If your extended family plans to hold a reunion, there are many options to consider. One popular option is to host a weekend reunion when family members can get away from work to attend. Consider this typical family reunion weekend timeline:
If you are chosen a city or town for your reunion and are expecting many family members to attend, you will need to find a hotel or hotels for your guests to stay. Contact local hotels well in advance to book a block of rooms. If your committee decides to have other meetings, activities, or a banquet, you can also work with the hotel about this as well. Most hotels hosting a family reunion will work with you to negotiate discounted group rates and special pricing on meeting rooms and banquet facilities.
It makes sense that, if you have selected a hotel for the lodging of out-of-town relatives, it could also be the central location for the reunion. It could be the location for the welcoming/check-in table as well as the banquet, the worship service and brunch. A good quality hotel normally has all the facilities in-house for a successful weekend family reunion event.
The few things a hotel normally doesn’t handle is booking entertainment, or music, like a DJ or band, or a photographer or videographer for the event. These are things the reunion committee can book or that certain family members may be able to handle.
On the reunion weekend, have a centrally located welcome or check-in table at the hotel or reunion site. Family members can register and pick up an information packet. The following info can be included in each packet.
- Information Packets
- Weekend Agenda
- Tourism Information
- Reunion souvenirs like t-shirts, hats, or family buttons
Welcome Reception or Cocktail Party
Many family members will not be able to arrive on Friday, but for those who can, you should have some sort of gathering–you may want to hold it between 5:00-8:00 pm. This can be a casual get-together at the hotel, either catered by them or with food the family brings. Family members may choose to go out to dinner together afterwards.
Family members arriving on Saturday should check in at the hotel welcome table and check in at the hotel, even if they arrive too early to get into their rooms.
Picnic or Cookout
Saturday is oftentimes picnic or cookout day. The event might be planned to last from 12 noon to about 4:00 pm. If you have a smaller family, sometimes, the best location for a reunion is a family member’s home and backyard. This scenario makes things simpler than planning a cookout or picnic in a park. If you are selecting a site at a public park, picnic ground or forest preserve, you will probably need a permit for a particular spot and date. Make sure you have your permit before you finalize the reunion date.
When selecting a picnic or cookout site, look for the following:
- Easy-to-find location
- Picnic tables
- Shelter in case of rain
- Public restrooms
- Playground for the kids
- Recreational facilities (basketball courts, softball fields, volleyball, etc.)
Picnic or Cookout Food Preparation
In most cases, family members provide, prepare and cook their own food for a family reunion. Make sure this is organized. Do you want to make each immediate family responsible for their own food? Or should a few of the “cooks” in the family at large be contacted to cook all the food for the reunion?
Whatever you do, make sure someone organizes the food preparation in such a way that you have enough of all the essentials–meats like hamburgers, hotdogs, sausage, brats, ribs, chicken, etc. and sides like beans, potato salad, coleslaw, greens, etc. and drinks like sodas, beer, wine, etc. What kind of cookout would it be if everyone just brought potato salad?
If your reunion is big enough and you have the finances available, you may want to consider having the event catered either at the picnic or perhaps in a banquet hall or hotel facility.
Things to Take to an Outdoor Venue:
Giving your reunion a festive look will make your event even more exciting and memorable. Make your own or have a sign company create a banner with your family name. Display lots of family photographs and a family tree to get family members reminiscing. Use balloons, flags, streamers, torches and candles to put the finishing touches on your reunion site.
It’s good to have lots of activities and games planned and available for reunion attendees. Because you will have relatives of all ages from babies to senior citizens, plan activities that appeal to all age groups:
- Sack Races
- Water balloon toss
- 3-legged Races
- Dance contest
- Family trivia contest
- Horse Shoes
- Family Relay races
- Tug of war
- DJ music and dancing
Saturday night is the time for a big blowout reunion banquet. Lots of details are necessary for planning this event. This usually takes place at a hotel dining room, a banquet hall or restaurant. Wherever it is held, you need to meet with the banquet planner to make sure all the details are taken care of. A typical banquet, lasting from about 6:00 pm-midnight, consists of some or all of the following activities;
- It’s an appropriate end to a nice weekend to allow everyone to say their good-byes before returning to their homes. For a brunch, look into some of the larger area breakfast restaurants or the hotel for the brunch.
- If church is very important to your family, you could have a continental breakfast at the church before worship, and a brunch/luncheon afterwards–these would have to be set up with the church in advance. You could mark the occasion with a gift to the church or the planting of a tree.
- You might have sports activities planned for the morning for family members with a brunch or luncheon afterwards. Be certain to reserve the fields in advance with your city or county government..
- If you do not have planned activities for Sunday morning, you might also plan a casual “bon voyage” gathering at the hotel from 11:00 am-departure so family members can say goodbye.