1. Plan ahead
Think through a schedule. Consider the needs of attendees which change from year to year. Post a schedule.
2. Anticipate needs
Moms need a break from kids. So schedule “Mom’s Lunch Out.” Dads are in charge of the kids. Dads do the same the next day!
Moms need a break from cooking. Plan a “cook-off;” kids shop, prepare, and clean! Mom pays. Or each family is in charge of one evening meal and “KP” one day. Folks are on their own for breakfasts and lunch with plenty of “fixins.”
For early risers, have a large tub filled with markers, scissors, papers, stickers, pipe cleaners each morning to entertain small kids.
3. Create silly traditions
Have “welcome goody bags.” Organizer does ones for grandchildren and each adult couple brings something for each couple’s bag. This year adults got a CD mix including favorite songs they submitted, a “woopee” cushion, homemade granola, nuts, and sermons on CD. The kids got water bottles (from the Dollar Store) with their names on in magic marker. They also got funky small balls, and mints. We go berry picking, have a dance party, a scavenger hunt. Our favorite tradition is creating “Warren Country’s largest banana split.” Buy a gutter from the hardware store, line with foil and fill with ice cream, bananas, chocolate, and whip cream toppings. Everyone digs in.
4. Lower expectations and grant grace
Do not discuss difficult issues. Family reunions are a time to celebrate what is good. Deal with hard issues at other times. You are going to disappoint someone and someone is going to disappoint you. So determine ahead to grant extra grace and assume the best. Be quick to apologize and ask forgiveness. Everything will not go as planned. Plans are always subject to change and flexibility is crucial.
From blogger Susan Yates who has five kids (including twins), 21 grandchildren and is a pastor’s wife.