Family Reunions: What Reunion Organizers Need to Know

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If you’re looking for family reunion planning tips then you’ve come to the right place. The idea of planning a family reunion is often cast in a glamorous light, think music, fun, theme, games, travel, hotel. I’m here to reveal to you what’s often overlooked. Once you decide to do plan your family reunion, you’re officially taking on the role of planning an event - hence, event planner. Studies has shown that event planning has been ranked as one of the most stressful jobs on earth. You’re serving as the vessel of information between the family members, hired vendors and the venue staff. Stress can easily creep in as you work to meet the expectations of every paying and participating family member, friend and foe and ensure that the process does not go into some type of frenzy. This requires patience, persistence organization, self-confidence, and hard work, in addition - creativity and good positive energy.

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Family Reunion Planning Tips: What Reunion Organizers Need to Know

Bringing family together is a beautiful feeling, and a wonderful thing to do. But many times we jump into things head first without really thinking about the challenges that lies ahead. It’s not uncommon for family reunions to be held off, canceled, dissolved, because of an unforeseen fork in the road, stress, or burnout.  By staying organized, communicating well, keeping it light, and knowing these key family reunion tips in this post, you will be able to create and host a memorable family affair with ease. So it’s a good thing you landed here! Before you dive in to the pool of planning, I’ve compiled a list of what every family reunion committee member should know before deciding to plan a family reunion.

#1 Patience

Not everyone will jump on the bandwagon and say I’m in - right away. (Even though, they were all for it when you last saw them). You’ll get a few to jump on in the very beginning, but not everyone! Expect responses such as “it’s too expensive” or “I can’t afford to go”. In all actuality, if someone really wants to do something, they will find a way to do it. Don’t be discouraged, Give them some time, and keep planning in motion. It’s the anticipation, and how you’re promoting it that’s going to get them to move. Be sure to get your heads together in the preplanning and make sure you promote and put together a reunion so amazing, that they just can’t miss out on it.

#2 You will not please everyone

Not everyone will be happy with the date you select, the chosen venue, location or the price, or even the fact that a “certain family member” is attending all the way down to the menu or selected foods. No sense in mulling around in a long laundry list of “trying to please everyone”, I have news for you - you simply can’t! Just be happy with the fact that there is a “reunion happening!” and that’s the most important piece! Move on.

#3 If you bend for one, you have to bend for all of them.

It takes FOREVER and a day to put everything into place and finally share all of the plans & details. You will have that one cousin that comes back and ask for some type of bend in the rules or the dynamic plans you have set forth. Be very careful with making a decision for a request as this can quickly get out of hand. A great question to ask yourself - would this be something you can do for every single family member who wants to attend? If you have to change it, change it for everyone. You bend for one, simply means you bend for all.

#4 Facebook Posts will have you feeling ignored (but they still read them)

You got all your details underway and now you’re ready to get things posted and moving along in your family facebook group and all you get is - crickets. This can put an immediate fear into place. You’ve signed contracts, you’ve made commitments with vendors and venues. The last thing you want is for people to ignore an event that’s happening! Newsflash: What you’re putting on facebook is information. People don’t respond to information, they just read it. Here’s a tip - Put interactive posts in the group, ask a question, get their opinion, play “guess who”  and you’ll most likely get a comment. Eliminate posts that embodies “everyone”, instead speak in “direct” lingo, and say “You” so when the family reader is reading it, you’re talking directly to them and not to “everyone” For example, instead of saying “I hope everyone is attending the reunion” say “I hope to see you at the reunion”. Instead of “What does everyone think?” say “What do you think?”

