View Full Version : Retreat favor ideas

August 31st, 2010, 08:30 AM
Hi Fellow Quilters!

I run a retreat in Northern MI twice a year for my bee and a few additional friends. This November will be our 21st retreat. Since I do this as a volunteer (in other words, not for profit) I try to make inexpensive things for the gals as favors. Through the years I've done several pin cushions, snap bags, pocket kleenex holders and probably more that I can't think of right now. Sometimes I give away products such as "purple things", quilters pins and fat quarters. One year I found some nice toothbrush holders for 50 cents and gave them away with quilters pencils. Some of the gals still use them for pencils and such! I'm willing to try any idea because frankly, I'm out of ideas!

I had thought the deal of the day might work great - get some inexpensive charm packs but since you can only get one, well, that shot that idea down!

Does anyone have any ideas for something I can give the gals? My budget comes out of my own pocket so I'm thinking $2.50 to $3.00 a person would be good. I'm willing to put in the time making something if I can figure out what to make. I know quilters love pin cushions but gee, how many can we use? :-)

Does anyone have any ideas? Something they've seen or perhaps received at a quilting related event?

Thanks in advance!! I'm new to this site, taking a few minutes every night to read. I've already found an idea for a Christmas gift for my sister in law.


August 31st, 2010, 10:25 AM
Hi Julie

What Fun!!!!! I recently bought a pair of scissors and it came with a LANYARD. I found a web site that sells them and they are pretty inexpensive. It's kind of nice and although mine is made for my scissors and has a rubber cover that is attached to the lanyard, I think you could find something that can attach to the small scissors and the lanyard that allows you to stretch the scissors out to where you need to trim some thread etc...

Here is the website: http://www.namifiers.com/products/Lanyards.aspx?

Hope you find something fun and unusual for your retreat!


August 31st, 2010, 11:00 AM
How about a coaster? You could make simple block designs from scraps about 6 inch square or even hexagons or octogons and use a relatively heavy batting. Or use an ironing board cover for the backing fabric. Make them all different, or all the same as the spirit and fabric moves you.

August 31st, 2010, 12:26 PM
I like the lanyard idea. I saw some girls at a quilt show that had their scissors on lanyards made out of fabric that looked like tape measures. It looked really fun. I don't know where they got the fabric from but it was lovely.

August 31st, 2010, 01:14 PM
Jenny shares the lanyard idea on one of the msqc tutorials! :)

I personnaly would hang myself if i had my snippet scissors around my neck all the time!! LOL

hugs, Suzi :)

August 31st, 2010, 06:06 PM
Pot holders maybe? They go quick and maybe put 2 to a pack.

Bookmarks. I've seen those patterns for free out there too. Instead of making them pieced, maybe you could just get some material with a sewing theme on them and make them as a whole piece. Just use something as a stabilizer so they aren't so flimsy and turn them right side out. Hmmm, maybe I'll make some of those myself.


September 1st, 2010, 07:49 AM
Good morning ladies, thanks for all the responses!

I love the lanyard idea and especially the ones using a tape measure fabric. I did some research and found one that uses fabric - cut two strips, seam the sides, turn and finish the ends. I'm wondering if I should use stabilizer on the fabric because it might stretch. I also checked out the premade ones and they're made with more of a canvas type (heavier duty) of material so I'm wondering if I should use grosgrain ribbon. I was unable to find the tutorial someone mentioned from MSQC on making a lanyard. I think a field trip to Joanns might be in order!

Speaking of lanyards, I was at a flea market a few years ago and bought one that was specifically made for water bottles. I bought it, wore it that day but haven't worn it since.

I used to make nametags for this group but making new ones every time got old. So a couple retreats ago I found someone with a cricut and she cut out the names, I laminated them and attached them with a clip to some mardi gras beads. Now I only have to make new nametags for new people. Why did it take me 9 years to figure that one out? :D

Your posts made me think about what I have done. I have done bookmarks. I've done rectangle ones using a stacked coin pattern (miniature!), I've done the ones that are triangular and fit on the corner of your page and I've done book "thongs". The gals loved the thongs . . . they're just a piece of cattail with beads on either end. The cattail goes through the spine of the book and the beads stick out the ends. I've also printed and laminated bookmarks where I put the date and theme of the next retreat on it gave it to them as they left.

