How to Hold a Family Reunion at the Beach

Brunswick Islands

It’s never too early to start planning a family reunion your loved ones will remember for years to come. With the area’s central Mid-Atlantic location, plenty of affordable accommodations, more than 45 miles of beautiful beaches, endless outdoor activities, and fairways as far as the eye can see, it is easy to see why hundreds of families host their annual reunion at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands each year. There is no better place to get the family together than at the beach, and the Brunswick Islands has offerings suited to every member of the family.

We spoke with Cheryl Summer, an Ohioan who has been visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for more than 35 years. Cheryl originally started visiting the area with a few couples, and it has now morphed into a 20-person, two-house annual reunion with family and friends traveling from all over the country.

Check out Cheryl’s six tips on making the most of a family reunion, from planning to feeding a crowd:

  1. Find Accommodations That Can Hold Your Entire Family:

The Brunswick Islands has plenty of accommodations and meeting space that can accommodate families of all sizes! One of the most popular accommodations is a vacation rental home. Cheryl recommends booking one or more large houses, with spacious, equipped kitchens, lots of bathrooms, laundry facilities and plenty of areas to gather.

Vacation Beach house

  1. Plan Well in Advance:

Cheryl suggests that families start preparation for each beach reunion at least one year in advance. “We reserve the same two houses for two weeks every September,” she says. “We have families that stay for various lengths of time, and attendees from the current year get first pick on dates for next year’s reunion.”

  1. Organize and Delegate Shopping and Meals:

Feeding the entire family three times a day is no small feat! Cheryl suggests assigning each family a night to provide dinner. “They buy and prepare the main course, dessert and beverages,” says Sumner. Through the years, it’s developed into a friendly competition as each group tries to outdo the other. To save on labor, they use paper plates and cups.  “We don’t come on vacation to do dishes,” she laughs.

For the other meals and staples, Cheryl suggests that every person contribute $30 to the “kitty.”  At the beginning of the trip, Cheryl and her two organizing friends, Rosie and Debbie, make a grocery store run to purchase breakfast and lunch items, paper towels, zip bags, ice and other kitchen items.

“We designate one house for breakfast and lunch,” says Sumner, “and the other for dinner.” This provides the dinner crew a clear kitchen and enough prep time. “But both refrigerators have drinks, snacks and condiments for everyone,” says Sumner.

  1. Themes and Games Make It More Fun:

Perhaps the most fun and memorable part of each reunion is the changing theme. “We have a different theme each year. Once it was Christmas in July, another it was pirates, we vote on the next year’s theme at the end of the reunion” says Sumner.

Tuesday is designated as party night, with everything revolving around the theme, from costumes, décor, quizzes, music and activities. “The year of the pirate we created a treasure hunt throughout the house and onto the beach,” says Sumner. “Participants searched the house for clues, and followed a map onto the sand, where we had placed nine different ‘Xs’ to mark potential treasure.” These fun themed activities bring the family together in a fun and exciting way!

  1. Choose a Location with Many Activities:

Cheryl recommends that families pick a beach that’s not too busy and crowded, such as those in this southernmost corner of North Carolina. Yet the location should have activities for each age group. While each of the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island – has its own character and charm, they all offer plenty of activities for every age and interest. On the islands and the mainland are mouthwatering dining, museums and shops, boating, kayaking, fishing and championship golf, and riveting maritime and military history.

  1. Book Ahead:

While North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a well-loved, best-kept secret, it’s best to book a vacation beach rental, especially very large or oceanfront homes, a year ahead or at least by January if visiting from May – August, as many families like Cheryl’s come back year after year to build upon what they call their best vacation memories ever.

