Tips for staying sane while planning your next family event


Ah, the family get-together. A time to throw courtesy to the wind and gather together a bunch of people who aren’t afraid to share their opinions.

It’s great, isn’t it? You get to fill up on conspiracy theories courtesy of your cousin Henry, listen in on how to make the world right (if only the politicians would listen to your uncle Seymour), and hear about what’s wrong with the kids these days.

For anyone who has ever tried to plan a family gathering, regardless of size, you know that the storm of conversation, the sarcasm, disorder, laughter and bad jokes are nothing compared to the enormous feat of planning the event.

Getting everyone to commit to a date, to coordinate dishes, drinks and schedules can make herding cats sound easy. We’re going to take a look at a few key secrets that will make planning family gatherings easy, and maybe even fun.

Enlist the help of technology

First and foremost, pick up your phone. This is the tool that 1) Can play some sweet tunes while you start your planning, 2) will make planning a lot easier and 3) is just plain cool.

The first problem to tackle is setting a date. Sounds easy, but this can quickly turn into a nightmare of back-and-forth emails, phone calls and indecision. Instead of sending out an email asking what date works best for people and waking up to 43 different answers, get everyone to use a communication app like BAND, which provides one centralized platform for everyone to share messages, calendars, lists, ideas and more.

You can send out a calendar to all your guests and ask them to check yes or no to a few possible dates and times. It’s that simple. And then when it comes to deciding who’s bringing what and if you really want to invite cousin Jeff and his ferret, you can use BAND as your one-stop command center to communicate, doing away with all those texts, calls and emails.

Delegate

Every family seems to have that nosy somebody who budges their way in, steps on toes (smashes them, really) and insists on “helping.”

Let them help!

Technology can streamline your planning, but don’t try to take it all on yourself. Make a list of side dishes, appetizers, entertainment needs and more, and have each person who is coming take on a task. Yes, Aunt Margaret will insist on bringing that baked tuna thing you’ll have to pretend to like and it might seem risky to trust your 19-year-old nephew with the centerpiece, but remember, this is family! If someone really drops a ball, like, brings a bunch of frozen pizzas for a side dish, well, isn’t that how memories are made?

Preparing your space

The last big thing you need to do before everyone invades your space is clean up. After all, you want those floors to be sparkling clean when all that dirt gets trampled in!

Be sure to give yourself a few days to prepare. Even if you’re not a neat freak and aren’t going to steam-wash any carpet or polish the plastic cutlery you’ll be using, clear out the main dining and gathering areas in advance and be sure everything is set for a hoard of alien creatures (known as your family) to invade!

While the event might be a bit chaotic, and you’ll probably need a few days' rest afterwards — maybe a vacation far, far away — planning should be a stress-free affair. So get out your phone, start delegating and be ready for the ruckus your family will bring.