A Family Reunion Planner
The Home-Hosted AffairBest for: Smaller groups, families with elderly relatives, or families concentrated in one geographic area.
Pros: Almost everyone saves money.
Cons: One family can get stuck footing the bulk of the bill. Collect cash before the event, or hold a raffle or a silent auction at the reunion with each family contributing something of value, whether it’s a homemade quilt or a framed painting. The hostess can then use the money to replenish her pantry, pay the caterer, or enlist a maid service to help with the cleanup.
Where to go: Ultimately, wherever someone is willing to host. If that someone is you, take heart in the fact that not everything has to take place in your living room. Give yourself a well-deserved break by planning a few activities―volleyball, tennis―at a local park (see if you need a permit). If you have more than one option, it can pay to check out the airline hubs that various family members live near.
Dealing with downtime: Mark local maps with spots like coffee shops, walking trails, and bookstores for fidgety early risers or other folks who need to get out for a bit. “It’s important to remember your limits as far as togetherness goes and to know that everyone needs his privacy at some point,” says Laurie Bisig, a family-travel veteran based in Louisville, Kentucky.
Organizing meals: If a majority of the guests live within an hour’s drive, consider a potluck. If you do choose to cook most of the food, see Reunion Menu Planner. And buy more ingredients than you think you’ll need; it’s easy to run out of food when you’re not used to cooking for 40 (and who is?). If ordering in, consider a caterer, or tell the restaurant how many people you’re ordering for. They can assess how much food you’ll need for a large party.