Unless you have the power to feed five thousand people with just five bread loaves and two fish, you will need some creative planning and organization to be able to satisfy the appetites and varying taste preferences of your family during your reunion!
Whether you’re planning meals for 20 or 200, your menu planning skills will be challenged, so you consult with and seek the assistance of other family members for the task. A food committee may even need to be formed separately if you are expecting a fairly large number of guests.
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The popular BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage) party spills over to other events as well, and might be an idea for your family reunion, a Bring-Your-Own style of meal preparation can be incorporated.
Also called a potluck dinner, each invited family member brings something for the whole group to enjoy. This shares the responsibility fairly to everyone, and is also quite cost-effective compared to other menu planning ideas.
To streamline the menu, have a checklist of food items and dishes that are needed for the event (from appetizers and salads, to entrees and desserts). This way, family members can see what the options are and be guided accordingly.
If you have a theme for the reunion, only put related food items on the checklist (For example: If you’re having a football themed reunion, include items you’d find at the stadium, i.e. nachos, hot dogs, popcorn).
Video: Menu Planning Online
60 Second Family Reunion Food Tip
*Tip: The potluck style is best for family reunions where everyone lives within the area or close to the venue.
There’s just something about eating outdoors that makes the event more relaxed and fun. If your family reunion is held during the summer or when the weather is generally pleasant, take advantage of the sunshine and have a barbecue outside.
Barbecue or grill parties are especially popular during the summer, or for family reunions coinciding with holidays such as Fourth of July or Memorial Day.
Menu planning ideas for backyard barbecues include:
- baby back ribs
- hot dogs
If you have a large group, make sure you have more than one grill, so everyone can eat at the same time and no one has to wait too long for food to be ready.
As for the costs and preparation, you can ask family members to either bring food to grill (potluck style), or pool money together and have the food committee do the shopping and preparation.
Picnics in the Park
Like barbecues, picnics are a family favorite for reunions! They offer guests a comfortable environment and reunion organizers easy planning and quick prepping!
Menu planning ideas for picnics in the park include:
- subs & sandwiches
- potato salad
- baked beans
- potato chips
- watermelon & other fruit
- …and don’t forget the lemonade!
Picnics are more commonly done in parks or other public venues, so usually food has to be relatively easy to prepare, bring to the picnic area, and require little or no cooking once at the location. Some picnic areas do provide cooking facilities, but many do not, so make sure this is factored into your menu planning.
Professional Food Caterers
If you are planning an event for a lot of extended family members, hiring a food catering service relieves you and your planners of much of the burdens related to meal planning.
Aside from the actual meal preparation, most food catering companies also provide assessments of how much food will need, based on the size of your guest list, and also offer different themes and customizable menus that match your reunion theme. If your reunion theme requires a formal, multi-course menu, professional catering is possibly the best option.
Professionally-catered menus for your family reunion also frees you and your guests from the clean-up that transpires after the event. This allows everyone the chance to simply relax and enjoy the reunion with the rest of the family members.
Food catering generally will cost more, however, so make sure that you are aware of the expenses. The whole family can pitch in for the costs; you can have a standard charge that everyone pays (this should be mentioned in the invitations). You can also include this information on your family reunion website with a family reunion registration form and add a place for registration dues.