From The Color Gold To Personalized Cocktails, Here’s What Hot In Weddings For 2016

From the rise of bridal separates to the influx of overflowing bouquets and exotic food trucks, 2015 was a big year for the “big day.” But with spring right around the corner, we can’t help but look forward to the biggest wedding trends for 2016.

 So, what matrimonial must-haves will couples obsess over? Here is a list of trends culled from wedding planners all over the country:

  • Personalized weddings: Recent years have seen brides rush to recreate their version of a royal wedding or something straight off a Pinterest board. But this year it’s clear brides are much more interested in going down the aisle their own way. Couples today want a wedding that showcases who they are, that’s a fun experience for their guests and that won’t look or feel dated.
  • Golden color scheme: Metallics are surprisingly versatile, depending on how and where they are brought into the celebration. They can be elegant, whimsical, ethereal or even very natural.” No matter the venue or theme, designers across the country say rose gold will show up on everything from rings to table linens. Even the food and drink get in on the trend, with shiny blush icings on desserts and rose-hued cocktails. One metallic that is on the wane, however, is silver.
  • Flower power: The right mix of style and simplicity will be the cornerstone of fabulous wedding floral arrangements this year. Arrangements that feature both seasonal flowers and whatever grows locally are gaining traction. Wild, free-form bouquets and  centerpieces often include a mix of big and small blossoms in more than one color, and might use spiky flowers as exclamation points.
  • Remain seated: Couples are moving away from a reception layout based on large round tables, which has a tendency to feel too much like a conference event, and are instead opting for either very long, rectangular tables or a mix of long tables surrounded by smaller square and round tables ― all for a more intimate vibe. And lounge areas, complete with comfortable seating options, will remain a crucial part of the cocktail and after-party hours.
  • We’ll drink to that: What better way to give your guests a glimpse of who you are than by serving them your favorite libations? The trend of his-and-her cocktails is not only easier on the budget (no more guesstimating for an open bar) but it’s an instant conversation starter. As far as wine goes, rosé is fast becoming a mainstay at weddings. Couples are including it in the wine selection at dinner, serving rosé champagne for toasts or offering a variety of rosés from different regions as a sampling during the cocktail hour.
  • On a roll: Food stations that were all the rage even up to last year have conceded to the classic sit-down dinner. But that doesn’t mean guests are stuck in their seats. To keep things interesting, caterers are bringing back gueridon service, where servers arrive at the dinner table with a cart filled with all the makings for customizable appetizers and desserts ― everything from Caesar salads, pastas and tartares to gelato, doughnuts and milk-and-cookies.
  • National Park weddings: Rustic brides and grooms are taking their love for the outdoors to a whole new level by having their weddings in a national park (very timely as 2016 is the National Park Service Centennial). National parks are the perfect backdrop for picturesque wedding ceremonies and receptions. Outdoor, back-to-nature weddings will be huge this year, with couples leaving the church to wed in God’s country.

Decanting Forces Wine Drinkers To “Air” On The Side Of Caution

Because wine is technically alive in the bottle, it stands to reason that it needs to breathe. And that’s where a decanter comes in.

What’s a decanter, you ask? It’s a stoppered glass vessel into which wine is poured and allowed to “settle” for a while. Decanting is not just for wine drinkers who live in stately homes, or for decades-old bottles worth thousands of dollars. Anyone who wants the best from their wine should own a decanter. And it’s not just for show. Even in this modern age of industrial, fined and filtered wines, many wines will still benefit from spending some time in a decanter.

Decanting is one of those elements of wine service that intimidates many drinkers. Which wines need it? And is it necessary or just a bit of wine pomp and circumstance?

The basics of decanting

Fundamentally, decanting serves two purposes — to dissipate any sediment that may have formed and to aerate a wine in the hope that its aromas and flavors will mature.

