Life is chaotic. It’s not always easy to make time for your extended family. That’s why big events that bring the whole clan together are so special.
Whether it’s a reunion, anniversary, or graduation party, family events allow us to spend quality time with the people we love the most, and occasionally they help us remember why we don’t always want to be around them 24/7. Aunt Bertha is sweet, after all, but if she keeps pinching your cheeks, sooner or later you’re going to pinch back.
Here are four helpful tips to guarantee your next family event will be the best it can be. And also that Aunt Bertha will have something else to keep her occupied besides your poor, aching face.
Talk to everyone ahead of time
The most important thing when planning an event is to make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Consult your relatives, as many as you can, to help you pick the date and time. Then send out invitations. And reminders. And maybe a couple more reminders.
That’s not all. Consider sending out surveys asking family members what kind of food or entertainment they would like. This will come in handy for the next few tips. It may not be a good idea to leave the questions too open-ended though. Instead, give them a few affordable options and see which ones are the most popular.
Scout out the perfect venue
Family dynamics can be… complicated. If you’re worried about upsetting the balance, hold your get-together on neutral ground so to speak. Rent out an event hall, restaurant, or pavilion. It may be costlier than using Uncle Harold’s backyard, but it also ensures that you, the party planner, remain the one in control.
It’s also a lot safer. Better for your inebriated Cousin Rusty to toss his cookies on a rented dance floor than on Uncle Harold’s prized bowling trophies. Convenience isn’t the end-all be-all. Find a venue that everyone can get to with relative ease (get it, “relative” ease?) and which can accommodate all your needs, not just the monetary ones.
Hire professional entertainers
Listen, Grandpa Willy’s jokes might be funny, but they’re probably not appropriate for all ages. And no one wants to sit through Nephew Arthur’s lame card tricks again. No matter where you live, there’s certainly some great local entertainment for hire. Refer back to those surveys and see what kind of entertainers your family would enjoy.
Get a DJ. Get a band. Heck, get chainsaw-juggling clowns if that’s what your family wants. In addition, plan some activities of your own. Party games and scavenger hunts for the little ones, dancing and drinks for the grown-ups. Challenge your relatives to answer trivia questions about one another, or set aside time to dig through Grandma Dorothy’s old photo albums..
Create a crowd-pleasing menu
More so than anything else, this is one aspect of your party where taking your family’s needs and preferences into consideration is non-negotiable. The venue can be cramped and the band can be out of tune, but no one will be happy if the food is lousy. And your vegetarian Niece Megan won’t be thrilled if the only thing on the table is barbecue.
Also, while pinch-happy Aunt Bertha might offer to do all the cooking, not only will putting her in charge of the food diminish her own ability to enjoy the party, but the truth is everyone has had her Tuna Surprise more times than they can count. If you want your event to be special, hire a caterer who can treat the whole family to a meal they’ll never forget.