Reunion Refresh By Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.

Family reunions are cherished events that allow relatives to reconnect, share stories, and create new memories. However, following the same formula year after year can become monotonous. April is a typical time to refresh, revamp, and renew. Just like spring cleaning, a refresh in reunion planning can provide new ideas. Here are five items to consider sprucing up to give your next gathering a boost.

  1. Budget. Taking a careful look at your expenses for recent reunions can give you an insight into what is costing the most and how you can be a bit more frugal. Use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to track all items required for your reunion.
  2. Contacts List. This is a good time to update your reunion list (add new members, remove anyone who has passed away, and update addresses, phone numbers and email addresses).  Consider expanding your list to a family directory beyond contact information, by including birthdays and significant milestones. This can be distributed at the reunion and updated each year. It’s a practical way to stay connected and keep track of the growing family tree.
  3. Venue. Can your reunion benefit from a change of scenery? If your budget allows look around for a new venue for a one-time celebration for a milestone (25 or 50 years), or if you have an annual gathering try alternating places. Ask attendees for suggestions and try to narrow the choices to two or three and take a poll either via email or using a free service such as Google Forms or a fee-based service such as Survey Monkey
  4. Inventory. If you hold a reunion in the same location every year, chances are you have a stockpile of standard supplies. Set time aside to take inventory tossing any old or outdated items and making a list of what needs to be added to your staples. Then look for sales and go shopping!
  5. Activities. Find new ways to keep members of all ages engaged. To start, elevate your family reunion by selecting an exciting theme. Whether it’s a decade party, cultural heritage celebration, or a sports-themed event, a unique theme can set the tone and encourage participation. Ask family members to dress according to the theme and decorate the venue to match. This will create a fun, immersive environment that’s different from past reunions. Talent shows, karaoke, and scavenger hunts are good ideas to bring everyone together.

You don’t have to make too many changes all at once. Remember, the goal is to celebrate your family’s bond, enjoy new experiences, and create lasting memories.