Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome baskets: fall edition

Fall gift bag ideas, from left: cupcakes, candy corns, orange headband, vanilla almond hand lotion
By guest blogger Sharon Naylor 

This is the third in a multi-part series by Sharon Naylor on fall wedding topics. (Read her third piece on fall wedding desserts here.

This fabulous fall weather is a wonderful welcome for out-of-town guests arriving for your wedding weekend. There is a spectacular show of color and texture in the trees and landscape, and you can make their arrival even more special with a welcome basket filled with fabulous fall treats.

When your far-away guests check into their hotels, they’ll be handed -- or discover in their rooms -- bountiful baskets or bags filled with sweets, treats and the very first expression of your gratitude. A handwritten note from you in each basket, printed on stationery paper to match or coordinate with the color of the goodie bag, may read:

“Welcome to (your city)! We’re so glad you traveled all this way to share our celebration with us. Please enjoy these little welcome gifts, and we’ll see you later tonight. (Your names)

The goodie bag:
Your local party supply store, craft store or dollar store will have a wide selection of colorful gift bags on display, and fall color choices include orange, vivid yellow, cranberry, hunter green, eggplant and sapphire. Choosing a deep, rich color that’s within your wedding color palette creates a unified design look, and going with a solid color bag looks the most stylish. You could pick gift bags with pumpkins on them, or fall leaf scenes, but those often cost more. The size of bag to get? At least 8 ½ x 11 inches with sturdy construction and sturdy handles.

DIY enthusiasts, you can dress up these colorful bags with patterned ribbon ties and bows, even braided cord and raffia. Unless you have a rustic theme to your wedding, skip the plain brown paper bags with rubber stamping and other DIY décor that can make it look like you went too far to save money. A cheap goodie bag over-decorated screams that you cut corners.

Now here’s what to put in the guest goodie bags in the fall season:

Edibles:
• Fall-color iced cookies, in rounds or lead shapes with orange, yellow or a mix of icing colors, bought from a site like Cheryl’s or homemade, and bagged in threes.
• Godiva truffles filled with fall flavors such as butter pecan and pumpkin buttercream. Visit Godiva to check out the special fall flavors and styles of not just truffles but decorated brownies, marshmallows and other treats.
• Packets of kettlecorn, in plain flavor or spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
• Packets of hot chocolate and baggies of mini marshmallows
S’mores kit -- A baggie of large marshmallows, a candy bar, and a collection of graham crackers
• Full-sized candy bars
• Collections of mini-sized chocolate bars and candies from the Halloween sales displays
• Packets of candy corns
• Packets of autumn-toned jelly beans
• Packets of autumn-toned M&Ms
• Crisp seasonal apples, such as Honeycrisp or Fuji
Caramel apples wrapped in protective baggies without the nut covering (due to guest allergies)
• Brownies, packaged singly in baggies, either bakery-bought or DIY
• Party snack mix in gourmet flavors
• Unique fruit chips such as banana, apple or pear chips, in baggies
• Bottles of spring water
• Bottles of soda, regular and diet
• Packaged duo of bakery-bought cupcakes in fall décor theme and flavors. This is the #1 goodie basket item of the season!

Wearables
• Fall-themed socks from the dollar store, featuring images of pumpkins, fall leaves, cartoon characters and other fun designs
• Individually wrapped ear plugs. These little foam triangular ear plugs are now increasingly being given out by hotel chains to help you get a good night’s sleep. Find them in the beauty supply store by the swimmer’s ear products.
• Fall color headbands or hair bands

Pampering 
• Autumn-scented hand lotion in mini-size, from Bath & Body Works or your beauty supply store
• Autumn-scented foot lotion in mini-size, coupled with a pair of cotton socks for an end-of-night foot massage
• A mini-room scent mister in a pleasing autumn scent such as pumpkin or vanilla

Entertaining items
Guests who haven’t seen each other in years love to gather in a hotel room for private mingling time, to share a bottle of wine, maybe even order up room service for their own after-party or cocktail hour before an evening wedding. So make it easy for them to entertain their friends in style with the addition of these items to their welcome basket:
• Autumn-themed cocktail napkins
• Autumn-themed appetizer paper plates (pack of eight)
• A wine bottle stopper (see the cute designs at Kate Aspen)
• A pack of autumn color plastic cups (12 or so cups per pack)

A new trend is the inclusion of gift cards, a gift card in a small denomination to a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, or even a $10 gift card to the hotel itself, which guests can apply to their bar tab, room service or anything they want to buy at the gift shop.

A great goodie basket shows your generosity and consideration for your guests’ needs, and you also show your fabulous style and taste with each element. Your guests will be thrilled!

Sharon Naylor is the author of "1001 Ways to Save Money and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding” as well as over 35 additional wedding planning books for brides, bridesmaids and the moms.

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