We set up a simple breakfast in lieu of cheap gifts for my husband's workplace.
I ditched the muffin plan because we've been so sick.
Instead, we offered baskets of different breakfast bars with clementines, apples, bananas--and coffee service with fresh ground beans.
No plates or forks required. Happy New Year napkins (25-cents) and clearance roses ($4) made the table a little bit festive.
Total cost for 100+ people: about $65.
Not nearly as gracious as homemade, but also not early as much work. Or germs.
That sounds VERY nice indeed!
I went into Sam's Club prepared to buy muffins, but I noticed they had Nutrigrain bars 48 in a box for $11--then some type of nut-based granola bar 60 count for $8.
That's when we decided to go for the sealed packaging!
I was lucky that our Walmart store had reduced the price of bagged clementines from $5/bag to $2.50, with about 15 fruits per bag. Bananas are always inexpensive and portable.
I think the key here is to buy a little more than you think you need (we had 2 boxes of bars unopened) knowing that you can return them to the store with receipt.
Why don't you show us the table?
Okay, I added a photo of the flowers but that's all I have. I had a hard enough time getting all the food supplies and tablecloths to the building plus kids. I didn't even bring my camera.
I can't believe you put out cereal bars and call that hospitality.
I think you are amazing and talented. Think of you like a daughter and so proud of you.
I think that is a great idea and I am sure everyone appreciated it.
I love the colors of the foliage with the yellow roses--reminds me of the Flemish masters : )
Good for you making an expedient and thoughtful gift choice (pre-packaged...no germs...love that). So what if it's not your usual! It's a different season of life for your family ... yet you are still giving, and making it beautiful as you do. I'm sure the co-workers were pleased!
I think it is great! Fun and colorful. At my church we can only use prepackaged-it seems to be a growing trend. The flowers are lovely :o)
OK Anonymous 9:20 let's all hear about your exploits so we can see how much better you do WRT hospitality. *eyeroll*
for the anonymous comment ( i always sign my name btw)
if she would have bought donuts, that would have been ok right??
seriously...nutrigrain or store bought muffins...no big difference, except the level of waste...
she also had fruit and fresh coffee...considering, most people skip out on breakfast..and this did NOT have to be done, i think it was likely well received...
but most importantly..if her husband is ok with the spread, since its from hIm and his family....and he's ok "signing" his name to it..i think its ok for you to let go ...
way to go meredith.....i'm glad you got it done... at a decent price...at this season in your life..and that your husband could be proud..and hey you didnt have to buy a new stove, so you are ahead of the game...
Celina in Canada
Meredith, I hope that you know that 99% of us that read your blog love the ideas you come up with. Your blog is so open and honest. Very refreshing. I am sorry that some people (anonymous 9:20) have to try to shoot down your efforts. I think that what you did, the bars, fruit, coffee, and beautiful table were very nice. Something like that speaks from the heart as much as home made muffins etc. I am sure everyone who was there knows you have 3 children, have been sick, and just plain getting past Christmas...anyway. I say GREAT JOB. Roxie
That was a great idea. I can't believe any one would not appreciate it.
What a great idea! That's why I come here.
Muffins are more "breakfast-y," but I think the cereal bars were a great idea. They can be eaten anytime, even on the way back to the workspace.
Sounds like a great spread to me. Personally, I don't like the taste of store-bought muffins, so I think you did well to get the breakfast bars. Fruit, of course, is always a good choice. Best of all, you were able to do this frugally without having to cause yourself a great amount of work and stress. I'm sure this was a very nice welcome back for the employees.
Sounds wonderful, as usual! I know a LOT of people who appreciate the assurance of "germ-free" and I'm sure your presentation was lovely.
This reminds me of an old saying, "You CAN do everything. You just can't do it all at once." Different stages of our lives call for different actions. I think this was a very thoughtful gift.
I always love to see what you are working on.
I thought the original plans called for your husband to set up the spread the night before (or early morning or some such). It sounds nice, except, I, too, don't care for breakfast bars. But you didn't have to do anything, so anything is better than nothing, right?
I think it was a wonderful idea! If they didn't like the breakfast bars, they could eat the fruit. And most people enjoy the gift, even if it's not exactly their taste.
The roses were absolutely beautiful. They look just like the roses in a painting I found that the artist didn't like and put behind a tacky embroidered silk piece. I'll have to get a photo of it up on my blog, but they were so lovely and yours are too!
Hi Meredith! That is so nice-and even the sweet touch of roses! I think that it would be definitely appreciated, especially since the guests probably knows you have a new baby and all of you were sick! :) I have noticed that those who leave rude anonymous comments are usually the jealous type. By the way, wrapped bars would be perfect for people like me who prefer to read the labels before eating. During sick season, it is even better. Angela
Well, anything will have to be better than nothing.
The harder I try, the more I learn that I can't please everyone (and sometimes, anyone).
Yes the "original plans" called for us to set up the night before, which we did, carrying boxes in the rain, with one kid falling asleep in the car and the other crying with a fever.
It amazes me that people will throw details right back at me. I'm one mom doing the best I can. I don't have an obligation to note every change of plans.
This is the kind of thing that seems to always happen to our family. It seems that nearly EVERY time we plan some kind of big event like this, or make some kind of commitment to someone, one of the kids, or my husband or I, end up getting sick ( or, as happened in December, all of the above!). I think that one of the things that moms inevitably find out as their families grow is that your ability to do frugal things gets harder, for at least a while. Little children take a mom's nearly undevided attention, and planning and doing the extras becomes pretty difficult sometimes. I appreciate that you are unafraid to share both the triumps and the not-so-wonderful moments with us.
I am also glad that you have left up the more critical comments. I think it adds more to your blog, actually, because it gives a more true idea of what different people think of different frugal activities. Sometimes controversy is good! Making the call as to whether or not to spend more money on the muffins or just scrap the entire breakfast altogether is a tough call. Thanks for giving us a peek into your real-life struggles as you continue to strive to be a "Merchant Ship" mom!
What a great idea you had.
I like Nutrigrain bars and would be thrilled to have those served instead of the more common (and higher calorie) offering of donuts or muffins.
Sounds lovely. If they don't appreciate it, heck with them.
I can't believe mean people leave comments about you doing something nice for others!
I think its a wonderful idea! My husband returned to work on Monday and had a very hectic 12 hour day. A grab-and-go breakfast of this type would have been *much* appreciated. I may even try something like this next year - nice to give something that stands out from the usual holiday treats. I also love the fact that it fits well with many people's New Year weight-loss plans too - muffins and donuts are so high calorie. I'm sure your presentation was also very elegant.
I actually like the fact that you show us the evolution of your plans. Life happens, illness happens, 3 kids happen, and trade-offs have to be made. Its fun to see that process in a realistic manner. I find your posts so much more encouraging than the blogs where everything is from scratch and perfect. Your posts give me the courage to try hospitality according to my time, abilities, and energy level, rather than waiting for perfection.
Way to go, I know they were blessed. Jackie
The foliage mixed in with those roses is lovely, what is it? What a lovely gift idea, I'm sure it made a day at the office feel so much more special!!
I think one great thing about hospitality is being able to provide it even when life throws you curveballs-sick children, etc. Way to go! It's more than I did for anyone this season...
This was a very nice idea. I find that especially with food I am always determined to do more. However, at my work most people are watching there weight, and I realized this year that it is actually more kind on my part do something more simple, that to bring rich pastries that most people are trying not to eat.
Happy New Year!
Everyone is so weight conscious anymore that sweets are rarely eaten. The fruit was a lovely idea. However, if I had a sick child, I think I would have scraped the whole idea and just stayed home to tend to the child. I'm sure what you did was a nice surprise for the returning employees!