Related: Family Reunion Facebook Ideas: 10 Family FB Group Post Ideas

#5 Family members you have never heard of or knew you were related to will reach out

This is the true nugget of planning that you get to enjoy. You’re the light and the direction for family members who have been waiting for this for a long time, and you’re the one they will contact and reach out to. This is that time you’ll get a piece of family history you never knew about. This makes planning of your family reunion all worthwhile, and feel like you’re truly making a difference - and you really are. :-)

#6 You’ll have to invest

One of the most crucial and most “looked over” family reunion tips. Reunions cost money, and it’s pretty much ran like a business - think of it as an organization with a “Board of Directors” but instead you have a family (the organization) and family reunion committee (The Board). Yes, most Board of Directors of a non profit organization pay a price to be in that seat. They do so, because they know their dollars will make a difference. Be prepared to fork a few bucks in the beginning until you get planning in motion and collect registration fees from families. Some upfront costs will include - Reunion facilities deposit, printing, mailers, postage, website hosting, the list can go on. This is why it is EXTREMELY important to have a “Committee” This way when it does cost you, it’s not costing you much, because you’re not in this by yourself. My family reunion committee of 8 members paid monthly dues of $35 for a year and half and this went to the “pot” that was used for deposits, website building, and administrative. You can do the math on that :-) Get your family reunion website listed and ready to accept donations and payments right away. Requesting checks and payment via mail can delay the process of someone wanting to make a quick payment. This is year 2019. Most likely you’re planning for 2020 or further out. Nothing is free. Everyone knows this, so get the money train on track!

#7 You can’t plan a family reunion alone.

Planning a family reunion all by yourself is the quickest way to stage to left. Form a team of dedicated and enthusiastic family members who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure a successful family reunion. Start scanning family members with great sense of organization, negotiating, accounting, and creativity. Be careful with those contributors with TOO much time on their hands (hey, I’m just being honest!). You also want family members on board who communicates well with family and handles (diffuses) drama with ease, and move on quickly from it. Once you have everyone gathered, determine a set amount of monetary dues :-) Take a look at #6 again. :-)

#8 Family will show up at the last minute

These are the family members who were literally sat back the whole time waiting to see who’s coming, or all of sudden they have the funds to go, or they got the day off. You also have family who didn’t know it was happening, and they want to go! That’s great! This is why you should never give up on your family - or give them the “stink face” when they arrive - empty handed. Because they will, so keep your cool. Mainly because, if you give off bad vibes, you’re going to get bad vibes in return - you came too far and worked to hard to let something you already know will happen ruin the weekend of festivities. The reunion is happening. It’s family (and the reason why you’re involved in the first place), welcome them and accept their payment, donation, or whatever they can give. This is a common last minute issue, that will never go away, and everyone knows it. While you can’t prevent it, you can control it. Set your registration fees higher 3-4 weeks out from your reunion, as most of your items have (or should be) already ordered. If done correctly, last minute registrations (3-4 weeks out) helps your bottom line. So welcome them with open arms! You’ll have a much better result then the other way around. Take the high road.

#9 You’ll have a raving fan or two

Planning a reunion creates a sense of community will attract a handful supporters and unite family members with a common goal and you’ll get their commitment fast. These family members are in your corner and help make this all worthwhile, so if you’re ever in a place where you feel like giving up, keep them in mind because they will not give up on you.

# 10 It’s worth it at the end.

There is a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the reunion weekend, and may I add relief. You’re doing a good deed, along with the rest of the committee and you have family that will be talking about the affair for years, and you’ve created new memories for children. Family will be sharing pictures on social media, and the ones who couldn’t make it, only wished they had, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, so it’s important to get a sense of who you are and where you come from, and to know you’ve helped create a community to allow for that happen, it’s a great feeling. And at this point you really can’t put a dollar sign on spending time with family.

So now you have these 10 family reunion tips to keep in mind while planning your reunion. If you’re like me, you should be listing your dream team of family members to help you carry this out. Or go back to your plans with a new understanding that challenges and victories like these come with the territory. With this new mindset shift, all of the other elements of the planning process will be much easier to handle. If you found this helpful and you’re just getting started with your planning, feeling a bit overwhelmed, or not sure where to start, download this helpful workbook to ensure you’re on the right track to planning your next reunion!

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Which of these family reunion tips are most helpful for you as the organizer? Is there anything keeping you from moving forward with your plans? I want to know!