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!
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.
Ask for help. You'll need to find dependable and enthusiastic relatives who could take charge of:
Finalize the date.
Finalize plans for reunion favors, video and/or family history pamphlet. Family members will want something to remember this grand occasion.
Follow up with volunteers and dole out tasks as appropriate.
Finalize events and activities.
Plan the meal.
Start a list of those who have confirmed their attendance.
Reserve rental equipment such as tables or chairs.
Make final purchases.
Order copies of family history or video.
Confirm with relatives who are bringing food or other supplies.
Contact caterer with a final guest count if necessary.
Order cold cut platters, cake, or other party items from your local grocery store or baker.
Contact volunteers with specific tasks to confirm times and the final guest count.
Review your final to-do list.
Buy last-minute decorations and supplies.
Create signs and banners.
Make arrangements to donate leftover food to a local shelter or food pantry.
Pick up any rental equipment, like chairs, tables, etc.
Set up and decorate.
Get some sleep!
Write thank-you notes to special attendees, relatives who donated time and money, and any other people who helped make your event a success.
Develop film. Be sure to get CDs made so you can upload photos to ofoto.com or shutterfly.com. This way other family members can purchase copies of your photos.
Donate or distribute leftover favors, decorations, family history pamphlets, etc.
Follow up with videographer and photographer to find out when materials will be ready for distribution.
Send an e-mail or mass mailing to all who attended, summarizing the festivities, thanking them for attending, and telling them where they can purchase photos, videos, or any other follow-up items from your event.