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Largish family reunion, any ideas?

(30 Posts)
B9exchange Wed 08-May-19 14:45:19

I have booked a converted barn for a birthday family reunion. There will be 16 of us, nine adults, 7 children in ages from 13 to two months.

I am sure some of you have done this, and I am getting a bit spooked wondering about catering and entertainment, would welcome some ideas on trying to ensure it goes well?

GrannyGravy13 Wed 08-May-19 14:53:02

Plan, Plan and then Plan again!!!

Pre cook as many meals and take with you - lasagne (veggie and meat), casseroles, curries etc. , loads of salad, jacket potatoes, garlic bread etc.

Breakfasts - scrambled eggs, bacon etc.

Crisps, biscuits and snacks.

Lastly but not least do not forget the fizz, wine, beer and soft drinks.

The more you do beforehand it will give you time to relax and enjoy your family. (We as a family have done this often)

Board games, charades and even cards are good fun and all can join in. What about having a fancy dress/themed evening?

GrandmaKT Wed 08-May-19 15:17:56

Delegate! With 9 adults, there should be plenty of people to share the cooking - don't take it all on yourself.
We always share the cooking out, with one couple taking responsibility for a day's meals. Get the food delivered by a supermarket (or collect from the nearest one) to save carting it all the way there.

For the birthday celebration meal, see if you can get outside caterers so that everyone can enjoy it.

We used to make our own entertainment by putting on a "show" - everyone (children and adults) contributing a poem, a song, an anecdote or even a joke. This had the added benefit of keeping the children occupied "rehearsing" for much of the week.

Flaxseed Wed 08-May-19 15:40:12

This sounds so much fun!

crystaltipps Wed 08-May-19 15:46:21

Everyone contributes a dish for the birthday meal. Have a rota for clearing up the kitchen and for catering for the other meals. Plan a walk which incorporates a pub lunch ( book ahead) . If there is a garden organise a game of cricket or rounders. For the birthday party everyone dresses up as the person whose birthday it is. Play some games like charades etc. Have fun!

B9exchange Wed 08-May-19 15:46:53

Thank you for your suggestions, keep them coming! We are a mixed bunch, one gluten and dairy free, wide variety of income backgrounds and invitably a certain amount of treading on eggshells, so it is only a three day weekend.

We have seven bedrooms, all but two ensuite, and two kitchens with one enormous eating area, at least two large televisions, and a games room with table tennis and badminton. Will the children ignore their parents and pile into one room, not done it with these ages before?

cornergran Wed 08-May-19 15:48:05

Not sure how long you are away for. We did something similar last year but only for five days.

Each family group took an evening to organise/provide food. Breakfast was usually a cooked affair on a BBQ produced by one of the younger ones. Lunches sorted themselves, either a help yourself from the fridge, a picnic or a bought snack wherever people were.

Reading this it all sounds fairly laid back and verging on the disorganised. It wasn’t, there had been much discussion and agreement in advance with everyone taking responsibility for the bit they volunteered for and shopping in advance.

Entertainment wasn’t really necessary as the weather was glorious and there was a hot tub available. We did have a big jigsaw on the go for everyone to contribute to. The children were so active in the day time the evening could be quieter so books, a dvd, games, or their own make believe games. We sat and chatted over a drink or watched a film once the children were in bed. It worked for us.

Why not talk to the adults involved, encourage their active participation and get ‘volunteers’. Try not to worry, it will work out and you will all have a wonderful time together.

TwoSlicesOfCake Wed 08-May-19 21:10:24

Give each family a meal or day to be responsible for feeding everyone. That way the work is spread out and everyone can contribute within their means.
I would make as much of it room temperature food as possible.

M0nica Wed 08-May-19 21:28:56

We did this last year. the solution is lists and spread sheets and reading through them almost daily imagining the happenings of the week.

For example: Arriving: what time will the house be available, where do we collect the key, what parking is available? [you may need to encourage people to come by train or share cars} Do you need time to unpack and sort things out before the visitors arrive [that may decide when you ask guests to arrive], Do you have a room plan so that everyone can find their bedroom? Are there house rules? [give everybody a copy of them] and so on.

I used to arrange events at work and found the List method and constant revisiting essential. I would mentally walk my way through every hour of every day stopping at things like 'Breakfast' to think what will be needed, what will people eat and drink etc.