I've done coasters too. For our western theme I made them out of old denim using ragged edges and stenciling a cowboy hat on them with a bleach pen. Worked great. Recently we had a puzzle theme and I made everyone a batik coaster with a nine patch resembling a sudoku.

I've also done potholders but just the ones that are sort of a heart shaped mit. I haven't done any square ones. That's a great idea to use an ironing pad for the silver part. I bought the quilted silver stuff and it was pretty expensive. I may save that idea for our March retreat.

Now you can see why I'm running out of ideas! Thank you so much for taking time to reply. I'm going to take the lanyard idea and run with it! The gals can use them for their snippers or for their keys.

I hope you all have a wonderful day. It's off to work I go!


September 1st, 2010, 11:15 AM
sounds great! i thought of a ocuple other ideas but ask again in the spring and i will see if can remember then LOL
tell us more about your retreat - is it in Michigan? I was born and raised in Kalamazoo!! Now in DeLand - near Daytona Beach Florida.

post pictures when you get the lanyards done - we want to see :)

hugs, Suzi :)

September 1st, 2010, 11:27 AM
Blimey, your girls are very lucky. You obviously put a lot of time and thought into your gifts.

September 1st, 2010, 07:30 PM

This is the fabric I was thinking of, I think it's by American Jane.

September 2nd, 2010, 08:07 AM
I'm pretty sure I've seen that fabric in my local store. I know they carry a lot of American Jane Fabrics. I'm going to check this weekend. Thanks for the heads up on it.

Yes, I do a lot for the ladies but then again they've done a lot for me too. I've been with this same quilting bee for 28 years now - every month. They were the support group that got me through a lot of tough times in my life.

As you all know, quilters are very special people!

BTW, I meant rattail above, not cattail . . . sheesh, I shouldn't type early in the morning!


September 2nd, 2010, 11:48 AM
How about buying some packages of inexpensive white notes/envelopes and print quilt motifs/designs on the front of each note. If you bought say a box of 20, you could package them up for each person with 5 in each pack, tied with a ribbon. Or recipe cards, buy plain and print.
I've even seen cute postcards that have fabric sewn on.
Just a thought if you are skilled at that type of thing.

September 3rd, 2010, 08:22 AM
That's another great idea Patti . . . it's a good excuse to replace my printer cartridges too. There used to be some store in town where you could get plain notecards and envelope, I'm going to have to check to see if they're still there.

I've seen the postcards too. Some of the gals in my bee have made them. They're really cute but wow, it's a lot of work for something the Post Office is just going to mess up. They do seem to hold up well though.

A girlfriend of mine took some pictures of some barn quilts while she was traveling through the midwest this summer. She mounted the photographs on notecards and they look great. She also framed 3 of them and gave it as a thank you gift to the person who fed her cats while she was away . . . that would be yours truely! It looks great in my sewing room. Barn quilts and barn quilt tours are getting very popular.

Suzi, forgot to answer you earlier. I'm from the Grand Rapids area and my retreat is in Cadillac. You're one of those people I think about in February when it's cold and dreary . . . thinking why the heck didn't I move to Florida!


September 3rd, 2010, 11:39 AM
Photograph is a good idea! I manage a stationery store where we do in-store printing and know that you can produce a nice personalized note on your home computer yourself. I would probably try to use something small on the front so that you don't have to use up so much expensive ink!
Good luck and let us know what you end up doing!
ps - I am originally from Ludington, Michigan, but lived in Charlevoix and have spent alot of time traveling the state. My ex played fastpitch softball so we were all over the place every weekend years ago! Spent alot of time in Cadillac.

