Are you looking to plan a family reunion? Whether you are working with a group or tackling the challenge by yourself, there are a lot of details to consider.
Follow this family reunion planning guide to help you plan a memorable reunion that your entire family will enjoy.
Although it is easier for loved ones to stay in touch today using technology and social media, families are often still separated by distance or kept apart by day-to-day responsibilities. Family reunions have become more important than ever and offer several benefits.
Many family members live states — sometimes countries — apart from one another, so family reunions let everyone reconnect. Loved ones use this time to catch up on each other’s lives and well-being. For some, a family reunion may be the only opportunity to introduce the rest of the family to a new baby or spouse.
Many families use reunions as a time to celebrate milestone anniversaries or birthdays. You can also celebrate new marriages at reunions. For family members who were unable to attend the wedding, this is their chance to enjoy time with the couple.
For families who have lost loved ones over the year, reunions offer the chance to honor that person’s life and celebrate their memory together.
Family reunions are a time when all generations, old and new, come together. They are a way of preserving your family’s history and sharing it with the younger generations, including old family stories, beloved recipes or timeless traditions.
A family reunion is also the perfect time to start new family traditions to be passed down, allowing the younger generation to contribute their own values and ideas.
Family reunions give your family a chance to learn about your ancestry as well. If your family has any cultural traditions, highlight them at your gathering. Celebrate what makes your family unique.
When all is said and done, family reunions can be a lot of fun. It is time set aside for enjoying quality time with loved ones, including participating in fun activities together and sharing delicious food.
Start planning your family reunion as early as you can. Because there are many details to consider, begin preparations at least six months to one year in advance. This gives you plenty of time to get ready, and it gives your family members enough time to request time away from work and make travel arrangements.
Use the following reunion planning checklist to keep you on track throughout the planning process.
Before you begin, consult with your family regarding any special requests or considerations such as preferred dates or venue locations. Take note of any dates to avoid, such as a family member’s wedding or graduation ceremony. Also, unless you intend to make your reunion into a holiday affair, avoid scheduling during the holiday season.
Speaking with your family before you begin planning will also give you a better idea of how many people can attend.
If your family has a reunion on the same date every year — like Labor Day weekend or the fourth of July — then this part will be simple. If not, choose a time that works for the majority of your family.
Many families plan their reunions in the summer months because it is easier for family members with school-aged children to attend. Summer also often offers more options for outdoor venues and recreation. However, if you are working on a limited budget, you might consider booking your reunion during the off-season when venues and entertainers usually offer special discounts.
Determine the duration of your family reunion, too. While some families set aside an entire week or weekend, others choose to celebrate in a single day.
Next, you need to break down your budget. If you are working with a family reunion planning committee, the person in charge of finances should have a record of how much money was spent at the previous year’s reunion.
Once you know how much money you have to work with, decide whether more funds will be required and how you plan to get those funds. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of all expenses.
If you are planning a family reunion on a budget, look for off-season discounts while reserving your venue, caterer or entertainer. You can also send electronic invitations, make do-it-yourself decorations or host a potluck to cut costs.
If you are unsure of where to have a family reunion, there are a few ways to make the decision easier. Take into account your budget, as well as the distance each venue is from the majority of your family. Select a place that offers you the most value for your money — for example, family reunion campgrounds offer lodging and fun amenities all in one location.
These are some of the best places for a family reunion:
Send invitations as soon as the date has been decided and the venue reserved. If you are not sure when to send the invitations out, consider how far people will have to travel for the reunion, the overall cost of travel and lodging and the time of year the reunion is. For example, autumn reunions will require more planning for school-age kids, while summers may not.
You can send traditional paper or digital invitations. Consider creating a social media event to provide live updates and conduct polls for your family throughout the remainder of the planning process.
Even if your reunion is held on the same date every year, be sure to send reminder invitations a few months before the event.
When planning the menu for your family reunion, there are a few things you need to consider:
With these considerations in mind, it is time to plan your menu. Some popular family reunion foods are:
No matter how you choose to design your reunion’s food menu, serve several different dishes. When you send out invitations, encourage family members to let you know about any existing allergies or food preferences. You may want to include a few vegetarian, gluten-free or dairy-free dishes just in case.
The key to a successful family reunion is to offer activities that suit everyone. Keep in mind, your venue might have some fun amenities to incorporate into your entertainment plans. Some ideas include:
If you choose to have a destination or vacation reunion, look into local tours, sightseeing opportunities, amusement parks and other attractions.
Once you have a game plan created, it is time to delegate responsibilities. Make a list of family members willing to help prepare and those willing to help you during the event. A lot of work goes into planning a family reunion, especially for large families. If there is not already one in place, create a family reunion planning committee. Recruit volunteers and assign each person a different task, including:
When you are planning a large-scale event — especially when planning it a year or more in advance — anything can happen. Have a back-up venue, entertainer or lodging in place. If your venue is outdoors, you need a back-up plan in case of inclement weather. You should also have a back-up organizer in place in case you are unable to complete your duties due to sickness or other personal obligations.
Make your family history present throughout the event. Let it inspire your decorations and your menu. Use the reunion as an opportunity to teach younger generations where they came from and tell your family’s story with pictures, videos and more.
A reunion is all about family, so make that the focus as much as possible:
Ensure a perfect family reunion by taking time to confirm essentials. A few weeks before the reunion, call and confirm your venue, caterer and lodging. Touch base with family members who have agreed to help during the reunion. Let them know what time to show up and remind them to bring any necessary items with them.
By confirming these details, you are leaving yourself with enough room to make alternative arrangements if necessary.
This is the part where working with a reunion planning committee or recruiting volunteers is beneficial. Make a list of all details — and the contact information of the person responsible for handling them — that need to be taken care of for the big event, including the following:
Before guests leave the reunion — or in the weeks following the event— ask family members to complete a survey. What did they enjoy about the reunion? What could be improved? Ask them to list any ideas for the next gathering. Honest feedback will be valuable for you to use or pass on to the next planning committee.
When the big day finally gets here, remember to relax. You worked hard to make this family reunion happen — now it is time to enjoy it. Do not let yourself become overwhelmed with the planning process or last-minute hiccups. Instead, remember the reason for the reunion in the first place. Spend time with your loved ones and have fun. Be sure to take plenty of photos throughout the event to mark the occasion!
Plan your next family reunion at KOA. KOA Campgrounds are cost-effective and have plenty of room for large groups.
A camping family reunion is an easy way to please everyone in your family. Camping balances peace and relaxation with adventure and the great outdoors. After a day of fun activities, family members can relax by the campfire at their campsite. KOA offers several different campsite options for all your family’s needs, including Tent Sites, RV Sites, Camping Cabins and Deluxe Cabins. Every guest has access to clean restrooms with hot water. Some locations also offer additional amenities like swimming pools, playgrounds, trails, game rooms and more. Call ahead for a complete list of available features.
With over 500 locations all across North America, KOA is never too far away. Reserve your family reunion site today.