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Planning a fun and stress-free get together with your extended family can seem like an impossible feat.

50 years ago, families tended to stick together, perhaps moving to the next town for a change of scenery, but nowadays, families are more likely to be spread out across the world. Add in the stress of how far to extend the invitations to extended family, and how to take care of the elderly relatives, and it can often feel like planning a Skype catch up might be easier. However, when it finally comes together, you’ll be grateful to have all of your family in one place, even if it only happens once every ten years.

Plan in advance

The first step to planning your perfect family reunion is to pick a date well in advance so that you can almost guarantee that no one will already have plans. Remember that choosing a time around a public holiday might make it easier for everyone to travel, but it can also make it more expensive, and increase the chances that people will double book. Once you’ve set the date, make it clear to everyone that you will be sticking to it.

Choose a versatile venue

Planning a family picnic might sound idyllic for December, but without being sure of the weather, this can end in disaster. Choose a versatile venue that has adequate space for everyone. Planning to be outdoors is fine, but it’s always good to make sure you have a backup indoor venue. The location is also key, as hosting it somewhere that is very convenient for one family and very inconvenient for everyone else will likely cause problems.

Home cooking or catering?

If you’re expecting a huge crowd, booking a caterer will probably be your best option. If your family enjoy the tradition of cooking together then everyone pitching in will be more favourable. If you don’t want to place the responsibility of feeding everyone on one person’s shoulders, then hiring a caterer or hosting a potluck will be much easier and cause less stress for everyone.

Give everyone equal attention

The best part about getting everyone together is finding out what everyone has been up to. It’s important to make sure everyone’s achievements are celebrated equally. One relative might be recently engaged, while another might have taken the decision to foster a child. Find out well in advance if people will be making any announcements so that no one person overshadows the celebration or causes any family disputes. Planning a cake for one person to celebrate a recent engagement while failing to acknowledge another family member’s wedding is likely to sour the experience.

On the day: Don’t overplan

Once you’ve settled on the location and you’re sure there will be food and drink ready on the day, stop planning. Let the family reunion flow naturally and avoid planning every step of the day. Planning a single activity can be a fun way to bring everyone together, but this isn’t essential for many families.

Whether you’re planning a regular gathering, or a once-in-a-decade family reunion, leave room for everyone to spend plenty of time catching up. They’ll have a much more enjoyable time and will definitely be keen to come back.

Have you planned a family reunion before? Share with us in the comments.

  • Family reunions is something what I grew up with and what my family in the Netherlands still often organises and celebrates.
    In our family tents are set up on a camping spot and each member brings something to eat/drink. Often games are played and walks are made and most of all it’s a time of reconnecting, contact and fun with each other

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  • Oh god I can just imagine our family reunion. For starters half wouldn’t even show up. The other half would be full of arguments

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  • If you are having people who can’t walk far, before choosing a destination, check the distance and surface necessary to walk, use a gopher, push a wheelchair, put picnic chairs etc. on, and importantly the availability of toilets. Also check parking, and public transport if it may be needed.
    We have a lady who checks out places in advance for Ladies Group outings to picnics, cafes and other outings. One she checked had very narrow uphill paths and no parking close enough.

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  • What a special and beautiful thing to do.

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  • Also need venue with space so oldies with wheelchairs walking sticks etc are not banging into things and can move around easily.

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  • I haven’t planned one but my parent’s extended family have hosted reunions. My Dad’s family has mostly passed, but my Mum’s family still have an annual catch up. I think with these in general it’s about keeping it simple. It’s less about the food and bits, and more about catching up and spending time together. Keep it simple.

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  • I grew up close to my family. All birthdays were celebrated and grandparents aunties, uncles and cousins all would turn up to celebrate each others birthday (very common to do in the Netherlands). With a big family this meant we saw each other often and had kind of a family reunion all the time.

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  • I am trying to plan a family birthday – so stressful – thanks for your tips.

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  • The Space Cube holds my son’s school supplies!

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  • Last year my family of my fathers side had a family reunion. Sadly enough it was impossible for me to attend with most of my family living in the Netherlands and me in Australia. I saw all the nice pictures, it looked great ! Next time I’ll travel to Holland I sure will announce I would love to have a family reunion !

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  • Family reunion is a great thing it could happing with people

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  • No point me planning a family reunion. I know no one would turn up because everyone hates each other. Couldn’t even unite

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  • Family Reunions are such a joy when everyone gets in together and helps to prepare, plan and enjoy the day. We kept catering simple and easy to cook with lots of nibbles.


    • An easy to get to location helps and no fuss venue for families and children.

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