Lay out the welcome mat because it’s family reunion time! Family reunions, like families, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big, some are small. Some are super casual, some take a fancier route. But no matter what format your family reunion takes, they always have the same intention: to bring people together from far and wide, across age groups and area codes, to have a good time, and renew that special bond that only families share.
When planning a family reunion, there are many factors to take into consideration in order for the event to go smoothly. While the host should be sure to delegate some responsibilities to others, it’s important for them to take charge when it comes to planning and decision-making. Here’s our guide to how to host the ultimate family reunion.
Family reunions can be as complicated to coordinate as weddings—that’s why we wouldn’t say no to sending out a save the date as far as a year ahead of time. Most family reunions will have people coming in from out of town, which often involves booking flights and accommodations in the host city, and these things require time. Decide how many people you’re planning to invite—will you share the day’s festivities with any and all living family members you can find? Or is this a more intimate occasion, with just the family that you already know and are in touch with fairly often. If you’re hosting, do you have the proper accommodations for an event? If it’s in the warmer months, do you have enough outdoor furniture in your backyard, or do you need to purchase or rent extra? If your home or backyard isn’t big enough to host, what kind of space do you want to use? Perhaps you’d rather keep it simple and casual and host it in the park. This will cut costs, and give plenty of space for sports and activities. Or maybe you’d prefer to book a space, like a restaurant, country club or meeting hall, that has an indoor option in case of rain. This might be pricey, but you can ask family to chip in, and it has many added benefits, including extra help from staff. The choice is yours, but make sure to make these decisions far ahead of time so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Let’s be real, this is the most important part of any event. When you have dozens of hungry family members, it’s crucial to have the right amount of food. Family reunions are a wonderful time to connect around the table, enjoying family recipes passed down from generation to generation, along with new delights to feast on. There are several ways to go about planning the food portion of a reunion. For more casual affairs, host a pot-luck, asking everyone to bring a dish of their choosing. Set up a spreadsheet to avoid any redundancies. You can also organize it so that each family prepares one meal, allowing each group to play to their strengths. You may also want to hire a caterer, which makes things a lot easier in terms of preparation and clean-up. Make sure you prepare a bevy of beverages, too, having lots of wine, beer, and soft drinks (and don’t forget ice!).
Sports, games, and other activities are the backbone of any good family reunion, something any good host knows. Classic games like charades, bingo, and cards are great ways to break the ice with family members you haven’t seen in a while. Meanwhile, the more athletically inclined may want to partake in a game of softball or touch football. Some families may choose to have specialty T-shirts printed to commemorate the occasion, which can help with organizing teams. Otherwise, you can ask teams to color-coordinate, wearing T-shirts or hats of the same color. A family reunion with a water element, like a pool, slip n’ slide, or water guns is also sure to be a hit—just don’t forget the towels . Make sure you have someone on music duty as well—it’s a great idea to make a collaborative playlist where family members can each add a splash of personality to the music for the day. It’s also wise to put at least one person on camera and video duty—this is a day you’ll want to remember.
Whether you’re hosting your reunion indoors or outdoors, having some decorations can make your event feel extra special. It doesn’t have to be much, but some tiki torches, outdoor lights, or festive tablecloths can go a long way. Indoors, Christmas lights can make things feel super celebratory. Place family photos and memorabilia around the room for a personal touch, as well.
To make your reunion even more memorable, send guests home with some party favors—a family calendar is our pick. Click the links below for even more tips and tricks from Lands’ End!