May 2018 archive

Family Reunion Planning Part 2: The Logistics

Last week we started our two part series about family reunion planning. It was all about setting the date, sending invites, keeping current contacts and hiring professionals like photographers, caterers, or planners to make your life easier. That article can be found here. Today we are going to provide suggestions for how to make your reunion unforgettable. For this part, we created a checklist that reminds you of your essential to-do’s when planning you reunion and helps keep you on track. It can be found below.

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Venue

When it comes to choosing a venue for your family reunion, you will want to take into consideration the size of your family, the time of year and what activities you would like to have. If a family member has a large open backyard that can be a great spot, but keep in mind that if it rains guests will expect to take cover inside their home. A park is another great option but be sure you obtain whatever permits are required by your city to host a private event in a park. A park could also pose a problem if it rains so unless there are permanent shelters you can rent out we suggest renting a tent for the day. Higgins Event Rentals rents out tents, tables, chairs and other furniture you might need.

For an indoor alternative community centres or churches with community rooms for rent can be great spaces for family reunions. They often have a kitchen included which can be great for food prep and are typically cost effective. Another indoor solution would be a condo party room. Many condominiums have party rooms that residents can rent for free or a low fee so ask around within your family and see if one is available. 

Activities

Activities are a great way to get family members talking to everyone and break the ice with those who you see infrequently. One of my favourite games is “Find someone who….BINGO”. Create a Bingo card with a variety of actions/activities such as “went on a trip this year” or “Is a Blue Jay Fan”. Hand them out to guests and have them talk to family members, trying to find a different person who fits each square. Have each person initial in the square that represents them and when one person has a full card (or a ‘T’ or a line etc.) they yell BINGO. Create some personalized categories too! We create custom party activities like these for clients so you can also have us design something for your party theme and print them off before your party.

A photo booth is another great activity that will also serve as capturing family moments. You can hire a company to come and set up a photo booth for you or you can create a backdrop and props that can serve as a selfie station.

Games like giant Jenga or giant Connect Four is fun for the whole family. These games are quick and don’t require a lot of concentration so guests can continue talking during the game. Games that require too much thinking don’t work well at reunions because the goal is to catch up with family.

For a really hot summer day, water balloons could be a fun activity. This one is likely to be more for the kids but will keep tempers at bay when it’s a scorcher. Another activity for kids is to have a play area set up for them so that they can have a great time with their cousins while the parents get to chat. Little Playscapes is a fantastic company in the GTA that provides mobile soft play areas for kids with ball pits, blow up slides, tunnels and soft building blocks. They will occupy the littles in the group for hours!

Decorations

To start coming up with your decor, pick a theme for the family reunion. Right now, a tropical theme filled with pineapples and flamingos is incredibly trendy and fun but you can do almost anything! Try a rustic bbq, celebrate the family heritage, carnival, decades, family olympics or superheroes.

Once you have decided on your theme, try to pick areas in which you want to focus your decorations. If you put a small amount of decor everywhere, each item will get watered down. But if you cluster decor on specific features, it will be sure to make an impact. Your feature items could be a dessert or DIY food bar, cocktail bar, photo display of family photos, photo backdrop for selfies, centrepieces or welcome area.

All Wrapped Up Events takes the guesswork out of party themes and decor. We provide decor only options for those who want to plan and organize but don’t want the hassle of creating the decor. Contact us to get a personalize quote today.

Food

If you aren’t having the reunion catered then we recommend having a potluck party and asking guests to bring a specific type of item (salad, grain, vegetable side, dessert etc.) DIY food bars are also very popular and don’t require as much work as a full meal. Try incorporating a taco bar where all the toppings are cut and prepared and guests build their own. This also works great for dessert such as an ice cream sandwich bar or brownie sundae bar.

we find it best to keep food service casual so that guests can move around and catch up with various people throughout the meal and aren’t assigned to a particular seat. Buffets are the best way for people to grab what they want, when they want.

So grab our checklist which lists timelines for everything we talked about in this post and more to stay on track and plan a successful family reunion!

