Previously in history, our extended family was our community. Now, our extended family is often widely scattered around the world, and our community is composed mostly of strangers. We may be lucky enough to create special friendships with some strangers but those relationships won’t all be like family. Because relatives share a history and hold a permanent connection to us, we should try a little harder to maintain a good and close relationship.
Planning a family can be a large undertaking but it is very worth it. Even if it’s only once every year or every couple of years, it’s beneficial to stay in touch with family members near and far. There is nothing like the bonds of family and the memories that are made are irreplaceable. Because there will be multiple generations in one place it is a perfect opportunity for storytelling. It is especially important for seniors to have the opportunity to share their stories with the younger generation. One of the developmental stages of adulthood is engaging in storytelling and reminiscing. Also, by learning more about your family, you will learn more about yourself as well!
If you are planning or thinking of planning an upcoming family reunion, here are some tips to make the experience easier for you and others.
1. Create a Family Reunion Planning Committee
Now “committee” can refer to one person and if the family reunion being planned is small (25 persons or less) one person can handle the planning. If you are planning a larger family reunion then you can increase the number of people on the committee. The size of the committee will also depend on the venue, lodging and activities being planned. If you are planning a family reunion at an all-inclusive resort, many of these things are taken care of so the committee can be smaller. Be sure to delegate tasks to people in the committee so that everything gets done on time. You might also want to create a reunion website to keep everyone informed and get them excited about the event.
2. Decide on the guest list.
Ideally you should try to invite everyone that you can but if you have financial or space constraints then decide how far out on the family tree you want to go. Then be sure to invite everyone included to that distance as to not hurt any feelings. For example, you could only include up to first cousins or extend it out to second or third cousins. Start with your closest relatives and work your way out on the ancestral tree. Then stop when you've reached your limit.
3. Decide on Type of Family Reunion
Family reunions can be as simple as gathering people together for a picnic in the park or as elaborate as going on a cruise in a faraway country. When deciding on what type or family reunion some things you might need to consider are:
Interests of the family members
If most guests are the outdoorsy types then a dinner out in a fancy restaurant in the city won’t be the best choice. Of course people have different interests and you may not be able to satisfy everyone but try to make the majority happy.
How frequent are the family reunions
If the reunions occur frequently there isn’t a need to go all out every year as it could get costly for all of the guests. Therefore, an annual picnic or BBQ in the park would suffice. However, if it is a once in a decade event then it’s the perfect opportunity to splurge a bit more.
Size of the guest list
Some venues are more suited to certain party numbers while others are more flexible and can suit a range of party numbers
Some family members might need to stick to a certain budget so keep that in consideration when deciding on a family reunion type.
If you are unsure about any of these questions, a good idea is to conduct a survey with family members to get some ideas of what is preferred.
4. Pick a Date
When picking a date for your family reunion be sure to allow plenty of lead time for people to plan and save up if there are any travel costs. Many of your relatives may have families so giving them lots of advance notice will increase your chances they will be able to attend. Those with school aged children are bound by the school schedule so keep that in mind as well. If possible, try to give at least 6 months’ notice.
The reunion length will depend on how far people have to travel. The shorter the distance the shorter the time can be. If people are traveling a distance, it won’t be worthwhile for them to come so far to only stay for a day.
5. Decide on a Reunion Location
There are many places you can host a reunion and the number of guests you are expecting, the distance they are traveling and budget will have a big influence on it. For smaller groups you can hold the reunion at a restaurant, park or someone’s home. For the outdoor enthusiasts a camping trip might be the perfect fit. For larger groups you may want to consider a park, campground, a nice resort, or maybe even a theme park. Whatever you select, be sure there is an activity for everyone to participate in and that there is sufficient lodging, if travel is required. Also,be sensitive to the financial situations of your attending family members. You don’t want to plan a reunion that hardly anyone can afford
6. Create a Budget
Once you know your family reunion type and location you can get started on creating the budget. Create a list of all the expenses you anticipate to incur so you can forecast what your costs will be. Then you must decide on how you plan on recouping these costs. Most commonly people either charge an admission to attend the family reunion or conduct some fundraising such as holding an auction or a raffle. If people are aware that the proceeds will be going to fund the reunion they will participate in the fun. If you are planning the family reunion at an all-inclusive resort, the costs will simply be the cost of the stay and travel Some resorts may give you a volume discount so don’t be shy to ask.
7. Decide on Activities
How many activities and how structured your family reunion will be is entirely up to you. Go with what works best for the guests but be sure to have plenty of activities to keep the kids busy. Some families fund future get-togethers with silent auctions, bake sales and other fund-raising activities built into the reunion day's events. During a multiday event, people may want to explore their surroundings, so compile a list of cultural and shopping destinations in the area.
Family Reunions on a Dude Ranch
For small and large groups, a dude ranch is a good option for many reasons. Because many dude ranches are all -inclusive not one person gets stuck bearing the whole burden of organizing and planning activities. There is no need to worry about entertaining everyone as there are so many activities available for young and old alike. The beauty of a dude ranch you can do as little or as much as you like. Your guests will have the opportunity to seek adventure together or just relax and chit chat on the deck. Also, you don’t have to worry about meals because it’s all taken care of at the dude ranch.
By holding a family reunion at a dude ranch, the financial awkwardness is removed since each family pays up front for everything. Because group decision making is at a minimum, a lot of potential friction is eliminated. People are not going to have to decide about where to eat, what to do for fun, and who’s in charge. Depending on the size of your group and the dude ranch, you may be able to book the entire ranch just for your reunion. Lastly, you just can’t beat the hospitality of a dude ranch. They treat their guests like family so you will feel like you are staying with family.
We hope these tips will inspire you to plan a family reunion soon.