How to Plan a Family Reunion

How to Plan A Family Reunion Everyone Will Love! 8 Amazing Tips for Organizing A Family Reunion

If you are reading this right now, you probably are thinking about planning a family reunion.  You might be asking “how far in advance do I need to plan this trip?” “Where should I go?” “What activities are we going to do?”

Although these questions depend on the size, dynamics, and interest of your family, they are all very important questions to ask when planning a family reunion.  There are specific steps to take to begin the planning process. 

Let’s learn how to plan a family reunion. 

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Why Plan a Family Reunion Plan a Family Reunion

Why plan a family reunion?  Not everyone lives down the street from their siblings and parents.  We live in Utah, and, have an 18-19 hour drive to Oklahoma, where I grew up.  My parents and brothers are still there, and I have a sister in Texas.   It is important for us to get together. 

Build Relationships

planning a family reunion

Planning a family reunion is a great way to get together. 

Yes, even the planning part can be a great way to connect.  Deciding on meal plans, discussing activities, finding a cabin or other location . . . all of these can be exciting details that help bring siblings and other family members together.

Because we have made the effort to do family reunions our kids have great relationships with their cousins.  They look forward to getting together, spending quality time, having fun, and ultimately building relationships.  

Bridge the Gaps

family reunion

Not every family is perfect and sometimes getting together can be hard. But making the effort and planning a family reunion is exactly what can help bridge the gaps in our family relationships.  If being around each other is harder for some make sure to plan enough activities to keep you busy. This is a sure way to enjoy your time. 

Take a Break From Life

Family Reunion break

Not only are you getting to see family you have not seen in a while, but a family reunion is also a great vacation.  We all need a break from life.  Taking the time to plan something fun and relaxing is a benefit of planning a family reunion.

I highly recommend planning a family reunion.  Now let’s learn how to plan a family reunion! 

1. Plan a Family Reunion in Advance

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Start planning your family reunion as early as you can.  I suggest six months to a year ahead of time.   This gives you plenty of time to get ready.  It will also give your family members enough time to request time away from work and make travel arrangements.  It will also give you time to reserve a location that fills up fast.

Plan Ahead

The time you need to plan also depends on your location.  If you want to go to Disney World a nine-month planning period would be good.  If you want to go to Yellowstone a year in advance is my suggestion.   Some locations book out way in advance. 

How to Plan a Family Reunion

plan a family reunion

There are a few simple steps to planning a family reunion.  We will go into detail of each aspect throughout this post.

  • Communicate Your Interest for Planning a Family Reunion 
  • Set a Date
  • Choose a Destination
  • Find Accommodations
  • Plan Activities
  • Plan Meals
  • Plan to Match (for photos, or perhaps to have matching shirts for an amusement park)
  • Plan a Family Photo

These are the main things that you need as you organize a family reunion.  This does not have to be done alone. Sometimes it is easier if one person takes charge.  But if you need help assigning each family member a specific step of the planning process is a great option.

2. Communicate your Interest in Planning a Family Reunion

plan a family reunion

There are a few ways to communicate your interest in having a family reunion.  Email, zoom, phone call, or Facetime are a few ways to introduce your plan.  Personally, I think email is a great way to keep track of what everyone wants because it is in writing.  

Family Reunion Email

family reunion email

The first step in planning a family reunion is sending out the initial email to make sure your family is on board.  This simple step will begin to get everyone thinking about where they would like to go. 

After getting a few family reunion planning ideas from everyone the second email should have a list of 5-10 places that are good options for your family.

3. Set A Date

Plan a family reunion

Setting a date can be tricky when working with a large group.  I suggest picking three different dates and seeing what works best for everyone.  If you are planning far enough in advance you should be able to find a date that works. 

With that said, we have found that if we are going in the summertime certain camps will not release their dates until closer to time which can make planning a family reunion a little harder. 

Put it on the Calendar

There may be last-minute opportunities but putting something on the calendar well in advance helps everyone that is participating know to keep the calendar clear for the event.

4. Choose A Destination

California Map

Choosing a destination is an extremely important step to planning a family reunion.  Finding a location that works for everyone can be a challenge.  My family is spread out across the United States.  It takes a lot of work to get everyone excited and committed. 

Keep the Destination the Same Every Year

Duck Creek Cabin View

One option is to always go to the same place every year.  On my husband’s side of the family, we always plan a Utah Family Reunion.  We get a cabin in the mountains during the summer.  We have changed the location within Utah but we always know that our family reunion will be in Utah. 

I know a lot of families that stick to this plan and it works.  

New Location Every Time

Family Vacation in San Diego California

Picking a new location for your family reunion every year takes a lot of planning.  My side of the family is more sporadic and leans toward picking new locations every time.  There are so many great locations for family reunions.

We have been to Oklahoma, Texas, San Diego, Disney World, Branson, Missouri, and Ski Trips in Utah. I love going different places, but that is because I have an adventurous soul.  As long as you plan ahead, you can make it happen. 

As stated earlier, if there is a specific location that is in high demand you will want to book ahead. 

5. Plan Activities for a Family Reunion

Planning activities for a family reunion

Once you have decided your location planning activities for your family reunion is the next step.  While this really depends on your location, I have a few helpful family reunion tips that should work at any destination.  

Know Your Participants

Plan a Family Reunion

First, consider your participants.  If grandma is not up for deep-sea diving, maybe instead plan an activity that she can watch you do.  Sometimes having two options for different age groups is a good idea. I personally like to be all together so I try to plan activities that most of my family will enjoy.

Viator

Activities for a Family reunion

One thing I like to do is check Viator.com.  This is a site that promotes tours that are available in the area.  Even if I decide not to purchase through this website I have a pretty good idea of what fun activities are available near me.  I have used the site many times and had great success.  

