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Tips for Planning a Family Reunion

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

This month is National Family Reunion Month in the United States. If you’re contemplating a gathering, here are some tips for planning a family reunion.

  1. Do a quick online search for “how to plan a family reunion.” You’ll find lots of great ideas, resources, checklists, and even apps to help you plan.

  2. Develop a list of the core family members you would like to see attend. Family groups mushroom out as the generations expand. You need to have some core people to be in contact with to consider dates, locations, and activities. The reality is that not every extended family member will be able to attend, but you want to do your best to find a time and location that works for most. Your core group might be siblings from one generation that can communicate with others older and younger than themselves to get a feel for what works for most families.

  3. Determine the nature of the reunion. Will it be a one-event affair or a weekend of activities and gatherings? The planning for different types of events will look dramatically different. More formal, extended-day reunions will also need different lead times in order to make events successful and ensure that facilities are available.

  4. Start a notebook dedicated to planning this event. Make sure you write down the names of vendors with notes about conversations, and keep a running list of family addresses for invitations, supply lists, and anything else that comes up in your planning. How often do we grab a sticky note, jot something down, and then are unable to find it later? One of my favorite notebooks for capturing such details is here. I like it because of the flexible dot grid format, the spiral binding, and that it fits in most purses. I’ve found I make much better use of a planning notebook that is easy to carry with me.

  5. Plan for contingencies like rain! Outdoor events are wonderful but can quickly end an event. I’ve seen both a family reunion and a wedding affected by heavy rain. Is there a way to enjoy an outdoor venue while still being sheltered from inclement weather? Is there an enclosed shelter that opens to the outdoors? If not, it might be better to forego the unpredictable in favor of ensuring the event can be held. Of course, even with the best planning, events can short-circuit but anticipating issues will help eliminate many unexpected disappointments.

  6. Don’t get so caught up in worry that you miss the joy! A family reunion is a time to embrace important relationships, family history, and family future. Mishaps may occur but being together is the most important factor of a family reunion. Most will not notice if the agenda doesn’t go exactly as planned. Do your best, smile, and rekindle extended family relationships at your reunion!

Do you have tips for planning a family reunion to share?

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