List for a Successful Family Event

We just celebrated Jay’s grandfather’s 90th birthday! The whole family flew down to Florida to party with him – it was quite an accomplishment. Not only the longevity part but also the coordinating of nearly 25 people’s schedules! Everyone did their part to make “Papapaloosa” extra special – with cards, poems, cookies, creative stories and surprise guests – Papa was thrilled. It was worth all the traveling, scheduling and planning.

Pulling off an event like this is no small feat. I can’t take credit for it – because others in the family took the lead on this one but it is good to note that a list comes in handy when putting together something like this. You will definitely be less stressed if you write out everything in advance. Here’s a checklist for planning a successful family event:

Think Ahead: We started talking about this event at least six months ago. This gave everyone to plan out vacation days at work and save some cash for expenses. Not to mention brainstorming possible activities and gift ideas.

Accommodations: Many hotels will give you a special event rate if you’re blocking off a bunch of rooms. The Hampton Inn was fabulous and accommodated our large party with ease. But we inquire about this special rate several months before the event.

Fun & Surprises: It’s always nice to try to put an extra special stamp on your event. In years past we have had special t-shirts made up or prepared our favorite dishes. This year each family member recalled their favorite memory of Papa, we also noted our best and worst traits that we inherited from Papa. Jay’s were the same – his love of fried rice! Ha. We also had special guests fly from California to surprise Papa and I had custom cookies made up to look just like Papa! They were a hit. (Go to to order your own.)

Food: Speaking of food. This is a tough one because not everyone likes the same things. We were doing a two full days together – breakfast, lunch and dinner – oh my! My advice is to cater – it’s worth the extra money to not have to worry about putting together meals so you can enjoy the party.

Photos: Everyone took their own shots because it was hard to have one person be everywhere. Hiring a photographer for an evening might be a good idea – sometimes students will do this for a cheap fee. We decided to do it ourselves and then open a joint account on (I’m usually a kind of girl — but snapfish does the trick too.) That way everyone could share photos and make up prints of all the festivities.

Happy Planning!


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