How to Plan a Family Reunion

Learning how to plan a family reunion isn't hard, as long as you're not overly concerned about how your family members will react. Put aside that fear of Aunt Martha's judgmental ways, remember that you're dealing with the people who love you the most in the world and get yourself organized.

Family reunions are almost always held in the summer months. It's easier for people to get away during the summer, and the weather is usually great for outdoor activities. If you've got a large extended family, you'll find the great outdoors is the perfect place to gather.

Choosing a Location
While you can hold your reunion at any lake, park or beach, you may want to choose a specific place, perhaps a place where your parents took you each year when you were children. If the reunion is to be at a campground, your party can take advantage of camping along the shoreline, which helps to cut down on costs.

Before you reserve a site, it's important that you discuss your ideas with as many members of the family as possible. Since it's hard to get the entire family together, especially if everyone is not centrally located, have one person represent each family as a family reunion committee member. Committee members should be present at all meetings or at least communicate via telephone or e-mail after each meeting. Committee members are responsible for making decisions regarding their families, and also for relaying information back to their families.

Family reunions are particularly hard to organize. Some people may not be able to travel or to stay more than one day in a hotel or campground due to financial stress; others may not be able to get off work or out of class at a particular time. For these reasons, make sure you give everyone a chance to offer their suggestions. Once you have decided on a place, make sure you plan the event a year in advance, so everyone can either save up for the event or have the opportunity to schedule the time off.

Assign Duties
One person should not take on the full responsibilities of a family reunion. That person will be stressed for an entire year beforehand. She will not be able to have a good time at the reunion, because she'll be too busy trying to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Share the workload by assigning duties. 

  • Setup Committee: The setup committee is in charge of cleaning the building or picnic area and making sure there are tables set up for the food and for the guests to use.
  • Clean Up Committee: Throughout the event, trash and empty bottles may need to be removed to keep the area clean and sanitary. Soap, hand towels and toilet paper should be maintained by this committee. If you are responsible for cleaning the building after you use it, the cleanup committee should be ready to roll when the event comes to a close.
  • Food Committee: Since there are almost always salads and other foods that must be kept cold, it's also smart to have one person in charge of ice. One or two kiddie pools filled with ice is usually enough to accommodate all the food and drink you'll need. Let the men man the grills.
  • Games Committee: Depending on your family, you may choose to have a dozen games or just one big one. If children are involved, it is always fun to hold a scavenger hunt with groups composed of both adults and children, as well as a piñata for the youngest kids in the family. Make sure you have a card table or two set up, and perhaps a jigsaw puzzle made from the last family reunion photo.
  • Photographer: Every family has at least one shutterbug with a good camera and a tripod. Designate this person as the official photographer for the event, but also encourage everyone to bring their own cameras and snap away. After the reunion, encourage everyone to collaborate on a scrapbook of the event.
  • White Elephant Raffle Committee: Holding a White Elephant Raffle is a great way to raise money for the next family reunion. Money that is raised can be used to pay for the location and for the main dish. For a White Elephant Raffle, simply ask everyone to bring something that they can't or don't use. This item does not necessarily need to be new, but it should still be in good condition. They also need to bring one margarine tub for each item. The margarine tub will have a number placed on it to correspond with the number placed on the item. Tickets are purchased, and bidding is conducted by placing tickets in the margarine tubs. Appoint someone to draw a single winner from each tub for the item.

To make sure nobody misses a beat and everyone walks away satisfied from your family reunion, hold a meeting with the heads of each family at the beginning of the reunion, rather than at the end of the day, when children are tired and people are getting ready to leave. During the meeting, discuss all that will happen that day and vote on ideas for the following year.

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