If it has been a long time since your last family get-together, this summer might be the perfect time to plan a reunion. Like any event, a reunion requires plenty of planning, so here are nine things to add to your family reunion planning checklist.
Who are you going to invite? Ideally, you will want to invite as many people as possible to help guests re-connect, but if your family is quite large, you may want to limit it to a select circle of family members, such as only first cousins, or only first and second cousins. Make sure everyone invited fits under a relationship umbrella like this, so that no one feels left out.
How long will the reunion last—a few hours or a full weekend? What activities will you plan to keep guests entertained—volleyball, soccer, live music? What will the theme be—Hawaiian luau, fiesta, safari, family history? How much will each guest need to pay to cover the cost of food and entertainment? Make sure you figure out all of these details far enough in advance to let your guests know how to plan for their visit.
If possible, try to send your invitations at least two months in advance—three or four months is better, especially for large families. Find a way to incorporate your theme into the invitations, and ask guests to RSVP so you will know how many people you’ll need to feed and house.
Once you have picked a theme, many of your menu items may fall into place, but make sure you plan the menu or choose your caterer at least a few weeks in advance. Check with your guests to see if they have any food allergies and remember to relay that information to your caterer.
After you know how many family members will be coming and have picked a location for your reunion, you may want to create a seating layout for your meals. This can help ensure your guests branch out and meet new people, while also avoiding any messy personal conflicts between family members.
At some point during your reunion, you will want to collect updated contact information (including email addresses and phone numbers) for all of your guests. Decide on your method for doing this ahead of time. The easiest way may be to ask each family member to sign a guest book when they arrive, or you may want to get creative and exchange party favors for contact info or ask guests to join a private Facebook group or online archive and share their information there.
If your reunion is going to last for an extended period of time, you will need to plan a few optional activities for your guests’ downtime. Remember that some of your guests may also just need to get away by themselves for a period of time. Mark a few local maps with the locations of good coffee shops, walking trails, bookstores, etc. as places your family members can retreat to for a little quiet time or for an additional, fun activity.
No matter how large or small your family reunion is, you will want to capture the day in some way through photos, videos, and stories. You may wish to hire a professional to help you with this task. (Learn more about how FamilyArc’s Professional Services team can assist you with this here.) Or you may want to enlist a few family members to do this with their personal cameras or smart phones. You might even pass out disposable cameras beforehand and collect them when the reunion ends.
This might mean creating family T-shirts, memory books, or some other small gift for every attending family member. Or it might mean developing a family archive of stories, photos, and videos from the reunion. Get creative and come up with three or four ways for guests to remember the event and continue to interact with the family as a whole.
What are your suggestions for planning a family reunion? Let us know in the comments below!