Reunion Menus Made Easier by Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.

Are you a first-time reunion planner struggling to set a menu for your gathering?  Do you have a longstanding reunion but desire to change things up or streamline your meal planning? For those on a fixed budget who do not wish to hire a caterer, consider asking attendees to contribute items. For example, during the past several years of my family’s reunion we have offered both a lunch and dinner. Our bigger meal is usually held at noon and has featured a taco bar (chicken, steak, tortillas, with cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, tortilla chips) and fruit salad. For dinner we serve hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and a family recipe for kielbasa and sauerkraut (which we call “The Pot”), as well as traditional sides like potato and macaroni salad, baked beans, and more. 

About two months before the reunion, we send out an email that states the price for the reunion (typically between $20-25 per person payable on the day). This fee covers the reimbursement cost of the picnic venue (paid in advance), iced tea, lemonade and water, utensils, plates, cups, napkins, etc. Attendees are asked to sign up to bring the main dish items, sides, buns, baked goods, condiments, and other items. We use an online form via Sign-Up Genius for to simplify the process which offers a free plan, usually sufficient for individuals and families planning potlucks, parties, and small events. A premium plan for $8.99 month offers additional features such as one additional administrator, premium theme designs, two custom questions, among others. You could use the premium version to reflect the theme of your reunion and use a photo of a traditional dish or of something you plan to serve to personalize the form. Even if you use a caterer for your main meal, you can use the sign-up form to share responsibilities for bringing snacks and other treats, decorations, or door prizes. This way everyone gets to contribute something to making the reunion a success.

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