Come see why the Brunswick Islands brings families together! To plan your family reunion in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to learn more, visit www.NCBrunswick.com

Follow NC’s Brunswick Islands on social media at www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/ and www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/

 

Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Brunswick Islands

Create new traditions this Thanksgiving and replace turkey with fresh seafood and changing leaves with changing tides. Thanksgiving in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is guaranteed to be a holiday to remember with endless opportunities for quality family time without the usual holiday chaos. Who needs football when you can watch the sunset over the ocean before a post-dinner nap? (OK, some of you may still want to enjoy watching football in your spacious beach rental).

img_0796-sunset-oct-caswell-beach

img_1947The Brunswick Islands offer activities for all ages and interests with outdoor adventures to explore, local shops to browse, history to discover and much more. The destination is also home to a range of beachfront rental homes, ideal for families of all sizes, with spacious kitchens and plenty of room to celebrate the holiday with stunning coastal views.

For those looking to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without the stress of cooking, you’ll find a range of unique restaurants in the Brunswick Islands from traditional Calabash style and fresh-caught seafood to international flavors and casual American fare, several with waterfront dining.  And yes, some restaurants will also be serving traditional Thanksgiving fare.

After a day of thanks, find your Christmas cheer with holiday events, perfect for continuing the fun through the long weekend:

Ocean Isle Beach Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting
Friday, November 25th and Saturday, November 26th

The seaside celebration begins with the Tree Lighting on the Causeway on Friday at 5:00 p.m. where attendees are invited to bring their best singing voices and holiday cheer, complete with hot cocoa, coffee and other goodies. The fun continues Saturday with the Christmas Parade from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., where spectators can view golf carts and other vehicles dressed up for the season, decked with lights, tinsel and garland. Santa will also be awaiting visitors at the Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department beginning at 4:30 p.m. http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/360

Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla
Saturday, November 26th

Take the Christmas celebration dockside to view boats of all sizes dressed up for the holidays. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., spectators can view twinkling Christmas lights in this dazzling over-water parade on the Intracoastal Waterway. From illuminated snowmen to fishing Santas surrounded by festive palm trees, this is a not-to-be-missed beach tradition. Parade judging and an after party will follow at local favorite Sharky’s Restaurant. http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/499

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Step away from the holiday stress this year and spend time with family with the ocean as your backdrop – you’ll be thankful you did! To learn more about planning your Thanksgiving beach getaway, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Carving Memories in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Thanksgiving is the oldest American holiday, its roots in celebrating the blessing of the harvest have grown into a national giving of thanks for all of life’s bounty. This national tradition has even sprouted mini-traditions of its own, whether it be inviting family and friends over for an elaborate home-cooked meal, watching your favorite team take on their biggest rival or tuning into the beloved Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year, add spice to your season and start a new tradition by soaking in the season (and sun!) in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For the family who loves to travel when the kids are out of school, a fall escape to the beach is an escape from hectic holiday crowds. Let the gentle ocean waves, feel of the soft sand and warmth from the southern sun be the backdrop to a peaceful Thanksgiving retreat, perfect for catching up on some quality R&R before the winter holiday rush. With a variety of vacation specials, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands makes a Thanksgiving beach getaway both family and financially friendly.

DSC_1712A coastal celebration can also put you and your family in touch with the origins of this nation’s oldest holiday, which has come to be marked by stuffed turkeys, mashed potatoes and savory gravy. These items were likely not the only fare at the first Thanksgiving feast. Odds are seafood, available in abundance along and a signature of the New England coast, was also on the menu. Spend your Thanksgiving at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and you too can celebrate the season with fresh, traditional coastal fare such as roasted oysters, steamed clams, fish and shrimp.

If shopping is a part of your Thanksgiving tradition, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has something for you too. Across the islands and towns, you’ll find a large selection of specialty shops, art galleries, local craft boutiques, and antique treasures. In Shallotte, enjoy shopping your favorite brands and finding those Black Friday deals. Whether your tastes are contemporary or old-fashioned, downright fun or reflect a more traditional view, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.

IMG_8979Looking to get in the Christmas spirit on your Thanksgiving beach vacation? The 11th Annual Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla on Saturday, November 28, 2015 takes the term “parade” to an entirely new level. During this free event, the Intracoastal Waterway provides a fluid route for a host of beautifully decorated sailboats and power boats of all shapes and sizes lighting up the waterways.

So this season, treat your family with a trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands and experience a new tradition marked by togetherness and many thanks for years past and to come!