Older red wines and vintage ports naturally produce sediment as they age as color pigments and tannins bond together. Stirring up the sediment when pouring will cloud a wine’s appearance and can impart bitter flavors and a gritty texture. Even inexpensive wines plucked from the shelves of the local supermarket can benefit from decanting, especially if a first taste reveals a tannic, grippy, youthful structure.

Decanting is simply the process of separating this sediment from the clear wine. It’s fairly safe to assume that a red will have accumulated sediment after 5 to 10 years in the bottle, and should be decanted.

How to decant

  •  Set the bottle upright for 24 hours before drinking, so the sediment can slide to the bottom.
  •  Pour the wine into the decanter slowly and steadily, without stopping; when you get to the bottom half of the bottle, pour even more slowly.
  •  Stop as soon as you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle. Sediment isn’t always chunky and obvious; stop if the wine’s color becomes cloudy or if you see what looks like specks of dust in the neck.
  •  The wine is now ready to serve. Discard the remaining ounce or two of sediment-filled liquid in the bottle.

A particularly fragile or old wine (especially one 15 or more years old) should only be decanted 30 minutes or so before drinking. A younger, more vigorous, full-bodied red wine — and sometimes even whites — can be decanted an hour or more before serving. At some tastings, wines are decanted for hours beforehand and often turn out well. These experiments can be risky (the wine could end up oxidized) and are best done by those familiar with how those wines age and evolve.

If you’re curious about the decanting process, buy a decanter (prices range from $15 to more than $100), and, experiment with multiple bottles of the same wine. Decant one and pour the other straight from the bottle, or decant the same wines for different lengths of time. It should become clear that every serious wine drinker needs to “air” on the side of caution.

Taking Care Of A Horse’s Coat Essential In Overall Health Approach

The condition of a horse’s coat and skin are generally a reflection of its overall health. A healthy horse will have a shiny, even haircoat without excess oiliness or dryness. Its winter coat will be longer and thicker, and should shed out completely in the spring.

The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the horse’s body, making up 12-24 percent of its total weight. It varies from 1½ inches thick on the lower back and rump, to less than ½ inch on the head and underbelly.

Since the skin and coat are so visible, disorders are readily detected during an examination. Dry skin or a dull haircoat can be caused by a number of conditions including:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Parasites, both internal and external
  • Allergies
  • Poor nutrition (e.g., low protein, diet poor in fatty acids)

Managing dry skin and dull coats

If your horse has an unhealthy coat or skin condition, work with your veterinarian to find the underlying cause. Once diagnosed, you can develop a management plan that may include:

  • Treating any underlying medical condition
  • Starting a regular and/or parasite prevention program
  • Grooming your horse regularly; removing the dead hair and skin flakes and distributing the natural oils through the coat
  • Shampooing with the appropriate product for your horse’s particular condition
  • Supplementing or correcting the diet and balancing your horse’s ration to include at least 12 percent protein and ensuring adequate amounts of fat

Common ingredients in skin supplements include Vitamin A, B and E, biotin, lysine, zinc and methionine. But, oddly enough, a horse also needs copper to help maintain a healthy coat.

Copper an essential trace mineral

Copper plays a vital role in many processes within a horse’s body. For example, there are copper dependent enzymes involved in the synthesis and maintenance of elastic connective tissue. Copper is necessary for the mobilization of stored iron in the body and also detoxifies superoxide, a compound deployed by the immune system to kill invading microorganisms.

Also, coat color is determined by the presence and proportion of melanin pigments. As it turns out, the enzyme responsible for melanin production — tyrosinase — is copper-dependent. This enzyme derived from the amino acid tyrosine results in brown and black pigments. Many coat colors have some level of brown and black in them, including buckskins, chestnuts, bays and blacks. The latter two colors are also influenced by zinc.

Depigmentation of the coat may indicate low copper or zinc status. Typically, when copper is low, chestnut coats will appear to have a yellow tone to them and black coats will have a rust appearance. You might especially notice this color shift in a horse’s mane. Coats appear to fade over time due to ultraviolet light causing damage to the pigment leading to color change. If pigment levels are high, coats have greater resistance to damage.