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Bringing the Family Together: Family Reunion Planning Part 1

As we head into the warmer weather, many families start planning reunions. Planning any large event can be stressful, but when you throw in the drama that can come with extended families things can escalate to a whole new level. The key to minimize the stress and maximize the success is all in a well laid plan. This article is part one of a two part series that discusses planning the family reunion. Part one is a guest post written by Kathryn Frazer of Whitepages and is all about the guest list, making sure family members aren’t overlooked and  how to stay in touch. Part two is where we will help you choose the venue, food and activities that work best for large family events.

Photo by Olive Photography

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 Bringing the Family Together: Planning Tips for your Next Reunion
Guest post by: Kathryn Frazer

Summer might seem far, far away at this point, but soon enough it will be time for grilling in the backyard, splashing in the pool and bringing the family together for a family reunion!  Whether your family is big or small, near or far, reunions allow us to connect with seldom-seen family members, meet new ones, and celebrate your family’s heritage.

More than 65 percent of family reunions take place during the summer, according to a survey by GroupTravel.org, given that the weather is nicer, kids are out of school and summer is generally an easier time to travel for most.

But whether you’re a seasoned reunion planner, or a first-time newbie, it can be challenging to know where to begin, and easy to feel overwhelmed by the many logistical details. Below are some easy solutions to help make the planning process less stressful and easier for family members to stay in touch after the reunion:

  1. Give plenty of notice. Generally, it makes sense to plan your family event approximately six months to a year in advance. That said, if most of the family members are relatively local – say, an hour or two’s drive away – it’s easier to be more spontaneous and opt for a long weekend somewhere that’s convenient for everyone.
  2. Connect people with the web. After the date is set, one easy way to make sure everyone is in the loop is to create a family reunion website so that everyone can access information and can take part in the planning process together. HowStuffWorks has a great tutorial available here for how to set up a website, including how to create a family blog, upload and store photo albums, and offer polls on reunion activities and games for family members to vote on.
    Remember that not all family members might have access to the Internet, or be tech-savvy, so it’s important to share the key details via phone and postal mail, too.
  3. Make sure contact information is current. If you have a really large family it can sometimes be difficult to remember who all is associated with whom. That’s okay! If you can’t remember your cousin’s new spouse’s name or your mother-in-law’s parents’ names, there are easy ways online to track down that information. Online tools like Whitepages can help you search for family members’ contact info such as current addresses, phone numbers and more.
  4. Turn to the pros. Planning a reunion can be incredibly time consuming and stressful for someone who does not have experience in event planning. Involving professional party planners like Melanie and Stephanie of All Wrapped Up to manage even a portion of the details allows you to better enjoy the event and connect with family members, some of which you might only see once a year. Melanie and Stephanie can help with theme development, invitations, decor, activities, logistics and giveaway bags for the big day.
    You may want to also consider hiring a caterer to manage some of the cooking for the event, or just a few individuals that could assist with set-up, serving and clean-up after meals.And finally – given that family members are rarely all in one location – consider hiring a professional photographer or videographer to capture the fun memories (and the occasional family drama!).
  5. Consider giveaways to help your family stay in touch. Consider a fun way to share contact information so that family members can keep in touch after the event. Creating a family address book or photo scrapbook (including a phone and email list) as a gift makes it easy the next time you want to plan a get-together or just call Aunt Mary for a chat. Having easy access to your family’s contact information means you’re never really out of touch, and it also makes holidays and birthdays a lot easier when sending cards and presents out.

We can’t guarantee that a family reunion will be 100 percent problem-free, but being prepared and gathering important contact information early means that you have more time to be excited, not stressed, about the upcoming event.

About the author
Kathryn Frazer is the Events Marketing Manager at Whitepages, an identity verification provider and people search engine.

Whitepages was founded in 1997, and helps you contact, research and verify people in your world. More than 30 million people per month use its people search engine to get in touch with extended friends and family, conduct background checks and verify that people are who they say they are.

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