Getting the whole family together isn’t an easy task, but it’s very rewarding - even if it happens once every couple of years!
Trying to coordinate everyone is difficult as people have busy lives and schedules, and this can make planning a family event quite tricky - especially when it’s a surprise.
Occasions when the extended family get together can include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, reunions and other major life milestones. If you’re planning one of these events and are looking for some helpful tips and guidance, we have some ideas for you below.
Set a date way in advance
If the occasion your planning involves a lot of family members, you should begin planning way in advance. Sometimes, this may mean setting a date 12 months before the event date!
For example, if your grandmother is celebrating her 80th birthday next year, you should get a date in the diary for everyone to celebrate, and let them know ASAP so they can make sure they’re available to attend. This will also force you to create a list of everyone who you are inviting, and get an idea of numbers so that you can begin the planning process.
Have a budget
Even though the event in question is family orientated, rather than corporate, you should still have a budget in mind. Whether you are fronting the cost or your family are contributing money, having a set budget will determine the type of event you plan, as well as location and food options.
For example, you may only have the budget to book a large table at your local restaurant, or you may have the budget to hire an event venue in Sydney, such as a function room in your local hotel.
Decide on a location
Location is important when planning any event, but when getting the family together it’s important to consider how far away people live and how long it will take them to travel to the venue. If you have elderly family members, or family with young children attending, you may have to consider accommodation, too, so that they don’t have to do a lot of travelling in one day.
You should also ensure that the venue of your family gathering is accessible to everybody attending (i.e. lots of parking, wheelchair access, located close to public transport, etc.).
Regardless of the size or type of event you’re planning, it’s important to not take on all the responsibility. Enlist the help of other family members to get all components working together. For example, you may delegate certain jobs, such as invitations, venue hire, food and drink, decoration, etc., to other members of your family.
The more hands you have to help with the event planning process, the more smoothly it will run and more successful it will be.
Think about food and drink
Any good event has food and drinks at its centre, so make sure you put thought into it. Will you go for a set menu at a restaurant, or will you hire external caterers? If so, what’s on the menu?
Be sure to ask for everyone's dietary requirements before organising food, and remember that most of the cost will go on alcohol!
Consider the younger family members
If you have young children attending the family gathering, you should consider their needs. Talk to their parents or guardians about food options and activities to keep them entertained. You don’t want them to be unhappy or bored during the day!
Put family at the heart
At the end of the day, your event is all about celebrating family, and you should not lose sight of this when you’re in the midst of planning. If the event is a birthday, or an anniversary, or a reunion or a surprise, the devil is in the detail. Buy balloons and confetti, print out old family photographs, bring along family albums, or even get everyone to share their favourite family memories.
The more family-orientated the event is, the more special it will be, and the more fun everyone will have.
And don’t forget to take lots of photographs!