Summer is the season for family reunions—kids are out of school, vacations are getting planned, and the weather is warm enough throughout the country to get outside and celebrate. But, it takes a lot to plan a family reunion. Between coordination with family members, securing a venue, setting a budget, and executing the day, it is a stressful thing. But, there are ways to make it seamless and to ensure the family reunion has all of the elements it should have (good times, nice memories). Here are the most important things to consider when planning a family reunion.
Getting a large group of people together at one time is always a challenge, which makes planning out the dates and location of your family reunion crucial. Set a plan in place early and communicate that plan to your entire family (or at least the family you want to attend the reunion). Family Tree Magazine stresses that it’s crucial also to add budget planning to your to-do list. “... You’ll need a budget and you’ll have to ask your family to pitch in,” the article states, stressing also that family reunions get expensive quickly. It’s easy to forget about this detail until the end, but that just means you’ll be struggling to create a budget in the final days of planning—which is an overwhelming (and often expensive) experience.
Once you have a time, date, and budget set, you can start planning the fun stuff, like your outfit. Maybe slip on your favorite midi dress?
One of the best things about gathering with family is sharing stories over a plate of food—and chowing down on that secret recipe from your great aunt. To ensure everyone is happy (and not hangry) at a family reunion, make sure you have plenty of food and drinks for folks to choose from. Have an assortment of appetizers, snacks, full-blown meals, and desserts. To wash it all down, have water, some juices, and even some 21-plus beverages for the older crowd.
Lastly, make sure you have food and drinks the kids will like, too. You don’t want the parents in the family to have to pack lunchboxes full of snacks that their kids will want to eat during the reunion.
Whether family trivia, jump rope, or dance breaks, it’s important to fill family reunions with a few planned activities. This helps keep people entertained and adds a different kind of fun to a day full of family time. Employ the help of your siblings, cousins, or even kids to plan some fun things to do.
Once you know what activities are planned, share the itinerary with your family. This way, they’ll know if they need to wear men’s jeans they can bust a move in, or if they’re okay to wear a dressed-up pair of men’s chinos.
It’s also important to celebrate relatives who have passed on by sharing stories, photos, and other memories that younger generations can continue to pass on. Family reunions are the perfect time to clear up any family-story confusion and to let everyone know about all of the noteworthy things that exist in your family history.
Just because people are family doesn’t mean they really know each other that well. There are likely people at the gathering who have never met or haven’t seen each other in nearly a decade. The Family Tree Magazine article encourages reunion planners to have icebreaker activities in addition to fun games. The article quotes Linda Johnson Hoffman, the author of The Reunion Planner, who states that “getting everyone involved as they arrive is essential to setting the right tone.”
Ice breaker activities can be as simple as having a registration area for people when they attend, or having folks sit down, roll up the sleeves of their cardigans and filling out a blank family tree to introduce themselves.
It’s not every day (or even every year) that the entire family can get together for a reunion. You’ll want to have lots of photos of the day to frame for your home, to give as gifts, and share on social media. Have a designated family member take photos on their phone throughout the celebration. Have them take both candid photos and posed ones. This way, you’ll get a real feel for the day for years to come.
You can even consider hiring a photographer to take professional family photos. Better yet, get your family to wear the same color for a photo that looks polished and put together.
Getting the family together for a reunion is a special thing. It’s a core memory for people throughout their lives and offers people who haven’t seen each other in years to celebrate the family together.