Top 5 Tips for a Fun Family Reuniion
The Younger Elders
The Older Elders
Tip 5: Don't Drink Too Much
Ah, the family reunion is upon you. If your first question is regarding who is in charge of the beverages, then put yourself at ease by bringing your own. If you prefer liquor to lemonade, then bring what you like so you don't have to rely on your brother-in-law to provide your favorite.
Remember moderation in all things.
In full understanding that dealing with in-laws is easier after a six pack of Bud Light, resist. You will need full control of your emotions. The children want and need for you to pay attention to them. You want to be competitive in the softball game or the bean-bag toss. You want to have fun.
Drinking brings out the arguments, drama, and tears. So find the person or people you like the most, hang with them, participate in the activities and say no to one more whiskey and soda with a beer chaser.
The guy on the couch telling you the best way to handle a spouse who won't do as he or she is told will be far less annoying if you are sober. Strange but true.
Tip 4: Forget Kindergarten
Yes, your brother made fun of you when you were five years old and refused to use the bathroom at school. Yes you wet your pants and had to go to the nurses office for a clean jogging pants three sizes too big. Yes you are scarred for life. It is best for all concerned if you find a way to get over it. After all that was thirty years ago and your brother was seven years old.
It is paramount to a fun family reunion to forget about the old family grudges. If you are not able to forget your brother twisting your arm behind the garage or your sister whispering to your friends behind your back, then resist mentioning the incident. Everyone has already heard it. No one cares about it anymore. For your own fun and relaxation, focus on the now.
Family is Fun
Tip 3: Plan Activities
The top third important rule for fun family gatherings is to plan activities and to do them. Anything that nearly everyone can do is good. Try a bean-bag toss, double elimination tournament, for example.
Dune buggy rides or paddle boats or skiing all work for all ages. The adults can arrange a pinochle tournament or chess or checkers. Have dress up clothes for the children. They can write, produce and perform a play.
Remember to laugh, not just at other people but at yourself. If you throw the bean bag backwards over your head, remember that is funny. The guy who moved from the couch to a stadium chair in order to tell everyone how to swing their arm and toss can be blocked from conscious thought in the fun of competition. Don't worry, he won't actually do anything himself.
If you are near the water or the mountains or in a city park, plan something to do. Bring what is needed to do it and enjoy the now. Visiting can only last so long before visiting becomes gossip.
Tip 2: Food and Drink
Many families have an over-abundance of planners. Allow the person who likes to tell everyone else what to do, to do just that. Assuming that person has a vision of the end product and knows what each clog in the wheel must do to achieve that vision, then offer your cooperation.
So you are asked to bring lasagna when you always bring the green-bean casserole, embrace the chance to do something different. You certainly may offer to also bring the green-bean casserole. If your cousin is asked to bring chips and that is not fair, remember life is not fair.
Do not begrudge the extra dollar. Do not begrudge the extra work. This is family. Do your best. Resist the temptation to bring a desert that your children like and then hide it from the crowd. So your ten year old is carrying a plate with chocolate crumb cake while his cousin wants to know where he found that. For pity sake, bring enough to share with everyone or don't bring it at all.
Really good food is essential to a family gathering. You already know who will not bring anything but themselves, so bring more. Petty concerns suck the fun from any gathering.
The same for drinks. You do not need to provide the entire crowd with their choice of drink. Generally it is acceptable for each family or individual to bring what they drink unless it has been agreed in advance for a specific person to provide the beer or the lemonade.
Families can throw money in the pot and hire a caterer. Keep in mind snacks for later.
Or, if you are fortunate enough to be in the Grand Tetons for a skiing gathering, then eat out at the lodge.
The point is to plan for good food and plenty to drink.
The Gangs All Here
Tip 1: Common Sense
Bring the love. Forget the hate.
A few obvious don'ts at family reunions are: do not flirt with your uncles new girl friend, do not tell your sister's boyfriend to pull up his pants, do not tell grandma that her knees wouldn't hurt so much if she lost a hundred pounds.
Do be courteous and listen to what others are saying. Pay attention to the children, offer to be all-time pitcher. You might discover something surprising, fun or even enlightening.
When the know-it-all mooch sitting in the lawn chair with the cup-holder tells your nephew to bring him a beer and then asks your niece to pull his finger, walk away. Maybe take your niece with you.
Family reunions are filled with underlying tensions and currents of emotion that need to be turned to fun and laughter. We have all experienced the family arguments. For the most part the rift is reparable. We have all experienced the wayward child. He or she is not likely to attend. If they do, see if he or she wants to be on your team for the volleyball game.
Remember this too will end. The goal is to return home with a feeling of satisfaction and renewal and a loving memory.
Rules For Fun
5. Don't drink too much.
4. Forget kindergarten.
3. Plan activities.
2. Good food.
1. Common Sense.