Hosting a family reunion is a wonderful way to reconnect with long-lost family members, meet new ones and get to know distant relatives better. However, they also take a lot of planning, especially if much of your family lives out of town. From location and invitations to activities and decorations, you’ll have plenty to plan for. If you’re stumped on where to start, let these family reunion invitations and ideas serve as your reunion inspiration.
Family Reunion Ideas: Date and Location
Before you really begin brainstorming family reunion ideas, start thinking about when and where you’d like to have your family reunion. When it comes to location, selecting the city that is home to the most family members is the most logical choice. However, your family may be more interested in a destination reunion, such as renting out part of a resort in Hawaii. Typically, though, someone’s hometown is selected and extended family members will visit if they can. Typically, summers work best for everyone, but this may not be the case if your family is interested in a skiing reunion or hanging out over the holidays.
You can create a website or Facebook page to poll your family members to see when and where they’d like to have the family reunion. Otherwise, rely on word of mouth and enlist some family members to help you ask around. No date and location will work for everyone, of course, so eventually you’ll need to pick a date and hope that as many people as possible will attend. Save the date for the reunion one year in advance to give everyone plenty of time to plan, and send out your official family reunion invitations six months ahead of time if possible.
Family Reunion Invitations
Once you’ve decided on a date and gathered the contact information of your family members, it’s time to send out family reunion invitations. PurpleTrail.com has a large variety of family reunion invitations, providing a perfect way to give your family every detail about the reunion. If you’re hosting a multi-day reunion with several activities or you have some family members that don’t have internet access, card invitations are a perfect way to let them know everything from directions to the park to a list of affordable hotels in the area. Other options include traditional reunion invitations (with RSVP information or a link to a website with more details,), DIY reunion invitations or online invitations.
Make sure your reunion invitations contain all the vital information:
- Location, with directions or map
- Type of event or events
- Theme, if applicable
- Food being served
- Proper attired, if necessary
- Cost per person or tips on what to bring
- RSVP or contact information of the organizer
For more information on family reunion invitation wording as well as some wording samples, check out this article.
Family Reunion Ideas: Event Locations
Once you’ve decided on a date and tracked down your family members, it’s time to begin the fun part of coming up with family reunion ideas: the event planning! Since the family reunion’s “main event” is typically a potluck picnic in the park, a rented venue or the home of a family member, that’s what these family reunion ideas will focus on. Feel free to get creative with your events and customize these tips to suit your family’s style.
Picnic or BBQ in the park. This is, by far, the most popular pick for a reunion event, and with good reason… it’s easy, it’s fun, and you’ll have plenty of room to eat, mingle and play games. A park is perfect for a summertime reunion and the odds are good that no matter which city you select, it will have a beautiful park with spaces you can reserve. Do some online research, make a few calls to the Parks department and you’ll have a space set aside for your family’s big day.
Party at a resort. If your family has the budget and you’re able to organize it, a resort makes a perfect spot for hosting a family reunion. Oftentimes you’ll be able to purchase a package that will allow you the use of a ballroom or conference room, discounted catering and discounted room rates for your group. Travel & Leisure put together this slideshow of the best resorts for family reunions, and this list will provide plenty of resort ideas as well. The best part about having your family reunion at a resort is that the entire thing will feel like more of a vacation than a mandatory family outing, and there will be plenty of fun tourist activities you can all do together.
A hotel banquet hall. If you find a hotel willing to offer you discounted rooms for your reunion, consider having the reunion in their banquet hall. This will save you the time and energy of decorating and menu planning since the hotel staff will typically cater and decorate the event. Simply calculate all the fees, divide it by the number of reunion guests, and ask everyone to bring the amount to help cover the costs.
A party at someone’s home. If any of your relatives live in the destination location and have a large home, they may offer to host the family reunion. This saves the hassle of having to rent a venue or make a reservation at the park. However, the hosts will need plenty of help getting everything ready. Form a team of local family members and offer to help with cleaning, food preparation and anything else they may need.
Family Reunion Ideas: The Menu
The idea of feeding your entire extended family may seem like a daunting task, particularly when you consider food allergies and guests who have to travel long distances. Luckily, there are many ways you can keep your reunion menu simple and still please everyone. Here are some food ideas for your big day:
BBQ. If your reunion is at a park or at someone’s home, fire up the grill for a guaranteed good time. You can grill both meats and veggies, ensuring people with all lifestyles can get a good meal. Sides at a BBQ can be very simple, ranging from fruits and veggie trays to cheese and crackers. Ask everyone to bring a dish, or ask everyone to chip in to the food budget and create a team of local family members who will do the food shopping and the cooking.
Potluck. This is, by far, the most popular choice for a family reunion menu. Give your family members a chance to show off their culinary skills and have each family bring a dish to share. The easiest way to pull off a potluck is to have a website or Facebook page with a sign up list. Everyone can list the dish they intend to bring so you don’t end up with too many repeats. As for out of town guests, they can either bring something non perishable from their hometown they’d love to share (such as a snack food their city is known for, like crackers or kettle chips), or they can purchase a beverage to share once they arrive. Do consider allowing out of town guests to opt out of the potluck for reasons of convenience. They can always contribute in another way, like bringing some games or chipping in for some table rentals.
Pizza party. Easy and fun, a pizza party is loved by all and easy to pull off. Poll your family members to see what everyone likes and place your order early so the pizza restaurant of choice doesn’t get overwhelmed. This is a particularly fun food idea if you are hosting the family reunion in a city known for its pizza, like Boston or Chicago. Make sure you have plenty of green salads and sides for your vegan or dieting family members.
Sandwich bar. Another great idea for a casual meal, a sandwich bar is an easy option everyone will love. A sign up list will also be beneficial with this type of menu so you don’t end up with 15 types of meat and no bread.
Family Reunion Ideas: The Decorations
When it comes to family reunion ideas, the decorations will be the most fun part of the planning process. Whether you’re hosting a super-casual picnic or a dinner party at your aunt’s mansion, you can use simple, tasteful decorations to make your space look beautiful without any hassle.
Create a welcome sign that lets your family members know they’re in the right place. This can be something simple as a chalkboard or poster with balloons, or you can get creative like the Martins did with their surfboard, pictured above. Having a table with a family reunion guestbook around this area is a good idea too.
Create simple but stunning centerpieces for the tables at your family reunion. Old mason jars and small bottles or vases are perfect choices. Buy some fresh cut flowers from the local farmer’s market and you’ll have beautiful reunion decorations.
If you’ll be partying past sunset, consider stringing up some lights around the area. Paper lanterns are perfect for decorating day and night because of their simple beauty and versatility. And don’t forget to set a side a small memorial table honoring your family members that are no longer with you. Frame photos of them and light a few candles so your family can remember that they’re with you in spirit.
Hopefully these family reunion ideas have been beneficial and inspired some good ideas for your big day. Above all else, remember to relax, have fun and enjoy the company of your family.