Having flowers delivered to a dorm?
October 25, 2010 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Girlfriend's birthday is coming up and it would make her day to get some flowers. Small problem, she is away at school. How can I have the flowers sent to her dorm?

I have never ordered flowers online before, and to the best of my knowledge nobody else I know has either.

What is the best way to handle this? I sent her gifts/packages before and the way it works at her school is any packages get held at a mail center, nothing is ever sent to her actual dorm(building or room). I suppose it is similar to an apartment building where you have a small box for letters and such but packages are held for you at a desk.

On sites like 1800flowers you can have Same-Day delivery by a local florist which is what I would prefer as the flowers come all nicely arranged, not just in a box. How would the delivery be handled? They definitely would not be able to access her dorm building so would the flowers just be left at the mail center desk like a package?

Surely someone else out there has done this before!
posted by Funky Claude to Grab Bag (26 answers total)
I would make a direct call to a florist in her area and make a delivery request over the phone with a credit card - it's cheaper and easier than going through a secondary service like Teleflora or 1-800 Flowers. Calling the florist directly also gives you a bit more control about how your arrangement will look, and you can discuss where they will make the delivery.
posted by analog at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Flower delivery is more similar to pizza delivery than package delivery - generally they will want you to give her dorm name/addess/room number (as each dorm will almost definitely have a street address) rather than her mailbox number.

If the students can't actually order food delivery, then you may be SOL, but I find that highly unlikely. Find out how she makes that work, then see if there are any florists around the school who may be familiar with dorm delivery.
posted by muddgirl at 1:34 PM on October 25, 2010

someone i know sent me flowers once while i was at school; the delivery person left them at the front desk of the mail room. i think someone may have called me on the phone in the dorm to tell me i had a package waiting. this worked because it was a small school. can you call the school and ask if they'll just keep them somewhere convenient while they contact your girlfriend?
posted by janepanic at 1:36 PM on October 25, 2010

Don't order online. Google and get a local florist in her town. Call them and ask how they deliver to her school, they do it on a daily basis, I guarantee.
posted by iconomy at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

In my experience, mail centers have been manned by student workers. You should be able to hunt down a phone number and give them a call. I figure all you need to do would be to ask them directly if they'll make sure to hold the flowers for her.

If you can't get a hold of them, would you consider sending paper/cloth flowers?

There is one thing you shouldn't do that my friends and I joke about. Don't enlist one of her guy friends to deliver it for you.
posted by just.good.enough at 1:38 PM on October 25, 2010

Don't use one of those big florist aggregaters like 1800flowers. Just google and find a couple of local florists, then call them directly.

First off, you are more likely to get a nicer arrangement or at least you'll know what flowers she's actually getting (there's a risk of major substitutions if you pick something online and the florist who get's the order doesn't have the same flowers). And they may have very well dealt with this situation before, and can tell you what to do. Are you sure there isn't a front desk or something at her dorm? That's where flowers were sent in my college days, and who ever was attending the desk would call the room.
posted by kimdog at 1:39 PM on October 25, 2010

Online florists and 1-800-flowers (access to which used to involve a phone) do not, in my experience, deliver a high quality product. The best approach to finding a floral vendor is to approach a local (to you) florist known to deliver a well crafted product (or some florist somewhere whose work is known and valued by someone you know), and let them find a florist local to her to deliver flowers chosen and arranged to a quality comparable to their own.

(Florists somehow or another seem to be able to determine the relative range of the quality of florists in areas not their own. Whenever I send flowers to anyone anywhere for any occasion, I use a Long Island, NY florist even though I have not lived on LI for > 15 years. They have always been able through their network to find florists local to the recipient who are able to do work to their quality specs.)

As for the school, why don't you call the school and ask them how to deal with the logistics at its end? If her building has a doorman / reception desk, call him / it directly; if not, call the mail center desk (or even the school switchboard which will be able to direct your call). Almost certainly this is an issue they deal with with some regularity and there must be a process to make it all work out.
posted by SuzB at 1:45 PM on October 25, 2010

I used to deliver flowers...made I don't know how many deliveries to dorms. That I still looked like a college student helped, but most people will let the delivery guy in, esp if they see the FTD stickers on his car. Make sure the florist at least has her number, perhaps have a note to the delivery guy saying "Address is dorm - call before delivering to arrange pickup"
posted by notsnot at 1:57 PM on October 25, 2010

Just to clarify, her building doesn't have any sort of front desk or doorman, and there would be no way for someone waiting at the building's door to buzz or page a room.

Most of the local florists seem to be very pricey but I will give a few a call, even if it's just to ask how they deliver to the school. I think I'll also try and track down a phone number for the mail center.
posted by Funky Claude at 1:58 PM on October 25, 2010

I once put an ad on craigslist for someone to pick up balloons at a party store and deliver them to a friend. Can you contact anyone who lives in her building? Maybe you could pay them to pick up and deliver flowers for you. I'd send a message to one of her facebook friends, probably a girl, so she'll think what you're doing is really sweet.
posted by mrsshotglass at 2:15 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I once photoshopped my mom a flower bouquet collage card for mother's day and e-mailed it to her. It went over really well, because I took some time with it and told a joke as part of it. It's better than an e-card because it's homemade.
posted by edbles at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2010

One little thing - I'm not sure you want same day delivery (unless her birthday's today/tomorrow). You can get a florist (even the online sites) to deliver a nicely arranged bouquet on the correct day in advance, and it's generally much, much cheaper. In fact, I usually shoot myself in the foot by not ordering flowers *enough* in advance and the price goes up by 20-50%.
posted by wending my way at 3:44 PM on October 25, 2010

Does she have a roommate in the dorm? If she does and you are on good terms with her, you might ask if she would pick up your order from a local florist and bring them back to the dorm (maybe when your girlfriend is out?).

