Make it Meaningful!

by Sue Adams

Not every family is fortunate or lucky enough to have a family reunion. In today's society families get strewn all over the map. Whereas, traditionally, families remained close to one another, relying on the structure of the bloodline to help raise the young and take care of the sick or elderly members of the clan.


In today’s society, families get split more often by divorce and there are more and more children being born out of wedlock. Children from these families may not ever have the chance to get to know their extended families very well. Families relocate for job opportunities, moving many miles from those they hold dear.


And the further removed people get from their mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins and grandparents, the harder and more expensive it becomes to get the whole family together outside of a funeral, birth, or wedding.


That's why, if you are lucky enough to be planning or attending a family reunion, it is important to make it a wonderful and memorable event.


Time and location of the reunion are perhaps the most important aspects of the reunion. Spring, summer, and early fall are the ideal seasons for family reunions, as there is little to no chance of snow keeping anyone home bound. These seasons open up the possibility for more outdoor activities such as swimming, playing horseshoes or frisbee golf, and barbecuing.


Even more important than time of year for the family reunion, is the location. If your family is spread out geographically from Mississippi to North Carolina to California, a central locale may not be the easiest place to decide on.


Is there a cousin in Georgia, for example, that may be willing to help in the hosting and planning of the event? Middle ground may work well for more of the family that you may rarely see.


Is there an older relative, a grandparent or great aunt, who may not be able to travel too far that you may want to consider planning the event near? Older members of the family will appreciate the effort to include them - maybe more so than others.


Does someone in the family own a vacation home that would sleep a good number of family members? Is someone in the family a member of a country club that may have access to reserving the club house for a weekend? Are there a large enough number of family in one location that would make it sensible to plan the event near? There are many factors to consider when figuring the perfect place to have the reunion.




Once the date and the location have been set, the planning of the little details can be most enjoyable. Will the event be catered or will you plan a potluck dinner where every one brings a little something to eat? A catered event is obviously more expensive, but a catered event will relieve the host of some duties and allow for extra time to relax with the family.


Is there someone in the family who has a special hobby like home brewing beer? Perhaps they would be willing and excited to create a special brew or two for the get together. Perhaps there is a gardener in the family that would be excited to bring flowers for decorations or vegetables to share. Perhaps there are musicians in the family that would like to be asked to perform in front of their loved ones. The more personal you make the experience for everyone, the more memorable the event will be.


Kids are always important to remember when planning a family reunion. This is a time in their lives they will remember as meeting and hanging out with those far-away cousins that they may not see too many times in their lives. Try to make it a special time for them, especially. Fun and inexpensive logo products like slap wrist bands, mood color changing cups, or yo-yos with the family name printed on them can be extra reminders of the time the family all got together to be one. Kids (and adults) love anything with their name on it, and there are lots of cheap items to consider if you want to make a family reunion gift basket of trinkets.


With all the pictures that will be taken at the re-union you may want to consider taking up a collection to have the pictures printed into a calendar for everyone who did (or didn't) attend. Be sure have your family write down their birthdays so you can include their special days in the calendar. Alternatively, you can turn a group photo into a magnet for the fridge, or a t-shirt showcasing your proud family.


Family reunions do take a good amount of planning, and the more planning you do the more memorable an event it can be. Remember, the little details that go into the planning will make the biggest impression in the memories of your loved ones. So go ahead and have fun with it, go overboard if you wish. The effort will be well worth it and you will be rewarded with a successful family gathering.




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