Planning a Family Reunion
“I suppose all of us have our own favorite reason for having family reunions. In a way, they are extensions of family home evenings. Family reunions are an opportunity to gather our larger, eternal families together to learn to understand and love one another, and to unite ourselves in the work of the Lord, just as we do in family home evenings.” – Alma Heaton, Really Getting Together: Your Family Reunion, Ensign, Jun 1975, 12
In a previous post I talked about the importance of improving extended family relationships and mentioned a few ways that this might be done. I’d like to discuss one of those ways now: planning a family reunion.
Growing up I had never attended a family reunion, at least in the official sense of the word. We would go on vacations to visit family at times, since our immediate family was alone in our area. We lived in Utah and all of my Aunts, Uncle and Grandparents lived either on the West Coast or in Texas, so we didn’t see them very often.
As a youth whenever I heard the word reunion I envisioned a massive gathering of family including extended family I may never have even known existed. I thought maybe there would be games and picture taking and lots of food. I discovered I was pretty much on the mark after I got married. My husband is the 12th of 13 children and his family reunions are even bigger than I had imagined. He grew up with a yearly family reunion that involved 3 days of camping out somewhere, barbecuing, games, a family auction and more with at least 100 people. I was pretty amazed the first time I went.
Of course a reunion doesn’t have to be on such a large scale. In the Summer of 2002 my family decided to have it’s first reunion. Everyone flew out to southern California where my grandparents lived and we spent a week together, wore matching reunion shirts and got pictures taken. There was a grand total of 19 of us (only one person missing), but we still had a great time.
Maybe you’ve wanted to plan a family reunion for some time but thought the task too intimidating. Well, I can assure you with realistic goals and proper delegation it’s something you can make happen fairly easily. Let’s look at the fundamentals of a traditional family reunion:
1. Family Members (hopefully this one was obvious)
2. A date, place and length of time
3. A Budget
5. A Menu
That’s not so bad is it? Now, let’s look at actually planning the reunion:
1. Make a list of all family members including spouses, children, cousins, etc. and get addresses and phone numbers for each person/family on your list. Plan an invitation for everyone. Even if Aunt Myrtle is bed ridden she will be happy you sent her an invitation.
2. Involve the family in your planning. Most likely you and a few others will be the ones to really organize everything but you can’t have a reunion if no one wants to attend. Send out an email asking if there is interest in a reunion. Offer up two or three place and date options for reunion asking family members what they would prefer. Choose places which are relatively close to the larger clusters of your family. The easier it is to get there, the more likely they’ll be to show up. After you have guaged your families responses, then you can make the final decision and prepare the actual invitations.
3. Develop a budget and ask for contributions from everyone who plans on attending. The more people who attend, the lower the cost for each family will be. Ask for contributions to arrive before the reunion so you’re not having to spend your own money on all of the costs.
4. Reserve a site early. If you’re planning on having everyone stay in a campground or a hotel you should reserve it early. Especially for larger groups. My husbands family reserves their reunion site about a year in advance.
5. Plan out a menu. Keep it simple for yourself. Sloppy Joes, tacos, hot dogs, muffins and other quick and cheap foods will definitely keep the stress down.
6. Plan activities. Kids activities, adult activities, mixed activities. Make sure there is plenty to do. Maybe involve prizes in some of your activities.
7. Delegate actual reunion responsibilities. Once you know who will be attending it’s time to start asking for help with the actual reunion. Well ahead of time, ask someone to be the main photographer for the group, taking both posed and candid shots. Maybe you could ask others to rotate through the jobs of cooking and cleaning.
In some upcoming posts we’ll be looking at some great reunion activities, easy recipes and other ideas to make it easy to get to know your extended family better at your own family reunion.