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Handling Large Group Events

This weekend 30 people from the Seattle Flickr Meetup Group descended upon the Nordic Center at Stevens Pass for a day of showshoeing and photography.  I joined this group about a year ago when I found out about it through my blog activities – if you’ve ever clicked on one of my photos (at least those used since April 2005) you’ll have gone to my photostream out on the Flickr photo sharing site.  Several months after I’d started using Flickr another member pinged me to join a Seattle Food and Drink pool.  Once part of that pool I heard about the Meetup Group through the message board.  I attended a meeting last year and now am one of the organizers of the group and administrators for the group photo pool
This trip to Steven’s was our first really big event.  The group has done several hikes and taken the ferry over to Bainbridge Island but for this event we decided to leave early in the morning (at least early for some folks), rent a bus for the trip and as part of the deal provide a little breakfast and snacks for the way home. 
I was the organizer for the event and mostly had a blast pulling it all together but also went back and forth between excitement and worry since the total dollar outlay for the trip was pretty high and I wanted to make sure we broke even on the whole thing. 
Well, it all turned out really well and I was even able to refund everyone $5 from the original fee!
Since this is a food-related blog what I am getting to here is that when planning for large groups places like Costco and Cash and Carry are indispensable.  I know I’ve talked about Costco many times but for this trip I used them for all of the breakfast baked goods (muffins, croissants, bagels and Danish); two brands of yogurt; bottled water; fruit; freshly baked cookies; candy bars; soft drinks; chips; and granola bars.  I probably forgot one or two things but you get the idea. 
Cash and Carry helped out with paper bags, handi-wipes, and napkins. 
The only things I bought from "regular" stores were beer – and this was only because we were only allowed cans on the bus and Costco only carries bottles, and ice.  We rounded out the whole thing with Coffee Travelers from Starbucks
Now here is the thing that is sometimes hard to get your head around.  I actually had too much food.  However, I paid less for too much than I would have paid to get exactly enough at a traditional store.  Weird, isn’t it? 
And the quality of the food – especially those freshly made breakfast items and cookies – is better than grocery stores and in many cases rivals even bakeries. 
So when planning a large group activity, or even a large party at your home, make sure you check all your local resources.  You may be pleased at what you find!
Now if I could just figure out a way to get them to do all the packing, hauling and cleanup…

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