It’s your grandmother’s 100th birthday, or it’s the 50th wedding anniversary of your parents. Whatever the occasion must be, a family reunion is something that would inevitably happen. When you’re tasked with organizing the event, it’s also very easy to panic. While we’ll be pulling your leg if we say we can make the task easy for you, there are some things we can suggest to make it more manageable.
Organizing things as early as six months before the event is not an overkill. When it comes to huge family gatherings, it’s actually only practical. According to surveys, majority of family reunions take place during the summer. This makes the holiday perfect for organizing events. Since you’re bound to have small reunions with family members, take the time to gather their contact numbers and emails.
Talk to them about the prospect of having a big reunion. While it might be a bit too early to form committees during your first coffee shop chat, it’s a good time to ask about what each family member is willing to do with you. Perhaps you can even have a “Christmas in July” theme for the reunion. Ask them what party theme they’d want to have.
If they’re planning to do the Christmas theme off-season, you can take advantage of lowered prices for Christmas decorations after the holiday.
Form committees for the grand reunion and stick to it. Do not try to do everything on your own. You’ll be on top of everything, of course, but you shouldn’t attempt to complete all of the legwork instead. It’s easier to divide the task into small manageable portions. Make a working calendar and schedule committee meetings. Assign someone for the food, the reservations, the program, etc.
Assign a leader for each committee so you won’t have to take care of the finances and organizing on your own. Make sure that you keep track of all committee progress so you can update all the members. Building an email group isn’t a bad idea at all. If everyone’s adept at using the net, this is a more convenient method of disseminating information.
Maximize the time
Different family reunions demand for different things. If you’re a traditional American family, though, you might want to piece together a quilt. Have everyone who’s adept at needlework piece together the family’s story. If you’re too modern to care about quilts, the extra time is good for gathering old photos and mementos, as well. Scan old photos and work with a committee to create an audio-visual presentation for the party.
You can also find out what everyone is up to. If you have a pretty big family, it’s always good to keep a directory on hand. Update the directory you’ve created from the last reunion, or if this is the first time you’re holding a grand family reunion, take the time to make one.
There are also private blog sites now for families who would want to keep each other updated but who are concerned about their privacy as well. Assign a family member per “branch” as an administrator for this website. It’s good to keep the technologically-knowledgeable ones in the same committee, too. Perhaps they can be the ones in charge of the video presentation as well.
Be your own family’s genealogy expert by documenting the family history and keeping the information up-to-date. Some people might think that this isn’t necessary, but you never know when the younger ones can use it. At the very least, the information that you were able to gather can be used for a school project.
If you have a writer in the family trying to trace back his/her roots, perhaps this history can even be turned into a sort of memoir or biography. While you’re doing your research, you might even find yourself accidentally on the path to self discovery. That’s not such a bad thing, considering how family reunions are really means for people to get to know themselves more.
Set up the stage
Everything might look like it’s such a mess at first, but they will come together during the last few months before the event. If you plan it well enough, the party will just make its self happen. Start with the decorations for the main event. If it’s a Christmas in July dinner, then by now, you should have already gathered your Christmas decorations. Have the Physical Arrangement committee work on a floor design.
Plan everything from who’s going to sit with whom. Planning a family reunion is much like planning a wedding or someone’s Bar mitzvah. You just need to make sure that the chemistry between each member (at least those in the same table) is right. Design your place cards and party.