Our last family reunion ended on a disastrous note, but it wasn’t our fault. Eight years ago, we booked a spacious house in Santa Barbara, California for the gathering. So what went wrong? When 5-month old Nick arrived, no one suspected he was coming down with the flu. Within the week, almost all of us were quite ill.
The mere thought of it delayed our next get-together for many years, even though we knew that, no matter how well you plan a gathering, some things are beyond your control.
Two years ago we started thinking how nice it would be to spend a future Christmas on Sanibel Island, Florida. We wrote the family to ask if anyone wanted to join us – and their replies? All 15 said “YES!”.
How did it go this time around? Fabulously well, we think, and we’re happy to share some of the reasons why.
Pick a location everyone wants to visit
Sanibel Island was a real draw not just for us but for everyone.
It’s one of the most famous shelling beaches with warm air and water temperatures even in mid-winter.
Choose a time everyone has free
We stayed for the entire Christmas week. No school was missed, and, for those still working, only a few had to take off work.
Don’t over schedule
We all gathered together for a restaurant meal on Christmas Eve, and, on Christmas morning, we gathered by the pool in the outdoor gazebo to enjoy a potluck breakfast.
In addition to the shrimp deviled eggs, homemade bread, and fresh baked apple tart (in the photo), we also enjoyed fruit parfaits and bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
Activities for the entire group were kept to a minimum, so that everyone would have plenty of time to do whatever their heart desired – whether that was taking a nap in the afternoon, shopping with your sister, or a small group gathered to watch sports on TV.
Book a place that has everything your group will need
For us, that included separate units for each family with full kitchens at Caribe Beach Resort, a pool, bicycles, and direct access to the beach.
Do something different
Everyone in the group, whose ages ranged from 75 down to 9, kayaked in Tarpon Bay on water-trails weaving through the mangrove forest.
Provide opportunities for mixing it up
Uncle and nephew were paired for kayaking.
If possible, choose a place with a beautiful and inspiring natural setting
Joe spotted brown pelicans roosting in a tree on his walk down the beach.
Four of us played the board game, Splendor, on the beach.
Take some group photos
Beth’s brother and sister-in-law hired a professional photographer to take family photos as their present to the family. How did that work? TO BE CONTINUED….