Plan an unforgettable family reunion

By Felicia D. Pinkney 

Who says you can’t host the perfect family reunion? Of course, you can’t help it if the potato salad is too salty (remember last year?), or if a dozen kids go home covered in ant bites (three reunions ago).

As the party planner, however, it’s up to you to make sure family members have a blast and that they look forward to your next gathering.

Here’s how to host a rockin’ family reunion for kinfolk of all ages:

The best-laid reunion plans

First, assemble a committee of reliable, fun-loving family members and begin planning at least a year ahead. That extra time allows attendees to budget, make travel arrangements, and take off from work, says Certified Meeting Professional Shelley Pigeon Rote, of Signature Destination Management, an event creation and management company in New Orleans.

A year is also enough time to gather input from family about what they’d like to eat, see, and do at the reunion.

“A survey ahead of time is the best way to avoid conflicts,” Pigeon Rote says. Survey sites such as surveymonkey.com and www.zoomerang.com are a great way to accomplish this. Plus, they’re free or fairly inexpensive.

While you’re at it, ask family members to pass along cherished recipes so you can publish them in a book — if your budget allows — by the time the event rolls around.

Go social media

Once the plans are all set, use social media to build hype about your reunion with a blog, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

You can even have a Twitter party with your own hashtag, such as #davisreunion11, and have family members tweet about the reunion before, during, and after the event.

Family reunion games

Now for the fun stuff: Games and activities.

“Playing games is the best way to discover one another’s personalities and often find similar traits among family members,” Pigeon Rote says. “The games can be age-specific — like video games, board games, or cards.”

The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas:

  • Speed relating — Set a timer for 2-4 minutes and have family members get to know each other fairly quickly by rotating to the next relative whenever the bell rings.
  • Tug-of-war — Pit family vs. family and hand out a “golden rope” trophy, which gets passed along to the winning family at the next reunion.
  • Treasure hunt — Have them search for small prizes that have been hidden throughout the venue. These could include gift cards, movie tickets, or whatever your budget allows.
  • Water balloon dodgeball — Anyone who is drenched is obviously out of the game. Driest person wins.
  • Storytelling — Put together a small skit that illustrates your family history. Have an elderly relative narrate, while the children and teens star in the show. Get a multimedia-savvy relative to record and post it to your blog or YouTube channel.

After your event, send a follow-up survey asking family members what they liked or didn’t like. Then get ready for the next one — because you’ll probably be asked to host again!

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