(ARA) - A family reunion can be one of your extended family's most memorable shared experiences, providing new family stories and deepening bonds for years to come. If you are in the coordinator's seat, it can also be a daunting amount of work.
With advice from the experts on planning, delegation and -- the centerpiece of any family gathering -- food and drink, it can be easier. Here are some tips to help make your reunion a family affair to remember -- fondly.
21st century planning aids
While you should still plan to use snail mail and phone for invitations and follow-up, especially for family members who aren't online, the Internet provides a wealth of resources to make planning a family reunion easier and more interactive. Edith Wagner, founder and editor of Reunions magazine, recommends taking advantage of online tools. "Reunion websites can keep everyone posted with dates, photos, updates and more. These are a great way to get everyone excited and anticipating the big day, as well as to organize folks to help with planning," says Wagner. Many sites are free. A few options to check out are familyreunion.com, familydetails.com, and myevent.com.
Food: delegate, delegate, delegate
Potlucks are a wonderful and cost-effective way to engage guests, divide the work load and make your reunion a true bonding experience. Organize the potluck menu by category (appetizers, main courses, sides and desserts) and delegate preparation, encouraging guests to make recipes from popular family recipes where possible.
The website Epicurious.com offers a complete guide to hosting a family reunion including potluck planning and even allows you to create an online recipe box for sharing recipes with family and friends. Sample potluck tips include outlining a menu and assigning guests specific dishes and quantities; instead of asking for an appetizer, be specific: ask for 20 deviled eggs, for example. This prevents multiple people from bringing the same item or having too little or too much food.
Also, be sure to ask family members on special or restricted diets to prepare items they can eat. Take the event space into consideration, letting people know in advance if they will have access to a stove top or oven so they can plan accordingly.
How do you choose wines that pair with a wide variety of cuisines? John Concannon, fourth generation vintner, recommends medium to full-bodied, food-friendly wines like Concannon's Glen Ellen Petite Sirah.
"This is an elegant wine with aromas and flavors of black cherry and plum and a hint of spice with a smooth, silky finish," Concannon says. "It pairs well with beef, lamb, game, sausages or your favorite stew. The Ellen Rowe Concannon house pictured on the wine label honors my grandmother, who always welcomed family, friends and guests."
For large special occasion gatherings, magnums are a wise option -- the large format bottle makes a great centerpiece on the potluck table and serves about 10 glasses per bottle, about twice as much as a standard wine bottle.
You can hold a family reunion on almost any budget, but with a little extra help, you could create a truly memorable occasion that brings families together and appeals to all ages. The Concannon family is offering a $20,000 prize to help one lucky winner celebrate the people who matter most to all of us: family. Get more information and enter online for the family reunion of your dreams at www.concannonvineyard.com.
If you're looking for something to add to the potluck, Heartland Lamb Stew is a great option for pleasing a large group. Paired with Concannon's Glen Ellen Petite Sirah, it makes an elegant main dish at a reunion.
Heartland Lamb Stew
Recipe credit: The American Lamb Board
1 to 1-1/2 pounds American lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 medium onions, quartered
1 can (16 ounces) whole tomatoes and juice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 small bay leaf, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups water
2-3 tablespoons Glen Ellen Petite Sirah
6 medium potatoes, quartered
3 carrots, cut in thick slices
6 medium turnips, quartered
1 package (10 ounces) frozen green beans
Preheat oven to 350F. In ovenproof pan with cover, brown lamb cubes in oil. Drain drippings. In small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over lamb; mix well. Stir in onion, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, cloves, wine and water. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and turnips. Bake,covered, another 30 minutes. Add beans and bake 30 minutes longer, or until meat and vegetables are tender.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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