Ten tips for planning the perfect stay away with friends and family

We want your stay at the Long Barn to be perfect for everyone in your group. And we appreciate that if you are the person who’s doing the organising, it can be stressful. Many guests tend to book many months in advance and have put in lots of hours planning.

As the country continues to unlock, we know that many people are starting to plan for a trip away together. So we felt this was the right time for this blog. Rest assured that we’re here to keep you updated with what’s happening locally whenever you decide to visit us.

Having had many trips away with friends and family ourselves, as well as many lovely people stay with at the Long Barn, we have compiled our 10 tips which we hope will help you plan the perfect staycation.

  1. Great communication

Whether it’s setting up a What’s App group, email or phone calls, encourage everyone to be involved in deciding what your perfect stay will look like. It’ll help you start to work out what everyone fancies doing, any likes/dislikes in terms of food, and if nothing else, will get people excited about your time away together. The beauty of a big group is that you can all decide to do something together (like a big walk and pub lunch out) or split into smaller groups for different activities. Adrenaline junkies might want to go mountain biking in Dalby Forest, others may fancy exploring a market town like Helmsley combined with a naughty Yorkshire cream tea. Or a trip to the coast for a long beach walk followed up with fish and chips could be the order of the day.

Is there a sports event on that some of your group may want to watch? The Long Barn has Sky sports channels; let us know if there is a pay per view event that you want us to organise. Or you may be keen to have a movie night in, so organise who is going to bring the popcorn! The Long Barn has something for everyone, so that your whole group is happy.

  1. Money

Sounding people out ahead on budget can avoid any worries on the weekend. The beauty of staying at the Long Barn is that you can 100% self-cater in complete luxury or splurge on some special treats. 

You may decide to have a kitty that everyone contributes to, or to pay in turn and have a reckoning up at the end of your stay. Or you could use one of the many phone apps such as Splitwise, to keep track of who’s spent what. 

You might want a delicious meal at our village pub the Moors Inn, or a push the boat out meal at the local Star at Harome (a Michelin Star restaurant) Or a catered in option from a “home cooked” style meal you serve yourselves, to posh dinner party. The choice is yours and we are here to help you.

  1. Plan ahead for some things

With a big group, if there is something you all want to do, the sooner you book the better. From caterers to the Moors Inn, they can book up quickly so get your booking in as soon as you can. For some activities, booking ahead can mean a saving for your group. Again, we are here to help if you have any questions and can give you tips of any local promotions that we are aware of.

  1. Divide up responsibilities – share the load

If you are a group who goes away regularly, you probably have an idea of who naturally does what. Play to people’s strengths! If you have a natural “master of activities” who loves organising fun stuff for you all, let them loose in planning ahead. You may have keen walkers who love to research circular walks of interest and will plot out a full days expedition. One of your group may love history and will want to suggest which of the many historical sites close by you could visit.

If everyone is similarly laid back and want to spontaneously decide when you are here, you’ll find lots of ideas both in our Welcome Guide (sent out 8 weeks ahead of your arrival)

  1. Food – keep it simple

Getting this right is key for a successful gathering; a little time planning makes all the difference. Think through as a group what would work for you. Double check on food likes/dislikes – it’s amazing how people you’ve known for ages can reveal food intolerances or dislikes you have no idea of.

You may decide that one big supermarket shop for everything with the cost split between you all is the best way to go. All the big supermarkets deliver to the Long Barn; ideally organise it to arrive when you are here, so that you can agree any substitutions. However, don’t worry if you are delayed, as we are happy to receive it for you (just let us know) There will always be fresh milk, tea, coffee and cake here for you when you arrive; we know how important it is to have a cuppa at the end of a journey.

Another option is to organise everyone to bring something. If you are here for the weekend, it can split out pretty easily. For Friday night when you all arrive, you could all bring a dish each and mix and match, for example around a curry or Mexican chilli theme. Both can work well as they cater for meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans. To make it really easy, lay out as a buffet on the Long Barn kitchen island so that everyone can help themselves.

Breakfasts can be good to split if you are a group of couples, with a different couple responsible for bringing the food and cooking each morning. We even have a hostess trolley to keep all plates warm. And the deal is that everyone other than the cooks, clears up! With two dishwashers and masses of crockery, this is not a chore in the Long Barn.

Self-catering for a special meal, say for the Saturday evening or Sunday is another good opportunity to split up who does what. Different people can do nibbles, starter, main, pud and cheese course if you are going the whole hog. The kitchen is packed full of equipment, so those who want to do the full chef experience can! Although we’d recommend again, keeping it simple so that everyone including the cooks can enjoy every course and relax!

