Maybe it’s been years since you’ve seen Aunt Sophie and her crazy Chihuahuas. Or maybe you want the grandparents to stay connected with the next generation of kids in your family. The bottom line is that if you’re reading these words, you’ve at least thought about planning a family reunion. And let’s be real, it can seem pretty daunting.
Just like with wedding planning, when you’re organizing a family reunion the people are more important than the napkin rings. So take a deep breath, let go of any unrealistic expectations and read on for seven tips to planning a simple but meaningful family reunion.
1. Delegate Responsibilities
Repeat after us: Not everything has to fall on you. Many families form committees responsible for the budget, food, lodging, communications and decorative mementos. Of course, it helps to nominate a CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) to help meet party-planning deadlines!
2. Compromise on the Location
Try to keep the location fair and convenient for as many family members as possible. Consider a geographically central location so no one has to travel an unreasonable distance. Or you could meet near one family and rotate cities year to year so everyone gets a chance to stay close to home. Some families even opt for a fun destination (beach trip, anyone?) that doubles as a vacation spot.
As for the venue, parks and banquet halls are solid options. But also consider cabins, campsites or even a family member’s home if it’s a smaller affair. Need help deciding? Choose three dates and locations, and put it to a vote. This is a fam-ocracy!
3. Plan Activities for Every Age
Classic outdoor activities work well because (a) everyone knows how to play them, (b) they’re great for every age and (c) they’re oldies but goodies for a reason! Here are some examples:
For spirited kids (and kids at heart):
- Wheelbarrow, three-legged or potato sack races
- Swimming, squirt gun battles or a plastic water slide
- Water balloon fights or tosses
- Tennis, volleyball or softball
For older generations:
- Lawn games like bocce ball and cornhole
- Charades (or even better, reverse charades, in which everyone acts out the prompt to one person)
- Outdoor movies (just grab a projector and set up a taut white sheet for viewing)
Weather contingency activities (if you’re rained out or it’s simply too hot):
- Board games and activities like chess, checkers, Bingo, puzzles or card games
- Karaoke Idol
- Family trivia with questions about different family members
4. Keep the Food Simple
Hire a caterer to keep things easy. Consider adding a few nostalgic dishes to the spread so everyone gets a taste of family classics like Aunt Edra’s legendary baked beans. Be sure to have plenty of Bounty paper towels and Dawn dish soap on hand – if you’re anything like us, messes run in the family.
For dessert, there’s nothing more sentimental than ice cream. Serve old-timey flavours like butter pecan, Neapolitan and mint chocolate chip with waffle cones, bowls and plenty of toppings.
5. Don’t Forget a Family Portrait
Hire a photographer or solicit a family member with a good eye to capture the festivities. For a clever photo op, consider giving everyone color-coded T-shirts to represent all the generations. You’ll be surprised by how many colors you’ll need!
6. Remember the Bathroom Basket
Being realistic, reunions are usually all-day events, and if they’re outdoors, they can be hot and sweaty. Have no fear – we can all remain family and friends with a little “freshen-up” help from Secret and Old Spice Invisible Sprays, Olay Daily Facial cleansing cloths and Always Radiant Thin Liners. It’s also helpful to have lots of sunscreen, bug spray and adhesive bandages on hand! And be sure to stock up on Charmin toilet paper, even if you’re meeting at a public venue. (You’ll thank us later.)
7. Clean up and Plan for Next Time
Don’t forget the cleanup supplies. Get your venue deposit back by rallying a crew of helpers to clean tracked-in dirt and grime from floors with a Swiffer WetJet and wipe down countertops with Mr. Clean Multi-Surfaces cleaning spray.
Thank everyone for attending, and start brainstorming ideas for next year! Organize a giant human pyramid for the photo op? Add the furry family members to the mix? The world is your oyster so long as everyone (kind of) agrees!
What are your tips for planning a seamless family reunion? Tell us in the comments!