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/

 

Spring Break Road Trip: Top 5 Reasons NC’s Brunswick Islands is Guaranteed to Put Some Spring in your Step!

by the time Spring Break rolls around, most of us are suffering from a serious case of Spring Fever and are more than ready to Get. Out. Side!

It is also a perfect time for families, who maybe haven’t seen each other since the Holidays, to reconnect.  If you had to pick a central Spring Break gathering point for relatives spread up and down the east coast, and let’s not forget that uncle in Ohio, you couldn’t do better than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands!    Centrally located on the East Coast, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are an easy, almost equidistant drive from population power houses Washington, DC (6 h 37 min) and Atlanta, GA (6 h 1 min).  Ohio clocks in at 9.5 hours, which doesn’t deter folks as every Spring and Summer, SUVs sporting OH plates peak out beneath the beach houses.

Now that you know how easy it is to get here, take a look at these wonderful ways to spend your NC beach vacation once you’ve arrived!

  1. Uncrowded Beaches

DSC_8627_RetouchedForty-five miles of uncrowded beaches on 5 barrier islands await vacationers at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.  There’s plenty of room to roam and spread out. While the kids splash around, bask in the sun and crack open that book you’ve been dying to read. Without the commercialism of typical spring break destinations, it is so much easier to truly relax and unwind. You won’t find the partiers or view-blocking high rise hotels here. Instead, enjoy pristine sand and natural rolling dunes for miles and miles.

       2. Outdoor Adventure

Swamp Park IMG_9365Bring out your wild side and experience new adventures. Zip through untouched swamp land at Ocean Isle’s new Shallotte River Swamp Park, which features a sustainable zipline course that navigates through a 300-year-old swamp and cypress canopy. Enjoy water-based action in the ocean, rivers and Intracoastal Waterway including canoeing, kayaking, wind sailing, paddle boarding, surfing and fishing. For those who prefer to stay grounded, enjoy a slow-paced stroll down one of the many piers or beaches, or explore the many parks and nature preserves our area has to offer.

  1. History & Museums

DSC_6132_LIGHTHOUSE COUPLECulture and history buffs alike will have plenty to keep their minds sharp this spring break. The state’s oldest standing lighthouse, Old Baldy, on Bald Head Island has stood over North Carolina’s coast for hundreds of years.  Oak Island Lighthouse on Caswell Beach was once the brightest lighthouse in the country. Now, both lighthouses are landmarks beckoning visitors to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top. This spring, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Coastal Carolina, the Southeast’s largest dry aquarium; or the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which gives families insight into tales of pirates and pillage, blockade running, riverfront archaeology, and other nautical adventures. The fun doesn’t stop there, as our islands offer an abundance of museums and historic sites to explore!

  1. Live Like a Local

Oak Island Vacation Rental HomeDive into the rich and relaxing culture of island life by renting a house for the week and enjoy the perks of being able to walk out the front door and onto the beach. Later, enjoy dinner by sampling the local flavors of the coastal area. Our local fishermen harvest a variety of top-quality seafood, including shrimp, blue crabs, grouper, flounder, oysters and clams. In addition, our picturesque Southern small towns offer family-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries and shops to make the area one of the best North Carolina vacation destinations.

  1. Spring and Easter Events

The Spring Art Show kicks off the season on March 1 and runs through March 20 in Southport with paintings, pottery and more by local and other NC artists.  Over Easter Weekend, egg hunts and Easter events will keep you hopping from one end of the Brunswick Islands to the other. Then, in April, celebrate parrot-head-style at Phlock to the Beach with a weekend of Jimmy Buffett inspired high spirited fun and the Oak Island Lighthouse 5K, 10K & Half Marathon.  At the end of April, Days at the Docks features food, fun, arts and music on Holden Beach.