Dietary sources

Common feedstuffs that are fed to horses vary widely in their Cu content. Can molasses has one of the highest concentrations of Cu. Due to this, its inclusion in feeds in a minimal amount can be beneficial. However, due to its high sugar content, if it is included in large amounts, the negatives outweigh the positives.

It is vital that a horse owner talk to a veterinarian or qualified large-animal specialist when it comes to maintaining the proper diet, and the minimum daily requirements of important supplemental vitamins and minerals.

Renewing Your Vows Makes A Strong Statement — If Done Correctly

Saying “I do” is a life-changing experience, but it can equally rewarding when a couple says “I do, Take 2!”

For married couples it is a time to pause and reflect on where they have been and where they are going. It is also a wonderful example to set for their children and/or grandchildren. It’s a touching scene when children watch their parents join hands and hearts as they affirm the magnitude and strength of their enduring love (a great life/love lesson).

For generations couples have engaged in vow renewals, a fine way to celebrate a marriage many years in the making. In a society where 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, couples seek to rejoice in milestones, be it 10, 25 or 50 years together. They want the world to know that they’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

A reaffirmation can take place literally anytime after the actual wedding — the next day or 30 years later. But you don’t want to renew too soon or too often, unless you’ve eloped and would like to make your vows public upon your return. Otherwise, be sure to reserve the occasion for significant milestone years.

There are many reason to renew your wedding vows:

  • You were married in a different country and want to celebrate your marriage locally with family and friends.
  • It is a special anniversary, such as your 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, etc.
  • You and your spouse have had a difficult time and want to start fresh.
  • The two of you want to make a public statement of your love and commitment to each other.
  • You originally had a civil ceremony, and you want to have a religious ceremony now.

There are some definite do’s and don’ts surrounding wedding renewals. It is recommended that you DO NOT have:

  •  A gift registry.
  •  A shower.
  •  Bachelor or bachelorette parties
  •  Attendants such as a maid of honor or best man.
  •  A procession down the aisle.
  •  A tiered wedding cake.
  • New rings.

It is recommend that you exchange vows, although try to keep them casual and simple. If you write your own vows, don’t draw attention to negativity in your past. Focus on your future together.

Walk toward one another from sides of the room or area rather than having a procession down a center aisle. When it comes to rings, re-dedicate them or have the rings blessed. And, finally, the reception should be fun and casual, with no gifts.

Who hosts?

Many couples host their own renewals, and some have their children do the honors. A growing trend has the couple’s closest friends, perhaps the original maid of honor and best man, host the event.

Where should it be?

You can renew your vows in a house of worship, at home, on the beach, in a pretty garden or park, or perhaps a local resort with plenty of outdoor space — basically, anywhere that has sentimental meaning for both of you.

Who officiates?

Because a vow renewal isn’t a legally binding ceremony like a wedding is, virtually anyone you’d like can officiate the ceremony: a clergyperson, a judge, your children, a close relative or even close friends.

Buying Pure California Olive Oil One Sure Way To Avoid The Dreaded ‘Agromafia’

oilive oil

While millions of consumers all over the world are buying and paying top dollar (or euro) for olive oil labeled “extra virgin,” we know now that a disturbing amount of that oil bought off the shelf isn’t the real deal.

That’s the conclusion of the National Consumers League, that tested 11 olive oils and found six of them labeled “extra virgin” failed to meet the extra virgin definition set by the International Olive Council.

 This follows the shocking 2010 study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, that found that 69 percent of imported olive oil labeled “extra virgin” didn’t meet the standard for that labeling. The study suggested that some of the oil had been oxidized, some had been mixed with cheaper olive oil or cut with oil made without olives, some were made from overripe or damaged olives or olives that had been processed or stored incorrectly, or some combination of these issues.

