photo: Nadia Cho
Getting the extended family together for a gathering is great, but most extended families these days are located hundreds, if not thousands of miles apart, making it hard to meet up. One solution is to host a family gathering in a central location for everyone so that nobody has to travel too far to get there. However, it’s important to consider the following five tips before making any final family gathering plans.
1. Choose An Interesting Location
Depending on where everyone currently lives, there is likely to be one or two notable or otherwise interesting locations to host the family gathering. Try and pick a location with an interesting local culture and rich history, as well as multiple nearby attractions to increase the chances that family members will find fun things to do on their trip. For example, if one-third of the family is in Maine, one-third is in Florida and one-third is in Ohio, cities in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, such as Washington, D.C. or Philadelphia, would be suitable.
2. Be Prepared For Spills
Accidents happen at virtually every family function. . Whether it’s spilling on clothing or breaking an accessory, you need to make sure you pack accordingly and prepare for the worst. That means packing additional intimate wear, socks, shirts and even extra plus size dresses. Since you’ll be far away from your washer and dryer, have a basic plan of attack in mind. Don’t let a bad stain ruin a family member’s good time.
3. Consider Catering
Many families consider it a time-honored tradition for everyone to bring a particular dish to a family gathering potluck style. However, the truth is this custom is not always so easy for everyone to do when they’re all traveling to meet up. Families may want to consider hiring local catering services for family gatherings situated in special locations. Most major cities have several top-rated options to choose from. It’s best to make arrangements with a catering service several weeks or months in advance of the family gathering, in order to make sure they are available and to give them the time needed to prepare.
4. Shop Around For The Right Venue
Take your time to research various venues for hosting your family gathering. It might seem difficult since you won’t be able to physically inspect the facilities until you are there, but Google Maps and Google Reviews provide plenty of images to get a good up-close and personal understanding of how each option compares against the others. Resorts, hotels with event space and dining halls are just some of the options on the table. Each will vary in terms of price and accommodations, which should be weighed against the anticipated wants and needs of the family.
5. Think About Transportation
It’s important to take an inventory of who will be either renting a vehicle or driving their own, versus those who are flying and relying on cabs to get around. In case of emergency and other unexpected situations, it’s a good idea to know exactly who has the quickest means of getting to a specific location. In cities noted for their congested roads, such as New York or Los Angeles, take the time to get everyone acquainted with the mass transit system. Consider pooling resources to buy everyone their own multi-day transit passes to reduce the logistical hurdles of coordinating dozens of people over the course of a few days.
Family gatherings are never easy to do when everyone lives far away. However, choosing a central location is a way to mitigate the burdens of travel on family members. Furthermore, if chosen wisely, a central location new to everyone will prove to be an especially memorable experience.