Reduce Tension at Your Summer Family Reunion

Planning a family reunion can be tough, especially when you have issues to deal with such as adult sibling rivalry and family members in addiction recovery or when you are coming together for the first time after a death in the family.  But, it isn’t impossible. Read on for a few tips from Reunions Magazine for making the day special and steps you can take to reduce tension on everyone.

Pick a Family-Friendly Venue

While this might seem like a no-brainer, the type of venue you select shouldn’t just cater to children. You’ll want a location that is in closest proximity to the majority of your guests. Consider features such as wheelchair ramps and a number of easily accessible bathrooms if you have elderly grandparents making an appearance.

If you have a family member trying to stay sober, look for a venue that doesn’t allow alcohol. Not only will this reduce drama for everyone, but will eliminate the possibility of any of your loved ones driving while impaired at the conclusion of the day’s festivities. (Tip: These drinks are fun, fruity, and will liven up your party without a single drop of alcohol.)

Consider Kid Activities

Incorporating kid-friendly activities into your family reunion can significantly enhance the enjoyment and engagement of younger attendees. One standout option is to include a well-reviewed karaoke machine, which promises to deliver entertainment for the whole family. Karaoke not only provides a fun platform for children to express themselves but also encourages family members of all ages to join in, sing along, and maybe even showcase some hidden talents. This activity fosters a lively, inclusive atmosphere, making your family gathering memorable for participants across generations.

Squash Sibling Rivalry at the Gates

It’s difficult enough to get a large group together and even more so when there are decades of hurt and hateful feelings to overcome. Make it clear well before the party date that your family reunion is not the time or place to hash out old rivalries.

It will help to have a large venue where everyone can have their own personal space. An outside location, such as a park, is an exceptional choice as the inherent nature of the outdoors not only encourages good moods, but will keep the opposing parties from being cooped up together.

Consider Costs

If your family is like most, you will have some relatives that can afford the luxury travel with ease and others who struggle to make ends meet. It’s easy to get carried away making grand plans, but you must consider the financial impact of your epic adventure. If possible, schedule several months in advance and contact local hotels for group rates. Many offer significant discounts for groups of 15 or more and may be able to put you on the same floor if requested. (Tip: Check out Southwest’s Group Travel Program for lower rates for your party of 10 or more.) Many venue types offer discounted rates for Friday and Sunday afternoons.

Have Ways to Break Away

Ensuring that family members have the opportunity to break away for some privacy during a reunion is essential for a balanced and enjoyable gathering. Utilizing a walk score map to identify walkable areas nearby can be a great way to indicate where family members can go for a bit of time to themselves. These areas provide a perfect escape for those seeking a moment of solitude or a peaceful walk, contributing to a more relaxed and fulfilling reunion experience.

Acknowledge Empty Chairs

The first holiday or big family gathering after the death of a family member is almost always the hardest. Acknowledge your loved ones with a moment of silence, a group prayer, or a lit candle in their honor. It’s important that you and your family move forward for the sake of everyone’s emotional and mental well-being. Don’t try and stop people from talking and sharing stories about the missing mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, or niece or nephew as this is all part of the healing process.

Don’t Shear the Black Sheep

There’s one in almost every family tree. The black sheep often becomes the white elephant in the room at family gatherings. Often, this “odd man out” has been blacklisted for offenses he or she may have long overcome. It may be a drug or alcohol problem, long dead love triangle, or they may simply have a personality that makes them a bitter pill to swallow.

Don’t leave this person out unless they are a threat to other family members. Unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you have no idea what they’re going through. They could be in the throes of addiction recovery or depression and may truly need the support of their family.

Family reunions are almost guaranteed to include some amount of stress, especially if you’re the one planning it, but with these tips, you can make the experience much more pleasurable for all involved (including yourself).