This is nothing new. Olive oil fraud has gone on for the better part of four millennia. The difference now is that the food supply chain is so vast, so global, and so lucrative that it’s easy for the disreputable producers or shippers to either introduce adulterated olive oils or mix in lower quality olive oils with extra-virgin olive oil.

Much of the focus centers around Italy. The news program “60 Minutes” recently reported that Italy’s olive oil business has been corrupted by organized crime. The Italians have dubbed these villains the “Agromafia,” the masterminds behind an estimated $16 billion annual business. The olive oil business, the program reports, is more lucrative for the Mafia and other criminals than running drugs. A gallon of authentic extra virgin olive oil costs about $50 to make, while a fake gallon can be created for about $7.

Journalist Tom Mueller, author of “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and the Scandalous World of Olive Oil,” estimates that half the oil sold as extra-virgin in Italy and 75-80 percent of the oil sold in the U.S. doesn’t meet the legal grades for extra-virgin oil.

A few years ago, Italian police discovered that 7,000 tons of olive oil sold as “100 percent Italian” extra virgin olive oil were actually a blend of oils from countries such as Turkey, Syria, Morocco and Tunisia. The oil was sold in Italy, as well as the U.S. and Japan, for a profit estimated to be in the “tens of millions of euros,” according to the State Forestry Corps, the organization that uncovered the fraud.

To give consumers confidence they are purchasing 100 percent extra virgin olive oil, the California Olive Oil Council created the CCOC Seal Certification Program. Using stricter standards than international requirements, only the best California olive oils qualify for COOC certification. Following every harvest, the council assesses every member’s oil to ensure that it qualifies to display the COOC seal.

The COOC’s evaluation criteria are stricter than those of the International Olive Oil Council, and call for a 0.5 percent oleic acid (monounsaturated fat) content to the IOOC’s 0.8 percent. (The lower the fatty acid content, the lower the chance of rancidity).

Extra virgin olive oil is never better than when it is first pressed. Unlike wine, it does not need time to mature. That gives an impressive advantage to California producers — who can deliver olive oil to the consumer immediately after harvest, and much more quickly than producers overseas.

The bottom line? In order to ensure quality and authenticity, it’s prudent to purchase California olive oil.  It’s guaranteed to be extra virgin … and extra fresh.


Courting Younger Consumers, Wineries Looking To The Can As A Hip, New Vehicle

The ancient Egyptians stored their wine in clay flasks called amphorae, each stamped with the vineyard’s name, the vintage and type of wine. This was the conventional storage method until the Romans developed the art of glass-blowing.

 Throughout the centuries we’ve enjoyed wine from bottles. In the 1970s wine in boxes became trendy for a time, and now there’s wine on tap. But when we hear that unmistakable pop of a can opening, we immediately think about beer.

Until now.

A small but growing number of wine producers are now choosing the can as a convenient vehicle for their product. And it’s not all cheap plonk either, but some serious juice.

Relax, nobody’s putting fine French Burgundies or Napa Cabs into cans just yet. This new mode of packaging is meant for easy-drinking wines that won’t be stored in the cellar for years.

The market is tiny but quickly growing. Sales in U.S. stores tracked by Nielsen came in at $5.5 million in the 52 weeks through Dec. 5 of 2015 — an increase of 75 percent from the previous year. While that’s an impressive statistic, it’s still a small fraction of the $15 billion American wine market.

Whole Foods Market has announced that it’s looking to tap into the fledgling trend that it claims will be a big one in the U.S. food and drink industry in 2016.

Americans have embraced the can for many products, such as soda and beer, but the wine industry has been slow to embrace it. However, there has been a shift over the last couple of years as more wineries have experimented with the concept.

From a financial point of view, cans offer a few benefits when compared to the standard 750 ml. bottle. Cans are lightweight and durable, and thus easy to ship, are infinitely recyclable and leave a very small environmental footprint. They’re also relatively inexpensive to produce. Canned wine is marketed to consumers as more convenient than bottles. They can be tossed into a cooler, taken on picnics, and you never need a corkscrew.

