Quality Family Time

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ll have all encountered relatives that we won’t be seeing again until the same time next year. For certain family individuals, this is indeed a blessing. But what about the relatives that we do enjoy seeing? The good old family get together is becoming a rare occurrence, aside from Birthdays and religious festivals, of course. But family is family. We’re upon this earth for a mere speck in time, and we should be spending as much time with the people we hold dearest as is possible. In my
experience, just saying you’ll get together for a drink, more often than not, leads to little more than lost words. If you really want to get people to mark a date in the diary, you’ll need to arrange a good old fashioned family meal. But marking a date in the diary is just the start.

What To Cook

Roast DinnerCredit: WikipediaCredit: Wikipedia

You can’t please everyone. When planning your menu, always keep that in your mind. This makes selecting a take away style dish, a gamble. A curry, for instance, will divide opinions. Your granny may not even be willing to try a curry, whereas your uncle would regard anything weaker than a Vindaloo as a breeze. The happy medium is a roast dinner. The beauty of a roast is that you can play chef and nip out to the kitchen whenever the conversation borders on awkward. One little tip I would give here, is to only put the meat out on the plate. Potatoes, vegetables and gravy should be dished out on server
platters and bowls (Gravy in a boat of course!) This provides everyone with a
sense of playing a part in the proceedings and not just sitting at the table,
eating and popping off again. It also enables people to choose what they want
to eat.

What To Talk About

Tricky. Especially with families. At least with friends, you know what you’re dealing with and your friends know all about your views, that’s why they’re your friends. With your family, you are stuck with them even if your opinions differ. It’s not really about what to talk about, more what not to talk about. Money should be very much at the top of the list. Say you have too much and you appear to be big headed but saying you have too little will
draw out the violins. They are your family after all, so they all know what you do for a living and what your lifestyle is like. Best to steer away from the subject and if anyone else foolishly brings it up, back away and say ‘life’s more about happiness than money’. A little lie never hurt anyone!

Perhaps you’re looking to draw some attention on others. A nice little trick here is to introduce a subject that you know divides a couple of your guests. Politics is a sure fire hit. Gently drop in a subtle conversation starter and walk away to watch the firework go off. Introduced early enough and it can roll in and out during the whole get together. I’m not talking about an issue which you know will draw blood, save that for a wedding. No, I’m talking about the niggling issues in life that divide people.

After Food Entertainment

You can cook the most delightful of food dishes, the conversation can be as sparking as the wine, but if the night fizzles out to become a damp squib, then it’s all gone to waste. Where most people let slip, is the after food entertainment or lack of it. This needs to be planned out in advance, but introduced as an offhand ‘what to do’. You don’t want to appear regimental after all. An activity which gets people moving has only been with us for the past few years since the introduction of the Nintendo Wii or XBOX Kinekt. Prior to this, you were left with an evening of stale karaoke. Maybe funny at first, but after the third verse of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, you were willing to fly over to Bonnie Tyler and give her a piece of your mind. With the video games market becoming more aimed at party time fun, why not take advantage. The majority of these type of games are short spelled games so you’re not all waiting around for Uncle Harry to try and play a full hour against the all blacks in the Rugby World Cup final. It gets people moving, builds up a sense of fun and brings in an edge of competitiveness to the night. And we all know there’s nothing better than getting one over on your relatives.

If you don’t have one of these games or fancy something different, then classic board games are the next best thing. One particular favourite at my parties is Scene It. A DVD based game centred on movies. It features classic clips from well-known films and comes with tons of questions.On that subject, something I tend to shy away from doing, is sticking on a film to watch. Not everyone
else has your taste in films, and even though this is one of your all-time favourite films, you will need to remember that you may be putting everyone else through the longest two hours of their lives.

In Review

So there we have it. A few tips and quips to get you through a family get together. Get it right and it can leave fond memories for the rest of your lives, but get it wrong and you can be sure it will be mentioned at every other get together. I’ve jested a few times about getting together with families, but
on a serious note, we should all try to put that little bit of effort in. There is something warm and comforting about being surrounded by the ones whom you love and who love you and more importantly, enjoying each other’s company. One of the worst feelings that I have, is at the wake of a funeral and realising that some of these family members I haven’t seen since the last funeral. Make the
most of seeing each other whilst you can and enjoy the times that you spend together.

Remember, whether you like it or not, a family is for life not just for Christmas.