The decision to hold a family reunion has been made, and you’re excited about seeing everyone and enjoying their company. If you’ve agreed to organize the event, you may be mulling over how many pieces and parts are involved in pulling off a successful event.
If that sounds familiar, no worries! Here are answers to frequently asked questions about family reunion planning that will help to guide you through organizing a reunion worth remembering.
When will the reunion be held?
Sometimes, the idea of a reunion comes about to celebrate a family member’s milestone birthday or anniversary. Other times, the day or weekend involved is chosen because of the season, often summer. Still other times, it may be an annual occurrence or simply because you want to get together with your relatives.
It can be challenging to pick a date that works for everyone, so focus instead on picking a time that works for a good percentage of attendees. One strategy is to choose, say, three dates and conduct an email survey to see what works best.
Some dates get booked up more quickly. If you’re looking at dates around holidays, it’s recommended to secure a venue well ahead of time. The most popular reunion date, according to Genealogy.com, is July 4th, when people celebrate family time and the birth of the country in one get together.
Before moving onto information about reunion venues, here’s one more thing to consider. If the plan is to have an annual reunion, consider booking both the upcoming reunion and the one for the following year, especially if you want to hold the event on a popular date.
Which family reunion venues should I explore?
When choosing a location, things to consider include:
- Location convenience; if family members are coming from out of town, this can also include how accessible a venue is from airports and highway routes, and how easy it would be for out-of-towners to find comfortable hotel rooms
- Ability to accommodate your number of guests; also think about how much flexibility the reunion venues you’re considering have if you get late signs ups
- Ample parking; besides determining if there will be enough, how conveniently located is the venue—and is there free parking?
- Hours of operations; do they suit your needs?
- Desired ambiance; if your family wants a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, would you feel comfortable in what the venue can provide? What if you want something more elegant?
- On-site staff; are there people available who can help you with planning? What about during the reunion itself?
- Reunion rental items; what items are available for rent so you don’t need to make separate arrangements for them?
Here’s more in-depth information about choosing the right family reunion venue.
What’s a good menu for your reunion?
Food! It’s a central part of family get-togethers. You might decide to offer a menu reflecting your family’s traditions and tastes. For example, if Grandma and Grandpa were known for miles around for their meatloaf and mashed potatoes, you might want to have a comfort-food menu that reminds family members of good times enjoyed together. You might want to have an informal buffet line or have the food served at tables, family-style.
Pot luck is always a popular option for many get togethers. Consider how many family members are traveling great distances to attend, preparing their signature dish may not be feasible while staying in a hotel while in town for the event. However, if the majority of attendees are close by, pot luck will make menu planning budget-friendly and stress-free.
Or, if you want to make the menu something uniquely memorable, you can work with a caterer to select items that family members don’t regularly get to enjoy. In this case, you could add another touch of elegance by having the food served to everyone.
Have a food budget in mind, perhaps a range that allows for a bit of wiggle room if the perfect menu is recommended. Does your family reunion venue provide catering recommendations? Allow you to use another caterer? Will the kitchen have enough space for what you’re planning? Find out specifics before delving too deeply into planning.
What are fun activities to enjoy?
When family members gather together, this can be the ideal time to share memories. This can be done informally or you could create games around the concept. These can include:
- Family Bingo: Make blank copies of bingo cards and, rather than putting numbers in the squares, use family names, town or city names that are important to the family, and so forth.
- Family Feud: Buy a few sets of the board game (how many depends upon how many attendees you anticipate) and have groups play against one another. You could have prizes for winners, if you’d like.
- Family jigsaw puzzles: Ahead of time, have customized puzzles made that use family pictures as the design. There are plenty of places online that sell these; be sure to order them in plenty of time.
Take advantage of this time to also record oral histories. This can be as simple as gaining permission to record someone and then using a smartphone for the recording. If there is lots of friendly chatter going on, it can help to find a quieter spot.
If you’d like to have these memories archived in Congress, just download the StoryCorps.org app. You can choose to make your recording public or keep it private among friends and family. As another way to use technology, use Skype or another smartphone option to connect with family members who aren’t there in person.
Choose Thrasher-Horne Center as Your Family Reunion Location
Thrasher-Horne provides flexible options to allow you to hold a memorable family reunion. Our modern 6,135 square foot facility has special event rooms that can be customized to accommodate your unique needs. We’re located on the beautiful campus of St. Johns River State College, easily accessible with ample parking.
You can choose your own caterer or select one of the food providers we recommend. We provide free wireless network access, with adjustable lighting available in each room.
Plus, our event coordinator will be happy to work with you to create your uniquely enjoyable event. Contact us by calling 904-276-6815, ext. 2, to schedule a tour, or to reserve your space.