As time passes and our busy lives revolve around raising children, working, and managing our hectic schedules, we often lose touch with loved ones. It’s become common practice to maintain social media connections rather than personal ones with family members and longtime friends. However, posting our memories online, chatting on the phone, and sending an occasional e-mail will never compare to an in-person encounter with people we love. The truth is, we won’t really connect with our families if we don’t take the time to get to know them in person.
Planning a family reunion can be a memorable experience that brings everyone together. It may foster relationships, reveal history, celebrate cultures, and strengthen a loving family’s bonds.
In order to plan a successful family reunion, it’s best to gather a team of people to help put the event together; it’s never a one-man task. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and planning a memorable family reunion takes time, creativity, and organization. Reach out and begin delegating responsibilities such as location, invitations, welcoming committee, decorations, food, reservations, travel, entertainment, correspondence, and lodging.
As you begin to plan, make a list of all the people to invite and begin contacting them to determine the best date and location for the gathering. Once you’ve decided what works best for the majority of folks, start to work out the details. Typically, large reunions require advance notice of six months to a year. Just like weddings, there will be reservations to make, flights to catch, and lots of details to arrange.
As the guest list is finalized, you can begin to work as a team to budget all the costs required to make it a reunion your loved ones will never forget. The size of your guest list will also determine what type of venue to choose. Hosting a smaller reunion at someone’s home might be feasible. A larger guest list may require a bigger venue such as a banquet hall, community center, ballroom, conference center, park, or church auditorium. One fun idea is to hold the reunion at a vacation destination – consider a resort, retreat center, or even a cruise! The venue will be the cornerstone of the gathering, and only you can determine what will work best for your family.
Once you’ve figured out the location, you can move on to the fun of the activity planning. Have your planning committee pick a theme for the event. Consider giving out family memorabilia, providing a collaborated family tree, or distributing t-shirts bearing the family name. Consider including fun icebreakers to help everyone become quickly acquainted. Games and activities that encourage people to engage are the best ways to make connections, restore relationships, and provide life-long memories.
Another great way to entertain is to highlight your family’s culture with decor, food, and music. You can even pick a spokesperson or two to share details about your ancestry and family history. You may want to include a slideshow highlighting everyone in attendance, as well as those who have passed on. This can easily be put together well in advance with a little collaboration from everyone on the guest list.
The most important aspect of a family reunion is to create memories and foster connections. It’s a family affair, so the more family members involved in the plans, the more successful and less stressful your event will be. The purpose is to walk away with rekindled relationships, a strong sense of heritage, and most of all – a deeper sense of family!