Hello! It’s Allison from Tips for Family Trips. I believe that travel makes families stronger, smarter and happier, and there is no better way to strengthen families than through family reunions. If it has been a few years since your family has come together, this can be the year to make it happen!
A family reunion can be as simple as a picnic in the park with your parents, siblings and their children (heaven knows that just getting that group together can be hard enough), or a multi-day vacation that includes second and third cousins. Whatever works for your family is the right way.
If you want to plan a reunion for this summer, now is the time to start. Here are five steps to follow to help you with your family reunion planning:
1. Information Gathering
Talk to your family. Family members who feel that their opinions are valued will be more likely to attend and help make it a success. Discuss the following questions:
- When can everyone attend? It can be challenging to get everyone together at the same time, but do your best to choose a date for the reunion that works for everyone. If that is not possible, be sure to start planning your dates even earlier next year, giving priority to family members who were not able to attend this time.
- Where do you want to go? Your back yard? Camping? Condo at the lake? Disneyland? It’s up to you. Be sensitive to family members with financial restraints and find ways to include everyone. Here are some destination ideas for your family reunion:
- National Parks
- State Parks
- Amusement Parks
- Who pays for what? Will everyone pay their own way, or will one person pay some or all of the costs? Will shared costs of facility rental, food, etc. be paid by one person, perhaps rotating each year, or will everyone split the bill? Get agreement on the financial plan and budget before any money is spent, or hard feelings may result when it is time to collect.
2. Set a date and destination
Choose a date and destination that works for everyone and write it on your calendar in pen. Share the information with everyone right away so they can start planning.
Unless you are planning a one-day reunion close to home, you’ll probably need to reserve lodging as early as possible for your group. Popular group facilities fill up six months to a year in advance, but there are plenty of options still available.
Camping, hotels and condos are popular options for family reunions – and for good reason. Camping is fun and inexpensive. Hotels are easy and give everyone their own space. Condominium rentals offer comfort with a full kitchen.
Vacation homes can be the ideal setting for a family reunion. These homes often accommodate a dozen people or more and have a great location. You can often rent a vacation home for less than the cost of hotel rooms for the same number of people. Read Katie’s tips for renting a vacation home here at Tips for Family Trips.
Make one person responsible for planning food for the reunion. It’s a big job, and whoever plans the meals should not have other major reunion responsibilities. That doesn’t mean that she or he should be stuck in the kitchen the whole time.
Meals will be most successful when everyone shares responsibility. Divide the work with an assignment chart so everyone knows who is responsible to cook and clean up each meal. You can put one person in charge of purchasing all the food in advance and divide the bill, or put each family in charge of purchasing a portion of the food. Make sure you are aware of allergies and special dietary needs within your group. Plan for three meals a day, plus snacks and treats.
Activities are an important part of any family reunion. You will want plenty time just to relax and visit, but nearly everyone who attends will look forward to some fun activities.
The activities for your reunion may already be built in to your destination. If you are planning a reunion at a resort, theme park or national park, there will be a lot of fun things to do without any additional planning. In these situations, you may want to just plan a social event or two during the reunion to ensure that the whole family spends time together.
If your destination does not include many built-in activities, you’ll want to get creative. Consider assigning another person to be in charge of planning activities, or assign each family to a day or an activity. Many of the daytime activities should be geared toward keeping kids entertained, but the good news is that kids love simple activities. Plan a scavenger hunt. Put out craft supplies. Start a game of volleyball. Lead a short hike. Open a new jigsaw puzzle.
Whether your reunion is large or small, long or short, simple or elaborate, the most important thing is to get everyone together and make good memories. Happy planning!