September 8th, 2010, 07:27 PM
I found some pencil boxes that have a snap on the outside and slide inside a sleeve. They are about the right size for a pair of snipping scissors, marking pencils, and other stuff. They are semi-rigid so they will protect your gear, but not be too clunky. I think they ran about a $1 each at the office supply stores. I have also seen some nice little scissors that run about $2 to $3.
You might also keep an eye out for "clearance" items that can be picked up for super cheap. You can make little drawstring bags from fabric scraps and then the "retreaters" can pick their own prize. They can swap with each other to get something they want/need. That way you don't have to find 30 of some particular thing.
If you budget is really tight, you could do a fat quarter swap. Everybody brings a fat quarter and they can all go in a basket. The participants each get a number and they get to pick a FQ from the bin. Everybody leaves with something new, and it didn't cost you a fortune!
Good luck with your retreat! It sounds like you make it a fun time for everyone who attends.

September 22nd, 2010, 11:38 AM
these ideas are great. i wish to some day attend a bee. but not for a while. have a child.. no babysistter.. some day...

September 22nd, 2010, 11:53 AM
I'm in Michigan too Jules, but on the other side of the state, near Saginaw. My brother lives in Grand Rapids though at Gentex Industries. Nice to see another Michigander on the boards!! The lanyards that Jenny showed how to make used the strings that wrap the Jelly Rolls or Layer Cakes from Moda. A way to reuse them! I haven't made mine yet, but plan on it soon!

September 22nd, 2010, 12:28 PM
how about getting every one to make a small item with a budget limit and then they can swap them. make it a bit of fun by everyone sitting in a circle with the gift they have made (wrapped of course) and then roll a die and pass the gifts that many spaces to the left. :)

I love the idea of a quilting meeting and wished i lived closer :D

September 24th, 2010, 12:45 AM
There are so many good ideas for gifts for your retreat! I will be anxious to hear what you decided on!
Is there a tutorial for making the lanyards from the strings on the jelly rolls? I have several here, that I will hopefully be using soon, and would love to make a lanyard from the Moda ties. Thanks in advance for the help on this.
Another game you could play with the die rolling is to ask a question (quilting or sewing related) and whoever answers it correctly gets to keep the gift in their hands OR they can choose one that is being held by another gal that's still in the game. You could play this with the gift unwrapped or wrapped.

November 14th, 2010, 06:04 PM
I once read that when your scissors is on a lanyard, to protect you from accidents of the scissors opening, buy a package of knitting needle tip protectors made of rubber. Slip the closed tip of your scissors inside of one & no more accidents. :D

February 24th, 2011, 03:00 PM
I live in Canada. I go to many many retreats, sometimes a couple a month during the fall/winter. I go whenever I can and can't get enough. At the retreats I go to, there are little gifts available: gadgets from the dollar store, sometimes spools of thread, small plastic storage containers - whatever the girls can find that doesn't cost too much. Sometimes just a nice chocolate. The last retreat we all received 4x6 notebooks from Michael's, cost $1.00 each. By the end of the retreat (4 days by way each time I go) everyone was writing little notes to themselves in their 'quilters diary' as they got to be called.

mollys learning to quilt
February 24th, 2011, 07:31 PM
I'm in Michigan too Jules, but on the other side of the state, near Saginaw. My brother lives in Grand Rapids though at Gentex Industries. Nice to see another Michigander on the boards!! The lanyards that Jenny showed how to make used the strings that wrap the Jelly Rolls or Layer Cakes from Moda. A way to reuse them! I haven't made mine yet, but plan on it soon!

Is there a tutorial on the lanyards? I would love to do some

February 24th, 2011, 08:02 PM
have a raffle. each attendee gets a ticket for drawing for like a pattern...

February 24th, 2011, 08:35 PM
Hi Julie

Jenny said they use the cute 'ribbon's that Moda uses to wrap their jelly rolls to make lanyards for the girls at MSQC. Almost free if you have them or if you have friends who save them. I don't have any at the moment but I would donate any I do get before November if you'd like them.


February 25th, 2011, 12:32 AM
We also have measuring tape twill tape. It should be in the trim section online. I'll have to look for it, it is darling. Good luck finding something to do! Lanyards are great!

