Every year my family and I make the trip down to North Carolina for a week to soak up the sun, sand and each others company. We started doing this trip when I was very young and actually made the trek from Canada for several years - 20 hours or so in the car with two young children. My parents are brave! The drive is a bit more manageable now and each family tends to leave in the middle of the night to avoid traffic and awake spouses requesting bathroom breaks.
Click here for our 2014 trip.
Over the years we've had many different people join us: extended family, family friends, my brother and my friends and various love interests. As adults now (in age, not maturity level) our spouses have started joining us and these trips have really turned into a bunch of friends on vacation. We spend all day on the beach, shopping or on the golf course, cocktail hour on the porch in the evening, followed by all evening around the dinner table talking and laughing. It's fantastic!
Two years ago, my niece (now six years old) started joining us. It's so wonderful to be able to have her be a part of the tradition. We quickly realized we had to change the formula of the trip (beach, cocktail hour, many hours long dinner) to accommodate the short attention span of a child. So this past year, we created theme nights for 4 of the evenings.
EVERYTHING had to be on theme: costumes, food, games. Each family was responsible for a different portion of each night (main course, game, dessert, etc.). We thought this would be a good way to get the whole family involved in something that Zoe would enjoy. Now, I tend to be a bit type A (my family may disagree with the 'bit' in that sentence). A few weeks before the trip I sent out a spreadsheet indicating what was needed for each theme, some guidelines for each component and who was responsible for purchasing and bringing the items down to NC. (I do realize I'm bonkers btw.)
Here is a quick view of the vacation theme planning spreadsheet:
|Theme Night Planning and Organization|
I knew that the way this would work best is if everyone participated, but I was still expecting varying levels of enthusiasm. Let me tell you - everyone got super into it! Each night everyone had brought everything they were supposed to, were excited about the dishes they had planned and had fantastic costumes. On top of that - we had a blast!
Description prior to event: Hola! Let's bring the Spanish flare to North Carolina with this belated Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Attire: Sombreros, fiesta colors and fake mustaches
Food and Drink: Tacos, Chips and salsa, ceviche, Jarritos soda, margaritas and Tecate
Games: Pinata and pin the tail on the donkey
|Pin the tail on the donkey|
|Fiesta 'photo booth'|
Under the Sea:
Description prior to event: Ahoy mateys! We will be travelling under the sea for this night of adventure! Pirates, sailors and the like will delight in this maritime themed night.
Attire: Pirates and hula girls
Food and Drink: Crab cakes and other seafood galore, beach cake
Games: Water gun fight and boat races
|We had temporary tattoo fake mustaches and tattoos for Under the Sea night (here on Kyle on the left)|
|The icing turned your tongue blue|
Side note: We don't have many pictures of Under the Sea night because we spent most of the evening drenched! Between water guns, water balloons and Zoe discovering the hose, we couldn't stay dry!
Description prior to event: God Bless America! Let's celebrate this fine nation Southern style, with a twist on the classic fourth of July picnic.
Attire: Anything red, white and blue!
Food and Drink: Burgers, hot dogs, potato salad and American beer
Games: Glow-stick parade, potato sack races, glow-stick dodge ball on the beach
|Glow-stick dodge ball on the beach!|
|Glow-stick and sparkler parade to the dock|
|Things got pretty serious|
Description prior to event: We will wrap up our themed adventures with a glamorous evening among the stars in the movies! The dress is fancy and the experience will be unforgettable.
Attire: Hollywood glam
Food and Drink: Various hors d'oeuvre, popcorn, champagne, and sparkling cider for Zoe
Games: Red carpet, awards show
|Ladies and Gentlemen, the stars of the red carpet|
|The award show|
As always, this was the best week of the year. We will absolutely be doing this again next year! We're in the process of thinking up four new themes that will be fun for the whole group. Zoe had a fantastic time, so we'll definitely count the theme nights as a success!
|Singing on the dock|
Can't wait for family vacay 2014!