  1. 5 Gift Ideas For A Women’s Retreat – Giving a gift is a nice (but completely not necessary) gesture that will always encourage memories of the experience. Here are 5 perfect, mostly inexpensive, thoughtful gifts for women.
  2. 5 Tips For Programming Effective Youth Camps – Brian Mills serves as student pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church and is passionate about reaching young people for Christ. Here are his thoughts on how to program your youth camp for maximum spiritual impact.
  3. What’s A Hollow Square? – As in any industry, hotels and conference centers sometimes have a language all their own. Here are some of the key terms a planner needs to know…
  4. A Sample Pre-Event Communication To Your Attendees – Sending out an email, letter or packet to those who register for your event is an excellent idea. Here’s a sample…
  5. 3 Common Social Media Mistakes To Avoid – There are tons of mistakes you can make while using Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media, that will deter customers and fans so we want to help…
  6. 5 Keys To A Great Staff Retreat – Staff retreats can be a strategic part of building a highly productive team. However, the difference between a mediocre staff retreat and a great one is having a good game plan. To help with planning your next staff retreat, here are 5 keys you want to make sure  are part of your plan…
  7. 7 Killer Resources For Event Planners – Books, conferences, articles, and eBooks are waiting to help you better market, organize, and run your next event. Here are some to help get you started…
  8. 7 Questions To Ask Your Event Coordinator – If you’re the group leader or meeting planner, please be sure to take full advantage of all your meeting coordinator has to offer.
  9. 3 Event Must Haves – Want your event to be successful? Here are 3 things you really need to be on top of…
  10. 7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit – Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time.
  11. Meeting Planner Survival Kit – Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies. Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.

Which post have you found most helpful?


5 Gift Ideas For Your Women's Retreat

A retreat is a wonderful time for a person to grow spiritually and mentally. They are usually a mixture of relaxing, exciting, and thought provoking. One idea that could put a cherry on top of this already amazing sundae is a little gift. At a smaller women’s retreat, giving a gift is a nice (but completely not necessary) gesture that will always encourage memories of the experience. The idea of giving a gift, no matter what it is, is the sign of a considerate host or planner who has really thought of everything. Here, I will highlight 5 perfect, mostly inexpensive, thoughtful gifts for women.

Book – This might sound bland, but hear me out. I don’t mean handing out a common book that everyone might already have, or a book that’s irrelevant to the retreat, but that might be popular at the time. Think about a book that really is related to the main topic of the retreat.

Jewelry – Once again, I don’t just mean to get her any type of jewelry. A bracelet that has “faith” or “believe” inscribed would be perfect. Every time she wore it and looked at her wrist, she’d have a flashback of all her memories from this retreat.

Seedling – If your retreat has anything to do with personal growth (as most often do), then a tiny seedling that will one day grow into a healthy plant will be a representation of who they are as a person. This will also be a reminder of what they learned on their retreat.

Grab Bag – This idea is similar to a popular Christmas party activity. Everyone brings a wrapped gift, puts them all in a pile, then each person gets to pick one out of that bunch. This can also be an enjoyable icebreaker, since everyone will start chatting about their gifts! If you choose this idea, just make sure you give everyone a price range (under $10, under $5, handmade, etc.) so they’re all pretty equal!

Journals – Journals, diaries, notebooks, whatever you want to call them, will be helpful throughout the whole retreat for a woman to take notes, record important tidbits, and write down how they are feeling during the whole day or weekend. So make sure to hand this one out at the beginning of the first day!

What are some other ideas that you’ve used for your retreats?

Top 5 Posts From 2010

Happy New Year and welcome to our first post for 2011!

As we kick off the new year, I felt it would be good to look back at the first year of our blog. We created MinistryServingMinistry.com to be a resource to those who plan Christian/church events, meetings and retreats. Hopefully you have found our posts to be helpful as you go about doing the work of your ministry.

Just in case you might have missed one, here are the 5 most read posts from 2010:

  1. Creating A Standout Women’s Retreat
  2. Rejuvenate Marketplace: Inspiration For Faith-based Planners
  3. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat
  4. 6 Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Leadership Retreat
  5. 5 Common Meeting Planner Mistakes

Thank you for helping to make our blog’s first year a success. We look forward to continuing to provide you with helpful information in 2011. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have a specific question or topic you would like to see us cover. We’re here to serve you!

Creating A Standout Women's Retreat

Recently I had the opportunity to record our first podcast for Ministry Serving Ministry with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade. Chris and Betsy both work in Women’s ministry here at LifeWay Christian Resources and are experts when it comes to planning events for women. Hopefully you will enjoy what they have to share.