Meredith, that sounds very nice to me! I hope it was appreciated. Thanks for stopping by my blog - its good to see you again. :)
GRACIOUS DOESN'T HAVE TO BE HOMEMADE, GIRL - you rock! I bet you made your husband so proud :)
What a nice sounding breakfast! I do not usually eat breakfast and I would loved that!
You did a great job and with being sick, good job! If it was me, I would have been tempted to cancel!
My mood would have been lifted if my principal had thought of such a display before my first day in the trenches.the smell of coffee, a fresh piece of fruit (there was no fruit in my house) and just showing that you all cared enough to welcome me back. Personally, it is nicer than anything I have been "given" by a principal before. I love my boss- but he thinks pour the juice, that we bought, for in service days is a huge gift to us (or letting us order supplies-lol)
LOL- Can you tell that I just finished teaching all day. Edit before posting- Bowen- Edit!
Sounds very pleasant, I know my husband just returned to work after a couple weeks off (one of the perks of working in an academic setting that off-sets the almost 50% salary cut!) and with the sickies going around we were doing well to get him coffee before he left in the morning, so something like this would have been wonderful for him! IMHO, this was a practical way to accomplish hospitality while taking care of little ones and practicing frugality and actually it reassures me to see that plans don't always work out...as one who fell down on completing and delivering our little homemade goodies to friends & family--yet this was the first year in four that I got Christmas cards out before the 25th!
I'm all for homemade--as you know--but there are times in life that I'm grateful there are alternatives. What a blessing you and your husband are to those people!
1 cordial reception, hospitality
kindness in welcoming guests or strangers
I am amazed by the tone of several anonymous commenters. What I enjoy about "Like Merchant Ships" is sharing in the triumphs and struggles... of Meredith and the frequent commenters. Personally, I thought Meredith's idea was very thoughtful particularly because she is so very busy with her family and still chose to provide the reception for others. Many of us overindulge during the holiday season and whether or not you like breakfast bars, it sounds like there was something healthy and pleasing to most everyone's taste. Which, from the definition above, seems to be right on point.
Your hospitality posts are my absolute favorite! Having had a very bad day I so appreciated having this post to read.
You are amazing and an inspiration!!!!
You did a great job, Meredith! When I was teaching, anytime the administration or parents brought snacks or treats, it was very much appreciated. It didn't matter whether it was homemade or not.
The nice thing about individually packaged items is that someone can easily grab one and eat it later if they so desire. And fruit is always a hit!
I'm sure the presentation was beautiful. :-)
Thanks for the lovely post, I was just informed I've been put in charge of breakfast for 50 next weekend. Minimal budget, no cooking facilities there, a microscopic kitchen ay my home, this is PERFECT! Now I know I can arise to the occasion and do it well. A first time poster, a long time reader.
I'd like to chime in on the chorus of positive comments to the post. I'm not a blogger but a blog reading and infrequent commenter. I read your site for ideas of creative, gracious touches to add to everyday life, including out-of-the-box ideas for hospitality. Thanks for all your inspiration!
I'm not sure why people feel the need to leave their nasty comments over a nice thing that Meredith and her family did for someone. Seriously, if you don't like it, GO AWAY. AND GO AWAY QUIETLY. No one needs your nasty comments, least of all the writer who did a very nice thing, an unnecessary thing at that.
So what you don't like breakfast bars or pre-packaged-no one really cares. WRITE YOUR OWN BLOG. The next time you need to shell out for 100 people chose something different. Oh you don't every shell out for 100 people, thought so....
It really galls me that Meredith would post something nice that her family did and that even one of you would have the nerve to be snotty or rude about it. Just go away.
That anonymous chick just wants to be you, Meredith - She only wishes to be as efficient and classy as you are my friend ---
I just love your ideas and your trusting consideration for others by working with 'packaged' healthy snacks - You are so resourceful and you know how much I love it!
note: anonymous 9:20 - look in mirror and challenge yourself in 2009 to be nice for a change...
Latrice - working mama in the northwest
The roses are beautiful! And I'll bet the breakfast was very nice indeed. Ignore the 9:20 IgnorAnonymous. LOL
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