Whether relatives live close together or are separated by miles, getting everyone together isn’t easy with work and family responsibilities. Logistically, planning a family reunion in advance where all participants can mark the calendar and save the date makes for an ideal plan. Since most family reunions are multigenerational, putting one together seems like an enormous project and it is. When it comes to how to throw a family reunion, the trick is not to have one person responsible for all the planning and execution. It’s not fair to expect a single family member to organize and throw a reunion. Luckily, there are ways to make the process less daunting and it starts by dividing and conquering to come up with great family reunion ideas.
The old adage “too many cooks in the kitchen” describes trying to plan a family reunion. When a large group of individuals tries to plan an event, usually, things go array. Instead, choose a representative from each family unit. Plan on connecting via Facetime or a Zoom call a few times throughout the planning and execution stages of putting together the family reunion.
Once the relatives are on board for a fun family reunion, get the calendars out and pick a target date. Have each family toss out three options. Will the family be holding a week-long, weekend, or one-day reunion? Get these issues worked out first.
Money is typically an uncomfortable family conversation. When planning a family reunion, especially one involving multiple days in lieu of a vacation, a budget is important because everyone’s financial situation is different. One way to save money when organizing a family reunion is to book it during the off-season. Summer is always a popular time when there are kids in the mix, but if money is a consideration, a reunion during the off-season may be a better idea because of shaving off costs on travel, accommodations and other reunion expenses.
Having one family host a large reunion is asking a lot unless they have a compound on Cape Cod like the Kennedys. A better idea is to have a destination reunion. All-inclusive cruises and resorts are earmarked for a destination family reunion because all the relatives know ahead of time about cost and can plan accordingly. Cruises and resorts also offer a wide range of activities to accommodate multigenerational reunions, meaning there will be something for families with children as well as singles. National parks like Yellowstone are another consideration for a destination reunion, as are camping trips. Booking a bed and breakfast for the entire reunion party can be fun, too. When deciding on a destination, get everyone’s input through the family representatives and then hold a vote.
Once the family representatives have locked in the date and destination for the family reunion and set the budget, get those invitations mailed or emailed as soon as possible. This way, all the relatives have ample time to clear work, school and extracurricular schedules in order to be able to attend the reunion.
Once the invitations are sent, it’s time for other family members to step up. A reunion is a logistical nightmare to plan. Make things easier by having volunteers take care of the different tasks like tracking RSVPs, ordering reunion shirts, making reservations, greeting family members on the day of the reunion, looking up parking information, and other pertinent details that make the family reunion run smoothly.
For one-day family reunions, be sure to have some fun backyard activities like cornhole, flag football and Wiffle ball on tap along with quieter pursuits like a family history trivia game. If the family reunion is a destination one, map out group activities for everyone like an evening cruise or a sightseeing tour, but leave some time for families to enjoy on their own. No one appreciates being overbooked on a vacation.
Like things to do, the menu is important. If it’s a one-day reunion, take food allergies into account when working with a caterer to plan a menu. All-inclusive resort family reunions will have more food flexibility, but try to reserve times for the family to share at least one breakfast, lunch and dinner together.
Reunion tees are a nice touch, but adding names can be a practical way of assisting all the reunion party members in remembering names. Name tags are another way of ensuring all the participants remember names. If families are spread apart and don’t see one another frequently, it can be difficult to remember Uncle Bob’s second wife’s name or cousin Mary’s new baby.
Prior to the reunion, make sure all is well by having the designated volunteers and family representatives confirm all the details.
If the reunion is in a park or outdoor venue, it might be a good idea to have an alternative plan if Mother Nature decides to rain on the parade.
Holding a family reunion, whether annually or to mark special milestones like a 100th birthday celebration, is a wonderful way to honor the importance of families. While relatives may have their differences, everyone is related, and large or small that’s something to treasure. Putting together a family reunion is like planning a wedding, but with these family reunion ideas as a staging point, organizing one isn’t as daunting.
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