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You finally have a venue booked for the family reunion. As a family reunion planner, your main focus is to make sure the main event - the most anticipated event goes off without a hitch. Afterall, everyone has paid their dues, their registration, gave you crap about the pricing (which they ended up paying anyway - thank goodness) and now you have to hold up your end of bargain. What your family reunion banquet event looks like when people first arrive to the venue communicates your organizing skills and how the money collected for the past year or two was spent. Meaning, it can have a major impact on first impression (for many), word of mouth on success, and them deciding whether or not they would to attend the next family reunion.
If you are in the process of trying to decide how to really layout the “main event” of the family reunion, you may find yourself stressing out wondering “how you’re going to make this look epic?” That’s a lot of pressure when trying to make sure you are pleasing everyone, stay within the budget, and make the reunion look spectacular.
As a Event Planner, I’ve found that most family reunions struggle with this, mainly due to the amount of money they have to work with, lack of resources and budget which causes you to hit a roadblock for ideas, and find yourself wasting time, scouring pinterest for what seems to be “wedding laden” which is lovely, but doesn’t always fit into the reunion category for the look you’re going for. Look, I get it .
Based on my experience in working with family reunions, I’ve compiled a list of 6 elements to improve the look and style, and set the tone for your next family reunion banquet (and why your reunion is not complete without chrome & foil balloons).
Anticipation: Everything leading up to the family reunion including social media invitations and mailers has to be stellar. Why would they want to come to the family reunion? What’s in it for them? Remember it costs a family member the same amount of money to take a vacation and go elsewhere and enjoy their time. Why would the reunion be different for them to surround themselves with family they either do not like, never buried the hatchet or haven’t spoke to in years? Thought it was just your family huh? Nope. Indicate and spell out the importance of attending with an attractive list in a very positive manner in all of your reunion content. Make it fun!
Arrival: How is the family arriving? What is their first impression when they arrive to the venue? You want to focus more on the big picture, and make the ‘wow’ impact when family first walk into the room. Your goal is have them to feel excited to (finally) be at the family reunion, and this is usually accomplished with the grand entrance and overall impression of the reunion weekend. If there is a parking lot, you can influence their first impressions through your design choices of things like directions to the venue, display fun eye popping signage and balloon clusters just outside the entrance of the party room. Make it a priority on your list to get items ordered specifically for this purpose.
Atmosphere: What do you want the event to feel like when family walk into the room? Is it welcoming? Do you have something to entertain and welcome the early birds who just could not wait to get to the venue - a whole entire hour early? Yes, we know it happens. A little side note: The last thing you want to do is roll your eyeballs up to the ceiling when guests arrive super early. After all, you’ve put the work in promoting to family encouraging them to attend anyway, so now you have an excited family member who has read all of your posts, invitations, and emails - (except for the start time obviously) and they just couldn’t wait. So welcome them! Designate someone for this “welcoming” purpose - at the door. So keep the five senses in mind: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. The right music playlist will do a lot to create an upbeat atmosphere, and when choosing your playlist for each of the festivities, keep in mind the overall effect you want to achieve. Do you want family to dance? Socialize more and reminisce? Do you want them to feel excitement? How you appeal to those five senses can influence behavior and impressions.
Appetite: This isn’t just about food, it’s about how you serve the food, what types of food you choose, and how it is displayed. This can go in so many different directions - especially for family reunions. If you have family preparing food. It should be served and displayed properly, and at consumable temperatures for eating. There isn’t a wrong choice about the types of food being served, it’s about making the right choice for the overall effect you want to achieve. And keep in mind, how you serve food will also dictate how people interact with each other.
Amusement: This is a must. Entertain! Remember a great portion of the family will look forward to something to do other than sit around, eat, and leave (after all of that hard work!). Do you want them to move around and interact? Stand, sit down? Participate in games or watch a show? Plan Family Olympics, give a presentation of family history, host a talent or fashion show. Review your options, and remember your timeline. Try not to choose activities that will overwhelm the reason for bringing family together (or underwhelm guests and leave them bored!).
Appreciation: How will you thank family for coming to the reunion? Their attendance is the success of the reunion and the future reunions on the horizon. You’ve put a ton of hard work into this event to make it happen, but quite frankly it wouldn’t be possible if they weren’t in attendance. You can send them home with a favor, send a thank you note with a family picture after the fact, or both. A great way to remind family of the reunion they recently attended is to send a thank you note with a reminder that the event happens annually or every two years. You might even include a link to a Facebook page or your family website where they can get updates on the next reunion and possibly lead them to purchase post reunion swag or offer an incentive if they make a donation for the next reunion. This makes it much easier to kickstart the next reunion.
Lastly I cannot go without sharing that mylar balloons are so in style and are a great, inexpensive way to quickly add extra flair to your reunion.The varieties are endless. As soon as you add mylar balloons, they brighten the room and really make it feel like a PARTY and create excitement. Mylar and foil balloons are pretty much one in the same. Mylar balloons can be designed in all types of colors, shapes, and sizes, you can even go with an extravagant photo backdrop as the go to place for family photos.
Related Post: Here is what happens when you DIY Your Entire Family Reunion
Guess what? You’re now one step ahead of most family reunion organizers, as this truly lays the groundwork and gives you the clarity of all of the things you need to put into place from now until your reunion kicks off. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling a huge sense of relief, but also a bit of panic because your reunion is approaching sooner rather than later So here’s a main event checklist to help you brainstorm and ensure you stand out!
Congratulations for taking on such a huge part of family reunion planning! You’re the Family Reunion MVP! I hope you were able to gather some key factors and solutions that you can apply in the process!.