When planning an outdoor family get together, there are many things to remember to ensure that everything goes as planned and everyone has a great time. Last summer I was the organizer for my family’s annual family reunion, which I decided to hold at a local park near my home.
The experience of hosting our gathering gave me a great deal of insight into how to best plan for an outdoor event of this kind. Let’s take a look at the 10 things you shouldn’t forget when organizing a family gathering.
Location is key when it comes to planning any family gathering. If you will be hosting family members from a wide geographical area, putting some effort into choosing a central location will be much appreciated by all.
Along with the general location, be sure to choose a spot that can accommodate the number of guests you are anticipating. If any family members require the venue to be handicap accessible, be sure to find that out in advance. I highly recommend personally scouting out locations to see first hand if the location will be a good fit your family’s event.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to set a festive mood is with music. Ask ahead of time if your location has a power source to plug a cd player or speakers into. If electricity is not available, be sure to pack extra batteries.
Family gatherings usually include relatives from many different age groups. Try to curate a playlist that will please everyone by selecting songs from a variety of genres and time periods. An alternative to making a playlist is to find a streaming music station that plays upbeat music without too many commercials.
Bug & Sun Protection
When an event takes place outdoors, it is important to plan for both bug and sun protection. Nothing ruins a fun family get together than mosquito bites and sunburns.
Provide a basket of child-safe bug sprays and sunscreens in a variety of SPF’s and you’ll save the day when they’re needed. Another unique idea for sun protection would be to have custom hats or sun visors made with your family’s name and the date emblazoned on them.
Inclement Weather Provisions
Keep an eye on weather reports the week leading up to the event so you won’t be caught off guard. My number one recommendation for handling weather issues is to choose an outdoor location that has a covered area such as a gazebo or pavilion that would be available for you to use.
Picking up a few dollar store ponchos and umbrellas is also a good idea, along with throwing a stack of old beach towels in your car for the inevitable puddle jumping child.
Keep your guests’ comfort in mind when planning your outdoor event. Nothing puts a damper on a party like a lack of or uncomfortable seating options. If your venue doesn’t have adequate seating, bring along outdoor furniture chairs of your own to provide comfort for all your family members.
Activities for All Ages
Family gatherings are a wonderful way to bring the generations together in a fun, festive environment. Old fashioned games such as egg spoon races, hula hoop contests and three-legged races are fun for all. Family trivia and bingo games will include family members who may be more comfortable sitting down.
Guess who is a great game to play at a family gathering. Ask each guest to bring a baby or childhood picture of themselves, pin them on a poster board with a letter next to each photo and have everyone write down their guesses. Have a few little prizes on hand for the winners!
Food Allergies & Restrictions
When planning the menu for your event, take some time to take food allergies and restrictions into consideration. Have vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items available for family members that require them.
If any family members have food allergies, be sure to spread the word in advance of the event so foods with the allergen are not brought to the gathering. Providing labels for each dish that lists the ingredients can let your guests feel free to eat without having to ask questions about each dish.
Some municipal parks and outdoor pavilions require a permit for use. Contact local township officials to see what permits may be needed. Small town park permits are usually quite inexpensive, but it may take time for them to be processed so plan accordingly.
Health & Safety
When events are outdoors, there are a few health and safety precautions to consider to make sure all guests are properly cared for. The number one consideration is to choose a venue with adequate restroom facilities. Make sure that any games or activities are planned away from parking lots and heavy foot traffic, to avoid any injuries.
Bring a well-stocked first aid kit with you to the event. Antiseptic spray, pain reliever and band-aids are the most common items that are requested at outdoor parties and events. Frozen sponges work great in a pinch for twisted ankles or bug bites and they keep easily in a cooler.
Stick to a Budget
Above all else, don’t use a family gathering as an excuse to blow your budget or go into debt. Set a clear budget before beginning your planning and hold yourself accountable throughout the whole process.
A great way to curb costs is to make your event pot luck instead of hiring a caterer. Finding a free or inexpensive location will set the entire gathering up to be on the budget.
With a little bit of preparation, your outdoor family event will go smoothly and be remembered fondly for years to come. Take the time to think about these ten pointers ahead of time and you’ll be able to enjoy the event and make memories with your loved ones.