Family Reunion Planning Committees

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Family Reunion Chairperson

  • Provides coordination between other committees and provides "big-picture" guidance for reunion planning and execution.
  • Recognize and thanks volunteers
  • Welcome family members when they arrive at your family reunion and help everyone feel comfortable
  • Troubleshoot any problems

Food Chairperson & Committee

(I highly recommend having a committee to work with the food chairperson. Feeding a large group of people with different tastes is perhaps one of the, most difficult parts of planning a family reunion. You can make it easy on yourself by selecting a menu that relates to your theme, or perhaps one that celebrates your family’s heritage. Take advantage of family cooking specialties such as Dutch Oven cooks, Aunt Mo;s onion rings, Grandma’s potato salad,, Uncle Richards’ Homemade Root Beer or Uncle Ben’s Turkey Steaks. Cooking hot dogs over the fire, Tacos in a Bag or using Pie Irons (recipes for these foods can be found at can also lighten the food committee’s load. You can ask families to provide their own lunch but eat as a group for breakfast and dinner.)

  • Plan menus
  • One option is to find a caterer or restaurant to do at least part of the work for you.
  • For group meals, assign each family (or families) to one night of dinner duty or another meal.
  • Determine and reserve needed equipment (tents, barbecue cookers, tables, etc.).
  • Purchase required nonperishable. Arrange for their storage and delivery to the site.
  • Make assignments for preparing meals, cooking and cleanup
  • Make shopping list
  • Buy paper plates, napkins, tablecloths and plastic silverware
  • Ice for keeping food cold
  • Provide bags and boxes for garbage and don’t forget a container for recycling aluminum cans.
  • Make assignments for set up and clean up at each meal.

Family History Chairperson

  • Purchase or make a guest book to collect signatures, addresses, and other important information, as well as serve as a permanent record of the reunion.
  • If you have a large family, you may want to provide name badges to help family members become better acquainted with each other.
  • Make displays of family history pictures or a family tree wall chart.
  • Make a family history page for each person at your family reunion to fill out. Ideas for questions and sample pages can be found at Journal Page Samples & Question Ideas.
  • Prepare a family history presentation as determined by the reunion committee.

Invitation and PR Chairperson

  • Provide decorations, invitations, and signs
  • Invitations should create interest and anticipation
  • Be sure to include directions to the reunion site.
  • Mention if the guests should bring along any special clothing or equipment.
  • Include special assignments such as food assignments, decoration assignments or activity assignments. (The more assignments you give out the better participation you will have.)
  • Make signs to post along roadways directing your family members to the reunion site.
  • If RSVP is required, include an RSVP date, along with an e-mail address, phone number, or mailing address to which they can respond.

Events Chairperson

  • Plan activities and entertainment
  • Make assignments to individual families (when our family gets together, each of the original six children plan an activity. This year we are having a circus/carnival theme at our family reunion and each of the “Big Six” will provide a carnival type game.)
  • Responsible for awards, certificates and prizes
  • Arrange for some ongoing activities that family members can do on their own such as basketball, croquet, badminton, and volleyball.
  • You don’t need to occupy everyone all the time, but planned activities and ice-breakers at your family reunion will provide an easy way for people who do not know each other well to comfortable spend time together. Include activities that will appeal to all ages and further family knowledge of shared heritage. You may also want to award prizes for special distinctions such as oldest family member or longest distance traveled to attend.

Photography Chairperson

  • In charge of the photographer, videographer, and memory album. Hires professionals or takes responsibility for taking photos themselves.
  • Can put together a digital scrapbook of the family reunion for raising reunion funds.
  • Schedules time for “whole group” family reunion photo.
  • Takes individual photos of families in costume.
  • Can put together a family slide or presentation of the previous years family reunion to be viewed at one of the evening presentations.
  • Distributes copies of family reunion portraits – don’t forget to include postage when charging for photos.