April 27th, 2011, 11:55 AM
Make a mug rug, they are cute, quick and you use up your scrap stash.

May 15th, 2011, 11:18 PM
Instead of making them pieced, maybe you could just get some material with a sewing theme on them and make them as a whole piece. Just use something as a stabilizer so they aren't so flimsy and turn them right side out.

June 20th, 2011, 02:16 PM
Some one asked where they could find directions for the tape measure lanyard -- here is where it is

June 20th, 2011, 02:24 PM
thank you for the link! Very cute!

July 29th, 2011, 01:38 PM
I love these fabric bowls, they are easy to make and fairly cheap depending on how big you make them, they are washable and turn inside out for a different look


July 31st, 2011, 01:55 PM
This is an idea that might be cute, Mug Bucket Organizer http://www.homesew.com/bkk1351.html you could either pick up the mugs at a doller store or have them bring one and have the organizers to put in them. Instead of purchasing the pattern you may be able to find a free one online. Also what about a pressing pad they could use on a table when the ironing board isn't real handy. Both could made from scraps of fabric.

July 31st, 2011, 04:38 PM
this idea came from alberta quilter's post How about a crayon rollup?

August 22nd, 2011, 11:31 PM
How about giving out bags of assorted scraps (each person's bag can be the same, or they can all be different) - each bag should have the same yardage, and no scrap should be smaller than 3 inches square. Then you could turn it into a challenge, have eveeryone create a block or design a mini quilt out of the scraps and bring their creation to the next meeting.

August 23rd, 2011, 06:47 PM
Since it's close to the holidays, how about an ornament of some kind.

August 23rd, 2011, 06:55 PM
I picked up wooden chop sticks at a dollar store once. They're great for poking out those corners if you can find them.

September 1st, 2011, 01:00 PM
I came across this a while ago and saved the website because I was going to make one for myself and one for my daughter when we take a class. I think it would be PERFECT for what you're looking for. And best of all...very inexpensive.

If you do decide to make it...I'll take one too! ha ha

September 1st, 2011, 01:06 PM
The coaster idea is wonderful also. I've made these coasters in sets as gifts. For a Christmas gift or to match a quilt that I was gifting or that I know would match someones taste. You could make them in a sewing theme as your gift. They're super easy but don't look it! Love that!


August 12th, 2012, 04:22 PM
You can get boxes of A4 envelopes at Office Depot for a relatively inexpensive price. For the blank cards: if you cannot find them inexpensively with card and envelope, use 8.5 x 11 inch cardstock and cut in half across the 8.5 inch (width of paper). This gives you two A4 cards from each piece of cardstock. This would also give you more color choices from which to make your note cards. Look for coupons to print multiple prints inexpensively. Get yourself a role of double faced scrapbook tape and attach the prints to the cards. Michaels also has $1 stamps and maybe you could fine some little one(s) that say "hello" "thinking of you" -- general sentiments that you could stamp just below the picture on the front of the cards. Tie together with ribbon or twine in sets of 4, 6 or 8. If you don't have quilt motifs you find online, take close up photos of some of your quilts -- just a section of the quilt that shows a block or two or just one -- and print those to put on the notecards.

Cathy F
August 12th, 2012, 09:21 PM
At the quilt retreat I go to each year everyone receives a welcome gift. It is a kit that includes the fabric and the supplies needed to complete a small project. We usually set aside a block of time where we all put it together as a mini class although some take theirs home to do as they are fairly simple and come with great directions.

Some of our projects included-

mini christmas stockings
a wristlet purse
a compact sewing caddy
machine cover

This is alot of fun and I look forward to it each year, and the person running the retreat doesn't have to put them all together, she just supplies the small amounts of fabric and supplies needed.

August 15th, 2012, 05:37 PM
Do you have an embroidery machine?

The Zipper Cases from Five Star Fonts (free file download) (http://fivestarfonts.com/free-designs-fonts-and-more-/cat_8.html) are very popular as gifts.

