Group travel can be especially stressful when the group consists of 50 family members from all over the country. Use the tips below to make your next family reunion a successful, enjoyable experience for all.
Depending on the size of your reunion, you may need to delegate authority. Trying to do it all yourself for a 100-person reunion will have you tearing your hair out. One way to go is to take the committee approach. Hey, it works for the government, right? Try breaking up the reunion into smaller chunks and handing them off to Uncle Bob, Aunt Jane, and Cousin John. For instance:
- Lodging committee
- Activities committee
- Food committee
- Communication (mailing address acquisition, etc.) committee
- Keeping grouchy old Aunt Rose pacified committee
Feel free to elect yourself president and reserve veto authority, but don't micromanage. Remember, the committee approach should result in less work for you, not more.
Communication Tips for Planning a Family Reunion
As in all things, communication is the key to a successful reunion. The old-fashioned methods still work just fine, but technology is on your side here too. Use one or several of these methods to keep everybody on the same page:
Good Old Fashioned Family Reunion Updates Via Snail mail
Sending out a “save the date” card well in advance will give your family members plenty of time to plan for the reunion. Purchase these cards, or print them from pre-made templates on the web. Or go the do-it-yourself route and design your own for that personal touch. A second mailing sent closer to the event date with a detailed itinerary and possibly even a third “reminder” mailing couldn't hurt.
Family Reunion E-mail Newsletters
E-mails in the form of newsletters can keep everyone up to date and keep the event in the forefront of everyone's mind.
Create a Family Reunion Website
With options available from paid services to open-source, free content management systems, you could have a website that will inform and allow collaboration. Give Aunt Rose an open forum to discuss her distaste for the idea of family bungee-jumping. Imagine the ease of just telling everyone to visit your website for info, rather than sending out snail mail updates. Or set up a survey to determine where the reunion will be held. The web offers many possibilities, not the least of which is GroupTravel.com's free group event website.
The central purpose of a family reunion is, of course, to reunite family members and introduce those who've never met. Making the event truly memorable may take an extra nudge, though. One way to do this is to make the trip genuinely entertaining. Here's a few ways to keep boredom away:
Certain locations will offer their own entertainments. A reunion held in Las Vegas would certainly provide everyone with plenty to do, but it may be out of your family's budget. Give the location some thought and ask for input from the family. Perhaps a peaceful mountain retreat for those nature enthusiasts? Or a trip to the beach? Keeping the location as central as possible is an important consideration, but holding it in Mayberry will probably not be as exciting as holding it in New York City.
Let's face it. You haven't seen Uncle Frank since you were 12. You are going to need some icebreakers. Traditional choices range from the hokey (family scavenger hunt, family history reenactment skits) to the inevitable nostalgic (setting up a photo presentation). Try to think outside of the box on this one. Getting people talking, laughing, and debating is the goal. Aunt Rose can still get a kick out of watching Uncle Frank tie that bungee cord around his leg.
Most importantly, have fun
As the event planner, if you are not excited about the reunion and having at least a little bit of fun putting it together, odds are the rest of your family may be dreading it a little too. Relax. Keep in mind the end goals: Get everyone together. Bond with family. Have fun!