The success of craft breweries have had putting their beers into cans has inspired winemakers to try the same thing.

The most common question of skeptics is: Does the wine taste tinny? Not at all, according to manufacturers. The cans are lined, and the lining of the can protects the product from touching the aluminum. And even non-lined aluminum cans have passed taste tests.

So while no vessel will supplant the romantic wine bottle any time soon, the can is gaining ground, especially among younger wine drinkers who make up the fastest growing segment of the market. So stayed tuned for the next great sound in wine, not the pull of a cork, but the plink of a metal tab. In the end, if the wine tastes great, what’s really the difference.

Strategies To Pull Your Kids Off The Couch And Onto A Saddle

Getting kids into horses isn’t as easy as it used to be. Many factors — economic constraints on families, competing youth activities, ever-more-enticing online distractions — combine to make horse involvement a less-likely choice for youngsters than it was just a few decades ago.

Horses are good for children, and there are many reasons why a child should learn to horseback ride. Pulling children away from the TV, cell phone, game console or computer is the first step toward a lifelong activity that benefits both body and soul.

Benefits of horseback riding

There are many reasons kids are attracted to horses, and good reason why we should introduce them to the world of horses. There are many benefits of riding. Sure, it’s recreational and good physical exercise, there are also many intrinsic benefits, such as keeping kids active in an outdoor environment.

Here’s what you do to introduce your child to the world of horses:

Join a club

Help your child become a member of the local 4-H horse club or local chapter of the U.S. Pony Club, among the largest equestrian organizations in the country, with more than 14,000 members in 600 clubs spread across 49 states (

Get information about your local 4-H horse clubs by calling your county’s cooperative extension service. Both 4-H and Pony Club offer a wealth of opportunities for you and your child to learn about horses and develop their horsemanship and leadership skills in a safe, encouraging environment. And you need not actually own a horse to join either of these organizations.

Enroll in a horse camp

Horse camps can bring many rewards beyond horse handling and riding experience. In addition to horse handling skills, participants learn skills such as how to work with a wide variety of people, the relevance of science to everyday life, respect for and understanding of another species, responsibility and organization, and consequences of actions.

Buy them a book

There are many good horse books that stimulate interest in horses while teaching at the same time:

  • “A Wild Ride: The Adventures of Misty & Moxie Wyoming,” by Niki Danforth (girl detective and her horse; mystery, ages 6-8 and 9-12)
  • “Horse Crazy!: 1,001 Fun Facts, Craft Projects, Games, Activities and Know-How for Horse-Loving Kids,” by Jessie Haas (practical information about horses; ages 8-up)
  • “The United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship: Basics for Beginners,” by Susan Harris (required reading for every Pony Club member; ages 8-up)

Riding lessons

Enrolling your child in regular riding lessons (at least once a week) with a reputable trainer or instructor will show parents if their child really is committed to a horse life. Most instructors will take students as young as age 7, but make sure your child has the appropriate maturity level.

Aside from saddling up and riding, even young children should be taught to move safely around a horse on the ground, and help groom and tack up as much as they can.

Lease a horse

If your child demonstrates a sustainable interest in horses and you find that weekly riding lessons do not provide enough “horse time” for your child, consider a full or partial lease of a horse for at least six months. Leasing is an arrangement in which you pay either a fixed fee or a portion of the horse’s expenses in exchange for riding time on that horse.

If even leasing a horse does not provide enough “horse time” for your child, only then should you consider actually purchasing a horse or pony. This is a huge commitment, a lot like going from owning a dog to having a baby, so make sure you investigate all the costs, from feed to vet bills.

How To Keep Momzilla From Running Roughshod Over Your Wedding

While a wedding can be a great bonding experience for a mother and daughter, it can also be huge stress-inducer — and potentially divisive.

Brides tend to forget how emotionally invested mothers can be as their little princess gets married. It can lead to extreme behavior, as they turn into the all-too-common term “Momzilla.”