T-Shirt & Souvenir Chairperson

  • Order T-shirts or other family reunion souvenirs
  • Find a company that designs T-shirts or a family member to design a custom shirt.
  • Determine sizes and number of shirts.
  • Collect T-shirt money
  • Distribute shirts at the family reunion

Finance & Fundraising Chairperson

  • Plan fund raising activities for your family reunion such as an auction or raffle.
  • Manage all funds and banking responsibilities
  • Collect all monies from fees and fundraising activities.
  • Manage donations and expenses associated with planning and executing the family reunion
  • Track Expenses
  • Make financial report available to reunion chairperson and family

Facilities Chairperson

If you are having your family reunion at a hotel or resort, you may want to have a facilities chairperson. A facilities chairperson should determine the following and make reservations with the most appropriate site:

  • Your group’s per night budget, Number of rooms required, Hotel’s location, Amenities (on-site restaurant, pool, in-room kitchens etc.), Meeting space and catering services available, Shuttle service and parking
  • Negotiate and book facilities and coordinate lodging
  • Meet with hotel staff, visit facility
  • Be the liaison between hotel and family members during family reunion activities.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Family Reunion Chairperson document

Planning a Family Reunion Checklist

12 Months prior

(Make these decisions before leaving your reunion) Planning in advance will increase the odds that more people will be able to attend the reunion, which translates into more fun for everyone. By booking early, you can most likely secure better rates and/or reserve your preferred hotel or retreat site, flights and other travel arrangements. Most campgrounds and parks can be booked a year in advance.

  • Set date
    • The best of all situations is to hold your family reunion at the same time every year. Choose a holiday such as Memorial Day or Labor Day or a weekend such as the third weekend in August etc. Finally, stick to your decision. Changing dates mid-stream can create a huge amount of additional work.

  • Choose location
    • Aim for a family reunion location that is most accessible and affordable to the majority of people you want to attend. If family members are located in one area, then select a reunion location that’s nearby. If everyone is scattered, then choose a central location to help cut down on travel expenses. Most locations will need to be reserved a year in advance, campgrounds, hotels and conference centers, cruises, condos, resorts and parks etc.
    • If possible arrange an on site inspection of your family reunion site. You will be able to check out your reunion site amenities and recognize challenges you may need to plan around. At a campground or park, check for fire pits, covered bowery or picnic tables and benches. If your site is a hotel or condo you will be able to assess for yourself banquet facilities, room amenities, meeting room sizes and cleanliness of the location.
    • Contact local hotels and reserve blocks of rooms for out of town visitors

  • Choose a reunion theme
    • Creating a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend. It also makes things more fun when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion. Family history themes are especially popular, as are family reunions which celebrate a very special family member’s birthday or anniversary, or the family’s cultural heritage.
  • Compile a list of family members and update mailing and email lists
    • A clipboard with a list of family names can be passed around during the family reunion. Family members can make corrections and add new emails and address to the list. Be sure and assign a family member to be in charge of this list.

9 months Prior

  • Make final reservations–remember that some family members will have to cancel, and others may decide to show up at the last minute.
  • Schedule events and activities that require advance registration or booking
  • Make contact with family members by email to keep them up to date on family reunion plans. Encourage email contacts to help spread the word.

6 Months Prior

  • Have planning meeting either on phone or in person with committee chairmen/ make assignments
    • Send “save the date” cards or emails- include cost per person or family and what is included in the ticket price, if you are charging admission fees. Inform of any fundraising activities you will be having- such as a family auctions so that family members can be preparing items for donation.
    • Confirm reservations
    • Make final decisions

3 Months Prior

  • Make special assignments such as activities and games , so volunteers have time to prepare and purchase supplies for their assignment
  • Order souvenirs, T-shirts etc.

2 Months Prior

  • Send detailed schedule and assignments
    • Directions on how to get to the family reunion site.
    • Date, time, and location of the reunion.
    • Remind family members to bring their fund raising donations
    • Remind family members of assignments
  • Gave a confirmation call to caters, photographers etc.
  • Start purchasing non-perishable items: dry goods, decorations, supplies, etc. Watch for sales to get the best prices.

1 Month Prior

  • Review final details with family reunion committee
  • Confirm with relatives who are bringing food or other supplies.
  • Contact restaurants or caterers with a final guest count if necessary.
  • Order any products or supplies that must be delivered to assure timely delivery.

Week Before

  • Get chairs, tables, grills and other items
  • Buy last-minute decorations and supplies and perishable items
  • Make final preparations such as signs and welcome banners.

Day Of Family Reunion

  • Set up and decorate family reunion site
  • Post flyers with family reunion schedule for family to reference
  • Welcome family members as they arrive at your family reunion

Click here to download a PDF version of the family reunion checklist

3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion

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Planning a family reunion can be a nightmare. But the good news is that you are not alone, we can do this together. I don?t know your specific situation but I can tell you that if you will follow these 3 important keys you will be on your way to having a successful family reunion. So let?s get to work- first key is…

Choose a permanent reunion date

This is the most important aspect of reunion planning- it’s not much of a reunion if no one can attend.

