A few weekends ago a large group of our family gathered to celebrate together for the first time in a long while. (Since COVID started over a year ago.) We had this on our calendars for months and hoped we would be able to travel.  During the time we were separated, new babies were born, the first babies are now toddlers, and teenagers are (almost) grown-up people. Old folks got older too and fortunately, we haven’t lost any lately. 

We had organized several events for the time we were together to celebrate an important birthday. Among them were a road trip to the property where a barn is being built and trails cut out next to the pond, a lovely dinner in a favorite restaurant, and an “all together now” larger party at someone’s house. 

We all had fun and it was time well spent.  But thinking about the weekend on my plane ride home, I realized we missed a few details that would have made the time together even more meaningful.  I am going to put these ideas to work for my Thanksgiving gathering and hope they might be helpful to you (These kinds of detailed attention efforts work for employee morale too!)  

We should have used place cards at the dinner. I think place cards send a message that your presence was anticipated and planned for. With more than 20 adults including a mix of friends and some family members from different cities, no one knew where they should sit. We didn’t have place cards or a map and this was a perfect time to have used them.  We spent time planning an elegant and fun dinner with special decorations, food, and wine.  Going that extra bit further to plan for each guest’s experience would have eliminated the awkwardness at the start of the dinner.  We also could have asked everyone to switch spots after dinner before the cake and toasts started.  A little bit of extra planning in those details will make a difference.  

Resolved:  My turkey place cards are in process. 

We should have had an itinerary for where everyone would be and how to join each activity, with a list of fun things to do in off-times. That could also have had everyone’s name, cell number, and where they were staying listed. 

While the time we spent calling and texting each other to make sure everyone was taken care of was a good thing, we weren’t sure we weren’t leaving someone who wanted to go somewhere behind.  As it turned out, a couple of individuals were left behind for an outing that was too far to turn around and restart.  Everyone felt bad about it, and it could have been avoided!  Just a few minutes of extra planning in the details would have (probably) avoided that situation. 

Resolved: I will let everyone know who is bringing what and what the plans are for the day. 

We forgot to start the traditional family games.  

In the time leading up to this weekend, we wanted to make sure we continued the family game traditions. In our case, we play charades with everyone age 100 down to 1, we cheat at spoons and have various “footraces” in honor of my father who started them 90+ years ago.  We missed our chance when we finally got together for the party!  No one was “in charge” and so we never launched the games. 

We missed our chance to make foolishness for the youngest generation to talk about!  This was a lost opportunity to carry on family traditions.  People still tell the stories about grandmother and her sister performing at the talent show during one reunion in North Carolina!   We were all looking at photos and watching the littles play so we missed our chance.  Guess we’ll have to continue the tradition at my house this Thanksgiving and remember to put a couple of people in charge for our next family gathering from all over the country. 

Resolved:  I am writing charades clues and counting the spoons this weekend! 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  Half of the fun is anticipating the gathering and rehashing it after it’s over!   Enjoy! 

And, of course, if you’d like to explore your options for exiting your business, let’s have a conversation.  It’s rarely too early to think about these goals.  We also help companies who want to grow by buying another company or who want to prepare their company for sale.  Have you bought a business and are having trouble integrating it?  We can help with that too.

I can be reached anytime via email: [email protected] or phone at: 224-688-8838.

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Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio

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