There’s nothing quite as strong as the binds that tie families together. When planning a family reunion, it’s important to keep in mind that a celebration of this special connection should be at the center of your event. Family reunions take a lot of organization and forethought, but with this guide you should be able to tackle each aspect of your planning to create a perfect family reunion that you’ll all remember for years to come.
The first thing to decide when planning a reunion is the date. Even if you don’t pick a specific date at the outset, you need to narrow your options down to a few select dates where most family members will be available. To allow for ample time to plan and make travel arrangements, pick a date at least six months out from when you begin planning.
Though the holidays may initially seem like a good time to reunite, it can actually be one of the toughest times to get people together considering all the other family, friend and work obligations that come up at this time of year. Summer tends to be more open since kids are out of school and many families want to travel around this time of year, anyway. Just be aware that some venues will be reserved well in advance for summer dates – another reason that it’s best to start planning early. Important milestones (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) are another great reason to reunite.
Your event location should be based on two main factors: the length of your reunion and the number of people you expect to attend. If you’re having a casual afternoon affair, then a family member’s backyard may be an appropriate (and affordable) choice. However, a reunion held over a long weekend may be better suited for a campground where everyone has an affordable place to stay and there’s plenty of room to gather for meals and activities.
As a side note, it’s also important to keep in mind what most of your family members’ budgets will be when choosing a location. If you expect family members to chip in, be considerate enough to choose somewhere that most attendees can afford. Don’t forget to include their travel to the venue when considering financial contributions.
Here are a few location options for a family reunion:
- Family member’s home/backyard
- Church facilities
- Cruise ship
- Banquet hall
- Amusement park
- Conference center
- Nature preserve
- Public park
- Vacation resort
In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to invite family members to a reunion. If most of your family is web-savvy, you can save money and time by sending out invitations and gathering RSVPs online. Sites like Evite.com are a great resource for sending invitations as well as tracking who’s coming and who’s not.
If you’d like to send out paper invites, remember to make a list of everyone you’re sending invites to before putting them in the mail. You’ll also need to include your phone number or email address and then keep track of the RSVPs by hand.
The food at a reunion should depend on the type of event you’re having. A one-day affair should have food provided. For these types of events, buffets are a great option since everyone can pick and choose what they like. You can also scale your spending depending on your budget. For example, hot dogs and hamburgers are an easy choice for a casual summer get-together.
For longer events, it may be best to plan for families to bring or buy their own food individually. You can still plan for certain meal times when you’ll eat together, but this makes things less complicated than splitting the costs of meals over several days.
If you’re in charge of choosing food to serve, choose simple foods that will please most palates. A good mix of meat, breads, fruit and veggies gives everyone something to enjoy and accommodates for most dietary restrictions. If kids are attending, have some kid-friendly foods on hand as well.
Many people stop planning once they get to the food and forget about giving guests something to do while they are attending the reunion. A good family reunion should include some type of special tribute to the family itself. Consider making a photo collage of family members or creating a trivia game about family history.
In addition, you can also provide games and activities appropriate for the venue. Bocce ball and beanbag toss games are great for outdoor events. Indoors, you can have board games or playing cards available. Reunions lasting more than a day or two can also include special outings for family members, like a visit to a local beach or golf course.
Don’t forget to provide some type of entertainment as well. That can be as simple as playing some of your old records or asking a talented family member to sing or dance. You can also hire professionals, like a live band for the adults and a magician for the kids.
Throughout your planning, remind yourself that there will be no date, venue, food choice or entertainment choice that will please everyone. A few family members may not be able to come, while some may have to travel much farther than others to reach the venue. The important thing is that you allow your family to focus on celebrating together. Use the tips here to make the planning process easier and to make smart choices that will make for a great event.