Family reunions are great ways to gather extended family into one place for reconnecting through time spent together, shared experiences, and overall fun. They connect family members across generations and eliminate the distance between families that might be stretched out across long miles.
And while family reunions are amazing memory-makers, they can be daunting to plan and implement. Here are three things to consider when planning a family reunion:
1. Location, Location, Location – Most people’s homes just aren’t big enough to host several additional families. Plus, it is always fun to find a new place to explore while simultaneously reconnecting with family. Renting a home (or two) is a great way to do both.
Websites like AirBNB and Vacation Rentals By Owner have houses to rent that can accommodate any number of people, from single travelers to large groups. Some of these might be able to host your entire reunion in one location. In popular vacation destinations, you might also call a local real estate agent to inquire about renting multiple houses situated next to each other. Whether you choose a location that is central to everyone, or travel to a place that everyone wants to visit, the location will help create the backdrop for your entire gathering.
2. Meal time – Unless you hire a professional chef or eat out for every meal, you will need to work out what to eat. Really, being able to eat “at home” is one great way to save money, but it can get complicated when there isn’t a plan. When we have family reunions, each family takes turns cooking. We all take responsibility for a night (or two, depending on how long the reunion lasts) and we make dinner for the entire group. Usually the meals are easy and liked by everyone – spaghetti, hamburgers on the grill, and grilled chicken are always big hits.
To organize yourselves, especially over the miles, you can use something as simple as Google calendars and invite everybody to login to the same calendar. Each family can choose a night and list what they are going to cook to avoid repeats. (Nobody wants to eat lasagna three nights in a row.)
For breakfasts, have cereal, muffins, and fruit available for everyone to eat. At lunch, make sure that plenty of sandwich supplies are on hand. Also, paper goods make each meal time better for everyone because there is a lot less to clean up.
Of course, it is always fun to pick a few nights to eat out, so if your family is up for it, be sure to schedule a night for that, too.
3. Keepsakes – One fun part of family reunions is creating a feeling of camaraderie among the many individual families present. Matching t-shirts are just one way to unify everyone. These are just fun to have, whether you order them through a website like Custom Ink or make them yourselves. Shirts are especially helpful if you plan to take the whole group on an outing – it’s much easier to spot family members when you are all dressed alike.
Another way to create unity, particularly in the younger generations, is to come up with a family hashtag. If every member of the family who is posting pictures to social media uses the same hashtag, it becomes much easier to view them as a whole. After the reunion, you can choose pictures to print out and have in your home as a reminder of a great reunion.
A family reunion is a wonderful opportunity to unite generations, see family members you have lost contact with, and make memories that will last a lifetime. A little pre-planning will make the entire experience even better.