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Seven Ideas for Planning a Beach Family Reunion

by Cindy Bendel

The beach is the perfect place for a family reunion. If you're meeting in the summer even better. The kids are on break from school, the weather is nice and you may be in vacation mode. Beaches and coastal cities are perfect for these types of events. Think warm sand. Cool ocean waters. Palm trees. It certainly beats booking a dining hall at the local lodge.

I confess that I have never planned a beach reunion of my own. But as a graphic artist I have created mementos for those events - items such as shirts, can koozies and tote bags. And coming from a family with lots of uncles, aunties and cousins, I have plenty of experience with planning get-togethers and feeding a crowd. 

Something of this magnitude requires planning a good year in advance. This is especially true if you want to book a popular destination. Read on for ideas to plan an amazing beach reunion.

1. Make a list. This is the starting point, a list of family members to invite. If you have a particularly large family, you'll need to decide how far to extend the family tree. Some people love large gatherings, others prefer more intimate ones.

2. Location. What is a good meeting place for all family members? Some are fortunate to live near the coast and can just extend an invite to the family. But for many, going to a beach reunion requires travel. Have a brain-storming session to get input from family members and agree on the place. If you are booking a beach house, the ideal location should give family members space to spread out, have adequate bathrooms, laundry facilities and ample space in the kitchen and dining areas.

3. Save the Date(s). This may be the toughest part of planning the reunion. Every family has their own schedules and it's near impossible to accommodate everyone. To ensure the best attendance, consider a location that will allow you to spread the reunion out over a few days. 

4. Activities. Pick a location that offers activities for various ages such as teens and grandparents. It's also fun to give your reunion a theme such as Christmas in July. 

5. Food. Feeding a big crowd is no small feat. There's grocery shopping to do, prep and clean-up. Consider dividing up responsibilities so various tasks are more manageable. And make it as simple as possible to save on labor. After all, you don't want to spend your vacation washing dishes. Use paper plates and cups. Offer simple breakfasts such as fruit, cereal and boiled eggs. Quick lunches such as sandwiches and chips. And don't forget to have everyone contribute money for the food!

6. Book ahead. The reservations for well-loved coastal areas fill up quickly. Consider booking a year ahead or at least by January if visiting from May through August. Also consider the cooler months, those times of year may also be ideal for a family reunion. There are fewer crowds and lodging rates are lower.

7. Take notes. If you plan to make this a yearly reunion, make note of what worked well and what to improve for next year. Then as you fine-tune, you'll create an annual event that everyone looks forward to with eager anticipation.

Have suggestions? Chime in the comments below, we'd love to hear your thoughts!

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