In this digital age, most of what we know about the day-to-day lives of our extended families is limited to whatever pops up in our Facebook feeds. But our connections to them should be rooted more deeply than what social media can provide. Some family experiences can’t be “liked” on Facebook — they need to happen in real life, face-to-face.
Maybe it’s time to plan a family reunion — a real, offline, in-person family reunion. We’re not talking family reunions from days gone by, when mom cooked for days, dad pulled out the slide projector and everyone gathered around the television. Almost everything about reunions has changed — from where they’re held to the activities taking place.
It used to be that relatives lived just a few blocks away from each other. Now people must travel great distances to create that ultimate reunion. Families are choosing a central location that appeals to the majority of the attendees, which means the backyard venue is no longer viable.
Planning a successful reunion around today’s busy lifestyles can be challenging. It’s vital that organizers delegate responsibilities so that one person doesn’t have to do everything. Use family talents for newsletters, mailings, data collection of addresses or family history etc.
As far as entertainment goes, don’t look for Twister or charades at your next reunion. Those games have been replaced with activities such as golf (one-fifth of reunions include a round of golf). Families opting for a winter reunions often head to the slopes for skiing. And horseback riding is another viable option.
Other exciting reunion activities include: establishing family fundraisers to award scholarships; giving savings bonds during reunion ceremonies; and featuring the family logo on T-shirts, baseball caps and coffee mugs.
Following are additional tips for creating a memorable reunion:
- Make sure all the key parties have bought into the concept, which means speaking directly with the heads of all the families involved.
- Once you’ve settled on a place, start planning early. With so many family members involved, it is difficult to get consensus.
- If any of your family members will be traveling by plane and live near each other, look into blocking flight space with the airlines to get a better fare.
- It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance that allows for medical cancellations for extended family. One family member getting sick could be extremely expensive if the entire group decides to cancel.
- If your family reunion will involve young children, it is important to be clear who will be watching them during adult activities.
- Make sure there is downtime built into the itinerary for everyone to hang out together.
- Like all things in life, location can make or break a reunion. First you must decide where that place will be: Will it be near or far away? Is it urban, suburban or rural? Will it have historical significance to your family? Will weather and season make a difference? What attractions, entertainment and sports are nearby? Convention and visitors bureaus are good starting points for researching an area, and most of their services are free.