DigiStitches has a fun free Monogrammed business card holder (http://www.digistitches.com/monogrammed-business-card-holder.html) too.

Or if you don't have an embroidery machine you may enjoy this:
Couch Pincushion Tutorial (http://www.rileyblakedesigns.com/cutting-corners/2012/03/30/dainty-blossoms-couch-pincushion/)

August 15th, 2012, 10:51 PM
Buy them a new toilet brush that they can use to pick up thread out of their carpet. I am sure they would get a good laugh out of receiving one. (I also found that a cheap broom does a good job on this, too.)

August 26th, 2012, 12:55 PM
I have a to of cute pin cushions, but my favorites are wrist pin cushions. If you've ever watched any of the tutorials from www.handiquilter.com the quilters are always wearing wrist pin cushions that look like flowers. I ordered one of them so I could see how they are made and make others. They're very simple to make, and I used velcro instead of elastic. Here's a link to a free tutorial on somethng similar:


This link is for a wrist pin cushion made in a hoop with machine emboridery:


August 30th, 2012, 09:40 PM
Have you seen the coasters made out of a simple ceramic tile? It's easy as pie, you clean it, you cut the scrap paper 1/4 inch smaller, layer of modge podge, put on the paper, 2 layers of modge podge, allowing each to dry between layers, and then acrylic spray, 2 layers. I think the tute I saw said she paid 20 cents each for the tiles at Home Depot.

I'm going to make these in sets for Christmas this year. Make each lady one to use and take home.

August 30th, 2012, 09:50 PM
Find a simple quilt block pattern and make up lil kits to put into ziplock baggies so each one can make that block! A block kit! Something simple like a friendship star! Or the Disappearing 9 patch.

August 30th, 2012, 10:05 PM
You do know this thread is a year old....right? He He

August 31st, 2012, 05:52 PM
I didn't really care. Someone is always going to or hosting a retreat. And you can use these same ideas for stocking stuffers or friend gifts. Information is information.

And, if this is a year old, then she is probably getting ready to have another retreat, and might look here to see what was posted. :icon_wave:

November 13th, 2012, 09:17 AM
Actually the thread is over a year old and I've had several retreats since then and have used some of the ideas here. I'm rereading it now for ideas for my March 2013 retreat. Those coffee cup caddies look pretty interesting!

At this last retreat I passed out instructions ahead of time and we played quilt bingo. Each gal made her own "card" out of fabric and I made them a mini bingo duffle bag with buttons for markers. The "cards" were colors and types of fabric. For example, I called blue batik, red hearts or yellow 1030's. The gals were given the basic layout for colors and they had to choose their fabric type from a list I gave them. We played for fat quarters ... I purchased them all for $1.00 each from a quilt store that was going out of business. (nice find but sad!) They loved it!

I've done a lot of coasters over the years, lots of pin cushions, lanyards and beaded fobs. The ladies love it and I like to do little projects that only take an hour or so. I hope all of you get a chance to go to a quilt retreat sometime. It's a productive weekend, we get a lot of projects done plus have a great time and lots of laughs. Quilters are a special group. They like to have fun, make friends and they also have very big hearts as seen with the huge number of charity quilts made over the years.

Thank you again for all of your suggestions. I think I need to check in more often!


November 13th, 2012, 10:35 AM
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this thread! So many terrific ideas!!!! Barb

Cathy F
November 13th, 2012, 10:50 AM
A friend of mine does a key holder. It's a piece of fabric that she sews a strip of pretty ribbon to and on the end is a metal thing that you slip your keys on to. It looks like a strap to a wristlet purse and goes around your wrist. Wish I could describe it better for you.

February 25th, 2013, 09:01 PM
Keep the ideas coming!! I plan a "Crop and Quilt" in our very small community and we have a local lady who does amazing pottery! We purchased a bowl for everone ($6 each) we do have a good budget though! We planned all our meals around the bowls, ie soup and bun, taco salad, fruit salad etc. Everyone used their bowls for every meal and then washed their own dishes! It worked great! We also gave everyone reusable shopping bags for a favor! We used ones from Baggu, they are fun and bright colors! I am in Alberta Canada and a lot of places now charge if you shop at their store for plastic bags, they are encouraging reusable shopping bags all the time!

