Recently, I took on the huge task of hosting a family reunion. Having survived this effort with minimal stress and expense, I figured it might be a good idea to pass along some tips to everyone else.
Let’s consider the necessary elements to create a memorable family event:
INVITATIONS: I did not want to waste money on postage stamps. All invitations were sent via Facebook, email, text messages or word of mouth.
LOCATION: I happen to have a VERY large yard with lots of room for parking, tents, and tables, etc. I had no expense in renting a place to hold this function. However, if you must have a family reunion somewhere other than your home, consider a local park with shelters. At least, you won’t have to clean your house spotless, and work to get your yard work perfectly manicured. If you plan to have it at your home, you must be prepared for any type of weather. Don’t be shy about asking family members if they have canopies to share. At a large family function, you would be surprised at who has what you need and will share it.
Being prepared for any type of weather also means doing what you can to increase your guests comfort level if it’s too hot. Nothing worse than sitting around sweltering in the summer time heat without a breeze blowing anywhere. Check out this huge fan we placed at the picnic area where the food was located.
FOOD: This is where you can spend a tremendous amount of money if you don’t plan carefully. I chose to have a “pig picking” for my family reunion. It really is the least expensive way to go. For those of you are not in the Southern part of the United States, let me explain that a pig picking is simply a whole pig, dressed out, and cooked on a very large grill. After the pig is cooked, some of it is chopped for barbque, while the rest is left for to cut(or “pull”) as the family passes through the food line. I purchased a 120 pound pig, bought 80 pounds of charcoal, and my son in law brought in his cooker and roasted it for me.
I only provided the pig. Relatives were instructed to bring side dishes and beverages. I didn’t bother assigning side dishes, as that only adds to the hassle, and gave me something else to keep up with. Believe it or not, it worked out well. We had abundance and variety. There was MORE than we could have possibly eaten. I also suggested to the family that if they had extra coolers to fill them with ice and put their names on the coolers. I provided the paper products: Cups, napkins, plates, and utensils.
The time of year that you decide to hold your family reunion will determine what activities you can provide. As for me, I think I planned our family reunion on the hottest day of the year. Considering that, I made use of our pool to keep everyone cool and happy. I also rented a porta-john to provide the children with easy access to a toilet, and to prevent dripping bathing suits from going in and out of the house all day.
We also had a nice trampoline for the children to play on and a swing set also.
No event is complete without music. I have good friends who have Karaoke equipment because this is what they do as a side business. It’s good to have those kind of connections. If you are unable to afford such a set up, it’s still important to have music, even if you just plug in a radio outside. It really makes a difference.
HOUSE RULES: It might sound cold, but it will be necessary. If everyone knows what is allowed, and what is not, you will not have problems later. You will not know everyone who comes to your family reunion. So just put the house rules out there to avoid confusion and upset.
CONNECT: Share family photos from years gone by. Ask others in advance to bring photos that might be of interest to the family as well. I made copies of grandparents and great grandparents to share with those who wanted them. Speaking of photos….Ask everyone to take photos of the family reunion and create a memory album to share on Facebook, or an actual hardcopy to share next year.
This was a massive undertaking that cost me roughly $500.00 Considering that 80 plus people showed up, I fared well. I welcome your comments and suggestions as I plan to do this again next year. What did you do at your family event that worked well for you?