This past weekend I hosted a writing retreat in my hometown. Several people have asked me how it went, and my answer is always: "It could not have gone better!" We seriously had the most amazing time and I'm already looking forward to next year!
As I thought through our retreat, I've pinpointed some of the reasons it went so well. If you're planning to host a writing retreat (or any ladies retreat for that matter), here are some tips for success:
1. Enlist Good Helpers. This is probably my number one piece of advice. I had the help of my sister, my cousin, and one of my best friends. If I had tried to tackle this event myself, I would be a complete wreck! Instead, I enjoyed myself and loved the comradery with these ladies. They were completely competent and confident in their roles, and that allowed me to do what I needed to do.
My friend Alena (left) and my sister Andrea (right) at Costco
the morning of the retreat.
They created the most delicious food!
Including warm, fresh,
blueberry sauce. Mmm...
3. Choose a Relaxing Setting. Sometimes you're able to host a retreat in a mansion on the banks of the Mississippi, and sometimes it's in your own home. No matter where the retreat, try to encourage a relaxing atmosphere. The best way to do that? Be relaxed yourself. I had a couple ladies tell me this past weekend that when the hostess is relaxed, it enables them to relax. No one needs to know when something doesn't go right. The guests are there to retreat from life's stress--so let them.
5. Plan Time to Work, Play, and Relax. But don't force people to do what you want them to do. I planned an itinerary, but I told everyone the weekend was theirs to do what they wanted. Some people came on the walking tour I gave, some watched the fireworks, some enjoyed a romantic comedy I played on a big screen, and others took walks. Some chose to brainstorm, some chose to write, and some chose to just visit and fellowship with other writers. I wanted each person to come away from the weekend feeling inspired, relaxed, and excited to keep pursuing their writing goals.
|Brainstorming on the front porch.|
|An impromptu dance lesson and sing-along.|
|Enjoying the beautiful sunset.|
|On a historic walking-tour of my hometown.|
|A little browsing and shopping downtown.|
|Campfire on the banks of the Mississippi River.|
The retreat happened to be on the same
weekend as a local festival and we had
front row seats to the fireworks! I planned
next year's retreat on the same weekend
so we'll have fireworks again.
7. Have a Fun Memento for Everyone to Take Home. I wanted something meaningful for each lady to bring home from the retreat, but I didn't want to spend too much, so I came up with a fun idea. I copied each lady's Facebook profile picture and then had them printed. I put the picture in the center of a piece of cardstock and invited the ladies to write one word to describe each person. At the end of the weekend, I put them inside a clear frame and sent them home with the ladies to remember the retreat, but more importantly, I want them to know how special they are.
8. Invite Your Best Friends. Only kidding! :) My real advice is to be warm and welcoming. The beauty of a retreat is that at the end you'll consider each woman a friend. There were a couple ladies who attended that I had never met before, and I was so happy to get to know them better. It's a wonderful way to bond and grow in friendship.
I'd love to hear from you! Have you hosted a woman's retreat before? Have you attended one? What advice do you have?
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