By Abi Haggerty
With DIY culture going strong there is a lot of opportunity to awaken your inner design queen and explore some fun ideas. Family gatherings are the perfect place to test run those crazy design ideas you have been stewing on and gauge whether they are worth the effort. I recently helped plan my family’s annual Fourth of July party, and with my sister in law spearheading the design committee, it was a weekend to remember. Check out these fun ideas to create a family event that everyone will talk about for years.
Guests arrived leisurely throughout the afternoon to a check in table complete with a welcome agenda and a custom cup with everyone’s face on it (in an Uncle Sam hat!) filled with champagne. The property had multiple buildings and bathrooms, so the agenda included a site map showing each guest their room and designated bathroom, which kept things clean and clutter free for the duration of the weekend.
After getting a tour of the property, guests were shown to their rooms and given their welcome tote bag. Each reusable tote included a plate, flatware, a glass water bottle, sunscreen, and bug spray. The expectation was set upon arrival that guests were in charge of their own dishes for the weekend.
Once everyone arrived, the games began. Flower adornment stations peaked out of secret corners, buckets of beers were placed on every landing, and the weekend tournaments were enough to get everyone excited. In my experience, the Fourth of July can turn into a booze fest real quick. While we still wanted everyone to enjoy their beverages, we made sure to include some structure, (and lots of snacks!) to keep everyone interested.
Our family loves cribbage, so the first annual cribbage tournament kept the weekend moving and gave guests something to look forward to. To add an elevated design flair, we drew our bracket on a vintage window pane with liquid chalk markers. We had two flower crown stations on the property and hung mirrors on trees near each one. Even though we were in a cabin in the woods, including these details elevated the expectation of the event.
Food can be a big stressor for family events. Having to plan multiple menus, grocery shop, prepare food, and wash dishes for 20-30 people is a major undertaking, and it ends up falling on the same few people. Lucky for us, we have some chef friends that were happy to jump in and help. This eased the planning side of things, and gave our friends a platform to be creative and show off their food.
Some of our menu items included a seafood boil grazing table, complete with a garbage can in the center; red, white and blue potatoes, deconstructed ants on a log, and grilled tahini asparagus, just to name a few. Having a solid food plan going into the weekend gave us the opportunity to enjoy each other a little more and spend less time cleaning up after everyone. Another important element was having guests in charge of cleaning and reusing their plates, flatware, and cups. It may sound like a lot of work when you are expecting a fun, relaxing time, but by the end of the weekend everyone was used to the system and had no complaints – and it’s way better than one or two people washing everyone’s dishes! Planning things that require guest involvement can be hard, because you can only hope that your guests will comply. Getting guests involved gives them a sense of ownership which keeps things casual and efficient.
Coming up with decor for this event was the best part. We decided to go for a floral explosion. Everywhere you looked there were flower arrangements and floral chains with dried and fresh floral. The best part about these pieces was that they were simple and easy to make, but added a cohesive look to the event. The piece de resistance, and most time consuming element to the weekend, was the large floral chandelier that hung above our dining table. We constructed this piece the day before the event started, and watered her throughout the weekend. It added an elegant feel to our cozy cabin in the woods, which made every meal feel extravagant. Small touches, like candles running the length of the table and paper napkins folded in a unique way, accented with a flower, continued the elegant look while still giving us the rustic chic feel we were going for.
Overall, planning an event is time consuming and often exhausting. Was it a lot of work? Absolutely. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat.
The key to a successful event is having a successful team, and that’s exactly what we had. This event went off without a hitch and will only get better with time. Next family event you have, add a few small design touches and notice what it adds to the gathering – is it worth it? That’s up to you to decide.
If not, give Red Carpet Events & Design a call and we will gladly take on your design dreams.