Our country is so vast and our families often so scattered that we find it appealing to gather them all together in one place every few years. The reunion of family members can be a joyous affair, but can overwhelm the host family, especially if it’s held at their home.
Because of this, destination family reunions have become a hot trend, as families outsource to venues equipped to handle lodging, dining and all the festivities.
But that doesn’t mean you outsource the planning.
Getting reunion ideas and input from others helps you plan a more inclusive, personal and intimate event. If possible, have a direct contact person in each nuclear family to help gauge opinions. This “committee” approach will assist you in the different stages of planning and lighten the workload, but also will produce more creative ideas.
Once reunion guests are confirmed and a general budget set, the venue of your event must be selected. Popular options include: community centers, hotel banquet halls, conference centers, resorts, retreat centers and wineries (Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley hosts family reunions of all sizes and can accommodate lodging and a venue conducive to many varying activities; visit www.holmanranch.com or call 659-2640).
Here are some ideas to help make your family reunion more fun and memorable:
Choose a Theme
Plan the festivities around a concept that will help bring everyone together. Hold a family Olympics with each family forming a team, or create Christmas in July. The ideas are endless.
Make a Family Tree
A family tree becomes a show-stopping decoration for a reunion, providing a way to celebrate family history and create conversation. Construct your tree any way you like: Use wood or cardboard for the trunk and branches, and cut butcher paper or paper bags from the market into leaves. Write each relative’s name on a branch, or hang up photos to make it more personal.
Gather Family Trivia
Before the party, ask guests to tell you a little-known fact about themselves. At the party, have someone read out the facts and have everyone guess the identity of the mystery person. Or make up cards to play a customized version of the popular board game Trivial Pursuit.
Have a Family Uniform
Create a wonderful memento of the reunion by buying inexpensive white T-shirts and fabric markers. Everyone can sign each other’s shirt. Or, if it fits into the budget, buy silkscreened T-shirts with the name of the family, the date of the reunion and any special family motto that’s appropriate.
Publish a Family Recipe Book
Every family has special recipes that bind together family members. Weeks before the party, collect the recipes and put them into self-published book. You can include food and family-related images to spice up the design. Make sure you give credit to all the contributors.
Make it Competitive
Hold a family competition to make things fun and active. Have each of the family units (or mix and match) compete against each other in treasure hunts, geo caching, crossword puzzles, bingo, horseshoes, gunny-sack races. Create a traveling trophy for the winning family and make sure the winners bring it with them to the next reunion!
There is an endless array of ideas to help make your reunion memorable. If the budget allows, hire a professional party planner to assist in the planning and orchestration of the reunion. But ultimately, coming together as a family and planning the festivities together helps create more meaningful memories.