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IT’S FAMILY REUNION MONTH!
PeopleLooker’s Justin Lavelle Shares Helpful Tips to a Hosting a Successful Family Reunion
While looking through a photo album the other day, you had a brainwave! How about foregoing the usual vacation this year and instead planning an epic family reunion?
This idea takes hold and you start to give it some traction by sketching out some ideas on the who, what, where and when. And that’s when it hits you: the magnitude of bringing together ten, twenty or fifty people in one place and at one time? It can quickly become an overwhelming process. These tips should smooth the path:
Planning is key!
Like any larger scale event—larger than dinner for two at a local bistro—planning is key. You need to know what’s going to happen, who is going to do what, where it will take place, and how you will bring it all together. There is a reason that brides use wedding planners! It’s a lot of work, but the result is so worth the effort, when it all goes swimmingly!
One way to keep control of things is to create a command center: one person or small group of people who have all the plans and updates and to whom service providers or other invitees refer if there is a problem, question or comment about how things are going! It’s much easier if everyone knows who to talk to when they need to figure out some logistics, like where Aunt Edna is sleeping!
Figure out what resources you have, who will be coming and what activities you’ll want to engage in together, and you’ve got the skeleton for a plan! If you need to locate any distant relatives, use a service like PeopleLooker who can track down relatives you have lost touch with.
Also, drop the idea of perfection because SOMETHING will go wrong! Just get it out of our head that everything will run without a hitch, because that’s not likely to be reality. Instead, a more positive ‘roll with the punches’ attitude will get you a long way in the process!
Delegate tasks and resources
The risk with being the person who came up with this idea is that you will also be the person to shoulder most of the burden of planning and managing the event. So be it, but that doesn’t mean you have to do every task by yourself and host every guest, in your home.
Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of others and delegate tasks to them, relative to their strengths. If Grandma Jane is good with flowers, ask her to make up centerpieces for the big backyard dinner! If Uncle Joe is a wiz with BBQ tongs, ask him to man the pig roast. Whatever it is that you’re planning, there are others in the group who can help and most people will be happy to, if what you’re asking them to do is in their wheelhouse!
As to resources, there is always a cost associated with any big event: you need to book a hall, or organize a large private restaurant dining room; you need tickets for a tourist site that everyone is going to see… Asking everyone to contribute isn’t a bad thing, so speak up and get everyone to crack open their wallets.
Money isn’t the only resource that people can contribute, either! If someone in your family has a large property, perhaps they can host, with everyone either camping out or RVing when they arrive. When you plan your event (see step 1!), you’ll be able to clearly see who has what resources to share!
Have backup plans
An outdoor BBQ on Cousin Joe’s country property sounds great until the forecast thunderstorms start rolling in! Always have some backup plans in case of weather or other constraints that suddenly force your event to take a different, but equally enjoyable path.
If some of the guests are travelling a fair distance to get to the reunion, you don’t want it to end before it’s even begun, so have a plan B (and possibly a plan C!) at the ready!
Communicate with everyone
However you share the information about the who, what, when and where, you need to make sure that you DO share it and that everyone receives it. If Great Aunt Ida is the last hold out for Facebook, it’s up to you to make sure that she still gets all the updates!
The ideal is to find a resource for putting the information online but accessible only to those you give access to. If everyone is on Facebook for example (minus Great Aunt Ida), you can create a closed group for the event, which only members can see the details of. Updates and new information need only be put in one place for everyone to get the message!
Start with a BIG event
The best family reunion will start off with a bang. Like what? How about finding someone whom no one has seen in awhile, via PeopleLooker, and bringing them to the reunion as a surprise? Wouldn’t that be a great start to the event!
However you start will help determine how you finish! A good start to the event will ensure everyone is psyched up and on board for whatever comes after.
Keep in mind the ages of the people participating
It’s always a good idea to keep in mind the ages of participants when planning the event. A destination family reunion in Vegas might not be the ticket if you have a lot of young kids in the family.
Alternatively, don’t plan a back to back marathon of sports and activities like hiking and dodge ball when the average age of the group is 76. It just won’t fly but the disappointment and disgruntlement will!
Things not to forget for the family reunion
Don’t forget to take pictures and videos. You can always make up a great souvenir photo book, after the event, that you send to everyone as a memento of a great event!
Think a lot about food. Cooking for a crowd is a different beast but it’s a necessary one because everyone will be hungry at least three times a day! Work out who will cook, where or if you’ll be going out for some meals, have those booked in advance, as large groups are harder for many places to accommodate without notice! Don’t forget to consider food allergies when making your choices!
Keep it easy! There’s no shame in taking the easy route at times. Having twenty two people camping out in your basement is not most people’s idea of a good time, so think about alternatives that will make everything a little smoother. Like what?
Have your reunion at a public place like a community center, instead of someone’s home. The mess is contained elsewhere and no one is put on the spot to have their place spic and span!
Consider a destination reunion. Going away, to a resort for example, can make the whole event double as a wonderful holiday. Everyone will be more relaxed and a resort will have activities and things to do in place, so you’re not having to come up with it all! Just consider affordability for everyone!
If you are hosting at home, have the event catered. Caterers know how to cook for a crowd and you’ll be free to mingle and see everyone, rather than being stuck in the kitchen the whole time!
Don’t forget to plan fun for the kids. While all the adults might be revelling in rediscovering each other, the kids might get bored, particularly if they’re all different ages and have little in common. Make sure that there are age appropriate games, movies and treats for them to enjoy too!
In the end, the most important tip is to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. You might not get a chance to see some of these people again for a long time, so make the most of the reunion and have fun!
Bio for Justin Lavelle of PeopleLooker