Another option is a bbq; the massive Webber gas bbq easily caters for large groups. Again, split out who does what and get the beers/pimms flowing! The huge oak table in the courtyard garden is perfect for everyone to spread out on.

The ultimate can be to get someone to cook for you. We have a great range of options from home cooking to a more special restaurant quality meal, so let us know what you are thinking of and we can link you into the right local caterer. We can also recommend some excellent local suppliers from brewers to butchers if you want to shop local; many of them will deliver to the Long Barn.

A meal at the Moors Inn can be a great option for your group as they are just a few minutes’ walk away.  They have a delicious menu, including good options for children. You can book their private dining room that seats fourteen comfortably, and the Moors team will really look after you (they are also dog friendly) Just remember to book early (they are very popular with villagers and locals) and they may ask you to pre order your meal choices to help them.  

  1. Drink – cater for everyone

Ordering in plenty of drink (alcoholic and non alcoholic) beforehand means that you can make sure everyone is catered for. Again, a bulk order can work, or everyone can bring something. And there are shops nearby if you need more supplies.

If going down the cocktail route is your thing, then we’d suggest some further thought. We can remember a weekend away with friends where each couple brought a bottle of spirits as their contribution to the sophisticated cocktails we had planned. We realised pretty quickly that none of them were complimentary, and so had to go out and search out more supplies! So, again keep it simple – a couple of different gins, with different tonics or a cocktail everyone likes with not too many ingredients (expresso martini anyone?) is ideal. You’ll be pleased to know that plenty of ice, cocktail shakers and glasses come as standard in the Long Barn.

You’ll find tea, coffee, sugar and coffee beans in the Long Barn, along with plenty of mugs and cups, so you don’t have to keep washing up. And give the Sage Bean to Cup machine a go – it’s easy to use and makes delicious coffee. There is a video link on the tablet in the dining room that gives a practical demo. It’s the perfect opportunity to perfect your latte art!

  1. Music – something for everyone

You may just want to drink in the peace and quiet of the countryside. Or you may want the right music to help create the perfect atmosphere.

Getting people to create their own play lists ahead  can be a great way of remembering classics that everyone can enjoy. The Long Barn has Spotify on a Sonos sound system in kitchen, dining and living rooms so you can play all your favourites throughout the barn. And there are plenty of Spotify playlists for all moods if you don’t fancy creating your own.

After dinner, a more spontaneous way can be hand the Samsung tablet round the table to each person in turn, to get them to choose a favourite artist or track to play. It’s amazing the discussions and memories this will prompt!

And if you are of a more extrovert nature, use the PS4 karaoke game in the living room, turning your phones into microphones. The barn walls are thick, and no one can hear you!

  1. Organised fun

This can strike terror into some people and whip others into a frenzy of excitement. So plan ahead to what you think people might like, but also judge on the day. Whether it’s a variation of charades, a quiz which has been organised beforehand or something more complex, after a convivial meal, the right entertainment can really make the evening.

Check out the games box in the Long Barn where you’ll find some games like Pictionary, packs of cards etc (look out for the LED party light!) Plus the West Barn is perfect for a table tennis or table football tournament.

9. What to do?

With a larger group, deciding what to do can be a nightmare. Deciding some options before you come can take some of the pressure off, but sometimes it’s great to just go with the flow. You’ve come away to see each other and relax; you may decide that lazing in the barn and garden is the perfect way to spend your time. The beauty of the Long Barn is there is space to socialise in, as well as space to be apart in. So if people want to take themselves away to read a book or relax on their own, there is space to do this.

If you decide you want to strike out, we’ll makes sure you have all the local information you need including more tailored options. You’ll find some ideas in the Welcome Pack, but also look out for our “Perfect Day” suggestions where we’ve used our local knowledge to suggest how to best explore the area. From circular walks from the door, to foodie trips out to exploring further afield, there’s something for everyone whatever the weather and your mood. Please pick our brains if there is something specific you fancy doing and we’ll do our best to help. We’ll also let you know of any local events which take place during your stay which might interest you.

Follow the Long Barn on social media (links on our web site) and you’ll get a flavour of village life in Appleton. 

  1. Making Memories

In this world of smart phones and social media, taking photos has never been easier. But sometimes sharing them within your group is the one thing missed. Setting up a photo sharing group (Apple Cloud, Flickr etc) means that everyone in your group can just upload their photos for everyone to see. Make sure you get some of the whole group – we are happy to help if you want a photo of everyone before you disappear on your way home!

Hopefully you’ve found these top tips useful, but please add any of your own in the comments section of this blog!

Here’s to your perfect staycation at the Long Barn. 

Ian and Jackie x