Family reunions can be a joyous way to reconnect with your relatives. Whether you make it a regular occurence or just for special occasions, we’ve got tips to help you organise and enjoy a stress-free and memorable reunion the whole family will enjoy.
The reasons to have a family reunion are varied. You may be getting together to celebrate a milestone or event, like a silver wedding anniversary or the birth of a baby. Or you may just be keen to keep in touch with extended family and share treasured moments together. It can even become something that your children or grandchildren continue for generations, sharing your family’s cultural heritage and traditions – and starting their own.
Although in our technological age we can usually “FaceTime” or message our family members at pretty much any time, physically being together to share stories, laughter, fun activities and good food is a wonderful way to create quality family moments.
Once you’ve decided that a family reunion is needed, getting the planning right will help to reduce the stress levels, assist in sharing the workload, and make the event a fun and relaxed time spent together.
Where to have your family reunion
Your reunion venue will depend on how many people will be attending, how long you are wanting to spend together, and what activities you want to do. Your own home, or that of another family member may be suitable, especially if it’s scheduled during the warmer months so the outdoors can be utilised. But being the host of a large gathering is not great for the stress levels!
For a more relaxed approach, our top tip is to book a holiday home or bach as your venue. This way, attendees can get away from work and home life distractions, one person isn’t landed with all of the hosting duties, and the holiday feel is conducive to fun and relaxation. Booking a holiday home is ideal if family need to travel as your accommodation and gathering venue can be all in one spot. You can choose a location that is central for travel or a favourite holiday spot with fun activities nearby that will suit a range of ages.
Reunion planning tips
Firstly, talk to those likely to be attending and work out preferred dates and venue locations, taking into consideration budgets. You will struggle to accommodate everyone’s preferred dates but the earlier you plan the better. Once you have a date set, decide on the location and work out any accommodation costs, so when you send out invites you can let your family know what to expect.
Once the RSVPs are in, book your venue, if required, and collect everyone’s share of the costs.
Other things you will need to consider and plan are:
- What food and drink will be served, ie catered, potluck, shared costs, BBQ?
- Kitchen and cooking facilities at the venue
- Grocery supplies that will be needed
- Will additional seating/tables be required?
- Sleeping arrangements
- Transport requirements (if family are flying in or need to get to alternative accommodation)
- Activities and entertainment including gear required (see below)
- A backup plan just in case inclement weather or travel issues occur
Unless you’re literally the hostess with the mostess, you will want to delegate responsibilities to other family members. Using a Facebook Group or an app like SignUpGenius.com can make this easier to handle. If you’re sharing the provision of food be sure that each contributor has an idea of what to bring, ie main course, salad, burgers and sausages for the BBQ, etc, otherwise you will end up with nothing but desserts (not that the kids will be complaining!).
Entertainment and activities
After the initial welcomes and hugs you don’t want your reunion to turn into a boring affair! Planning a few activities ahead of time will help to keep everyone entertained. What you choose will depend on the ages of your attendees, numbers, energy levels, your venue and time of year, but here are a few ideas:
- Outdoor games, ie egg and spoon races, water balloons, scavenger hunts, croquet, cornhole
- If you’re at a holiday home utilise the facilities, ie pool, spa, kayaks, etc
- Card games and board games, charades and trivia
- Puzzles and colouring
- Dancing or a talent show
- Ask each person to bring something to put in a time capsule
- Baking (family recipes!)
- Outdoor movie night with family movies or a favourite film
- Create a family tree
If your reunion is over several days you may want to organise an outing or activity each day that most attendees can take part in, ie bushwalk, beach day, mini golf, etc. Don’t forget to let everyone know what’s planned so they can bring the appropriate clothing and gear.
Finally, don’t forget downtime for everyone to have the chance to simply relax or chat together.
A Christmas family gathering
Christmas in New Zealand is a great time to get the family together, with the great Kiwi summer offering lots of opportunities to create special memories with loved ones. Imagine sharing the joy of Christmas morning with all of the family (or close friends) gathered together to share present opening, great food, and fun games. Book a holiday home or bach for everyone to come together and you won’t have to be house hopping all of Christmas Day!
Recording your memories
You will likely want to document your reunion. You can ask attendees to upload photos that they take to a shared folder or cloud. You may also want to assign one or two of the tweens or teens to record some video interviews with each family member. A fun way to get people into photos is to set up a photo booth with a background and silly props, like hats, wigs, and sunglasses. This has the added advantage of doubling up as a fun activity.
Looking for a holiday home, bach or apartment for your next family get together? Bookabach has a range of properties around New Zealand in locations that will bring the family together. Visit bookabach.co.nz for more inspiration.
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”