“Family Reunions: Where Do We Begin?” Ensign, June 1996, 71–72
“They’re here!” The cry rang out across the yard as family members converged to welcome long-awaited cousins to the family reunion. Few moments in life yield such richness of warm and loving feelings as do times of joyous family gathering. Sometimes just one determined individual can begin the process of organizing a reunion. The following ideas may help:
Determine the size of the group. Immediate family members may wish to gather at least annually. For extended families, such as those descended from a common grandparent or other ancestor, meeting every three to five years may be sufficient. Invite everyone, even those distant cousins or aunts you’ve never met.
The size of the group usually determines the length of the reunion. As a rule, the larger the group, the shorter the reunion. Small groups that can meet at a significant location such as “the old homestead” may wish to spend up to a week together. However, for groups of 25 to 75 people, one to three days are often adequate. And larger extended family groups may meet for only a long single afternoon. One family met for two days with immediate family members and then with the extended family from the father’s side of the family for the final potluck dinner.
Set a date and time at least a year in advance. Some families choose to celebrate holidays together; others prefer summer vacation time for reunions.
Choose the location. If one large home will not accommodate your group, consider reserving a campground, college dormitory (between sessions), or city park. Some hotel chains offer reduced rates for large groups who reserve rooms well in advance. Vacation homes, private facilities, or local community resources may be available for a small fee. It is a good idea to avoid resorts, entertainment parks, and similar reunion settings where family members will be involved in other activities instead of being together.
Make committee assignments. The larger the expected group, the more important committees become to the smooth running of the reunion. For very large groups, tasks within each committee should be further delegated.
Food: Plan which meals the reunion committee will provide and whether or not potluck dishes will be required. Determine the menu, buy the food, and schedule everyone attending to help prepare a meal, or clean up. Rather than assign a single family to prepare a meal, it’s a good idea to assign members of various families to work together. This is more fun and allows at least one parent to watch children.
Scheduling and fund-raising: Some facilities require a deposit. After determining where the reunion will be held, calculate all shared expenses for the event and assess each individual family on a per-person basis. In subsequent years, the extended family may prefer to hold fund-raising events to help with costs.
Activities: Schedule events with plenty of time in between for visiting. Activities for a one-day reunion may include a potluck luncheon, family introductions, photo sessions, a craft auction, team sports, family history activities, or sing-alongs. Longer reunions can also include talent shows, a family home evening, family prayers, campfire programs or bedtime stories, craft projects, entertainment, games, sight-seeing, or a family organizational meeting. Plan no more than one major activity each morning, afternoon, and evening.
Getting together can be fun for the entire family and will help family members rediscover friendships and draw needed strength from one another.