Five Baby Steps to Planning A Family Reunion

Lauren Horsley
January 20, 2011

It seems like the older we get, the harder it is to stay close with extended family. A family reunion is a great way to reconnect with loved ones in meaningful ways and forge new bonds that will last a lifetime, but who has the time to take on such a project? Thanks to modern technology, most of what you need is just a few clicks away! Here's how you can put together a fun-filled family reunion in just a few minutes a day.

1.  Go Digital. Long before you can start scheduling the talent show and planning meal menus, you need to gather some basic information about those who hope to attend. The fastest way to do this is through a Facebook message thread or My Family discussion page. Request an email address, phone number, and mailing address for each family member and have those who join the discussion offer up any contact information they have for those who don't.

2.  Assemble A Dream Team. Have each family choose a representative to speak for them throughout the planning process. These "Family Leads" then become your Dream Team and are your go-to for everything from obtaining RSVPs to making sure no one's allergic to the PB & Js you plan to serve at the picnic. Email them with any reunion-related questions you have, and let them gather the answers. This way you don't have to contact every single person in every single family on every single reunion detail.

3.  X Marks The Spot. Have each Family Lead gather up blackout dates for the reunion (not preferences, but days when people absolutely cannot make it). Plug this information into an online calendar, like Google Calendar, and you'll easily be able to determine when is the best time to throw your party. Note: If any of your attendees have to travel, be sure to give three months' notice so they can plan properly and get good flight rates.

4.  Getting To Know You. Announce your reunion date and gather RSVPs as quickly as possible so you'll know what size group to plan for and which activities will be best for your group. Using the free online invitation site Evite is an easy way to do this; in minutes you can customize the look and content of your digital invitation and send to as many email addresses as you like as often as you like. Evite also makes it easy for you to take polls for activity planning, alert attendees of any changes and make requests like "bring a dish to the picnic" or "pack a swimsuit." Be sure to use an alternate method for those family members who are not online; a phone tree usually works best.

5. The Nitty-Gritty. Now it's time to choose the location, activities and menu for your reunion! Welcome input from your team and share the final decision-making responsibility with one or two other prominent family members, but be decisive and nail down the details as quickly as possible. Make sure you've planned at least one activity for each age group and multiple options for small children (nothing is worse than bored kids at a family party!). And don't forget to include your family's interests. Talent shows, games, sports, dancing, skits, and storytelling will help family members to reconnect with their communal past and forge strong relationships for the future.

From the Parents

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