Please help me organize my family reunion
October 4, 2012 5:08 PM   Subscribe

I've somehow been tasked with organizing a family reunion for my HUGE family. There could be up to 75 people there if everyone comes with spouses/SOs and kids. I plan large events for work and have done travel events like this (bachelorette parties, ski weekends) for smaller groups, but this is a real challenge for a group this large. Advice?

Here are the parameters I have been given:
- A property on or within a short walking distance of an ocean beach
- Most people seem to prefer the idea of going to North Carolina (most central coastal location to where everyone will be traveling from) though nodes of the group going are in New York (most people here), Florida, Texas, and Illinois. One family will come from Amsterdam.
- If every family/couple gets their own room (most of which will need to accommodate 2 adults & a couple of kids) I will need about 25 rooms.
- There will be about 7 seniors with varying degrees of mobility, 18 couples in their 30's-40's, 5 teenagers between 13-19, and about 17 little ones between the ages of 10-3.
- Most people would prefer houses with kitchens and teevees over a hotel.
- They want an ocean beach with good waves for daytime swimming and where we can build bonfires at night.
- We're looking at mid-July 2013. I don't want it to cost a fortune, but we are all pretty realistic about what it will run with being high season at the beach.

I have organized dozens of projects and hundreds of people without being daunted but dang, this one is challenging! Anyone who's done this before who can offer some general advice? And anyone who can suggest any specific areas of North Carolina I should target? I've never even been there, so I am clueless about it.
posted by deliciae to Travel & Transportation around North Carolina (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would contact SunRealty and see if they can find you 5 or 6 houses that are in the same neighborhood in the Outer Banks. You're talking approx $2000 per family. You may be able to get some houses with elevators for the mobility issue. That is the real estate company that I have used twice now to book houses for vacations and I have found them easy to work with and to have the best selection of homes.

As for bonfires, I am not certain of the rules but would assume that down toward Frisco, in other words, in the less centrally located parts of the OBX, you may be allowed to light bonfires. HTH.
posted by rabidsegue at 5:16 PM on October 4, 2012

The Outer Banks region of North Carolina is a great fit for what you describe (nice family-friendly beaches with rental houses). Just to name a town, you could start looking in the town of Duck and work your way outward from there, seeking houses that are available within your budget and with the type of accessibility features your older relatives need.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:18 PM on October 4, 2012

I recently attended a family gathering of similar scope, but in Maine. The planner rented one huge home (12 bedrooms), and two large homes in the same neighborhood, and it worked out beautifully. is a good place to start looking.
posted by grudgebgon at 6:19 PM on October 4, 2012

You must delegate. I personally prefer it if any one "event" (BBQ dinner on the beach, whatever) is the responsibility of one person, who must take care of their own recruiting efforts.

Other than that, I'm a safety-and-preparedness freak. I hate it when things go wrong and I'm not ready. I see each of your 75 participants as a likely source of entropy and woe.


Make sure to get the addresses/phone numbers of the nearest police station, nearest Wal-Mart, nearest Home Depot, and nearest full-service grocery store. Also get the local AAA office address, the local emergency room address, and the county sheriff's phone number. Give these (on paper) to every person over 16. Make sure they all get a paper map of the state (at least one per family.)

Have a phone tree. Paper phone tree. Include the phone numbers of two or three people not in the area in case of an emergency.

Have every single grown-up in the group read through these hurricane prep guidelines from the state of North Carolina. If anyone in the family from Amsterdam has language problems (it seems unlikely, but I don't know) make sure they understand how to evacuate, too. Give all the people over 15 a copy of this list of important laws from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Having walkie-talkies will make dealing with the usual teenage need for independence & exploration less of a headache.

Make sure everyone knows how to swim or has a life vest. Alternatively, if they are over the age of 18 they can swear they won't freaking go near the water.

Since there will be small children and you plan on having a bonfire at night on the beach near water, invest in safety gear such as blinking lights and reflective vests - treat it like Halloween. I was just at a church campout with kids in the under-5 age range, and the best thing we had for keeping track of them was a bunch of glow bracelets. Make sure you have flashlights, too. Big ones.
posted by SMPA at 6:20 PM on October 4, 2012

I agree that the Outer Banks in North Carolina sounds perfect for this. I just wanted to chime in that I've had good experiences with Twiddy Realty.
posted by spec80 at 10:10 AM on October 5, 2012

My dad's side of the family does this every year (alternating Christmas and Thanksgiving) and there are usually around 120 people in attendance. It *is* possible, just a bit daunting.

They year they're all going skiing in Colorado.
posted by tacodave at 12:37 PM on October 5, 2012

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