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Planning a Family Reunion?

Simple menus are key to making any big gathering fun for all (even the cooks)

pam anderson family reunion salted toffee bars recipe

These easy salted chocolate toffee bars are an ideal dessert for a family reunion. — Photo by:

I'm an only child, so I guess it makes sense I would marry a man with six brothers and sisters. I love David's family. His sisters have become my sisters, his brothers, my brothers.

Like many families, this one has scattered big time. But it's a close family, too, so an annual reunion is a priority. Every year Grandpa and as many of the seven siblings and spouses, 25 grandchildren (14 of whom are married) and 28 great-grandchildren gather in the Tennessee mountains at a 17-bedroom house with two kitchens and nearby auxiliary cabins.

One of the weekend's big challenges is how to get us all fed, watered and snacked for the nearly three days we gather. With that many people, it's not surprising that we've got everything from adventurous to picky eaters, as well as committed locavores, vegans, lactose intolerant and a few kids with nut allergies.

So how do you serve such an intergenerational crowd with diverse tastes and needs? It's your family, after all, and you want everyone to feel welcome and respected at the table. Plus, it's got to be extremely easy to prepare. No one wants to spend their precious short weekend slaving in the kitchen.

Over the years our strategy has evolved. Here's what it looks like: Mornings are typically Continental with cereal, a range of milks — including nondairy — and juices. Sometimes the sisters bring homemade molasses bread and sweet rolls, using their late mother's recipes. We all love it, but don't expect it. For protein lovers, there are eggs in the fridge, but it's make 'em yourself.

Next: More family reunion tips from Pam. >>

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