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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