Our Golden wedding family week away ran perfectly, though I say it myself, despite 8 year old DGS having an emergency admission to hospital two days before the event started. However once there he thought better of it and made a rapid recovery and and he and mum arrived with us only 36 hours late.

BradfordLass72 Thu 09-May-19 06:20:19

If this were my re-union I would mimic a wonderful ceilidh I once went to in a barn in Cornwall.

Bales of hay to sit on, covered with cloths or blankets (some brought their own) a band which played Irish jigs and square dance music with a caller for part of the night; finger foods such as hot dogs, sweet corn, mini pies and samosas and great big flagons of apple, orange and lemon juices.

Of course, you may want to be a bit posher than we were but it was one of the best parties I ever went to because it seemed to suit every age and we were all happy.

crystaltipps Thu 09-May-19 07:40:15

You could have a badminton and/ or table tennis tournament. One of the kids would love organising it. We did this once and I got into the semi final by some fluke.

David0205 Thu 09-May-19 07:47:52

My lot number 18 and we have these get togethers 2 or 3 times a year a similar mix of adults and children.
One family does food with contributions from the others we don’t have one table large enough so kids sit at a separate table, the older ones help the younger kids ( except babies). Adults just relax and chat, the kids are happy playing so we don’t try to organize games etc.
Occasionally I will take them to the local pub with a Carvery and a Playroom, same formula with no work, they love that and it doesn’t break the bank.
It just works for us.

Witzend Thu 09-May-19 07:58:23

Family organised similar for my recent Big Birthday. Converted barn, 8 bedrooms, about 14 of us, including 2 tinies, 2 and 3. It was rural, but just a few miles from a town.

Because of the tinies - 2 year old especially would still hate having to sit still for any length of time - we decided against restaurants - bedtimes were also a factor.

It was over 2 nights. One night we had a takeaway - half fish and chips, half from a local Thai, according to,preference,
2nd night was curries and rice a dd had prepared in advance.
Various people brought the wherewithal for breakfasts and easy lunches. (All arranged in advance.)
It all worked very well.

B9exchange Thu 09-May-19 08:52:47

Wow, this is brilliant, I will get onto DSs and DD and get them to take a meal each.

Since some get up around 6.00 am and others not till 9.30 am, I might let them fend for themselves for breakfast with offering a cooked meal for the adults when I get up, but not to have to worry about the other meals will be great.

Jigsaw also terrific thought, will get one from a charity shop.

If you went out somewhere, did you try and stick together as a group, or just let individual families go off on their own?

Helen2806 Thu 09-May-19 10:33:36

We do this every couple of years. This May there will be around 30 of us. I disagree with the plan plan plan, sorry. It’s worth planning meals and a shopping delivery, but apart from this just relax. Let people choose how much time all spent together and when to do their own thing. One of my sons is an introvert and if we insisted on a timetabled holiday without opportunity for him to “escape” he would hate it and might not want to come. Better to just be grateful that you can all have this break together and don’t have sky high expectations. Otherwise it can be a bit like a Christmas that doesn’t quite live up to what you wanted.

nannypiano Thu 09-May-19 10:34:40

I would be tempted to call upon outside caterers for the party food. Perhaps as it's a shared experience everyone would chip in?

jaylucy Thu 09-May-19 11:24:13

We have a family get together several times a year - usually a barbecue, whatever the weather!! ( Sometimes we all sit indoors and the barbecuers do their thing in the adjoining garage !
We all take a separate course, starting with crisps and dips, main course (meat and veggie) salads and deserts, cheese and biscuits. We all take drink of our choice.
As you might guess, our meal takes several hours to get through!
There is always things available for the younger family members to do , from colouring in, dvds to watch, or games in the garden. Just make sure everyone does something, resort to paper plates/ bowls etc if the facilities do not have a dishwasher,don't forget bin bags/ containers for left overs! Have fun !

annifrance Thu 09-May-19 11:53:51

Thanks for those tips Monica. Will come in useful for next summer!! (see earlier thread re marriage in Sri Lanka)

4allweknow Thu 09-May-19 12:03:30

We did something similar in the same kind of accommodation. There was collaboration between adults on providing a main meal each day. Food for breakfast was listed to cope with likes and dislikes. Lunches were kept light eg sandwiches, buffet type foods again all listed with likes and dislikes. I ordered all the food to be delivered including the fizz etc. If someone found their "favourite foid" wasn't there then I produced the lists to show it hadn't been listed by them. The costs were shared equally by each family attending. For the main event outside caterer employed at my expense and it was wonderful. As to entertainment there wasn't a need to organise anything, folk seemed to find plenty to occupy them as there was lots of space for games. Perhaps take a swingball, badminton/tennis set and obviously those with children will take scooters, trikes etc. Enjoy!

Heather51 Thu 09-May-19 12:04:28

We’ve done this for long weekends three times now, with around 19 to 23 attending, 15 adults and 8 children last time. Last year we booked a large country house with 12 bedrooms which worked very well. We take it in turns with the cooking divided between the families (ours, my sister’s and my brother’s) and if we can prepare it beforehand to take with us it’s so much easier. I agree that planning is important so that everybody knows what is happening. We catered for gluten free, vegans and picky toddlers. Because we were all in the one house the little ones were put to bed at their usual time then the adults had their dinner in peace, with baby monitors at the ready.
Breakfast was help yourself and people did what they wanted during the day using the evenings for getting together.
We usually organise a quiz which always proves popular and causes great hilarity, split into family teams with each family providing a round of questions.
We did have a guess the family member competition one year when baby photos of everyone were stuck on a wall and we all had to individually identify each one. Threw in a few red herrings and couldn’t believe it when the chimpanzee was identified as a family member😂.
All gatherings have been enjoyed by everyone and we’ll be having another one next year.
Have a great time and don’t get too worked up about it, relax and enjoy.

JackyB Thu 09-May-19 12:20:03

Are any of your family Guide or Scout leaders or similar? They will have loads of ideas or books with suggestions for wide games, guessing games, action songs, icebreakers and quiet activities.

If people want music, they can bring their own on USB sticks. Children's music from 3-6 pm, adults' music after that.

My son had a big do to celebrate his wedding in a sort of youth hostel for 120 people. He spent much of his youth organising events for the church youth group and there were loads of ideas. When we arrived, he had hung up large charts, divided into shifts where you could put your name down for kitchen duty.

And absolutely imperative: the Saturday night Gang Show. We even managed to get a proper choir going and cobble a performance together. (Mind you, most of his friends are music teachers and his parents in law both sing in choirs.) Poetry and standup, solo performances of all kinds. You'd be surprised what people come up with.

granbabies123 Thu 09-May-19 12:20:30

Grannygravy13 has the right idea. Plan and prepare ahead. Lots of drinks lots of snacks and tell every one to bring something even if only a pudding. People with special diets probably will prepare their own to make life easy. Then sit back and enjoy.

JackyB Thu 09-May-19 12:29:51

If the area is suitable, it's good to get out. Plan a walk with the pram or an outing to a local park or zoo. If you don't plan it, it will just end up as an afternoon sitting round talking about it.

I found it was a great opportunity to tidy out my "rainy day" cupboard: paints, coloured paper, sketch books, sugar paper, glue sticks, sticky tape,crayons, chalks, stencils - it all went into a corner for people to amuse themselves. You could have an exhibition by the end!

(And I had the added bonus that I now have orderly boxes to amuse the DGC when they are old enough to come and stay on their own)

breeze Thu 09-May-19 12:52:55

We've done a few of these and I've always had a supermarket delivery. Check beforehand the fridge/freezer space to make sure it will all fit.

The problem with asking people to prepare dishes is transporting them safely. If your break is a distance away and the weather is hot you don't want everyone getting food poisoning from a dish that was cooked, cooled/frozen, brought slightly back up to temperature in the car, then cooled, reheated, sitting in a warm room.

Also check out whether there are local places that will deliver or you can collect food. During some of our breaks we've found great pubs and one fabulous seafood restaurant where you could ring through your order and someone go to collect.

Some accommodation provide BBQs. Although you'll have to watch it as hot coals and small children need supervising carefully.

The important thing is to relax and thoroughly enjoy yourselves and it can get a bit stressy if you are trying to organise people and tell them what to do/cook/clear up.

As for the entertainment, during the day I guess you'll be out and about and entertaining the children with games or playing outside (take wet weather items like DVDs or activity sets). When they're tucked up in bed a murder mystery game could be a good one to choose. We did this one Christmas and I bought a few inexpensive outfits from Amazon. It was hilarious. No one had a clue what was going on but it was funny.

Have a great time party

B9exchange Thu 09-May-19 13:30:01

These are brilliant, will get my thinking cap on as soon as I get home!