Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Expanding on the Welcome Kit

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.


  1. I got a coffee maker and a toaster. I don't drink coffee...want the maker? It's all State Dept equipment right?

  2. Amazing the discrepancies between the posts and the welcome kits. I was truly amazed that in Chennai they gave us fleece comforters in our kits - when the weather was 110 degrees ... And with kids, I could really have used a blender and tupperware ... though I understand those are just luxuries.

  3. Ask the GSO for the spreadsheet with what's included before you pack your UAB. My welcome kit here contains salad tongs, a bread basket, a cheese grater, and a one-liter pitcher... but no hand towels, bath mats, or towels big enough to dry off an entire person.

  4. We had the disposable one in Frankfurt, it had pots so thin that when I boiled water to make mac and cheese the pan warped, the lowest thread count sheets I have ever seen and awful blankets that were made out of some itchy synthetic stuff and did nothing to keep you warm. The knives were cheap, serrated and wold not cut anything except apparently my finger. We did however have a decent coffee maker and a toaster. No TV!

  5. I got a coffee maker! But the power has been out almost non-stop for the past 24 hours, so it's worthless. I'm almost ready to resort to gnawing on a bag of lipton.

    Best of all? I got a springform pan. Because sometimes, when you're jetlagged and new to a place, you just wanna whip up a cheesecake.

  6. We just packed up our welcome kit here in Nouakchott, and good riddance! We got a coffee maker, but no filters, and there are none to be found here. We got a baby crib, but it's the infant kind, so our 1-year-old could climb right out of it. Got a microwave (didn't work), shower curtain that did not even come close to fitting around the tub/shower combo, and...wait for it....a pizza stand.

    Love your blog, keep it coming.

  7. LOL. This picture brings back some horrible memories. The dreaded welcome kit. It only takes one before you learn to mail yourself a welcome kit to your new post. The towels are a joke, but my absolute favorite is the bedspread. Nice and scratchy. Perfect for a great night's sleep and maybe even a cut or two if you are lucky.

    Actually, rethinking that. I think my favorite are the pans. You know, the ones you have to add oil to in order to fry bacon...no joke. : )

  8. Complete Welcome or Hospitality Kits are available on GSA Advantage and DOD E-Mall Web Store:http://www.gsaadvantage.gov
    just SEARCH for Hospitality Kit or Welcome Kit