Set up a Facebook page or website to keep people posted and to rev up excitement about the reunion as the date approaches. Perhaps a tech-savvy teen in the family would enjoy helping you keep the site updated. You may even decide to continue the site/page after the reunion to share photos and family news.
Find a location that appeals to and is accessible for the most people. Think about those with physical or mobility challenges. The best bet might be a relative’s backyard in a central location that most family members can get to easily or you may choose a cruise or destination reunion with a more vacation-like atmosphere. Identifying the right location can be key to high attendance and a successful reunion.
Try to make the cost of the reunion affordable for all family members. Take into account varying ages, lifestyles, income levels, and financial resources.
Don’t try to do it all yourself. Find some family members who are willing to help. Make a list of the tasks that need to get done and ask people what they would most enjoy doing. Maybe someone else would like to take charge of invitations, decorations, or entertainment.
Before you get started, make sure there's enough interest in your family. Call a few of your closest relatives to get their input. It would be a waste of your time and energy to organize a family reunion that nobody is interested in attending.
Document the memories you make at your reunion. Think about booking a professional photographer to take a quality group photo. Include the image, along with other shots taken by family members in a photo montage video that everyone can enjoy for many years to come.
As soon as you have decided on the particulars, send out a “save-the-date” by email or postal mail. Include any important information, especially information regarding the need for people to make reservations or make other arrangements. If you are asking people to provide a financial contribution, let them know the amount as soon as possible.
Make sure the event includes something to interest everyone. You will probably want to have some entertainment and/or activities planned. Playing games and doing activities together can be a great icebreaker for relatives who don’t have an opportunity see each other regularly. Maybe someone in the family with a theater background could organize some skits or a talent show. An athlete or coach could put together a friendly sports competion. A teacher could come up with arts and crafts projects for the kids.
Give yourself plenty of planning time. Remember, the more complicated the event, the more time it will take to orchestrate all the details.
Decide on a date that is as convenient as possible for the most people in your family. Make sure the reunion won’t fall too close to any other major family events like weddings, baptisms, graduations, etc. If you are including families with school-age children, remember to set the date around the school year calendar.
There was a time when most members of an extended family continued to live fairly close to where they were born and raised. Uncles. Aunts. Cousins. Grandparents. All lived within driving distance. Today, however, most extended families are spread out across the country. Modern technology makes it possible to stay in touch, but getting everyone together in person is a lot harder.
A family reunion is a great way for families to really get to know each other, build stronger bonds, and create shared memories. It usually takes that one special someone to get the ball rolling. Someone willing to take on the planning process, which can take a lot of time, commitment, and energy.
If you are that person in your family, the following suggestions may help you coordinate an event that will be enjoyed and remembered fondly.