Your Intimate Family Reunion: A Planning Checklist

A week-by-week guide to creating an intimate family reunion at your home at any time of year.
6 Months Before

No matter what size your family is, gathering in someone's home can be a comfortable year-round alternative to a state park family reunion. These types of reunions are often hosted by the family matriarch or patriarch, especially when Grandma's home has played a strong role in the family history. Boisterous Christmas parties, casual Labor Day barbecues, and even graduation parties can be wonderful occasions to gather far-flung relatives and long-lost family members under one roof.

If this type of reunion sounds best for your family, you'll want to start planning about six months ahead, mostly to drum up interest and to allow family members from away to make travel plans. Depending on the size of the home and the time of year, this type of reunion could work for around 100 people. If your space is somewhat limited, you might consider doing a family reunion "open house," where people could come and go throughout the day.

Whether you're hosting the reunion, or Grandma is, make sure you have help. Enlist some reliable aunts to cook and some enthusiastic cousins to organize activities. Or, if your budget allows, hire a caterer to supplement your home-baked meals and to keep the drink flowing.

Here's a checklist to help you and your family get started!

6 Months Before

Determine interest of family members. Send out a family poll (by e-mail or by post) to gauge interest in a reunion, get an idea of how many people would attend, and find out what dates would work best.

4 Months Before

Ask for help. You'll need to find dependable and enthusiastic relatives who could take charge of:

  • Planning a menu, assigning dishes and other food items to each family. Arranging for extra cooking and/or grilling facilities. Or finding a caterer.
  • Decorations, invitations, and signs: Putting one person in charge of printed materials will help you ensure a consistent theme for the event.
  • Activities and entertainment: Croquet, badminton, and volleyball are all great group activities for outside. Or ask a cousin to create a Game Room for kids.
  • Family history: Putting together a family tree is a great way to incorporate your heritage into the event. Or consider creating a small family newspaper to highlight recent family events, special facts, and history.
  • Photography and/or video: You'll want to record this event for posterity. Consider providing disposable cameras or asking a talented family member to shoot the event.
  • Cleanup: Solicit several folks for this massive task!

Finalize the date.

Finalize plans for reunion favors, video and/or family history pamphlet. Family members will want something to remember this grand occasion.

  • Photos and mementos: Ask relatives for copies of special photos and mementos for your family history or video.
  • Favors: If you decide to give out favors, Christmas tree ornaments or candles are two budget-friendly options that can be personalized for your event.

Continued on page 2:  3 Months Before