Social media makes it easier than ever to keep in touch with extended relatives, but nothing can take the place of face-to-face encounters. If you feel like it takes a wedding or a funeral to bring the whole family together, consider planning an annual family reunion. Family reunions can be an excellent way to keep the whole family connected, in spite of living in different states or being at different places in life.

When planning your next family reunion, follow these tips to ensure your event is as successful as possible.

1.    Plan in advance

To host a successful family reunion, your family has to show up—and giving ample time to plan ahead will help. Schedules fill up fast, so putting a date on the calendar as far in advance as you can is imperative. This way, competing plans and priorities will be less likely to pull your guests away from the reunion.

Planning in advance also allows your out-of-town guests to save for the trip in advance. Traveling isn’t cheap, so the sooner you can choose a date, the more time your guests will have to solidify their travel plans and ensure that they have adequate funds for the trip.

2.    Pick a smart location

Choosing a location is vital for the success of your family reunion, but what is considered the “best” location will vary dependent upon your family’s unique circumstances.

If the majority of your family lives nearby, it makes sense to plan your reunion in town. This makes it easier on your guests, making for a shorter time commitment and additionally, fewer expenses to factor in.

If your family is scattered across the country, it might make sense to choose a centralized location, or even make an annual family trip out of the occasion, travelling to different, exciting locales each year.

3.    Consider time of year

Time of year is important to consider when planning an event like a family reunion. Generally speaking, the spring and summer months are ideal, especially if you are planning on spending any time outdoors. However, if your event will be in a humid location like Florida, you may want to be mindful of the weather and choose a date earlier in the spring or later in the fall.

You may also want to consider avoiding scheduling your family reunion in the holiday months of November and December. Money is tighter around the holidays, which will cut into any travel expenses your guests may incur, and additionally, families are busy with holiday shopping, holiday parties, work functions, and more.

4.    Choose food that pleases all palates

Feeding a large quantity of people—and also making sure they are satisfied with the available food options—can be difficult. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to make sure that everyone is full and happy by the end of your reunion.

For a sit-down meal, consider a buffet like Golden Corral. Menu prices are affordable, and menu options will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. No matter what kind of food your guests like most, or what dietary restrictions they may have, a buffet like Golden Corral will be able to accommodate your guests’ specific and unique needs.

You may also consider catering your reunion, especially if you are hosting it at your own home. Many restaurants, including Golden Corral, offer dine-in options or catering packages, so you can tailor your menu to fit your guests and your location.

5.    Make accommodations easy for out-of-towners

Finances can be a limiting factor when guests are expected to travel from out of town, but we have a few suggestions to keep travel costs down.

Setting aside a room block at a local hotel can help keep prices down. Many hotels also offer complimentary continental breakfast, which can help guests keep their food and dining costs down while away from home.

Another great suggestion is house rental. Homes that sleep multiple people can be rented on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. Going in on a large home rental with multiple families can help keep costs down and also enhance your family reunion experience by increasing the amount of time you’re spending with family you might otherwise not see throughout the year.

6.    Plan entertainment for all ages

Every successful family reunion needs a promise of fun. Keep the kids occupied with toys and games, and keep the adults entertained with all-ages music, lawn games, and libations.

Especially for those introverted family members who haven’t seen each other in a long while, an icebreaker can certainly help. Having friendly competitions (like a bags tournament in the backyard or a quick hand of poker) can help ease any tension, which allows guests to unwind and enjoy themselves.

With the tips above, your next family reunion will be a huge success!