Not every overbearing mother is the same breed, so there are many types along the Momzilla spectrum. There’s the always-been-overbearing mom, who eyeballed your every move from infancy. There’s the mom who’s trying to make up for a sketchy past by sticking way too close now. And there’s the mom who’s living vicariously through you.

The Vicarious Momzilla

This is the mom who’s living out her wedding fantasies through her daughter. In most cases the mother didn’t have her dream wedding or even a wedding at all. Now she is determined to have the wedding of a lifetime — her own lifetime, that is. These moms really mean no harm, however they will have a tremendous amount of opinions about everything from the venue to the flowers.

The Critical Momzilla

These moms only want the best for their daughter, but sometimes their delivery can be a bit harsh. Brides are often emotional and just want their mom to support them — with no personal criticism.

The Controlling Momzilla

These moms are often paying for the wedding, and believe that entitles them to run the whole show. They may even threaten to not pay if she’s not involved in the decision-making process.

General Tips

Here’s some help in bearing with your overbearing mother :

  • Warn your wedding planner. If you let them know what to expect, they can be prepared to help run interference.
  • Make all the important and not-so-important decisions in advance so that nothing can be changed by the time Momzilla gets involved.
  • Alert your vendors that Momzilla may try to meddle. Tell the DJ not to take music requests (or CDs) from her, tell the photographer that you don’t want photos that your mother requests unless it’s something you’ve already requested.
  • Brides can make the biggest Momzilla feel special by incorporating some of her ideas into the wedding or giving her a special role in the planning process.
  • Assign a good friend (preferably one of hers who understands the situation) to “babysit” your mother all weekend. Momzillas crave attention, and making sure she has a captive audience most of the time will help to take a lot of the pressure off of you.
  • Don’t blow things out of proportion. Try to keep your cool, and give yourself a timeout to calm down.
  • Remember, your mother is not your future husband’s problem, so don’t put him in the middle. Take responsibility for handling any issue, or at least take the lead on it.
  • Hold on to your sense of humor. If she sees that you’ve got a lightness with your convictions, she’s more likely to accept your desire to make this wedding yours and back off.
  • Don’t let personality differences ruin your big day, which is her big day, too. Understand what this means to her, while you’re trying to explain to her what it means to you.

 Planning a wedding is overwhelming in so many arenas that it’s easy to lash out. If your mother is overbearing, your best tool is a sense of humor, and your second best tool is a good night’s sleep, a good meal, and the perspective that this is one day in your life.

The Origin And Lore Around Why We Raise Our Glasses And Give A ‘Toast’

“Here’s to us that are here, to you that are there, and the rest of us everywhere.”

— Rudyard Kipling


The toast, that time honored tradition of raising your glass in affirmation and drinking in honor of an occasion or a loved one — and what millions will do Dec. 31 to ring in the new year.

 You may wonder: What does a dry slice of bread have to do with the practice of giving a toast? And how did this tradition begin in the first place?

As early as the 6th century B.C., the Greeks drank to the health of their friends for a highly practical reason — to assure them that the wine they were about to drink wasn’t poisoned.

 During that time, a well-placed drop of poison had become an all-too-common way to dispose of an enemy, silence the competition, or prevent a messy divorce. So naturally it became a symbol of friendship for the host to pour wine from a common pitcher and drink it first to assure them it was safe. Then he would raise his glass to his friends and ask them to do likewise.

The Romans took on the same tradition, and toasting became widespread at every meal. The term toast comes from the Roman practice of dropping a piece of burnt bread into the wine to make it more palatable.

 One of the first written accounts of the word “toast” was in Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” when the character Falstaff demands: “Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in’t.” Wine in those days was in most cases inferior to our modern vintages, and the charcoal in the charred bread was thought to soak up some of the acidity and filter out impurities.

To your health

In time, the Latin tostus, meaning roasted or parched, came to refer to the drink itself. In the 1700s, party-goers even liked to toast to the health of people not present — usually celebrities and especially beautiful women. A women who became the object of many such toasts, came to be known as the “toast of the town.”

