"Why would I go through the headaches of planning a reunion?"
"But I don't even know where to start. How do I plan a family reunion?"
- It's your family.
- If done well, it can be a ton of fun.
- You really like Cousin Mike but you haven't seen him in 12 years, isn't it time?
- Grandma will think you're a saint for putting this all together.
Start by looking through the family reunion ideas here on Party411.com. We'll walk you through the important first step... creating a reunion committee. If it's a small affair, maybe it's just you. If you are having a couple of hundred in attendance, you'll want a much bigger group. You have to have a reunion chairman - somebody to be in charge to make sure everything is getting done and no one is slacking. You'll need someone who is a great politician and is good at delegating. This is too big a job for one person, so find that special someone willing to share the work.
- Again, the size of your family reunion will dictate how many committees you need and how many people should be on them but this is a great way to get a lot of family members involved and to make sure you have enough help for each task. Even if you're a committee of one you should divide your planning into these categories:
"Okay, I'm going to try it! But what kind of reunion should I have? And where should I have it?"
- Communications - Somebody has to make sure everyone knows what's going on. This group will collect addresses, send out surveys, mail invitations, prepare agendas, and make any necessary phone calls.
- Set-Up and Decorations - Family reunion ideas from decorating the site to setting up the welcoming table someone has to get the location ready to go.
- Food - If your family is like mine, the food is the thing. Whether it's ordering from a caterer, organizing a potluck dinner, or setting up a menu for the restaurant someone has to manage this very important piece.
- Activities/Games - Getting to know you games (icebreakers), kid's games, adult games, and friendly competitions of all sorts are a big part of the fun at these gatherings.
- Historians - Ambitious families may put together a family tree for the event. This can be a lot of work but it's fun and everyone is interested. Photo albums from previous reunions are another popular option. This committee will also take photos at the reunion to preserve future memories.
- Finances - Renting a park, or reserving a campsite, or filling a restaurant costs money. And then there is the food and decorations. And a ton of small items that can run into big money, or cause bad feelings, if not watched closely. Watching your pennies closely can be the key to producing a great event
- Cleanup - After a long, fun-filled day, who wants to clean up? Not you! Put together a committee to make sure the work gets done. You'd be surprised how many people will volunteer for this if you just ask.
When planning your family reunion the biggest consideration is budget. Figure out how much you want to spend, how many people you'll have and where they are coming from and the decision gets a little easier. Don't forget the family demographics. If you have 20 kids under the age of 5 your plan will be different than if the kids are a little older. There are four basic types with lots of potential variations.
- The Picnic - This is fairly simple to host and relatively inexpensive. This is a great way to go if much of the family lives in the area and you want to get together once a year. All the families can take care of their own food or you can do pot luck. Hold it in a nice park or rotate it through the backyards of those family members that have enough space.
- Dinner/Reception - You can have this at a nice restaurant or a hotel/resort. The staffs there will take care of most of the planning and these are pretty hassle free. Many families combine these first two options for a weekend event. Picnic on Saturday with a brunch/dinner on Sunday.
- The Camp Out - If your family loves the outdoors, consider a camping trip. Many families prefer staying in a cabin or RV to staying at a hotel. There's much to do at a good state park: boating, hiking trails, sports fields, golf courses and even a lodge for a more formal dinner. Make sure you pick a time of year where the weather will be on your side, and remember, this could be tough on some of the older folks, so a place that has camping for most, a with a cabin or two to rent is a gem.
- The Special Occasion - Families that have spread out over a wide geographic area have a difficult time getting together every year. Usually, a special occasion will be the reason to gather (Aunt Mary's 90th birthday, Grandma and Grandpa's 50th anniversary, etc.) These are usually big events that require hotel reservations, planning for several meals, and activities covering a couple of days. Let your guests know well in advance when you are getting together, and start your planning early.
Check out the Reunion Budgeting Guide
for more tips on setting the budget for your reunion.