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How Ted Lasso’s family plans huge vacations – and tips for how you can too

Jason Sudeikis, aka Ted Lasso, the hugely popular Apple TV series about an All American football coach who gets seconded to Richmond Soccer (Football) Club in London to coach a game he’s never played, is part of a huge family and each year they get together – all 70+ of them.

His sister, Kathy Sudeikis, is a travel agent and is the planner of what the family call Nanapalooza. I love it! They get together every year to mark the death of their mum/nana at one of their six siblings’ lake front property on Lake Michigan.

What started as a mere 40 people eleven years ago has almost doubled at the last get together.

Jason Sudeikis, as Ted Lasso
Jason Sudeikis, as Ted Lasso, is into the big family vacay

Our family does a version of this every Christmas. Well a few days before Christmas. It started in 1972 and is hosted by different family members, with the menu organised by September and secret gifts brought for the annual hilarity. We topped 56 whanau (family) at last count.

Intergenerational holidays are a wonderful idea! So to help and inspire you to come up with something amazing for your family, I’m going to take a little of what Kathy Sudeikis advises, plus a little of what our family has done for big birthday weekends away, and help you plan your own event.

Selecting the Date

The Sudeikis family have their annual shindig on the same date each year to remember their mom. For out most recent family event (only 22 of us) we celebrated my cousin’s 60th birthday, so it was mid-May.

Otherwise, choosing the date can be tricky as the larger the party, the less likely everyone can make it. But give enough notice – like a year – so everyone can put it in their calendars, and hopefully you’ll start a new and wonderful family tradition.

Santa giving gifts to the kids
In our family the men have all (with only one exception!) been nominated as Santa who comes after lunch

Choosing the Location

This is the fun part. Or the stressful part, depending on how imaginative you want to get! The Sudeikis family go to the same location every year. For my cousin’s birthday (which also had a fancy dress theme on the party night, but we’ll get to that in a bit…) we chose a location within a two-hour drive of most of us.

In our case we chose Brackenridge Country Estate and Spa in Martinborough, which has studios, plus two-bedroom and four-bedroom cottages dotted on the rural property. The larger ones had a living room/kitchen and came with barbecues. It was ideal for bringing your own brekky or snacks/tea and coffee, but all pitching in for the dinner – and ‘K’ party.

Our cottages at Brackenridge

Martinborough is a great North Island location to cover all directions between Wellington, Hawkes Bay and Auckland. I wrote this post about lots of great things to do in Martinborough.

Planning Activities

As many of you will know, I organise small group for my readers, and planning activities each day is one of the things people come for.

Depending on your family and their need to actively relax (!), you might want to have some fun activities planned. You’ll need to send out an opt-in form a few weeks before so you can book them in. Don’t expect to rock up with 20 people and get in anywhere.

In Martinborough we booked bikes for winery touring, and another venue for lunch for all of us.

On my tours, I book things like guided walks in a city, and make restaurant bookings well in advance too.

Megan on bike cart
These things are harder to ride than you think!

Meal Planning!

In the case of Ted Lasso, sister Kathy sets a food chart and each family chooses a meal they will take care of. Some might cook, some might order in. It’s up to that family. A bit like our family Christmas, it’s first in best dressed when it comes to preparing the meal you really want.

But our family has been doing this since 1972, so the meals are pretty easy now. Over the years what used to be a ham on the bone and sausies for the barbecue has become wagyu thanks to a Christmas bonus from one, locally caught crayfish from others and loads of delicious and fascinating salads. Oh but always the ham, followed by pavlova, trifle and brandy snaps!

Just make sure you have a food chart or you may get a table filled with just salads, or just meat!

Or forget the whole meal hassle and take a cruise where meals are all-inclusive! There are also lots of great all-inclusive resorts too which takes this conundrum away. Many resorts in Mexico are, or try a Club Med holiday.

Group wine tasting in Martinborough
Wine tasting in Martinborough

Paying for it

Obviously you’ll have to have a budget conversation with your family before you even begin, and of course if you have the party at one of your sibling’s houses that’s a bonus. The Sudeikis family all book their own nearby accommodation individually.

Our Christmaspalooza is held at a different relative’s house each year. Well, about four families on rotation! It’s a lot to organise if you’re having it at home, but obviously a massive cost saving

A cruise is a great idea as you can get various levels of cabins and prices. And here’s a tip: if a family has younger kids, put them in an interior cabin across the hall from yours with a balcony, and that way you keep costs down while having them nearby. They’ll only need to use it to sleep and shower. Some families also take baby monitors, but I’m thinking, more like teens in there.

But you’ll invariably end up “shouting” (that’s a term we use for paying for others ;), maybe some groceries, tours and extras, so keep track of who owes what to whom, we’ve used the app Splitwise. You list what each person has paid for, then at the end of the holiday it tots up who owes whom how much.

Another idea is to start a Nanpalooza/Christmaspalooza fund, and pop some money in each month to cover some of the costs.

Making Memories

This is the whole reason for doing such a monumental family getaway. Appoint a couple of family members as official photographers – you’ll know who to choose, the ones with the big social pages!

The Sudeikis family get hoodies printed and the year Jason won a Golden Globe for Ted Lasso, their family tie-died hoodie went viral after he wore at the ceremony. His clever sister made a bunch more and they sold out.

For our Martinborough weekend, the birthday girl was Kate so we all had to dress with a K theme. K is hard! There were Kings, KISS, a Kate lookalike, Kenny the janitor, Kath and Kim, and I went as Katy Perry.

Megan as Katy Perry
The likeness is uncanny!!!

I have an Etsy store, Printable Style, which is aimed just at the American market – soz, but shipping… On there I have a few fun ideas for memorable mugs, candles and ornaments for family events.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!