Congratulations, you’ve been selected to host a family gathering. You may be thinking to yourself, “how did I get myself roped into this?” You may be wondering what to do first. Take a deep breath. You will get through this without stressing out or breaking your budget. There are some things you’ll need to know before you rush out to buy the necessary food and decorations.

Tip #1 Plan Your Schedule and Set a Date

Formal family gatherings do take a lot of planning ahead of time. Your family, especially those that live across the country, will need time to check their schedules. It is necessary when you have a huge group to coordinate schedules so at the very least the guest of honor can attend. You may want to throw out a couple of dates to make sure more people can make it to the family gathering.

Tip #2 Have a “Game Plan”

A successful family gathering, whether it be something that you put together last minute or something you planned for months needs what I call a game plan. It can be simple as having everyone bring their favorite dish or as elaborate as asking your guests to bring an expensive gift. Your game plan needs to include the theme of the gathering. Holiday parties are fairly easy to plan if you know how you want to celebrate the occasion. It also helps if you know it’s going to be an informal or formal gathering.

Tip #3 Prepare Your Venue

You have a good idea of how many people to expect. Now is the time to look around and assess your venue. Informal family gatherings are usually held at home. You need to make an honest assessment of how many people your venue can handle comfortably. Is it going to be too crowded? Will you have enough chairs for everyone? It is good to inventory what you have even if you’re only having a small family gathering. You do want to establish a good venue if you know you can’t have it at home.

Tip #4 Ask for Everyone to RSVP

This is important if you are expecting a huge crowd. Every host knows however that there is at least one person that shows up unexpectedly. You do need to be prepared for that contingency. Formal family gatherings need formal invitations. Informal family gatherings don’t, but it is prudent to have some sort of communication available. If you have a good count of who is coming, you can plan accordingly.

Tip #5 Plan for the Unexpected
It always happens at least once. You misplaced a gift. You ran out of food. Someone you were expecting can’t make it. The weather turns bad. As a host, you need to be aware but not panicked when things go wrong. When you have a good game plan, you have some control over circumstances. The best family gatherings are those that don’t look overly planned out. Family gatherings with small children definitely need to be flexible enough to include unexpected needs.

Once you do have a fairly good idea of your theme, and who you plan to invite and a general idea of who is coming, you can then budget it all out according to what costs you’ll incur. A good game plan will help you with the logistics of planning your family gathering. The not-so-fun part is budgeting out the celebration. Here are some good questions to ask:

1) Is it a formal family gathering like a wedding, anniversary or special birthday? Formal family gatherings don’t have to break the bank if you plan out expenses.

2) How much do you think you’ll need to spend on the gathering and how much can you spend now? It is important to have a budget that you can’t go over.