Etiquette Advice For Family Gatherings

When entertaining, there are two secrets to a host's success: An ability to bring together people and create lasting memories, and the foresight to see — and resolve — problems before they arise. Once a week, our resident experts Mindy Lockard and Coryanne Ettiene will weigh in with helpful advice to help the modern host tackle even the stickiest of situations with grace. Have a question you want answered? Send us an email with your dilemma, and then check back every week for new tips and advice.


This week's question:

I'm hosting a family gathering and am trying to be mindful of different interests. Do I have to make sure that I have something planned for everyone?

Coryanne: Family gatherings can be tricky, especially when family cliques are involved and relatives are traveling great distances to be part of the celebration. Not everyone needs to be involved in every single activity, but everyone needs to feel welcome. Be mindful of your seating plans when arranging family meals, be aware of who needs more attention to feel welcome, and ensure that you have one or two activities where everyone can participate together. If time allows, ask everyone to contribute a few family photos and create a slideshow that you can watch together, or if time is not on your side, plan a friendly game of charades.  


Mindy: There can be a lot of pressure when it comes to hosting anyone, let alone family. Be sure to do a lot of communication ahead of time. As host, you are also the expert on the area, so find five to eight activities that you can plan for the gathering and poll interest by email. This way, you are still directing the activities but also giving your guests a say. From this feedback, you can create an itinerary that is sent in advance so everyone knows what to expect — and no one feels left out. And don't forget to enjoy this special time with your family!

Click here to see 7 Tips for Surviving Family Reunions.


About Our Experts: Mindy Lockard is The Gracious Girl and offers traditional etiquette advice with a modern gracious twist. Coryanne Ettiene believes entertaining at home should be an everyday affair; she shares contemporary advice for modern living at Housewife Bliss.