Plan the Perfect Family Party

Kim Conte

Who doesn't love a good family party? They're one of my favorite activities!

But once in awhile, you have to admit, they can get a bit monotonous. At least in my family, here's what happens a typical party:

The same people (my wonderful family, obviously) sit around eating the same food (pizza), drinking the same drinks (beer or soda), talking about the next time we're all going to get together. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with the fam! It's just sometimes I like to liven up the celebration. 

With this in mind, here are some creative tips for planning the perfect family party...

  • Instead of a buffet, serve the meal family-style:

In typical potluck fashion, ask each family member to bring a dish. But rather than setting all the platters in line on the buffet, arrange them on the table where everyone is sitting/eating and pass them. This will encourage family-friend conversation, and you won't have to invest in a centerpiece.


  • Instead of beer and soda, mix up punch:

Non-alcoholic punch is fun and tasty for both adults and kids alike. And if there are guests who prefer booze, you can make a separate batch to spike with vodka, rum, etc. Check out these recipes for Citrus Punch and Watermelon Punch.


  • Instead of white noise, play music:

I don't care what anyone else says: It's not a party without good music. Recruit a teen in the family to make a few mix CDs or playlist for the IPOD (family appropriate music only please!).


  • Instead of sitting around, plan fun, organized activities to get everyone involved:

Before the party, organize "official" family competitions—for example, card/board game tournaments or an all-family baseball game. This will take a bit of work on your part but ask a family member or two to help you. It will definitely give your family something to look forward to at the party. Encourage good sportsmanship by awarding candy prizes for both winners and losers.


  • Instead of traditional cookies or cake, make your own dessert:

Make-your-own ice cream sundae bars are always a hit, or S'mores would work, too, if your party is outdoors.

Don't miss more great ideas in our related feature on how to host a family reunion.

What happens at your family parties?

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