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Planning a family reunion

Family is the precious thread that weaves through every joy, triumph, disparity, and challenge of our lives. The magic of family isn't just in the shared DNA but also in the laughter that echoes through generations, the shared memories, all the "remember whens", the comforting familiarity of inside jokes, and the warmth of faces that mirror your own. Family is the glue that helps us understand and tolerate each other despite each member's shortcomings. Reminiscing about the past and sharing ideas for the future is what family reunions are all about!

In the realm of my own family bonds, our gatherings have been infrequent, but our strong ties remain. When we do get together, it is inevitable that we will reminisce about the days when we all spent more time with one another. Memories such as the smell of my yiayia's spanakopita became common ground amongst us, a reminder that we all share common roots. My family has grown tremendously since my grandfather landed on Ellis Island. Although our reunions are infrequent, I always look forward to the next time to reminisce again and marvel at how much more my family has grown!

Planning a family reunion can be a daunting task, but with some careful planning and organization, it can be a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Here are some tips to help you plan a successful family reunion:

Plant the seed

1. Plant the seed!:

Consider that you may be much more sentimental than other family members who are hesitant to commit. Create some enthusiasm and cultivate the idea. If you find that you have a few allies who share your sentiment, you start mapping out a plan!

2. Plan Ahead

Before you make any commitments, send out some feelers before you make any moves. Plan ahead! Way ahead! Your beloved family is much more likely to commit if they have a lot of advance notice. They will be more willing to commit to an event a year in advance than if you gave them just three months.

3. Create a website for the event with a comments page and the things that you are planning to do. Open up the discussion to everyone, as they will be more willing if they have a personal stake. You can create a website for free with very little knowledge. This website that you are on was created with Wix, and I taught myself without any help.

Wix offers various templates that literally make it a breeze to create!

You can also utilize your Facebook page either in addition to, or in place of a website! You can create a page right on the page for everyone to communicate right up to the day of the reunion.

4. Choose a location: Once you feel you have commitment, start thinking about locations and costs. Have your budget in place with consideration to the rest of the family's financial means! Consider the size of your group, the location, and the type of event you want to have. Make sure the location can accommodate your group size and has the necessary amenities. Check to see what parks offer spaces and what kind of licenses and fees are required. Keep in mind that there may be permits and fees involved. Most State Parks are very affordable and are actually one of the best places for everyone to enjoy themselves. Once you have a few options in mind, share them with the family and allow them to chime in. Once you have that squared away, it's time to choose a location and commit.

Family reunion venues

If you are in the King County area, "Tiny Beans" has some great ideas. Check them out here:

King County Parks' facility rentals also is a great place to look for that perfect venue for your event. Check their website out!

5. Decide on a date(s): Coordinate with your family members to find a date that works for everyone. Consider holidays, work schedules, and other events that may conflict with your reunion. One-day reunions are usually the easiest to coordinate as your out-of-town family members can each arrange their stay!

6. Send out invitations: Once you have a date and location, send out invitations to your family members. Consider using your Facebook page to allow for RSVPS. If you want to send an invitation via post and you have some basic computer skills, try using Canva, which has a multitude of templates to create your own at a fraction of the cost of using a professional

7. Plan activities: In addition to food and drinks, plan some fun activities for your guests to enjoy. Consider games, music, and other entertainment options that will keep everyone engaged and having fun.

Sign-up Genius is another way to RSVP, and it has some awesome suggestions to keep everyone engaged and happy! It's an awesome way to help keep everyone engaged, but it does come with a $100.00 price stage for a 1-year subscription. You can check their activity ideas and suggestions in their article here

Here are a few that I grabbed from their site:

  1. "Who's Who" Baby Picture Contest - Everyone must bring a baby picture with their name labeled on the back. Number and pin each photo onto a bulletin board and see who can get the most correct. Provide prizes for least changed, most hair, best smile, and more.

  2. Get to Know You Bingo - Prepare custom cards where players must find a family member who fits the category box, such as: Find a family member who played baseball in high school, find a family member whose favorite dessert is ice cream, find two cousins who are their family's eldest and more.

  3. Family Story Time - Children never tire of hearing embarrassing stories about their parents. Ask each family to bring an item to share, such as an antique instrument your great-grandfather used to play, an old postcard, or an item related to your heritage.

