Are you planning a family reunion? There are many details to consider whether you are working in a group or by yourself.
To plan a memorable family reunion, follow this family reunion planning guide.
PLANNING A FAMILY REUNION HAS ITS BENEFITS
Families often remain separated by distance or kept apart by day-to-day responsibilities, even though technology and social media make it easier for people to stay in touch. The benefits of family reunions are numerous.
1. GET IN TOUCH WITH FAMILY
The distance between family members – sometimes even countries – makes family reunions an excellent opportunity for reconnecting. This is a time when loved ones catch up on each other’s lives. Some families use family reunions to introduce their new baby or spouse to their extended family.
2. PARTICIPATE IN A CELEBRATION
A family reunion is often used to commemorate milestone anniversaries or birthdays. New marriages can also be celebrated at family reunions. This is the opportunity for family members who were unable to attend the wedding to spend time with the bride and groom.
Reunions offer a chance to honor a loved one’s life and honor their memory to families who have lost loved ones throughout the year.
HOW TO PLAN A FAMILY REUNION
As soon as possible, begin planning your family reunion. It is wise to start planning at least six months to a year in advance since there are many details to consider. Your family has enough time to arrange travel and request time off from work so you can get ready in plenty of time.
Following is a reunion planning checklist you can use to keep you on track during the planning process.
1. Speak with the family
Your family should be consulted regarding any special requests or considerations, such as preferred dates or venues. Avoid family members’ weddings and graduation ceremonies. Also, avoid scheduling your reunion during the holiday season, unless you intend to make it a holiday party.
You’ll also have a better idea of how many people can attend if you consult your family before you begin planning.
2. Pick a date
This part will be easy if your family holds its reunion on the same date every year – such as Labor Day weekend or the fourth of July. If not, choose a time when everyone is available.
Family members with school-aged children can attend more easily during the summer months, so many families plan their reunions during this time. Outdoor venues and recreation are also more plentiful during the summer months. Nonetheless, if your budget is limited, you might consider booking your reunion during the off-season when venues and entertainers usually offer special discounts.
Decide on the duration of your family reunion, too. Rather than celebrating over an entire week or weekend, some families choose to celebrate on a single day.
3. SEND OUT INVITES
Invite guests as soon as the date is determined and the venue is reserved. Consider how far people will have to travel to attend the reunion, the overall cost of travel and lodging, and the time of year the reunion is taking place if you aren’t sure when to send out the invitations. Autumn reunions, for example, will require more planning for school-age kids, while summer reunions may not.
A family reunion invitation can be sent on paper or digitally. Throughout the remainder of the planning process, consider creating a social media event to provide real-time updates and to ask your family for input.
Be sure to send reminder invitations a few months prior to your reunion, even if it is held on the same date every year.
4. DETERMINE THE BUDGET
The next step is to break down your budget. You should have a record of how much money was spent at the previous year’s reunion if you’re part of a family reunion planning committee.
Determine if additional funds will be required and how you plan to acquire those funds once you know how much money you have to work with. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of all expenses.
While reserving your venue, caterer, or entertainer, look for off-season discounts if you are on a budget. To save money, you can also send electronic invitations, make your own decorations or host a potluck.
5. Select a location
It can be hard to decide where to have a family reunion, but there are a few ways to make the decision easier. Consider both your budget and the distance between each venue and most of your family. Choose a campground that offers you the most value for your money – for instance, family reunion campgrounds offer lodging and fun amenities.
Family reunions are best held at these places:
- Campground: If you are looking to create lasting memories and save money, a family reunion at a campground is a great option. You can host reunion activities at many campgrounds, such as covered pavilions, where you can hold parties. Campgrounds also often offer several different types of campsites, so that all your family’s camping needs can be met – whether they prefer to stay in a tent, RV, or furnished cabin. You can arrange for your loved ones to stay on-site, close to one another. Many campgrounds also offer fun amenities, such as swimming pools, rock climbing, and bike rentals. Look for campgrounds that offer group camping.
- Outdoors: Reunions can be held in the backyard of your home or in the backyard of a family member. This eliminates the need to reserve a venue in advance. It is possible to reserve backyard tents, seating, a stage, and other features that may be available at professional venues.
- The bed and breakfast: A bed and breakfast could be a good option for your family depending on its size. You might be able to book the entire house for your event if you speak with the owner.
- Family reunions at a destination: A destination reunion takes more planning time and money, but your family can go on vacation together. Find a destination that offers something for everyone, such as a beach town, state park, or mountain retreat. Take advantage of alternative lodging options to save money. You should send invitations early if you are planning a destination reunion because your family will need time to make travel arrangements.
6. PLANNING THE MENU
There are a few things you should consider when planning the menu for your family reunion:
- Location: Get to know your chosen venue. Does it have an on-site kitchen? Does it have electricity for food warmers? In some places, outside food is not permitted, and only on-site catering is available. Make sure you discuss your options with the venue before planning your menu. You can also use the venue as inspiration for your menu. Plan a camping-themed menu with s’mores and other campfire favorites if your reunion is held at a campground.
- Season: Plan your menu according to the season. Plan a summer reunion that includes summer foods and in-season produce. During the fall, comfort food is more appropriate. If your gathering falls during the holiday season, use that as a guide when planning your menu.
- Tradition: Let your ancestors inspire your family reunion menu. Choose foods that reflect your family’s culture or country of origin. It is a great way to share family recipes and celebrate what makes your family unique.
It is now time to plan your menu based on these considerations. A few favorites include:
- The broth: The soup is easy to serve and can be served cool or warm. It goes well with bread and salad.
- Griddle food: Cook hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, or have a barbecue.
- Potluck: Covered-dish potlucks are a great way for the entire family to get involved and ensure there is a variety of dishes. Each family should bring a covered dish for the reunion, and then the dishes should be arranged on a buffet table. Plan ahead the foods that will be served. Members of the family can choose a meal, a side dish, an appetizer, a dessert, or a drink. As a result, you won’t have four pasta salads and no hot entrees.
- Festive menu: If you plan to hold your family reunion during the holiday season, serve a holiday feast.
- Pizza: Consider ordering pizza from a local shop for smaller family reunions. There are many places that deliver pizza. If you’re going to need more than a few pizzas, call the pizza shop several days before the reunion to place your order.
- Taco bar: Provide tortillas, taco shells, and a variety of taco toppings as a taco bar.
You can avoid the hassle of cooking and preparing your family reunion food by having it catered. Look for local restaurants or private catering services.
You should always serve several different dishes at your reunion, no matter how you design them. Be sure to ask family members about any allergies or food preferences before you send out invitations. It may be a good idea to have a few vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free dishes just in case.