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10 tips for planning a fine family reunion

These practical strategies can help with the organization of a multi-generational family reunion no one will want to miss.
These practical strategies can help with the organization of a multi-generational family reunion no one will want to miss.
10 tips for planning a fine family reunion – Graphic created by this user – with public domain artwork

A family reunion offers a super opportunity for relatives to reconvene and reconnect, especially if folks live far from one another.

For centuries, extended families in many cultures lived in multi-generational quarters, staying in close contact with one another. Every day was a family reunion of sorts.

But all that has changed.

Loved ones may be spread out across entire countries or even around the world. In our highly mobile society, many families relocate often. Maintaining solid extended family relationships can be challenging. Quite possibly, these transitory trends have led to the increase in family reunions.

The best family reunion planning has become an art in itself.

Gathering long-lost kin can be exciting and fun, but it can also be a tricky endeavor. Is it possible to rally all the troops, inciting them to set aside their busy daily lives to attend a family reunion? These practical strategies can help with the organization of a multi-generational family reunion no one will want to miss.

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1. Make a solid plan for the family reunion.

Well-organized family reunions take time. Many months of planning will be required, if you want to get your ducks (er, relatives) in a row without stress! Don’t wait till it’s too late to make reservations and arrangements.

2. Set a date well in advance.

Put the family reunion on the clan calendars at least a year ahead to maximize the chances of full participation.

3. Select a suitable location.

Try to pick a spot that is accessible to the entire clan, including relatives of all ages and walks of life. Use a map to plot out each household’s home location, and try to pick a place that all can reach without hardship. Reserve accommodations early, and arrange for amenities and activities.

4. Appoint a family reunion team.

Planning a clan-wide event can be a huge undertaking, unless the work is shared. Why not ask various households to handle food, games, travel, and other responsibilities?

At the same time, it helps to have a family reunion coordinator to oversee all of these areas.

5. Create a family reunion album.

Here’s a super keepsake for generations to come. Six months before the actual event, send questionnaires to everyone. Ask about addresses, anniversaries, birthdays, education, employment, hobbies, interests, and more. Request a photograph from each relative as well. Then publish a family directory, and distribute copies at the beginning of the family reunion gathering.

As an alternative, how about creating a family reunion website (with password access required) and then publishing the family album there? The site might include reminders and updates too, as the reunion date approaches.

After the event, family members could post their photographs from the gathering on the website as well.

6. Send family reunion invitations to the whole clan.

Gather emails and postal addresses from all of the kin. Create printed family reunion invitations (including maps to the location), or send them electronically.

Invite each family member individually by name, so no one feels left out. Specify whether pets will be included in the gathering.

Insist on RSVPs, and give an actual deadline for doing so.

7. Choose a theme for the family reunion.

Does your clan share a common interest? Or does an intriguing theme arise from the clan’s heritage? It may be an ethnic idea, a musical motif, or a favorite quotation from a former patriarch of the family. Maybe the family reunion date marks an important anniversary, birthday, holiday, or a military member’s homecoming.

Certain locations and venues lend themselves naturally to event themes. A desert oasis, tropical island, wild West spot, or big city may be just the ticket.

8. Plan appropriate food and recreational opportunities for the reunion.

Ideally, the family reunion activities draw folks together. The main attractions tend to be delicious and appealing shared meals and fun activities.

Team games can be super icebreakers and conversation starters, especially if attendees have not seen one another for a long time. Family history trivia contests, karaoke and charades nights, scavenger hunts, baby photo identification games, and silly sports are popular for family reunions.

Be sure to include all ages in the rosters, and record the festivities. Post the video online, or give each attendee a DVD or thumb drive to take home.

9. Offer family reunion mementos.

Family reunion souvenirs are fun, particularly if they include a clever clan logo or the family crest and play into the event theme.

A seaside family reunion might include screen-printed beach towels. Logo-embossed sports bottles, commuter coffee mug,s or folding camp chairs might fit a clan-wide camping trip. Cowboy hats or printed bandannas would be ideal for a rodeo event. Embroidered golf hats or baseball caps also make excellent family reunion mementos.

10. Print up family reunion tee shirts.

This is pretty much a universal family reunion tradition. For extra fun, why not offer a clan-wide tee shirt design contest before the event, and put the winning design on tees for everyone?

Some families outfit each generation in its own tee shirt color for their reunions. Grandparents wear one hue, while parents and grandchildren have their own colors. Others select colors reflecting their ethnic heritages or national flags.

Stay in touch after the family reunion.

After a successful clan gathering, folks often desire to stay connected, either in person or online.

Once the first big event has occurred, it pays to keep a file of receipts, notes, and plans. That makes subsequent kin gatherings much simpler to plan. Family reunions do require a fair amount of effort and persistence, but they are certainly worth it.