  4. Meal Time Conversation Starters - Provide question cards at each person's chair at the start of every meal, such as: Where was your favorite vacation, what was your favorite subject in school, or who was your best friend growing up? Be sure to shuffle and reassign cards for the next meal and change place card holders to encourage family members to sit in different places each time. Genius Tip: Try these 100 getting-to-know-you questions.

  5. Talent Show - Did anyone ever tell you grandma used to twirl a baton? Find out about your family's secret skills and hidden talents. 

  6. Family Map - This is especially great for families with relatives spread across the country or world; mark a large map with all the spots family members reside in, and have each family share something interesting about where they live.

  7. Awards Ceremony - Create certificates to recognize as many members as possible, including categories such as most contagious laugh, the oldest and youngest family members, farthest distance traveled, the loudest snorer, the best hugger, and more.

  8. Family Trivia - The game organizer must research questions and answers about family lore beforehand, such as which family member won a basketball championship in 1965, where Uncle Bob served in World War II, and who just got accepted into graduate school.

  9. Joke Night - Each family must come prepared with jokes to share. Funny stories about relatives are also always welcome.

  10. Long Distance Call - Don't forget about family members who could not attend because of illness or other scheduling conflicts. Sign "wish you were here" cards and find an appropriate time to Skype or FaceTime.

7. The eats!

When it comes to feeding the family at a reunion, there are several options that you can consider. One option is to have the reunion at a restaurant or catering hall that will provide the food and drinks. Another option is to hire a catering company to come to the reunion and set up the food and drink stations. A third option is to have a potluck-style reunion, where each attendee brings a dish or beverage to share.

Yet another, and in our opinion the best solution, is to hire a food truck!

Hiring a food truck for a family reunion can be a unique and fun way to cater the event. Food trucks offer a wide variety of food options and can often accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences. You can choose a food truck that specializes in a particular cuisine, such as tacos, burgers, or pizza, or opt for a food truck that offers a range of dishes. When selecting a food truck, make sure to consider the size of your reunion and the space available for the truck to park and serve. Additionally, it's important to communicate with the food truck operator about any specific needs or requirements for your event, such as power sources or serving times.

You can find multiple trucks to send you offers by checking in to Seattle Food Truck and put that idea up to a vote on Your Facebook page or website. You will have multiple offers in your inbox within hours. If you want to have a good amount of responses, figure that most food trucks will not respond if your bid is less than $1,000 and $20 per person.

Homebites has a minimum of $1,400.00 per event and offers a menu that has something for everyone. You can see that here

8. Family reunion slideshow. Another great way to celebrate the occasion is by creating a slideshow of family memories. Utilize your Facebook page for your family members can dig up their old photos and post them on your new page! You can gather old photographs and videos from family members and compile them into a digital presentation that can be shared and enjoyed by everyone. The slideshow can include family milestones, such as weddings, graduations, and births, as well as candid moments captured throughout the years.

To make the process easier, consider using slideshow software that allows you to easily upload and arrange your photos and videos. You can also add music and special effects to enhance the viewing experience. Once the slideshow is complete, you can share it with family members who are unable to attend the reunion or even play it during the event for everyone to enjoy. A family reunion slideshow is a wonderful way to bring everyone together and celebrate the love and memories that bind you all as a family.

If you find DYI overwhelming, consider using Animoto, a company that offers ready-to-use templates to put all your photos together in an impressive video or presentation.

9. Family reunion t-shirts - Family reunion t-shirts can be a great way to commemorate the event and foster a sense of unity among attendees. There are many options available for designing and ordering custom t-shirts, from online retailers to local print shops. Some families choose to create a unique design for their reunion t-shirts, incorporating family names or inside jokes, while others opt for a more simple design with just the event name and date. When ordering t-shirts, it's important to consider factors such as size, color, and fabric type, as well as the number of shirts needed and the budget for the order. Try using or simply run a search on Google, as there are a multitude of companies offering this service and prices fluctuate.

10. Communicate!

If you don't keep the excitement going, you risk the whole thing fizzling out. Stay on top of it and get your allies to do the same.

If you found this article helpful, I would love to hear about your experiences with family reunions and why they are important to you! Please post in the comments below if you found this information engaging!

Good Luck

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So many wonderful ideas and suggestions for planning a family gathering!

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