If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2023 is to spend more quality time with your loved ones, one way to start working on this goal is to propose and plan a family reunion.
If it has been years since you and your close and extended family have been together in the one spot to celebrate each other and build your relationships and connections, there’s never been a better time to make an event happen.
However, there are many factors to consider to ensure this occasion goes well and leaves everyone with many happy memories rather than tarnished ones.
Get Input from Other Family Members
Start by asking your family members for input on what they’d like to have happen for the reunion, where they’d prefer it to be, how much they want to spend, etc. You’ll never make everyone happy, though, so it’s best to come at it with a consensus approach and see where the majority of votes land for different suggestions.
It’s often helpful to set up a Facebook members-only group or a group email chain, or you could utilize an account on Slack or the like to keep all the messages in one spot and enable people to chat easily about their preferences for the get-together. It’s wise, too, to set a cut-off date for ideas; otherwise, you could collect them for months and never make any progress.
Set a Budget
Next, come up with a proposed budget. Suggest a final per-person figure that at least most people are comfortable spending, and then use this to develop a total budget that you can spend on the reunion event. Work backward from there to allocate funding to different elements of the special occasion.
For example, put aside funds for accommodation, meal(s), activities, keepsakes, and potentially travel, too. Or you might just use the budget for the actual event if everyone is happy to make their own way to the location and pay for their own accommodation and other costs outside of the primary family reunion event.
When planning your budget, keep some money aside for unknown things that can crop up in the organizing process. For instance, you may learn you have to pay permit fees to host an occasion in a public park, or you might have to pay extra to hold your event on a public holiday, or even get public liability insurance or other costs covered.
Decide on a Location and Date
Once you know roughly what you can afford to spend, narrow down a choice of location and date. Someone in the family might have a lovely large house or a vacation home they can volunteer, which will save money, or you may know someone with an awesome pad everyone can utilize for a low cost. If not, investigate locations such as resorts, town halls, restaurants, conference centers, hotels, etc.
Choosing a date can be difficult when everyone has busy lives and different things on, so you’ll likely have to settle on a time when the most people will be available. When choosing a date, also factor in the type of weather you want. For example, if the plan is to go away to the tropics for a week, you must book during the dry season. If you want to enjoy the New England region in the fall, pick dates that sit within that period, or choose winter for a snow retreat.
Develop an Itinerary
From there, you’ll want to develop an itinerary for the event. It doesn’t have to be scheduled out to the minute, but a rough idea of what will happen during the single event or over the weekend or longer, according to your trip, will help to ensure everyone maximizes their time together and their enjoyment. Suggest some activities that only those who want to participate need to, such as shopping trips, adventure challenges, trivia nights, etc., and then have one or more main activities where everyone will be expected to be together, such as a big dinner or luncheon.
You might like to arrange a surprise or two to delight everyone even further. For instance, arrange an epic fireworks display with pretty roman candles, cakes, fountains, rockets, sparklers, and more for everyone to ooh and ahh over. You could put together a slideshow with pictures of everyone over the years or even bring in a special guest, such as a comedian, musician, or magician, to keep the crowd entertained.
Other planning tips to keep in mind are delegating tasks so you don’t get overwhelmed and ensuring you have wet-weather or other backup plans. Don’t expect perfection, so let go and have some fun, even if things don’t go as you might have liked at every step. Also, it’s nice to keep that family bonding momentum up by staying in touch after the reunion, perhaps with a group newsletter.
Planning an event of this magnitude can be stressful and take a lot of time and effort, but it’s sure to be worth it in the long run when you have many more memories to cherish.
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