Before you load up that travel bag, play catch up over a bottle of wine (or two), and take a jaunt through a vineyard or pumpkin patch with your best girlfriends, some careful planning has to go into any good friend reunion. For many, the older we get, the harder it is to see our friends. Even if you all live in the same city, it’s nearly impossible to find a time that works for everyone on short notice, especially as people gain more responsibilities—from demanding jobs to growing families to needy pets! So when you finally decide it’s been far too long, why not make it a full-on reunion, getting away from your daily lives and usual scenery, and taking a trip somewhere where you can all focus on renewing your friendships? Here’s our advice on the best way to plan a friends’ reunion.
Trying to find a time to meet up with all of your close friends at once can be like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube: it seems pretty near impossible most of the time. That’s why we recommend setting a date way ahead of time—six months is not too far in advance, especially if air travel is involved. For far-flung friends, more planning time may be necessary. You want people to keep this on their calendars so that no other plans take precedence. Planning well in advance of the date is also helpful as you begin to plan the rest of the reunion, leaving lots of time to start thinking about all the other elements of the trip, from meals to activities to outfits to wear.
Another thing that involves planning is your lodging. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend with a country house (or have one of your own), this will involve some heavy research and decision-making. If a lot of people are coming to the reunion, trying to find a house or hotel that suits everyone can be difficult. It’s often best if one or two people take the reins here. Guests should agree on a general budget and location, but ultimately, they should be presented with up to three options to vote on. It’s important to consider how much time you’ll be spending at the lodging itself. If most of your plans involve being out of the house, maybe you only need a hotel or bare-bones Airbnb. But if most of your time will be spent cooking and hanging out together, you should book a house or Airbnb with a nice kitchen and ample supplies.
It’s always fun when everyone can bring something to the table. Meal planning is a big part of a reunion, especially if you’re staying in a house where you’ll be cooking. Let everyone be responsible for one meal or break people into pairs, groups of threes, etc. (depending on how big your group is) so that one person doesn’t end up handling everything themselves.
While you don’t want to over-plan each day, leaving enough time for last-minute adventures as well as ample down-time, it’s wise to have a rough schedule so that you can get to everything you want to do. If you’re visiting a new city, plan a few things to do out of the house each day, like going to a farmer’s market, museum, or beer garden. If you’re spending the weekend in the country, maybe you want to go apple picking, visit a vineyard or berry farm, or go for a hike. Planning activities ahead of time can help people when they’re packing—if a hike is on the agenda, they’ll be sure to pack some leggings and comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots, or if a fancy dinner at a restaurant or at home is in store, they can pack a fancier tunic and some fun accessories.
Once evening rolls around, making a customized cocktail is a great way to bring people together. Choose something seasonal or local to the area you’re visiting. If it’s fall or winter, opt for some traditional wassail, a warm beverage that blends hot cider, cinnamon, lemon, and spices with whiskey to create the coziest cold-weather beverage. For spring or summer, cool off with a fun cucumber-jalepeño tequila cocktail.
Make the most of your friends’ reunion by sending everyone home with something to remember the weekend by forever. A monogrammed gift, like a personalized shirt, towel, bag, or robe, is an ideal souvenir and the perfect way to keep your memories of the trip with you after you return home.
These are a few tips for planning a friends’ reunion that will make it one for the books.