What Can I Cook to Take to a Family Reunion?

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Nothing brings a family together like eating together, but even in a small family it's hard to please everyone. Family reunions, which often involve large numbers of people, are even trickier. Most family reunions are potlucks, which means everyone is asked to cook and bring a food to contribute. The possibilities may be endless, but some choices lend themselves better to family reunions than others.

Keep it Safe

Food allergies can be a serious health threat, and even people with mild allergies can become very uncomfortable if they eat the wrong foods. Nobody wants to be sick at a family reunion, so make sure your dish does not contain any common allergens such as peanuts or eggs. If there will be small children at your family reunion, avoid ingredients that may cause a choking hazard such as large nuts. It's also best to avoid very hot, spicy foods, which may be painful in a young child's sensitive mouth.

Keep it Simple

Don't slave away over a complicated recipe. It's the people that matter at a family reunion, not the food. Simple comfort food is best. You don't want grandpa avoiding your dish because he can't pronounce it, and most children won't eat something they can't easily identify. Stick with foods that people know and love, such as pasta casseroles, chicken wings, finger foods such as crackers and cheese, fruit plates, vegetables -- everyone likes corn on the cob -- and classic desserts. Dips are always a hit served with vegetables or chips. A simple veggie platter with prepared dressing and dip mix is easy to transport, and kids of all ages will snack from it.

Keep it Logical

Think about how you are going to store, transport and serve your food before you choose a dish. Soups and runny dishes are difficult to transport, serve and eat, so avoid bringing them. You don't want to spend a lot of time assembling your dish once you get to the reunion when your children are clamoring to go outside and play, so choose a food that you can put together ahead of time and whip out at the reunion. One that you don't have to keep too hot or too cold, such as a simple fruit salad or a lettuce salad with bottles of creamy dressings, is ideal.

Make it Fun

Simple-to-make and easy-to-serve doesn't have to equal boring. Make your meal special by making it attractive to the smallest family members, who may be having so much fun that they might need to be coaxed to eat. Cut finger sandwiches, cheese and meat into shapes with cookie cutters. White cheese cut into star shapes, for example, and then arranged on a blue and white platter makes a patriotic statement for a family reunion held around the 4th of July. Instead of mayonnaise, spread creamy salad dressing on sandwiches for a tasty kick. Make small, monogrammed flags displaying a family crest or initials from toothpicks and paper, and stick them into your appetizers. This can be a fun family craft project to do with your children ahead of time. Sprigs of mint placed on the rims of punch glasses is easy, and it goes a long way to make the drink extra special, just like your family is.