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Avoid These 6 Common Family Reunion Disasters

1. Food poisoning

Nobody wants a bad potato salad to be the only thing they remember from their reunion weekend. Every year, 1 in 6 Americans are affected by food poisoning, suffering from symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

According to Darin Detwiler, food safety expert and professor at Northeastern University, most food poisoning occurs when food is not held at the correct temperature.

“A potato salad can sit in the car for two hours before it’s served,” he says. “No one uses a food thermometer at a family gathering.”​

Detwiler suggests preparing food at home and cooking it on the spot, making sure to serve hot food immediately and keep cold food on ice. Better yet, call in the pros.​

“A professional catering company will deliver food when you need it, keep it hot or cold to eliminate these risk factors,” says Detwiler.

2. Canceled flights

Planning to fly to your meeting? Go early, giving yourself a cushion of time so you don’t miss reunion activities, advises Jen Campbell Boles, founder of Explore More Family Travel.

“[Fly] at least a day earlier until the airlines are staffed,” advises Boles.

As of July 1, there have been more than 820,000 delayed flights and 116,000 canceled flights this year, according to flight tracking company FlightAware.​​

It is also a good idea to purchase travel insurance.​​

“Having travel insurance gives you the ability to be re-booked outside of the airline you are working with [and] could be the key to getting there,” says Boles.​​

3. Prostituting relatives

The cost of a venue, hotel rooms, catering, entertainment, and matching family t-shirts or other meeting items can add up. So what about the cousins ​​who showed up, wore the T-shirts, ate the food, and enjoyed the festivities, but never paid? Psychologist Donna Marino suggests giving them the benefit of the doubt.

“Maybe they forgot or didn’t have the money at the time,” says Marino. “Greet them like you would any paying family member…and say something like “It’s so good to see you, I didn’t know you were coming. I was just collecting everyone’s contribution to the event.”

If your loved ones still aren’t handing over their fair share, Marino suggests determining if the relationship is more important than the money, adding, “Could something be going on with them and they could really use their family right now? Could “Do you sponsor them to be there? Be thoughtful in your response.”

You can also hire a travel agent or event planner to coordinate the meeting and handle the unpleasant task of collecting payment.