4 Tips to Plan a Fun, Stress-Free Family Reunion
Photo: Evaro Photography
“I don’t know how I’m going to feed everyone.” “What should I do keep all the kids busy?” “There’s no way we have enough chairs.” For the last few years, my mom has been the one planning the family reunions. That has meant a few weeks of stress as she organizes, cleans, and coordinates everything, which generally results in her worriedly bustling about as we assure her that “It will be great! Everyone will love it!” And it is always great! The stressful preparation period, though, not so much.
Hosting a family reunion means that you get to see family that you may not see very often. It’s fun, it’s sweet, and it’s always a little wild. However, if you’re the one in charge of planning the gathering, it can quickly become overwhelming. It’s a big task. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. Here at NOAH’S, we’re experts at events, and we want to help your reunion be a success (and also save you from the stress.) Here are our top 4 tips for how to do just that!
1. Find a Good Venue
Finding the right venue for your party makes all the difference. There are a lot of options and a lot of challenges that go with each one. Hosting the event at your house means cleaning and organizing and preparing. And, good news, once you finish getting everything ready beforehand, you also have to clean up afterward. All too often, shoving everyone into your living room leads to balancing plates on laps while you hope for no spills and an awkward lack of space where getting more food requires stepping over every cousin and brother in law.
Hosting your event at a park, meanwhile, gives you lots of space… almost too much space. That means lots of opportunities for little ones to wander away. Because of that, parents have to be at constant attention. Plus, there’s always the chance that randos can hover on the fringes while you pretend they aren’t there. Ditch all of that. We recommend having your party somewhere private, beautiful, and comfortable. Here at NOAH’S, we take care of the setup and takedown of tables and chairs as well as cleanup. You also get a nice, private space to spread out and enjoy without random passerbys peeking in. If you host your event on a weekday or split the price amongst the attendees, this can be an affordable option that gives you a ton of stress relieving benefits.
2. Utilize Multiple Spaces
Another benefit of hosting your event at a dedicated venue like NOAH’S is the option to book multiple rooms. Gathering lots of people from various generations all in one room can be fun for a while, and we totally recommend doing that, but sometimes it’s nice to have a conversation without screaming toddlers. Take advantage of one of our smaller party rooms to set up a kids room. While this article talks specifically about entertaining kids during a wedding, the tips about setting up a kids room and keeping kids happy during an event can absolutely apply to your family reunion! Bring some toys, turn on a movie, give them an easy craft, and trade off who is in charge of keeping an eye on them. This way, everyone gets a chance to enjoy, relax, and actually see all those distant family members.
3. Find Easy Food Options
The sheer amount of people at a family reunion often requires a feast. That can be intimidating. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be hard if you make it easy for yourself. One common option is to make your event a potluck. This allows you to break up the work and get a wide variety of options. Another option is to assign a food committee. Families can trade off each year who is in charge of food. This means that they can coordinate something that goes well together and be in charge of providing a full, nice meal for everyone. If you choose to go this route and want to make it yourself, make it easy! Feeding big groups is a lot of work, so choose a recipe that is simple to make and will go far. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:
- White Cheddar Mac & Cheese from Taste of Home
- Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches from Kitchn
- Build Your Own Burrito Bar from Heavenly Homemakers
If you still feel a little worried about the idea of making that much food, you are completely justified. The best way to make your family reunion meal as stress-free as possible is to hire a caterer. This way you get a delicious meal for everyone with none of the work. We’ve gathered our preferred caterers in your area in our MOMENTS magazine. To find your edition, go to your local NOAH’S page on NOAHSEventVenue.com and scroll to the bottom of the page.
4. Structure Simple
You can drive yourself absolutely mad trying to schedule out every moment of your reunion. Our tip? It’s not worth it. The best part of a family reunion is getting everyone together to chat and catch up. Instead of having a detailed agenda, plan a few main events, and leave the rest of the time open for a relaxed atmosphere. While people chat, set up a few game options like cornhole out on our patio or board games in one of the small party rooms.
For the main event, find a few easy games that everyone can be a part of. One of our 7 family friendly party game ideas would be a great option! Another fun option is to print out pictures of various family members from when they were kids and put them around the room. Give everyone pencils and paper to write their guesses for who is who. The person who gets the most correct wins! If your family has a tradition of competitions, such as arm wrestling, cup stacking, tossing treats into mouths, or whatever else, bring it up onto our raised Main Hall stage for everyone to see. If your family doesn’t have such a tradition, consider starting one! Each reunion, the winner gets a prize and the honor of holding the title of champion until the next contest.
Hosting a family reunion is a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be stressful! We would love to help take some of the worry off of your shoulders. Call your local NOAH’S to schedule a tour and learn more about how we can make planning any event as simple and easy as possible.