Based on a few comments and some of the search terms leading people to this blog, I guess there is some interest in the vaunted welcome kits. So I'll indulge.
That black chest is the bulk of the welcome kit in all of its glory. As mentioned in one of the comments by Something edited this way comes, there appears to be a movement toward disposable welcome kits; this seems entirely wasteful to me, but it probably is just a drop in the bucket compared to our nation's budgetary problems. Our welcome kit is of the nondisposable nature, which means we have to account for everything in it when we return it and everything needs to be in decent shape, or we have to pay some sort of penalty.
Given some of the items we received, I'd be curious as to what is in the disposable kits. We do have some pots and pans; granted they aren't the highest of quality, but they are reusable. We also have table settings for four and some Pyrex storage containers. All reusable.
The welcome kit also includes a microwave and television (obviously are not brand new), which I'm assuming those are in the disposable kits but probably are not to be disposed.
As Jen points out in another comment, much of what we receive in the welcome kit is not exactly top-of-the-line quality. So if there is something you can't live with out, say for example, comfortable, non-terry cloth towels, then you might as well bring your own and not rely on the State Department's towels.
Here is a little peak into our welcome kit to give you an idea of what we aren't using. Hangers, towels, wash cloths, bed spreads and a few kitchen items mostly such as a salt-and-pepper grinder (cheap enough just to buy some at the store), flatware (brought a set of our own), and a butter dish. That was one of the "What the F!@$" moments when going through the box. You mean we can have this all-important, can't-live-without butter dish, but you couldn't spring for a toaster or coffee maker?!?
We got a pie pan, which is another interesting inclusion considering we don't have a rolling pin to roll out the dough, or a pastry blender to make the dough. But I'm sure there are better cooks out there that I've figured this one out as I often fall flat when it comes to being a pastry chef.
And oh, how could I forget that they also provided a sugar bowl. You know, for in case if I want to add sugar TO MY COFFEE!!!! Argh! Where is my coffee pot?!? (Obviously, I'm not getting my regular dose of morning caffeine.)
Hope that helps for all of you first-time-diplomats-to-be as you start packing for your new adventures.
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