By Deanna Talwalkar
As a child, the Fourth of July holiday meant family reunions at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park. For years, I spent my Independence Day helping my mom make a watermelon boat for the potluck dinner, eating fried chicken and homemade ice cream, and exploring the trails of Blue Licks Battlefield with my cousins. Although our family reunions have changed since I was a child, memorable family reunions do not have to be difficult to organize. If you are helping to plan a family reunion, following a few simple steps will guarantee a good time for family members of all ages.
The first step in planning a family reunion is picking a date in advance. In order to have the best turn out at the reunion, you should set a date several months to a year ahead of time. Especially if you have family members who are travelling to attend the reunion, you’ll want to set the date early. Summer is a convenient time for reunions since kids are out of school and the weather is generally good. You could also schedule your reunion around a milestone birthday or anniversary for one of your family members.
After scheduling the date, you will want to pick the place for the reunion. If you are going to have it at a venue other than a family member’s house, like a public park or private club, you will want to make sure to reserve the venue for the chosen date as early as possible.
After nailing down the date and venue, send out either paper or email invitations to family members. As you start to receive RSVPs for the reunion, enlist volunteers to help with the reunion. For example, one family member could organize the décor, another could organize the activities, one could plan the food, and one photography-loving family member could be in charge of taking pictures the day of the reunion. One effective way to gather volunteers would be to email family members asking for them to sign up to assist in the way they would like. You could also set up a family reunion website – a central place where volunteers can sign up, information for the reunion site can be shared, and family members can post pictures after the reunion.
One of the most important elements of your reunion will be the food. There are several options for how to provide the food for the day. The event could be catered or it could be picnic-style with everyone bringing their own dinner. Probably the most popular option is to have a potluck with everyone bringing a dish to share. For potlucks, you could have people sign up to bring either an appetizer, side dish, meat, salad, drinks or desserts, so you don’t have too many of one category.
One way to plan entertainment for the reunion is to pick a venue with built-in entertainment, such as a park or a swimming pool. Also, bring a few board games, crayons and coloring books to entertain the kids in case of rainy weather. Another fun family reunion activity is to have everyone bring a picture of themselves as a child or baby. Set out all the pictures and have guests try to guess who is in the picture. You could also plan to honor one family member who is celebrating a big birthday or other milestone. Have guests bring pictures of the honoree or share a funny story or sweet sentiment about the person. Make your next family reunion the most memorable one, yet!