Move-In Day Family Lounge

On move-in days for first-year students we host a family lounge with refreshments, a chance to write a note of encouragement to students, and an opportunity to chat with faculty, staff, current students, and administrators. The lounge has not been well-attended in the past, so this year we provided an incentive to encourage families to visit us. We offered our families the opportunity to create a goody bag for their student – free of charge. To make this happen with our limited budget, we reached out to our colleagues across campus for swag item donations typically given at recruiting and other outreach events.

To facilitate this event:

  • We had an online RSVP system to estimate how many bags to prepare for. (We didn’t turn anyone away, but simply took their information at the door.)
  • We provided brown handled bags with a large label – one per family at a registration table at the entrance to the room.
  • The family member wrote the student’s name, hall and room number (or address) on the bag label.
  • We set up assembly line type tables with baskets of goodies. Families were advised to take one item from each basket to fill their bag. 
  • Items included lanyards, post-its, pens, pencils, “WMU” stickers, note pads, mini staplers, etc.
  • An individually wrapped “W” cookie from our on-campus bakery was given to the family member at the end of the assembly line to put in the bag.
  • In the center of the room we had an additional swag table with additional items on it. Families could add three items of their choice to their student’s bag to personalize it.
  • We then took the bags and placed them in labeled boxes to deliver the residence halls later in the week.
  • For new students living off campus, we had the bags available in a central location for pick up later in the week.
In addition to the care package station, we had tables to write notes of encouragement to their students. These notes are delivered three weeks into the semester. We offered refreshments, music, balloons, and a resource table. Buster Bronco, our mascot, paid a visit each day for photos and engagement.
If the WMU student came with their family to the lounge, we gave them cookies and directed them to a separate area in the lobby to write a thank you note to their family.
The event was a rousing success (over 600 families signed up) and we will definitely plan to offer this again next year.
Tips for success:
  • Advertise the event as widely as possible prior to move-in day.
  • Arrange the room to control access and also have students to monitor the care package station. Some families and others don’t want to abide by the “one of each item” per student and get carried away.
  • Make sure the bag addresses are legible and complete.
  • Have large boxes pre-labeled for bag delivery and determine ahead of time when and how the bags will be delivered to students.
  • Reach out to colleagues! They are more than willing to give generously and minimize costs.
  • Consider the hours that the lounge will be open in conjunction with move-in times to ensure families have time for everything.
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