Friday, September 14, 2012

10 Tips for Planning a Memorable Family Reunion

1.    Approximately 12-14 months prior to your reunion, check for possible venues with Visitor's Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce in one or more destinations that you feel would be of interest to your family. Keep in mind that off peak seasons and/or midweek dates can offer great savings. Select those that you feel would best meet your family’s needs. ShoreWay Acres Inn offers a Venue Comparison Checklist Template to assist with  this process. Please email us at to request a copy.

2.     Once you have selected potential destinations and venues, request proposals from each venue for   consideration. Some venues offer “Request for Proposal" forms on their websites. For ShoreWay Acres’form, please click:
3.      Upon receipt of your proposals, consider taking a survey of some or all family members to help select dates, locations and budgets that are convenient for the majority of the family.  This will also help to determine the level of interest and estimated attendance.  To request a sample family survey, please email us at

4.      Once your family has responded to your survey, arrange for site visits to the venues that are of most interest.  If possible, bring some other family members along to assist in your selection.  For efficiency, try to keep your “committee” to three or four people.

5.      Upon selection of your venue, request a written sales agreement outlining the main details and deposit requirements to secure your dates.  This should be finalized as soon as possible, particularly for popular destinations since other reunion planners will be doing the same. Ask your venue to provide a reservation form for family members to complete themselves. This will avoid your having to handle details such as dietary needs, preferred bed types, etc.

 6.    If possible, arrange to do most of your other planning via email communication between yourself and your venue’s representative. This is very helpful in keeping a complete record of all details while preventing errors in communication. It also avoids delays that occur due to phone tag.

7.      Rather than plan every activity, plan one meal or main activity each day for the whole family to come together.  Provide a list of other optional activities for family members to do on their own or in smaller groups. Moms and daughters may want to go to shopping or to a day spa , dads and sons might want to go fishing or play golf, parents might want to spend time with the kids at the playground or pool, etc.  Flexibility is the key to an enjoyable and memorable reunion.

 8.      Arrange for one central gathering place at your venue for all of your reunion days.  Then, family members can come and go as they please, but always know where to find other family members. This can be the single most important factor in a successful reunion and is often overlooked.

 9.    Consider a reunion project as a way to unify everyone. One idea might be to create a family cookbook by asking everyone to bring a favorite recipe. Copies can be placed in binders and distributed.  Recipes can also be added at each future reunion as a family tradition. Another idea might be to create a family tree wall hanging to be displayed and updated at each reunion.The ladies might enjoy a scrapbooking session to preserve family photos.

10.  Consider holding some fundraising events within the family to create a reunion treasury. This can be used to pay for extra expenses and even a few frills. Raffles and family yard sales are popular ideas. Children can contribute in their own way with car washes, lemonade stands and the like.

Some grownups provide perpetual reunion entertainment!