For most families, gone are the days where your entire extended family all lives in the same town you’ve lived in for decades. If you have aunts, uncles, cousins, and more spread all across the country, a family reunion is a perfect way to get everyone together!
If you’ve taken the reigns on planning a family reunion, you’ll definitely want to use these tips. Making everyone happy can be a challenge, but these key tips will help you pull it off without a hitch.
1. Start Early
If you want to get a large turnout, and you have family members all over the place, you’ll need to start planning early (think a year or more in advance). If you are doing the reunion over the summer or holidays, this gives people enough advance notice to plan vacations around the reunion and find reasonable prices for travel.
If you have a large number of guests coming from out of town, you might even consider booking a block of discounted hotel rooms at a hotel near your reunion location.
Treat the reunion like a wedding—set the date early and then send out informal save-the-date notices. You can send emails, postcards, texts, or even create a private Facebook group just for your family members and reunion planning.
2. Recruit Helpers
You have a big family, so don’t try to take this on alone! Recruit helpers to help with planning, notifying family members, setting up, cleaning up, etc. The bigger your family, the more help you’re going to need.
Putting together a planning committee also ensures that you get feedback from different parties and can plan a reunion likely to please most people (let’s face it, though, you’ll never make everyone completely happy).
3. Set a Budget
Chances are, you’ll be setting a “price” for each attendee (unless a generous family member is footing the bill for the entire reunion), so keeping this cost low may be important. This is especially true if there are a lot of family members spending money on travel to get to the reunion.
Identify a target number that you’d like to charge for each attendee (it might be wise to have different prices for adults and children) and use this to guide your decisions on location, food, activities, etc.
4. Decide on a Location
Once you’ve identified a date and budget for the reunion, you and your planning committee need to identify a location. Before you do this, it’s a good idea to do a quick count of how many people you plan to invite and even take an informal poll on how many people think that they’ll be able to attend.
If you’re holding the reunion during the summer, consider a location that has indoor areas in the event of rain, space for food and drinks, and space for any activities you want to have, whether for kids or adults.
5. Decide on Food
Your budget will play a big role in your food choices. If you want to keep things inexpensive, and you have a lot of people who live locally, a potluck might be the way to go. Have people sign up for certain things, like side dishes and desserts, and provide the main course (meat for grilling, for example) and drinks purchased with the amount that each person who is attending chips in.
If you have a larger budget or will charge more, consider having it catered. If you are going for an informal picnic-type reunion, you don’t have to get fancy with the food! Stick to picnic food and make things easy for everyone!
6. Decide on a Theme
A theme isn’t necessary but it is a fun way to personalize the reunion. You could do something that’s a play on your family’s ethnic heritage or the last name of the matriarch and patriarch of the family.
Once you decide on a theme, you can even get custom family reunion t-shirts made!
7. Plan the Details
Once all of the big decisions are made, you can start planning the smaller details, such as set-up and clean-up, activities and games, and other details such as who is bringing what, who will be buying drinks and paper products, who’s in charge of invitations, etc.
Once it gets closer to the event, you’ll want to send out invitations. Whether you go for mail, email, or Facebook group, make sure to include all of the necessary information.
Yous invitation should include the date, time, and location as well as any monetary amount attendees are expected to chip in. Also include the ability for people to sign-up to bring something. A Google doc or other online sign-up website is a great way to make sure you don’t end up with 5 sides of potato salad.
8. Take Lots of Pictures (and Share Them!)
Once the day arrives, put someone in charge of taking pictures. Chances are that lots of your family members will be taking them, but make sure one person is designated as the photographer. Afterward, give people a way to share them. Share an online album, post them in your Facebook group, or create a hashtag for the reunion and use it to post on Instagram.
9. Set a Date for Future Reunions
If you are going to hold the reunion yearly (or every other year), let people know when the next one will be held. It’s also a great time to recruit helpers for upcoming reunions as well! Before people leave, make sure they know exactly when the next reunion will be held (or at least give a general idea of month and year).
If your location was a hit, you might even consider re-booking it on the spot for the next reunion.
Planning a Family Reunion Is a Lot of Work, but Worth It!
Sure, planning a family reunion isn’t a simple task. It takes a lot of time and attention to detail and isn’t something that can be thrown together at the last minute, but think about how worth the hassle will be to see multiple generations of your family enjoying each other!
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