I did this once and it went over well, though I was already friends with her roommate and there was a florist near campus, so it wasn't too much of an inconvenience. Just made my order over the phone and gave them the name of the person that was going to pick them up.
posted by crosbyh at 4:06 PM on October 25, 2010

If she has a job you can also have the flowers sent there.
posted by corey flood at 4:10 PM on October 25, 2010

I've used and been very pleased with proflowers.com. Check them out. Their prices aren't bad and it will save you a lot of time vs searching for a local florist near her dorm.
posted by ljs30 at 4:59 PM on October 25, 2010

I work for a local florist.

Trust me, just call one. If you go thru 1800flowers or Teleflora you are getting the exact same arrangement and you will be saving some money besides.

Plus, if you call the florist you can probably get something a bit more personal and in my humble opinion prettier than what the wire services will charge you. Cuz all they do is turn around and contact....the local florist.

If you have a local friend who will help you out to take them to her, you will save a delivery charge. AT our store that's at least 9.95.

If not, what you need to do is give the florist your gal's cell phone # -they can call her and arrange a time for her to be there to receive the flowers. They will want a phone number anyway. And if you want same day delivery just call first thing in the morning. If you don't specify an exact time you should be able to get same day for no extra charge, assuming they aren't jammed up busy.

If you have the choice call a florist in her same zip code or one close to. That will help as well.

Your job is to tell the florist where she is and give them a phone number. Their job is to figure out how to get them to her. As long as you give them enough info, they will find a way!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:01 PM on October 25, 2010

AS far as proflowers is concerned, they take a bunch of your money, take a big cut from them, and send as little as possible to a filling florist. We hates them, we does. You want your money going to the florist, not the middleman.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:02 PM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

And Google is your friend when it comes to finding a florist. Most all of them have websites! Yes, many are the websites Teleflora or FTD puts up for them, but you can get contact info from them which is what you are looking for.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:03 PM on October 25, 2010

One more thing-make sure you are talking to a LOCAL florist and not an "order gatherer" disguised as one. If in doubt ask to talk to an actual florist about your order and not just the clerk "because you have a question." What I do when I am figuring out what florist to use when I wire flowers is try to find one that advertises they have been in business for awhile or they are a family business, etc.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:05 PM on October 25, 2010

I would definitely see if you can contact someone in her dorm who can help you out getting into the building.

If you have to deliver to the mail room, maybe call ahead and double-check that it's okay with them.
posted by radioamy at 5:37 PM on October 25, 2010

I got the numbers of 3 local places, one is about a 5 minute walk from her dorm. I'll be calling tomorrow morning! This is a fairly large school so I would be very surprised if these shops haven't had tons of orders for students, right??

If need be I can contact a roommate via facebook but I'd prefer not to. Ideally this would be a true surprise where she gets notified by the mail center that she has a package(they do automated emails or phone calls), runs down there to find a freshly cut flower arrangement waiting for her. Hopefully this will work out!

Really great insights so far, I have a lot to learn about buying flowers....
posted by Funky Claude at 5:52 PM on October 25, 2010

When you talk to the florist, don't be afraid to ask for what we in the biz call "designer's choice" which means, you tell us what you want to spend, and we put together something really pretty for you at your price point. You can ask for "pink and purple tones" or "all yellow" or "mixed colors" or (this time of year) fall tones, etc etc or you can just tell them what it's for and let them loose. If you specifically want a certain type of flower in the mix (ex: roses) you need to ask them how much you need to spend to make sure they are in the mix.

Or, simply look at their website, and use it to get ideas.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:48 PM on October 25, 2010

What do you think I would be spending for 12 roses of mixed colors? I'm a bit hesitant to order via these local florists because they appear to be very upscale places. I'm not really looking for an array of flowers in a very remarkable vase, just some roses. =) Your insights have been beyond helpful St. Alia, thank you!
posted by Funky Claude at 8:08 PM on October 25, 2010

Well it depends on the store. In our store a dozen long stemmed roses (whatever color) are 59.99 and that includes filler and greens (filler being babies breath, for example.) We sell half a dozen for 39.99. It's okay to call the store and ask! Really! And, at least with us, it doesn't matter what color you use.

(And look, there is a recession on, first, and second, of course they are going to show off their spectacular stuff on the website. Just call them and ask them what they can do. You may be pleasantly surprised.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:56 AM on October 26, 2010

Also, you can ask if they sell medium stem roses as well, these would be less expensive. Our store doesn't but some stores do.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:58 AM on October 26, 2010

Update: Great success with the first shop I called! Literally a stones throw away from the campus and they make deliveries to student dorms all the time. The girl on the phone actually admitted that she had no idea how the delivery guy actually works it but that he "knew everybody" and "was awesome". Got an amazing price too! $30 for a dozen roses, and that's including the delivery fee!

Moral of this story... Just call your local florist. Cheaper and easier.
posted by Funky Claude at 6:04 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

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