We hosted our 6th annual 'Break Family Reunion' this past weekend at our cottage. Thankfully, my family is relatively small...this year 22 of the clan descended on Chez Coates Cottage from Aug 5-7th.
The first reunion was celebrated in July 2006. My husband, three daughters and I were really feeling that the long distance that had separated all of my extended family from us might be remedied by having a large gathering, not only to celebrate my father's 80th birthday, but to also christen the new log cottage that we had been building the previous summer and fall. We did not anticipate at the time, that this event would become a family tradition. (for more cottage pics, click on "Designer at Home" link in the right column)
There is some effort involved in hosting family members for 2-3 days. But I will tell you that we have got this event honed to the nth degree. My two sisters, my mother and I have a set menu
which we rely on to make the weekend run tickety boo. Yes, it is about the food, the drink, the sun and fun, but we never forget that what we are trying to achieve is 'family catch up time'.
The bulk of this event happens here in our kitchen. (Photos of the kitchen in use during this weekend will be permanently unavailable.) It is complete, total, utter chaos, but somehow the fabulous meals, make their way to this table....
and 22-26 people (depending on the year) make their way around the perimeter to fill their plates and gorge on yet another delicious, communal effort.
Even though the Coates host this shindig...we all have to 'pitch' in and make sleeping quarters for some who have not yet arrived. The large tent trailer in the background belongs to my cousin and her husband. They and my Aunt sleep very comfortably in KING size beds in this tent trailer.
I will share in a later post what I chalked up to be humorous, but others might consider a daunting tale involving these three family members.
Last year, the newest member of our family was only 6 weeks old. This year, she is just over a year old and offered some of the best entertainment.... Jeepers....we get mushy about our babies.
We have a super large deck on the front of our cottage. This group of family members are sitting outside the screened porch (an absolute necessity in my opinion). The white banner is our family flag.....
which my sisters and I designed several years ago for my parents to hoist on a flag pole where their large trailer (cottage) was parked. We now hang it at the beginning of every family reunion weekend....we just realized we need to add more stars however.
Remaining calm, sane and relaxed during the reunion has required me to be completely organized beforehand...however, I have had to learn to go with the flow.... a hard lesson....but an absolute must!
My Top Ten Rules for achieving success and not more grey hair are:
1. delegate, delegate, delegate
2. complete and thorough shopping lists for the meal planners and spirit buyers...DO NOT RUN OUT OF ANYTHING IF POSSIBLE
3. never clean the cottage BEFORE the reunion....except bathrooms and kitchen...as a cyclone will be travelling at warp speed through the inside and outside the cottage as soon as everyone arrives
TAKE A DEEP BREATH!
4. make sure the family members are comfy looking for food and drink on their own....otherwise you will become an exhausted and cranky hostess
5. paper plates, plastic cups (never for wine...we always use glass) and plastic cutlery are sanity savers. All participants know to recycle the plates and plastic cups.....unfortunately, the plastic cutlery for some reason is not recyclable
SMILE SMILE SMILE!
6. have plenty of chairs and small tables on the deck and dock for appys, snacks, and drinks
7. bio shampoo and body wash should be provided for those who wish to bath in the lake
8. extra beach towels, sunscreen are a must....someone always forgets
9. I have been up front and told my family that I will ask them if I need help.....I'm so organized and anal, it throws me off if they continue to ask me
10. be prepared for PLAN B....we have always had great weather, but we could easily have lousy weather, so I have 1000 pc. jigsaw puzzles, board games, cards, books, magazines, and movies on hand
TAKE ANOTHER DEEP BREATH, AND ENJOY......
RELAXING and PLAYING.....
CATCHING UP (AND CUDDLES)...
SMOKING A TURKEY ON THE BIG GREEN EGG...
PERHAPS CATCHING SOME ZZZZZ....
....AND MAKING MEMORIES...