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.

Culinary Team-Building Events Create Engaging And Creative Experiences For Employees

Food is more than mere sustenance. It’s a become a lifestyle, a daily passion … dare we say an obsession for some. Just click through the television landscape and you realize how much food-related programming has exploded, with stand-and-stir cooking shows expanding into other permutations, from reality shows, to competitions, to (at last count) 11 shows about cake and cupcakes alone. And there are thousands of culinary apps to teach us how to make everything from applesauce to zabaione.

So it stands to reason that the hottest corporate team-building trend in America surrounds the culinary arts, including classes, challenges, tours and dining events that brings together employees to learn and work as a team. Gathering together around a meal is a universal custom that connects people from all backgrounds and cultures and dny activity centered on food is going to naturally be a socially engaging experience.

Following are some ideas for some engaging culinary team-building events:

‘Iron Chef’ Challenge

Modeled after the popular TV series, a cooking challenge requires a few culinary skills and a few secret ingredients to keep your group collaborating, communicating and cooking together.

Divide the group into teams and the “chairman” will brief the group on event instructions and guidelines. Teams receive all the supplies needed to ensure culinary success, including herbs, spices, condiments, pantry items and the secret ingredient of the day. The “kitchen stadium” includes cooking equipment. Teams must be able to communicate with one another, delegate tasks and practice their time management to ensure their meals are ready on time. Prepare a judging panel to score the creations.

Dining In The Dark

This idea takes a standard group meal to a whole new level. The concept of dining in the dark originated in Europe and since has traveled the world. It becomes a true exploration in dining as guests discover a whole new feast for their senses. Group members interact with each other and share what they are experiencing and how they feel. It’s an entertaining eating experience as the host engages participants about their theories on what they are tasting. The idea is that, with the dominant sense of sight on hold, the remaining senses heighten, allowing guests to experience smells, tastes and sounds like never before.

Winery Team Challenge

Start this team activity with an informative wine tasting and end it with an entertaining and competitive sangria making and marketing challenge. A local sommelier can lead the way, giving participants a brief, interactive and fun introduction to wine, before leading the group in a white and red wine tasting.

After the tasting, divide into teams and each group starts their own winery. Teams are briefed about the interesting history of sangria, and then take part in creating their own blends. Then teams develop a name, design a winery logo and label, and decorate their team aprons and tables for the final judging. They can also write and perform a jingle or commercial to sell their product to the judges.

Charitable challenge

Group members can cook with a cause during a team-bonding experience that is both fun and meaningful. This challenge includes food prepared and consumed by the participants during the event and a subsequent donation to area food banks.

To help your group better comprehend the issues of hunger and homelessness, the day can begin with a brief quiz on the subject. Participants will work in teams to answer questions that the facilitators will review and then discuss as a group.

Plan a cooking competition that includes appetizers consumed by participants, as well as preparation of hot food that will be donated to a local soup kitchen. Teams will compete to see who prepares the best dish in the eyes of culinary judges. Add a food-bag donation element to the day that involves participants taking a reusable tote bag, decorating it and stuffing it with food. Included in each bag is a personal letter to the family in need.


Romance And History Abound At Holman Ranch

Romance and history abound at Holman Ranch, a vintage Carmel Valley property adorned with ancient oaks, hillside vineyards, olive groves, a stone hacienda and spectacular views from every vantage point.

Renowned as a hugely popular and stunningly beautiful wedding venue, Holman Ranch draws couples from far-flung corners of the world. Once married in Holman Ranch’s rustic yet sophisticated setting, couples invariably recite a long list of accolades. And when asked to name the top reasons for getting married at Holman Ranch, these three lead the way:

  1. The view.  Couples can easily spend a small fortune on wedding-day decor, from fabric to flowers, but nothing can top what Mother Nature provides naturally. Rarely do outdoor weddings offer the beauty and splendor provided by Holman Ranch, nestled in the shadows of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Offering breathtaking vistas from every angle, the ranch provides the ultimate backdrop to any wedding ceremony. After exchanging vows al fresco among the rolling hills dotted with oak trees, couples can sip estate-grown wines in the vineyards and indulge in all the historic ranch has to offer.
  2. Exclusivity. On the most important day of their lives, a bride and groom simply do not want to share the spotlight with anyone else, which is why Holman Ranch only hosts one event at a time. All the focus and attention is put where it belongs — on the happy couple and their guests. There will be no wedding “crashers” from other events on property because Holman Ranch belongs to that couple and that couple only. This exclusivity (weekend dates can book up a year in advance) has led to a resurgence in weekday weddings, where couples can save on the budget and easily secure vendors normally booked on weekends.
  3. Flexibility. At Holman Ranch, couples are allowed to bring in all their own licensed and insured vendors. This is very important to those couples who desperately want to create a personalized, a la carte experience — from the flowers, to the food, to the well-stocked bar. And when it comes to wine, Holman charges no corkage with a minimum wine purchase. So Holman Ranch’s award-winning lineup of wines is available to help please a wide variety of palates. Holman Ranch has also developed a reputation as a safe haven for same-sex couples, and specializes in interfaith ceremonies, off-season weddings and ceremonies of any size and scope.

In the end, Holman Ranch becomes the venue choice of couples from all walks of life because it provides beauty, exclusivity and flexibility. But there are countless other reasons. Find yours by visiting

Booking Early is Best!

