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Step-by-Step Guide to Planning your Family Reunion

Planning a reunion is a huge task (almost twice as large as a Wedding!) with so many details to think about and do that even after many reunions, I have not begun to touch the surface.

Just a quick summary of SOME of what you need to think about when planning a reunion:

Leadership: Who is going to be the reunion chairperson & on the planning committee? What are the roles and responsibilities of each.

Theme: are you targeting a spiritual, fun, or relaxing theme?

Location & Lodging: Not every city or town is equipped to handle family reunions; nor will every hotel, resort, boat, or campground, accommodate your reunion party.

Money & Budgets: So much of your group may have the money to afford the reunion, but others may be struggling financially. What are some of the tricks to get everyone there on a reasonable dime?

Schedule of Activities: With the many different personalities, ages, genders; what activities should you plan to accommodate everyone. Plus, there are so many details to think about when it comes to games, meals, skits, devotionals, and much more.

Building-out a Schedule: This is the most critical part of your reunion. Without everyone having a clear vision of what’s taking place makes it difficult to plan.

Handing out Assignments & Follow-through: Planning a reunion is a full-time job and smart planners delegate tasks. Learn the tricks to follow-through!

Planning Pictures: Coordinating colors, clothing, backgrounds, location, kids crying, and much more is a task in itself. Finding a photographer that is patient, willing to travel and show up on time at a reasonable cost is critical to building that lasting memory.

Making it all Come to Life: There is much to be done as the clock strikes 12….for you it should be relaxing and fun as well. Don’t wait to the last minute to push the panic button.  

You'll need to begin thinking about the following, in roughly this order:

1. When you're going to have the reunion

See our FAQ for hints on the best and worst times of year. Obviously your budget, kids' school schedules and other factors will influence your decision as well.

If you are interested in learning when discounts for hotels, resorts and vacation packages became available in past years, I maintain a chart listing that historical information.

2. What’s the location like and what you're going to do when you get there.

Seems kind of early in the planning process, doesn't it? I mean, you haven't even decided on lodging & accommodations, who might attend, what are the activities! Well, trust me, you need to do some preliminary research before you go any further. There is so much to do, and everything hinges on the location and facilities available when you get there. Your exact plans will come together after you make this decision. Depending on the reunion location, you may find certain restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels and resorts that are much more convenient, for instance.

You'll need some good basic help with planning, and something that will give you an overview of the attractions, the entertainment, etc. I list tools and guides on my planning page; they are available for download and as a discount through this site.

3. What is the length of your reunion.

You probably thought that was part of #1 above, didn't you? But after you learn how many people might attend and then trying to match up the location, you may re-think your plans. Our first reunion lasted 5 days. We had a small family of 15-20 people back then. Growth! We have a group of 50+ people now, and things suddenly change. We now limit it to 2-4 days.

The larger the groups, the longer it takes to complete activities, get started on time, and so forth. You may think if this is the case then we need longer reunions. Well, it’s been my experience that the larger the groups, the more anxiety and absence of self-space to cause greater tension. Believe me, that’s the last thing you want at a reunion!

4. How’s everyone going to get there.

If your family is like mine, they seem to come from all corners of the globe. For this, consult the Transportation page here on the site. If families will be flying to your destination, it is a good idea to have your family members start checking out airfares right away, and keep checking them. The fares fluctuate wildly and if you catch a good one, you'll need to grab it quickly. We have great tips to help you out.

5. Where you will be staying.

First you'll have to identify all the hotel, lodging, resorts, and camping within a 20 minute drive of your reunion site. You can visit the local area’s chamber of business to identify the lodging available. Again, it is important to identify lodging that will accommodate large numbers of people. Don’t ever go with the rack rate. Being a part of the industry, I will teach you the tricks to getting the best rate, just visit the travel section of the site.

If you're considering an all-inclusive stay, you will want to visit with the reunion location inside sales department, if possible visit the person and site in person, gather photos and details about location. A tip is to look at their website to learn more and gather more details before you visit or talk to them in person. You may also want to read my analysis on reunion location differences and best values.

6. How you're getting around at the location (if you're flying).

There are lots of options. Visit the Transportation page to learn how to save on your transportation to and from the airport.

That's it! Seriously, everything else is "cherry."

Visit the rest of the site on how to plan for your meals, create special events and learn all kinds of other cool planning tips, but these are the basics. Enjoy your planning!

By the way, if you're just starting to plan your family reunion and wondering how you are going to afford it, be sure to read the page titled Ways to Save for Your Family Reunion Vacation - a collection of tips and tricks to help you sock away the money for your next trip.


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