Planning a Family Reunion

There was a time when members of an extended family lived most of their lives fairly close to where they were born and raised. Uncles. Aunts. Cousins. Grandparents. All resided within driving distance. Today, however, most extended families are spread out across the country. Modern technology makes it possible to stay in touch, but getting everyone together in person is a challenge.

A family reunion is a great way for families to really get to know each other, build stronger bonds, and create shared memories. It often takes that one special someone in the family to get the ball rolling and take on the planning process. Of course, that can take a real commitment of time and energy.

If you happen to be that person in your family, the following suggestions may help you coordinate an event that will be enjoyed and remembered fondly by everyone.

A few suggestions you might find valuable…

  • Before you get started, make sure there’s enough interest in your family. Call a few of your closest relatives to get their input. It would be a waste of your time and energy to organize a family reunion if nobody is interested in attending.

  • Give yourself plenty of planning time. Remember, the more complicated the event, the more time it will take to orchestrate all the details.

  • Decide on a date that’s as convenient as possible for the most people in your family. Make sure the reunion won’t fall too close to any other major family events like weddings, baptisms, graduations, vacations, etc. If you are including families with school-age children, remember to set the date around the school year calendar.

  • Find a location that appeals and is accessible to the most people. Think about those with physical or mobility challenges. For some family, a relative’s backyard in a central location works well. Others choose a cruise or destination reunion with a more vacation-like feel. Identifying the right location for your reunion can be key to high attendance and a successful event.

  • Try to keep the cost of the reunion affordable for all family members. Take into account varying ages, lifestyles, income levels, and financial resources.

  • Don’t try to do it all yourself. Find some family members who are willing to help. Make a list of the tasks that need to get done and ask people what they would most enjoy doing. Maybe someone else would like to take charge of invitations, decorations, or entertainment.

  • Send save-the-dates. As soon as you have decided on the particulars, send out a “save-the-date” by email or postal mail. Include any important information, especially any facts regarding any arrangement that must be made like securing hotel reservations. If you are asking people to provide money in advance, let them know the amount as soon as possible.

  • Make sure the event includes something of interest to everyone. You’ll probably want to have some entertainment and/or activities planned. Playing games and doing activities together can be a great icebreaker for relatives who don’t get together on a regular basis. Maybe someone in the family with a theater background could organize some skits or a talent show. An athlete or coach could put together a friendly sports competition. A teacher could come up with arts and crafts projects for the kids.

  • Set up a Facebook page or website. It will help you keep everyone informed and help to rev up excitement about the reunion as the date approaches. Perhaps a tech-savvy teen in the family would enjoy helping you keep the site up-to-date. You may even decide to continue the site/page after the reunion to share photos and family news.

  • Document the memories you make at your reunion. Think about booking a professional photographer to take a quality group photo. Include the image, along with other shots taken by family members in a photo montage video that everyone can enjoy for many years to come.

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