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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