By the 1800s, toasting was a proper thing to do. A British duke wrote in 1803 that “every glass during dinner had to be dedicated to someone,” and that to refrain from toasting was considered “a piece of direct contempt, as if no one present was worth drinking to.”

Origins of the ‘clink

The practice of clinking glasses didn’t popularize until the early days of Christianity.

Many believed the bell-like noise would drive off the devil — a concern during times of drinking and reveling. Another theory contends that by adding the clink, toasters could get the greatest pleasure from a drink because, before the clink, toasts only satisfied four of the five senses.

Many believe the clink began as a way for nobles to avoid being poisoned. The tale goes that the clank would slosh liquid from one drink to the other, reassuring the guest that his or her drink was safe and untouched.

The American toast

Many in those early days drank to health, hospitality and honor. Every culture practiced different customs. The Irish tended to recite blessings, whereas young Englishmen in the 17th century toasted to profess their love. The practice called for men to show their affection for a woman by stabbing themselves in the arm, mixing their blood into their wine, and drinking to the lady in question.

As for early Americans, they adopted the toast quite readily, although their ritual was largely directed to America as a patriotic gesture.

General tips

When giving a toast, remember to KISS…  keep it short and simple. Brevity is the soul of wit and the heart of hospitality. The simplest words are perceived as the most sincere. Be yourself because originality is the essence of wit.

Finally, end on a positive note. A toast should always be upbeat.

Coax Your Extended Family Off Social Media And Bring Them Together For A Face-To-Face Reunion

In this digital age, most of what we know about the day-to-day lives of our extended families is limited to whatever pops up in our Facebook feeds. But our connections to them should be rooted more deeply than what social media can provide. Some family experiences can’t be “liked” on Facebook — they need to happen in real life, face-to-face.

Maybe it’s time to plan a family reunion — a real, offline, in-person family reunion. We’re not talking family reunions from days gone by, when mom cooked for days, dad pulled out the slide projector and everyone gathered around the television. Almost everything about reunions has changed — from where they’re held to the activities taking place.

It used to be that relatives lived just a few blocks away from each other. Now people must travel great distances to create that ultimate reunion. Families are choosing a central location that appeals to the majority of the attendees, which means the backyard venue is no longer viable.

Planning a successful reunion around today’s busy lifestyles can be challenging. It’s vital that organizers delegate responsibilities so that one person doesn’t have to do everything. Use family talents for newsletters, mailings, data collection of addresses or family history etc.

As far as entertainment goes, don’t look for Twister or charades at your next reunion. Those games have been replaced with activities such as golf (one-fifth of reunions include a round of golf). Families opting for a winter reunions often head to the slopes for skiing. And horseback riding is another viable option.

Other exciting reunion activities include: establishing family fundraisers to award scholarships; giving savings bonds during reunion ceremonies; and featuring the family logo on T-shirts, baseball caps and coffee mugs.

Following are additional tips for creating a memorable reunion:

  •  Make sure all the key parties have bought into the concept, which means speaking directly with the heads of all the families involved.
  • Once you’ve settled on a place, start planning early. With so many family members involved, it is difficult to get consensus.
  • If any of your family members will be traveling by plane and live near each other, look into blocking flight space with the airlines to get a better fare.
  • It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance that allows for medical cancellations for extended family. One family member getting sick could be extremely expensive if the entire group decides to cancel.
  • If your family reunion will involve young children, it is important to be clear who will be watching them during adult activities.
  • Make sure there is downtime built into the itinerary for everyone to hang out together.
  • Like all things in life, location can make or break a reunion. First you must decide where that place will be: Will it be near or far away? Is it urban, suburban or rural? Will it have historical significance to your family? Will weather and season make a difference? What attractions, entertainment and sports are nearby? Convention and visitors bureaus are good starting points for researching an area, and most of their services are free.