When we began planning the “Stewart” family reunion we were only working around about 20 people and it was fairly easy to find a date that was good for everyone, but now that we are more than 100 family members strong we would never be able to find a date that met everyone?s needs. Lucky for us, about 20 years ago we set Labor Day weekend as the permanent date for our family reunion.

We have found that holding the reunion at the same time every year helps family members plan their busy lives around that weekend. They always know when the Stewart reunion will be and although the location may change the date never does. Unbelievable but true- we usually have all but about 3 family members attend our reunion each year.

If you can?t choose a permanent date, plan your next reunion date before you end the reunion you are currently attending. Planning in advance will increase the odds that more people will be able to attend the reunion, which translates into more fun for everyone. If you book early, you can most likely get better rates and/or reserve your preferred hotel or retreat site, flights and other travel arrangements. Most campgrounds and parks can be booked a year in advance.

Last of all, stick to your decision. Changing dates in the middle of planning can create a huge amount of anxiety and additional work.


People always wonder why we have such good attendance at our reunions and I tell them, “Because everyone has a job!” There is always someway that everyone can contribute to your reunion no matter what their age or their ability. You can assign a couple of pre-teen girls to do a story time or games for the younger children at your reunion, ask a 5 year old to bring a can of olives or assign someone that loves music to lead a sing- a- long.

It’s impossible to organize a reunion by yourself, I know, because I„ve tried it. Not only that, but it is good to have the input of different family members’ points of views. Family members that have a responsibility feel greater ownership in the reunion.

Delegate tasks according to those with special talents, skills and connections. Our Uncle Ben owns a restaurant whose specialty is turkey steaks and quite often we have turkey steaks at our reunions or family parties. We have great Dutch oven cooks in our family and of course, we give them the opportunity to practice their skills. Use the resources that you have.

There are certain jobs at our reunions that have become tradition- for instance cousin R.D. and Uncle Richard always make the homemade root beer, Aunt Lynn is always in charge of Bunko and Uncle Steven always makes his Dutch oven potatoes.

So how do you put all these people and their great ideas together? Let me tell you how we do it. There are six original children in the Stewart family; we call them the “Big 6”. We schedule a planning meeting and ask that there be a representative from each Big 6 family at the meeting. These people become your liaison from each branch of the family.

At the meeting we discuss our plans and make assignments, that way every family has a representative and if they have concerns they can be addressed at that meeting and each families? fun ideas can be implemented. We ask for volunteers to be in charge of each major aspect of the reunion – food, family history, invitations, photography, games and activities, finances and facilities. The chairman of the committee, that?s me, takes the ideas and suggestions home and makes a master plan or schedule which is emailed to the committee members for their approval.

A reunion committee is essential to planning a smooth, successful family reunion. Be sure your chairman (if you?re reading this than the chairman is probably YOU) is creative, energetic and willing to put in the time and effort required to organize a reunion.

Planning a family reunion is a too big a job for one person, so make a checklist, get some help, put your entire family to work and let everyone share in the satisfaction of a job well done!

Select a Theme!

A theme gives your family get-together an added twist that can build excitement. Choosing a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend your reunion. Who wouldn?t want to attend a “Caveman” reunion? A theme also makes it more fun to plan when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion.

If you have a wedding anniversary or a significant birthday coming up in your family you could choose to celebrate around those special events. If your grandparents were married in the 50?s, plan a fifties reunion complete with poodle skirts and sodas. If Aunt Addie will be turning 70, celebrate with her by having a seventies party- make tie-dyed shirts and decorate with peace and flower power signs.

Just because it is a family reunion doesn?t mean the theme has to be centered on the family itself. Plenty of other party themes are perfect for a reunion. Plan a western, caveman, boot camp or other similar theme.

A few years ago my sister-in-law suggested that we have a caveman reunion and I was pretty nervous about it- caveman? How do we do a caveman reunion? But we all shared ideas at our planning meeting and guess what- our caveman reunion turned out to be one of our best family reunions ever.

Whatever theme you choose, design your decorations, food, activities and games around that theme. Your caveman theme might feature Brontosaurus burgers and a dinosaur egg hunt or a pirate theme might include Barbecued Parrot and a treasure hunt.

Planning a family reunion requires serious effort and thoughtful strategic planning but if will follow these 3 important keys you will be well on your way to a memorable and successful family reunion. And who knows- maybe they?ll want you to be in charge next year too.

Aunt MO

Click here to download a PDF version of the 3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion