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How to Plan a Family Reunion

Outdoor family reunions feel like one big picnic!
Outdoor family reunions feel like one big picnic! Photo by USA Today

Planning a family reunion takes plenty of effort and personalization. It is important to remember why you are planning your reunion in the first place so that you know your time will be well spent organization it. Consider all factors that go into organizing your family reunion. Getting your family there is just the first step! Though it may feel like a big undertaking, you can plan your family’s big day with a few simple steps. Your family will surely appreciate the lengths you went to create a day full of bonding.

1. Pick a Location

Choose a reasonable location for your family reunion that you know all of the members of your family can easily attend. Nobody knows your family as well as you do, so you can feel free to choose a place you know they will enjoy. You can host your family reunion at your own home. This option provides you the advantage of knowing the turf in order to best utilize the location for fun activities. However, if you do not feel comfortable with a large crowd in your house, depending on the size of your family, that is completely understandable. Sometimes family under one roof can prove to be more of a party than we expect! Don’t worry – many local parks and recreation areas have outdoor picnic areas complete with benches and open fields in which you can invite your entire family to take advantage of. This option is especially considerable for families with children who will be attending the reunion. Set up near a playground area and call it a day! If the weather permits it, have your family meet up on a local beach. There is nothing more relaxing than catching up with loved ones next to the crashing waves. You can also select an indoor venue. Keep it classy and rent out a banquet hall or keep it casual with a low-key venue. The location you choose will largely rest on the size of your family and the activities you plan to incorporate into your family reunion. So, let’s move on to the next step!

2. Seating Arrangements

Once you have settled on a location that works for everybody in your family, it is time to organize the seating arrangements. This is an important step because it will decide which family members get to spend more time talking with each other. For example, if you know that both of your siblings have recently been in touch with each other and speak regularly, you may want to position them elsewhere. This way, they can make the most of their time by seating them next to family members you know they have not gotten to catch up with in a while. If you thoughtful when choosing seating arrangement, you family reunion will run even smoother. Your family members will most efficiently connect with each other in the best way. Don’t forget to sit yourself next to the family member you miss the most!

3. Food, Food, Food

We all know that food is the most important part of any get together and family reunion is no different. Food brings people together. Most families have special dishes that are special to its members. Perhaps its something your grandmother cooked for all the cousins when you were young, or maybe it was a delicious dish that was well received at a family wedding. Whatever you family’s favorite may be, bringing it to your reunion will add a personalized touch that makes your family members feel at home no matter where you are. You can ask each family member to bring something with them and make it a potluck. Diving into every dish knowing that its your family members favorite makes your mealtime all the more special. Ask around a few weeks before your reunion as to what each member wants to bring. Make sure you have entrees, snacks, desserts and beverages accounted for making your family reunion a potluck style get together adds a warm touch and allows everybody in attendance to know that they will have something to eat that they enjoy no matter what everyone else brings. Again, you know your family and most likely have an idea of what they like. Start there and don’t forget to ask around and take suggestions.

4. Incorporate Games

Including games at your family reunion adds an element of fun that will take your family back to a simpler time. Do you have a favorite board game that your family loved to play as children? Place one at each table! You can incorporate interactive games so that the entire reunion can feel like they are playing together. For example, set up a big piece or paper or white board at the front of the venue. Give everybody scrap paper and play Pictionary. You can give everyone bingo boards and rotate announcers. Any game played at a family reunion should bring back great childhood memories and bring your guests together at the same time. Having fun together is the best way to bond- especially if you do not get to see each other so often. Another activity to partake in is leaving tabletop questions out on each table. Fill each sheet with questions that may help your family members update you on their life. You can include questions regarding current favorite movies, tv shows, pass time, etc. go even deeper and include questions about favorite childhood memories or favorite qualities in each family member at the table. This is a great conversation starter and you may even find yourself having favorite things in common. Your games should serve to bring joy to your family members as well as break the ice.

5. Make Tee Shirts

Making personalized tee shirts for your family reunion is a classic way to make sure your family members never forget your special day together. Make sure to include your family’s last name and the year of your reunion. For example, a tee shirt should really something like “Smith Family Reunion: 2019”. You can place a photo on the front or back that represents your family well. Perhaps this can be a way to honor any family members who may have passed away. If your reunion is in celebration of a special event such as an engagement or pregnancy announcement, feel free to add that to your tee shirts as well. Every family has a good quote that may mean something to its members. If you can’t think of one, just add one that you feel best fits your family. Supply your family reunion members with a multitude of tee shirts to choose from in all colors and sizes as not to leave anybody out. If you have the means, personalize each tee shirt with the name of each family member and special photos that may hold meaning to them. Whichever way you decide to decorate your tee shirts, your family will definitely feel all warm and fuzzy every time they put it on.

6. Contact Info Sign-In Sheet

Have all of your guests check in to your family reunion with sign in sheet that requests them to leave their contact information. It feels almost impossible to collect all of the phone numbers one may need when reconnecting with family. Creating a sign in sheet allows your guests to more efficiently keep in touch. Provide a space for names, phone numbers and email addresses. At the end of your event- you can allow everyone take a photo or make copies of a copy machine is available. This way, nobody leaves feeling like they forgot to grab all the information they need to stay connected to each other. And don’t forget to keep a sheet for yourself as well!

7. Make Time for Sharing

While you may get to catch up with family members during your time mingling, creating a special time for sharing any important updates to your family member’s lives ensures that everyone gets to share their stories. Perhaps this Table Talk could be during coffee hour or dessert. When you choose to set specific time aside to go around the room to allow your family members to bond with everyone at once, your family will be grateful to you for your consideration of them. You can make a fun game out of it and ask the last person who spoke to elect the next one and so on. Like “duck, duck, goose” but with story telling of the things that mean the most!

8. Set Out Memory Tables

Personalize your memory table with photos from all family generations.
Personalize your memory table with photos from all family generations. Photo by Pinterest

Every family is full of memories. Most of us have good old-fashioned photographs from before the digital age. Set up a few tables at your family reunion and spread out all the photos you can find. You can ask every family member who is attending to bring whatever photos they can find as well. You do not have to limit your reunion memory tables to photographs alone. Ask them to bring all mementos that they still have. This can be dolls, toys, souvenirs, blankets, etc. As they come, you will observe your memory table get more and more full of precious memories. You can all walk through the tables and enjoy the memories that flood back to you. This adds a sweet, personal touch that will fill your family members with love.

9. Create a Photo Station

Photo stations are always a fun experience to remember.
Photo stations are always a fun experience to remember. Photo by Etsy

While your family reunion should consist of looking back at old photos, it is also just as important to take new ones. You can cherish old memories while also creating more. Create A picture taking station complete with large frames and signs that represent your family reunion. Have your family members take photos together to mark the occasion. You can have a family member at the station at all times to take the photos or you can simply leave a camera out for them to use as they please. Taking photos to celebrate your family reunion and the togetherness it brings will solidify the experience for all who come.Snap a group shot each year to see how much everyone has changed. There are most likely newer members to your family as everyone gets older and starts having children of their own. So the family reunions to come will include the ones you take at this one! Taking pictures is one of the best ways to remember the good times you shared with your family.

10. Annualize It

Making family reunions an annual event will remind your family of how much you care because it can be designated as the one day of the year in which everyone set time aside for each other. This prioritizes family bonding and gives your family members something to look forward to each year. You can ask around at your family reunion about what day and time of the year would work best for everybody who will be joining you. Once you have set a date, make sure everyone keeps in touch and is reminded of when the next one will be coming up. Annualizing your family reunion will give everyone the sense of closeness that family reunions are intended to provide.

Any good family reunion is centered around lots of fun, sharing memories and cherishing each other. However you decide to celebrate your family and the love you share, your family will thank you for putting forth the time and effort into making sure their experience is pleasant. Make sure that your event is full of joy! Following the steps will create even more beautiful memories for your family to look back on. After all, family is the strongest bond that endures through thick and thin. Every family deserves a celebration of that. At the end of the day, center your reunion around love and don’t forget to enjoy yourself too!


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