6 Keys to a Fantastic Family Reunion
Try these foolproof ideas so that your next family reunion is the best ever.
Author: Alicia C.
In every family there's an artist, a planner and one who gets along well with everyone. Each of these individuals can be of great use in organizing your next family reunion if you need others to pitch in.
"I'm the planner of my family. Since I was a little girl, my cousins had me organizing things. That's why when we decide we want our kids to know each other better, they choose me to organize the reunion," Claudia Spada, a Mexican mother who lives in south Florida said. "But to deal with the people who leave everything for the last minute, I have to send my grouchy Uncle Daniel."
Claudia and other friends offered me valuable tips when I decided to have a reunion for all the children of my in-laws to celebrate their anniversary. We're talking about 32 people, 12 of which were children. I did it and I'll tell you how!
1. Write down everything. This is the first thing you should do. Have a list always at hand – in your cell phone, computer or in a notebook. Keep an agenda and include the preferences of family members, who is in charge of what and how the costs will be divided.
2. Choose a theme. This helped put us on the same page when it was time to share ideas. We decided to concentrate on the childhood of my in-laws. With this in mind, we organized activities that were popular when they were young, like playing bochas – a ball game inspired by the Italian bocce. It was also easier to choose a menu and design shirts we all wore the day of the party.
3. Decide what the budget will be. Erika Torres knows from experience how important it is to avoid disagreements over money. For the family reunion she had with her big Puerto Rican family in the spring, she and her sisters decided the total costs would be divided evenly. "It was the fairest, and it was the best thing to do when it was time to share the cost," she assured.
4. Share the work. My brothers-in-law who live in Brazil and Mexico could do very little to help with things such as the food or helping to suggest options for the location of the party. But they still did their fair share by designing and having the shirts made, as well as bringing sweets from their countries. It was good to divide the tasks just as my friend Lucia Ubiera recommended. She had a reunion for 50 people outside Orlando. "My sister in Santo Domingo brought party favors for all the children in the family," she said.
5. Make it a democratic process. If everyone's opinion is taken into account, it's less likely to create drama. But of course, the hosts will have the final word. For example, for my in-laws' party, we decided together it was best to have our reunion close to their house, since they could no longer travel long distances.
Susana Quispe, a Peruvian who had a reunion for 20 cousins in the Big Apple, told us that in her case everyone was in agreement. "After the reunion in New York, those of us with little children would go to a nearby amusement park."
6. Make the most of each individual's talents. As I mentioned before, in each family there's a little bit of everything. That's why you shouldn't be scared to ask for help. In our family, my brother-in-law plays guitar quite well. A nephew plays the accordion, and my husband can sing. With them leading us, we serenaded my mother-in-law who was so happy she cried. Imagine how she felt when she heard her children singing her favorite tangos.
Aura Carvajal, a Honduran friend, says the key is assigning tasks to those who are the perfect fit: the people who like to cook should be in charge of the food, those who are artistic can be in charge of decorations, etc. She had a family reunion in a national park in Texas and remembers it fondly. "My sister is a master in the kitchen when it comes to making sweets. For our family reunion we went camping and the first night she gave us fruit preserves she had made with our favorite fruits. This sweetened the whole reunion," she said.