When you’re planning a wedding, you’ll have a lot to do. Booking the big things early can make your life much easier as you approach your big day.


Some parts of your wedding will need to be booked at the start of your planning. Having a venue and date worked out is crucial, as you’ll need to give this basic information to your guests. Venues like Holman Ranch can get booked up well in advance, so it’s important to get in touch early to work out a date that we’re available.


When you book a wedding at Holman Ranch, we can help you find other vendors you’ll need to make it the day you’ve been dreaming of. We work with our couples to make the best use of our amazing location, too.

If you’re planning on getting married in 2013, don’t wait any longer to book everything. Get in touch with us today to find out about having a wedding here at the gorgeous Holman Ranch!

Danica and Jon Special Wedding at Holman Ranch

We love sharing the story of some of the couples who get married here at Holman Ranch. Danica and Jon were married on November 25th,  sharing their special day with 100 friends and family members.


Jon and Danica met on a flight from San Jose to Phoenix. They were both on the flight as a connection to other flights, and were traveling on business. Jon was traveling on to Salt Lake City and Danica to Chicago. In the two hours that they sat next to each other on the flight they spoke about everything from family to religion and politics. When they landed they exchanged business cards and, as they say, the rest is history.


For their first date, they went to the Straights restaurant at Santana Row. It was an interesting night, which led to Jon sending an email to Danica apologizing for the babbling idiot and requesting a second chance.


Danica gave him that “second chance,” and the couple continued dating. Jon proposed quietly on November 20 at the Artisan restaurant when they were traveling on a long weekend in Paso Robles.


The couple, who are planning a honeymoon trip to Bora Bora in June, had a truly beautiful wedding day. The beauty of their day, from the weather to the decorations and how much fun everyone had, is what they will never forget about their wedding.

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Danica said, “I really don’t think there is much I would do differently about our wedding. The whole thing just seemed to happen so perfectly.  The one thing I would recommend to all couples, which was said to me, is to make sure you take time to stop and take everything in. There were a couple of times during the wedding where both Jon and I felt as though we were having out of body experiences, because everything seemed so surreal. Take time to enjoy your day.”

IMG_8930Thank you Jon and Danica for sharing your story with us.

If you’d like to know who their fabulous photographer was, it was Faust Photographics.  We love their work.

If you want to plan your own wedding at Holman Ranch, get in touch with us for a tour.

It’s Fiesta Time at the Holman Ranch

COME ONE COME ALL!  It’s the 84th ANNUAL Fiesta de los Amigos at the Holman Ranch.   This year, the celebration will be filled with food trucks, wine tasting, live entertainment and so much more!
Attracting more than 2,000 guests a year, we’d like to encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance.
Event Details:
  • Thursday, September 27, 2012
  • 6:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Advance tickets: $50 per person or $35 per person for wine club members.
  • Tickets At Door: $60 per person (if the event isn’t already sold out)
Five dollars from each ticket sale will be donated to the Alzheimer Association.
RSVP and purchase your ticket by clicking here!

(831) 659-2640
We’ll see you at the Holman Ranch on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 6:00pm.

Holman Ranch Loves Traditional Weddings

The Catholic wedding ceremony is steeped in history and tradition and everyone at Holman Ranch loves that.  The happy couple have a number of choices to make in terms of readings, blessings and hymns but the ceremony itself generally follows the same pattern.

After everyone else has taken their places, the bride, escorted by her father or other male family member, makes her grand entrance.  The priest then undertakes a series of hymns, prayers and readings from the Old and New Testaments.  It’s important that the priest also reads a passage from one of the first four books of the New Testament and then provides some reflection on what has just been read.

At this point, it’s time for the main event – the exchange of vows and rings.  Following the much anticipated kiss, the priest will bless the couple and invite the congregation to exchange a sign of peace. This is a touching part of the ceremony, where guests shake hands and say ‘Peace be with you’ to those next to them.

Finally, the priest offers communion to those who wish it and recites the Lord’s Prayer in conjunction with the congregation.  The ceremony is closed by a final blessing and dismissal of the guests by asking people to go in peace.

If you would like to hold your ceremony at Holman Ranch, please give us a call.

Style Me Pretty Launches Wedding e-Magazine

We’ve been a fan of the Style Me Pretty blog for quite some time and we’re so excited that they’ve officially announced the launch of their first ever Fashion & Beauty e-magazine!

This gorgeous online magazine celebrates all things wedding fashion; from a Beauty How-To with TEAM Hair & Makeup + Jose Villa to a Blogger Fashion Round-Up with picks from their favorite fashion and lifestyle bloggers.

Here’s a link to check it out online (  Let us know what you think of it. 🙂

Holman Ranch Tasting Room Offers New CSA Pick Up Location For Serendipity Farms

Holman Ranch Tasting Room, located at 19 E. Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley village, becomes the new community supported agriculture pick up location for Serendipity Farms.

The pickup is at Holman Ranch Tasting Room at 19 E. Carmel Valley Road in Carmel every Monday from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  The cost is $25 per week and you can sign up for 13, 16 or 32 weeks if pick up.  Pick up needs to be pre-paid on Serendipity Farms’ website.

To sign up go to

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) provides people with a weekly box of fabulous produce all grown in Carmel and Carmel Valley. Serendipity Farms is now taking subscriptions for the 2012 season for weekly shares of certified organic vegetables, fruit and flowers.