Planning a Family Get-together
Family get-togethers are now more important than ever before. It's easy to depend on social media to stay in touch with relatives spread far and wide, but having meaningful relationships means seeing each other face-to-face once in a while. Remember, the younger generation may not have gotten the opportunity to get to know their cousins, aunts, and uncles like you did if they've only friended each other on Facebook. Here's everything to know to prepare for the event.
Select the Perfect Venue
When choosing a place to host your get-together, consider the most convenient location for everyone involved. If one family lives many miles away, it only makes sense to hold the event near the majority of the family. But if people are spread all over the country, a more central location is best. Some of the cheapest vacation packages available are offered to groups traveling together.
Also, think of a place where kids will have room to play and older family members will have easy access. Look for a venue with a play area, handicapped access, and facilities for mothers with babies. State parks make excellent locations because they're generally well equipped, inexpensive, offer shelters such as pavilions, and have excellent play facilities.
Image via Flickr by roger_mommaerts
Talk About the Guest List
It's probably not a good idea to depend on your memory alone when making out the invitations. You're bound to forget someone, which could lead to an unfortunate family riff. Call extended family members for ideas and suggestions. It's perfectly acceptable to invite close friends of the family, even if they're not blood relatives.
Plan the Menu
There are two ways to feed such a crowd: hiring a caterer, or having everyone bring a covered dish. Bringing the food saves money, and it's a great way to sample Aunt June's world famous chocolate pie, but it's impractical if many people are traveling long distances to attend. If hiring a catering service is more practical, ask for everyone to contribute toward the expense.
It's also a good idea not to forget:
- Drinks and ice
- Table coverings
- Serving utensils and knives (for meat, pies, etc.)
- Food warming stations
- Lounge chairs and blankets
- Plates and eating utensils
Enlist Helpful Family Members
There's a lot to do, such as preparing for dishes, silverware, table covers, and addressing invitations. It's not an easy undertaking and shouldn't be assigned to one person. Asking others to help doesn't just lighten your load, it also gives you access to wonderful ideas they might have to contribute. If it's not possible to plan in person, consider using social media or Google Docs to make sure everything's covered.
A successful family get together comes down to how well you plan the details. Here's a list of the little extras that often get forgotten when a big event is underway:
- Napkins and paper towels
- Wet wipes for washing hands and faces
- A guest book for everyone to sign
- Paper and pencils for exchanging contact information
- First aid kit
- Scissors for opening packaging
- Garbage bags for cleanup
Arrange for the Estranged Cousins and Random Extras
Be sure to ask everyone about food allergies, and have a selection of foods for young children (no peanuts, grapes, or choking hazards), diabetics, and others with special dietary needs. It's also a good idea to offer something for the calorie conscious, such as salads and diet sodas.
Above all, make the planning enjoyable. You want to be fully prepared and rested to enjoy the special occasion.
What fun things do you like to do with your family?
Amanda is a freelance writer whom enjoys playing and coaching volleyball. She loves her friends and family including her dog, Charlie; as well as traveling all around the world.