Back-up Plan

planning a family reunion

It is always good to have a backup plan if something doesn’t work out the way you dreamed.  For instance, if you were planning on going to the beach and a thunderstorm hits…, well you know what I mean.  Having an indoor activity ready to pull out of your hat is a good idea.  

Games

Games are great to have on hand.  There seems to always be one in the family that is good at coordinating games.  Put that person in charge to help keep family members engaged in the evenings or when you can’t get out because of the weather.

Family History

Family Reunion and Family History

A family reunion is a great time to take some time and share stories.  Grandma is a wealth of knowledge.  Record her as she tells you about her parents and grandparents. 

But also you are making a living history by being together.  Record the funny games you play and thoughts you have about the event.  Set some time aside to embrace the time you have together and get to your roots. 

6. Meals for a Family Reunion

Meals for family reunion

Meal planning is a big part of planning a family reunion! You are getting a large group together and everyone is happier when they are fed and full. 

Get a Meal Plan

Meal Plan at Disney

Some destinations give you the option of a meal plan such as cruises, theme parks, or all-inclusive resorts.  If you are staying at one of these then you are all set.  

Divide and Conquer

When we have rented big cabins or Airbnb’s at different destinations, we have assigned each family a night to cook dinner.  That family is responsible for buying the food and preparing it.  Although, it is nice if everyone jumps in and helps!

Make a List

Meals for family reunion

One of the best things we have done is make a master list.  We use this every year no matter where we are.  This list will have lunch food, snack food, and desserts we can make throughout our stay. 

We usually purchase all the food at the beginning of the trip and have it on hand all week or however long our time is.  The cost can easily be divided.

7. Plan a Matching Shirt for your Family Reunion

Plan a Family Reunion

Getting matching shirts is my favorite part of family reunions. We always do this when we go to Disney. And let me tell you, having everyone in a bright red shirt makes it so easy to keep track of each other.  

Assigning one person to be in charge of shirts is a good idea.  Getting everyone sizes and getting shirts made is a big job. 

Design and Print Your Shirt 

Family Reunion Shirt

One thing we like to have on our shirts are the names of everyone attending as well as the year the event will be.  Finding someone to print is the next step and then distributing them out.  

I love having the shirts because it makes packing for the trip so much easier.  When we went to Disney we had three different shirts we wore each day – easy peasy!

8. Plan a Family Photo

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A family photo is a great thing to add to your family history night. Documenting that you were all together is a fun way to preserve the moment.  I highly recommend hiring someone to come over and take a few shots.  As you plan a family reunion see if your family is interested in getting a photo.

Are you Ready to Plan a Family Reunion?How to plan a family reunion

Are you excited to plan a family reunion and this has helped you know how to plan a family reunion!   I know I love to plan! Hopefully, this helps you think about the different aspects of planning a family reunion and what you need to do to get the ball rolling!

Have a fun and safe family reunion and Good Luck! 

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61 Comments

  1. I would love to plan a destination family reunion once we can all travel freely again. These are awesome tips with all the details covered.

  2. It’s about time that my family plans another destination family reunion. It has been about a decade since we had one. Great tips!

  3. I love the idea of matching shirts! Part of my Dad’s family do a family reunion at a nearby conservation area every summer. Each family brings their own picnic… and with Italians, thats usually a 3 course meal… and everyone catches up or plays games (usually bocce tournaments). Its pretty cool.

  4. We’ve been trying to get this accomplished for years in our family. We never seem to get a good time to do it. East coast schools and west coast schools have way different schedules. I’m hoping when the pandemic is over that everyone will put their own stuff aside and we can get together. Great tips.

  5. The last family reunion we had was with my dad’s side of the family in Tennessee. It was a wonderful time seeing family. Hopefully soon we can plan another one since our family has grown.

  6. I love this idea! Every year I make the suggestion to take a family trip instead of buying gifts for Christmas. It’s hard though to coordinate everyone’s time off, so it usually gets pushed aside for “next year.” I’m hoping we can make it work next year!

  7. These are excellent tips! I see my family regularly. It would be fun though to see distant family that I haven’t seen in ages.

  8. I love family reunions… we had one 2 years ago and I am so happy because we have lost 6 family members since.. and we have some amazing pictures and memories!

  9. It would be so fun to plan a big family reunion getaway. I’d love to do a Chalet or Villa type. Great ideas.

  10. I always loved going to our family reunion as a kid. Now that I no longer live near my children, I think it might be a great idea to start our own reunion every year.

  11. Great fun ideas here for planning a family reunion! There’s so much work that goes into this, but they’re always lots of fun!

  12. Thankfully, our family is great at getting together for weddings! A destination wedding to Cabo was cancelled in May; but we will persevere.

  13. Such good tips! Planning a family reunion can be quite rewarding but it’s a LOT of work. We’ve had a few successful ones, and one that didn’t go quite so well …

  14. I think it’s really important to plan things like who will cook and clean meals. It can cause some hard feelings if it ends up being the same people every night that pitch in and do the work.

  15. I haven’t heard of Viator, but will have to check it out. It’s always so nice to plan something far in advance because then you have something to look forward to! Where will your next family reunion take place on your side of the family?

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  17. I don’t think we have ever had a family reunion! it sure would be fun though, and these are great tips for one!

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  22. We’ve been meaning to plan a family reunion for some time. We’re having a parents, kids, grandchildren, great-grandchildren catch up soon.

  23. You do a great job of breaking down all the details on planning a family reunion. I sure missed not having one this past year.

  24. Our family has always had family reunions and some of my best childhood memories are from them! Smaller ones every year and the large ones every few years. It’s a wonderful thing to do!

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