Who says family reunions can’t be fun? If you have plan it right, you can make it an upbeat and interesting one all members of the family will enjoy. It will, however, take a lot of work and foresight. You’ll have to coordinate with your family and get everyone to come when and where they should, which — knowing family — can be easier said than done. Take your cue from this list of steps to a memorable family reunion to make your own a great success.
● Form a committee – Managing a family reunion is plenty of work, sometimes more than one person can handle. Ensure a smooth reunion by creating a committee to oversee every aspect of the meet. Recruit volunteers from the family and delegate tasks to ensure everything gets done on time. A small affair (around 20 to 30 people) can be overseen by one person, but in the case of large reunions, you’ll need more departments to handle specific tasks (e.g. food, communication, reservations, and finances). Consider creating a website to coordinate everything more effectively, and to help build interest in the reunion.
● Create a guest list – Compile a list of family members (including spouses, partners, and children). Get in touch with at least one person from each branch to get contact everyone’s contact information. Include email addresses and social media accounts; this information helps with updates and last-minute changes. In case of financial or space constraints, decide how far down the family tree you want to go to avoid hurting feelings. Start with closest relations, then work your way as far as possible.
● Pick a date – Contact family members in advance to find a convenient date for everyone to meet. Aim for holidays to make things easier, especially for relatives who have children in schools. Those relatives will also have to plan around school schedules, so keep that in mind. Also consider how long the reunion should last. If some of the family have to come from far away, it isn’t worth their while to have the reunion only last a day. Finally, plan the date far in advance to give everyone time to settle their affairs; at least six months’ notice is a good rule of thumb.
● Choose a location – You also have to find a convenient location for everyone in the family. If your family is clustered together, select a nearby location you can all reach. If everyone is more dispersed, find a central location to reduce travel costs. Small groups can comfortably fit in a restaurant or at someone’s house, but larger groups may need a resort or park to accommodate everyone.
● Create a budget – Keeping an organized budget can help you determine the scale of the reunion, including food, decor, accommodations, and activities. Create a list of expected costs to anticipate the total amount you have to spend. Usually, you can raise the money through fundraisers, or by requiring an entrance fee. You can also find some shortcuts to cut costs. For example, some resorts offer volume discounts; look for good deals with venues to make it easier.
● Plan activities – Have a wide range of activities on hand to keep everyone entertained; offer a wide range to suit all ages and interests. For example, include a list of nearby sights if you’re planning a multi-day reunion. Kids will especially need something to keep them occupied during the occasion, like games. Also include fun icebreakers to make it easier for family members who don’t know each other very well to bond. Consider awarding special prizes for certain categories (e.g. oldest relative or longest distance travelled to attend).
● Have a backup plan – Part of planning for success is anticipating failure. Consider if the weather could ruin your plans (e.g. sudden rainstorms or entertainers cancelling at the last second). Do some mental damage control before anything goes wrong and make a list of backups in case of the worst. Your plan B’s may well save you if things don’t turn out as planned.
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