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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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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