7 Tips to Create an In-home Retreat for Your Friends, Family, or Associates

“What I do best is share my enthusiasm.” — Bill Gates

Image courtesy of sirikul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of sirikul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You want your critique group, your family, your scrapbooking group, or your Bible study members to spend special time together. You want the experience to be more than a party. You want to bond. But organizing a retreat seems overwhelming.

Whether your house comfortably sleeps 2 or 10 guests, with a little enthusiasm you can create a meaningful getaway in your home. Here are basic tips to help transform your work into a fun experience.

DayDreamTip 1. Before getting into details, dream what the experience might look like.

This is the fun, creative part. The experience won’t mirror your dream, but it’ll set the basis for your preparation. Imagine:

  • your family members away having fun at grandma’s or at the scouts’ camping trip;
  • your guests rearranging their lives in order to come to your retreat;
  • you coming across to your guests as calm and welcoming;
  • your guests conversing around inviting food;
  • your guests laughing during fun activities;
  • your guests having down time to recharge; and
  • everyone absorbing inspiration and renewal.

Tip 2. Make sure your family members are away doing something they enjoy.morning golf 01

During a recent retreat I hosted, my husband stayed with my brother-in-law and played golf. Knowing he was happy, I focused on my guests.

Tip 3. Attending is work for your guests, so minimize their help and expense.

When I slip into a spa, I don’t tote brownies I’ve baked. Before the retreat your guests are already working on such things as:

  • travel,
  • child or adult care,
  • animal care,
  • work delegation, and
  • other responsibilities.

It’s not wrong to have your guests share the workload. But I’m reminded of one guest’s exasperating travel. I was glad I hadn’t asked her to be responsible for one meal.

Tip 4. However, encourage guests to do one or two simple tasks beforehand that put them into the retreat mindset.

Image courtesy of BrandonSigma at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of BrandonSigma at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have them:

  • select a devotional to share,
  • collect items in a shoebox that represent things about themselves for an easy introduction exercise, or
  • think of something to share concerning the theme of your group.

At the recent writers retreat I hosted, we each presented a challenge in our novels for the others to brainstorm. If your guests are knitters, they might demonstrate knitting techniques.

Tip 5. Lower your stress level; keep food preparation during the retreat light and easy.

For some hosts, guests helping in the kitchen is stressful. Following recipes is difficult when guests chat with you. Preparing food ahead frees you to have those wonderful chats.

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • Prepare freezer-friendly-stick-it-in-the-oven dishes ahead of time.
  • Include healthy options. Fresh fruits and raw vegetables are easy.
  • Bake a variety of cookies beforehand. They make good lunchtime desserts and snacks and don’t use refrigerator space.
  • Employ buffets of make-your-own garden salads, sandwiches, or taco salads. Easier for you, and allows guests to select items they like.

Guests have special food needs? Relax. I enjoyed perusing gluten-free recipes online. The cookies and meals I chose were so tasty and easy I served them to everyone.

Tip 6. For enrichment, plan activities around your group’s theme.

  • Have guests share Tip 4’s activities.
  • Show theme-related, how-to YouTube videos you’ve previewed.
  • Do your themed activity together, if possible. (Knit, write, scrapbook, study the Bible)

MP900387329Tip 7. Plan flexible activities that include exercise and recharging. 

  • A walk.
  • Bocce or Badminton
  • Free time for naps, reading, or one-on-one conversations.
  • Picnics in the fresh air.

These are the basics I’ve learned that keep my guests and myself cared for and renewed.

What has made a small retreat special for you?

8 Tips on How to Respond to Fans of Your Creative Work

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”— Winston Churchill

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What are you going to do when:

  • emails pop up about your presentation,
  • comments appear at the end of your blog post,
  • notecards arrive in your mailbox about your art show,
  • mothers stop by your class about your creative teaching,
  • people greet you backstage, or
  • colleagues flock around you after the meeting?MP900390572

Remembering the following tips, you can reply to fans, followers, and admirers with a P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E generosity of spirit that will make them glad they took their time to respond to your creative efforts.

Tips for P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E Replies

P-leasant: No matter what our fans say or how they say it, they own their response to us about our work. We own our reply. If they encourage us, returning a pleasant reply is easy.

If they come across as vindictive, will we change how they feel if we reply with equal fire? We don’t have the full picture of what’s going on in their lives. But we might surprise them if we respond with kindness. If you can’t return kindness, then no reply is best.

Trust Proverbs 25:21-22. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (NIV)

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

O-pen-minded: Often fans aren’t being negative but have a different opinion than ours. We can wrench open the door to our minds and try to understand what they’re saying. We may find we can agree with them to an extent and can affirm that to them. If we still disagree, we can acknowledge they have a viewpoint different from ours.

S-imple: To avoid putting our fans off with a treatise of our opinion or to further educate them, we can keep our response simple. The more we say the more likely we’ll push wrong buttons. Plus, our work excited or touched them enough to respond to us, so we should avoid boring them and lessening their enthusiasm.

I-nterested: Often fans will share an experience similar to ours or add ideas to what we’ve presented. No doubt we’re busy people. But instead of replying with two-second responses, we can give them the respect of two-minutes of our attention. Hopefully they’ll feel encouraged that we’re interested in their thoughts.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

T-rue: Yes, we must avoid lies, but I’m speaking more of genuineness. If we try to impress our fans by morphing into someone we’re not, we risk sounding phony. Fans are smart.

I-mmediate: To have the greatest impact on our fan’s enthusiasm, it’s important we reply as quickly as we can. We want to affirm our fans while they’re still excited about our work. This is another reason to keep our replies simple.

V-alid: Respond to what fans say. If we ignore a point they’re making and reply with self-promotion or something off point, we diminish them. When they solely express their excitement for our work, sticking to appreciating their enthusiasm is probably best.

E-dited: If our response to fans and followers is written, we can take 10 seconds to reread our simple reply. Most of us enjoy responses to our work that come across better than a text message full of abbreviations and typos and no caps. (Unless it is a text message.) If our response is verbal, we can take a second to think before we speak.

FanIf we stay P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E we’ll keep our fans coming back for more of our creative works. For me, like an electric fan, I wave praises to God the Creator. God always replies with mercy and kindness. I keep returning to Him.

What works well in responding to your fans?

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