Everyone loves a good family reunion, but no one likes planning one. At least not all on their own. There is a lot of work involved in organizing a reunion, and as the family grows each year, it becomes an even greater logistical challenge.
If you’ve pulled the short stick or even volunteered to host the next family reunion, you need all the support you can get. All your success starts in the planning phase. If you go out with a good plan, organizing and executing a high-end family reunion isn’t a full-time job.
If you have no idea where to start, you wouldn’t be the first. This article aims to point you in the right direction so that family reunion plans don’t freak out:
Table of Contents
Consider all ages
A family reunion brings together people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest grandparents. There are a number of activities that anyone can participate in, but interests will vary greatly from age group to age group. You should keep this in mind when you start planning your next family reunion.
Let’s say your next family vacation will be in California next to a famous vineyard. The adults in your party will be happy to go wine tasting as part of the festivities. However, this excludes anyone under the age of 21 from participating. This is fine as long as you also offset it with an equally exciting activity for the younger group. Perhaps the younger squad could be sent to a local theme park during the wine tasting to pass the time.
In general, if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for things to do, just ask! Send a quick survey to the family and ask for suggestions of things to do. You’ll hear directly from the kids and adults they’re interested in, and you can use those ideas to create a plan that works for everyone.
One person should not be in charge every aspect of a family reunion, especially if you have a large extended family. All that pressure and stress can be too much for one person to bear if they also hope to enjoy the reunion to the fullest.
There are plenty of people out there who would love to be involved in planning and organizing if you just ask them. An uncle may have a very nice game that he would like to teach everyone. Grandma may be ecstatic when she learns that the family wants her to handle the weekend desserts. They’ll be happy to have something to contribute, and the designated organizer won’t have to do everything alone.
Even some of the little ones can be given responsibilities. Smaller children can help set the table for all the meals you prepare and eat together. They can also tidy up a certain number of toys and garbage every night before bed so the need to clean doesn’t get out of hand.
Leave some time unplanned
Sometimes the best plan is no plan at all. Some family members have not seen each other for a long time and want to catch up. Children can come up with all kinds of games and activities without instruction. These periods of unstructured time can create some of the most enjoyable family reunion memories.
The best thing about this unplanned time is that it requires little to no work. You can concentrate your planning and organize other activities without being spread too thin. You might even consider planning one big activity a day and letting the family spend the rest of the time as they please.
Don’t go overboard on the unstructured playtime. Organized activities and events being what brings the whole reunion together. When making your final plans, try to find the perfect balance between the two.
Have a backup plan
No matter how well you plan and organize an event, something always goes wrong. It’s never a bad idea to have a backup plan for the various events and activities you have planned for a family reunion. For example, a plan that does not go ahead never ends in complete chaos and can quickly be replaced by a suitable contingency plan.
For example, some of your planned activities may take place outdoors. If so, what happens to your itinerary when it rains? A backup plan for rainy days ensures that some unfortunate weather doesn’t completely derail the reunion as a whole. Remember to stock up on some board games or all the fixings for a game of charades while you wait for the rain to pass.
Pretty much anything can use a backup plan. Have preparations ready for when meal plans fall through, shows are canceled, or flights are delayed. When it comes to a large-scale trip like this, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Plan a budget
Family reunions can get expensive. Not all families at the reunion have the same income to work with. You can’t reasonably plan a family reunion in Hawaii knowing full well you’re excluding certain people from attending. While you’re on your schedule, you should keep an overall budget in thoughts that everyone can accommodate as best they can.
Whenever you talk about food, travel, or an activity, you attach a dollar sign to it. Make sure you are aware of what everything costs before making any purchases or bookings. You might even consider having family members arrange certain things before you book, such as for hotel stays or excursions. Stress over finances can quickly sour what would otherwise be an enjoyable reunion.
Budgets can be flexible. You don’t have to stick to a hard shell if you don’t want to. However, it is sound financial practice to at least keep a running total of what the costs should be and what to expect. Perhaps make certain activities that can cost a lot of money optional and provide plenty of replacements for anyone who opts out.
Each family has its own unique traditions. Some are simple, like hosting an annual 4th of July barbecue. Others are a bit weirder, like hiding a pickle in the family Christmas tree. When the entire extended family comes together, there are more opportunities to create long-lasting traditions.
Think of family traditions that already exist. Include these in your family reunion schedule. These traditions are an easy way to free up some time when you’re trying to fill a few days full of excitement. It doesn’t matter if the tradition is a chili cook-off or going to a movie together; every tradition counts.
If you feel like it, try to discover some new tradition-like ideas. These can become permanent additions to future family reunions. It also gets you there trying new things that you may not have thought of before, such as an old-fashioned photo shoot or playing miniature golf together.
If properly prepared, a family reunion can easily become the highlight of anyone’s year. Even if there’s no set date for your next reunion, it’s never too early to start making plans. The earlier you start, the less stressed you will feel when the scheduled dates appear on the calendar.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Askar Abayev; Pexels; Thank you!