We charge $75 for our retreat and that includes a 6 foot table and 4 meals and goodies! We have enough people that attend to get some good favors! I am always looking for ideas so I am glad this thread is still going!! Keep the ideas coming!

February 25th, 2013, 11:18 PM
Jelly thimbles? http://quiltbug.com/supplies/thimbles.htm

New York Sue
February 25th, 2013, 11:37 PM
Some ideas don't grow old.
Great thread!

February 26th, 2013, 11:52 PM
I have enjoyed reading thru the posts here, regardless of how old or not they are. Many times I learn new things. :)
A idea for me to share, My friend bought sundae dishes and made pin cushions out of them for everyone in her sewing group. It was adorable.

March 4th, 2013, 11:22 PM
here are some other lanyards to make. just double click the pic to get directions: http://pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=sewing+lanyard

March 21st, 2013, 09:10 PM
If I were at a retreat I would enjoy and appreciate a mug rug.

March 27th, 2013, 01:21 AM
Hello Julie, I just got home from my annual quilt retreat and this year I painted wine glasses for the ladies. The glasses are not expensive at all and though the paint does cost to gather a lot of colors, it goes along way. The ladies loved them. I used mine for my orange juice at breakfast. I set them all on the table and let them pick their own. They just loved them. Remember if you make them to bake them. Hope this helps! 4379143792

March 27th, 2013, 01:32 AM
We received these cute mug organizers one year at our retreat, it is darling and I use mine everyday. As a matter of fact, I have made them as gifts. Also, we did a make and take this year of a project tote bag that was made with fabric and clear vinyl. We also arrived to pick out our tables and found iron tables that the one end sits on the edge of the table with legs on the other end and it had a cute cover on it. Fabric coasters, totes, and here is an awesome idea. Walmart now sells the plastic containers we use for our projects for $3.47. We won these that had other smaller gifts inside. What a great idea! I'll think of some other fun things that we have received and add them here. Oh and yes, you can find the coffee cup organizer pattern for free and there is a youtube.com video also that is awesome, they made up very fast. Enjoy!

May 25th, 2013, 01:38 PM
I'm so glad to read all these great ideas -- yes Keep this thread going!!! Love how many cute mug rug patterns are out there. I make a pretty good size purse only using the Home Dec Ordering scraps - they sell these for about 1.00 each? Each one is big enough for the bottom 1/2 of the purse, I used 1/2 of another coordinating color for the top and the straps. Maybe they take about 30 minutes to sew and for about $3.00 all the materials! Oh I make a tab style closure and grab any button from a too big stash. Line in a poly/cotton with a small pocket inside and Ta Da! hm maybe I'll write a quick tut on this - But really it's the Home Dec ordering Scraps the fabric stores sell by the tons when the new line of fabrics are coming in!

Already bookmarked several ideas - Thanks what a great read!

Iris Girl
May 25th, 2013, 08:04 PM
This is an idea that might be cute, Mug Bucket Organizer http://www.homesew.com/bkk1351.html you could either pick up the mugs at a doller store or have them bring one and have the organizers to put in them. Instead of purchasing the pattern you may be able to find a free one online. Also what about a pressing pad they could use on a table when the ironing board isn't real handy. Both could made from scraps of fabric.

these are great we did them with my quilty girls as a class48124

May 26th, 2013, 04:09 PM
This was fun to read. I come back to it once in awhile to get ideas for the Christmas swap. If you do have an embroidery machine this is my favorite for in the hoop designs. You could get lost in there for a couple of hours. lol


Pretty scissors case


Here's a fun tut for a case if you don't have an embroidery machine. 3 pockets!


May 26th, 2013, 04:49 PM
A while back I saw the 'tape measure' fabric at WalMart. I'm sure you can find it by Googling it. Good luck!!