Here in the South we are all about “the reunion”. Family reunion, church reunion, class reunion… If you belong to a group of some sort—and of course you do!—there’s a good chance you’ll receive an invitation to a reunion before the end of summer. You may even be asked to plan it. Today I’m sharing my ten tips for a fun family reunion, tips to make yours a roaring success from planning to execution.
1. Planners gotta plan. There are a few people in our family who always step up and take charge. Whew! These people form the primary planning committee. They suggest two or three dates and a couple of locations and everyone votes. It’s the democratic way.
2. Spread the Word. Once a date and location is decided upon, it doesn’t take long to spread the word in our family. We are a group of talkers, and we have a family Facebook page. The thing to remember within a large family is that people get news different ways. It’s important to cover all the bases via email invitations, phone calls, Facebook, and mail paper invitations. (American Greetings has a great online site for printing free invitations!)
3. Involve the masses. Don’t be controlled by the 80-20 rule…you know, 20% of the people do 80% of the work? Recruit everyone to help. Put the Pinterest/Crafty group in charge of decorating. Recruit older teens to organize a craft table for the little ones. Recruit set up and cleanup committees. The primary organizing committee should delegate as much as possible.
4. Food and Beverages. There are lots of ways to handle this depending upon your location and travel distance. Before families became so spread out, reunions were potluck—easy and fun with P*L*E*N*T*Y of home cooking. Now that many folks travel from out of state, an easier way is to cater the meal. Barbecue, fried chicken, sides, bread, sweet tea. In my family, those who live nearby provide pot luck dessert because those old family recipes can’t be beat.
5. Cost. Charge for attendance to cover the caterer and extras like paper goods and soft drinks. Even though we’re talking about family, we aren’t a bunch of freeloaders. Someone has to pay. Everyone has to pay. Simple. In our family, another way we offset cost is with a silent auction. People donate items—all sorts of items. Family knickknacks, photos, books, whatever, but nothing too valuable. This is fun because the cousins invariable “fight” over silly items, and you’ll be amazed at what suddenly becomes a priceless family heirloom.
6. Create Excitement. Create excitement leading up to the event by posting pictures on your family Facebook page. Create an event hashtag (i.e. #JohnsonNation) because your family is cooler than you realize. The social media savvy will tweet and instagram about it, maybe even morphing your family into a trending topic! (In a good way, of course.) Consider ordering family reunion t-shirts. (These will need to be preordered and pre-paid so no one gets stuck with a bill.)
7. Plan for the unexpected. Like what? Things like inclement weather. Have sunscreen and bug spray on hand. Borrow folding chairs and scatter hay bales for extra seating. Have band-aids and batteries available because it makes good sense. Got extra toilet paper? You may need it. To-go containers for leftovers are a great idea, too.
8. Decorations. This isn’t meant to be an ordeal, but add a few touches to make your reunion festive. Daisies in mason jars. String lights underneath a pavilion if your event goes into the evening. Arrange old family photo albums and memorabilia on a table for people to look at. Using clothespins, string black and white pictures to make family reunion bunting.
9. Music/Entertainment. Anytime our family gathers, there’s always music. Usually old Baptist hymns. It’s just how we are. One of the hip cousins brings his guitar, we sit under the pavilion, and everyone sings. Always. There may even be preaching before it’s all said and done. There are several generations of preachers in our family, too. It that’s not your thing, you might consider a Karaoke contest or simply play country music in the background.
10. Don’t stress. Remember, the main thing is to keep it casual and fun and don’t try to be perfect. After all, we’re all just family.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
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Sister Sledge, We Are Family