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Monday Mom challenge: Plan a family reunion

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Reconnect with relatives

Do you remember running around with your cousins in Grandma's backyard? Idyllic times, weren't they? When did you last see those cousins? And have you been able to give your kids that same gift? Isn't it time for a family reunion?

Reconnect with relatives

Families seem to have become more and more geographically dispersed, and people seem busier than ever. Even if your extended family lives within a fairly tight terrestrial radius, it may have been quite some time since everyone -- and I mean everyone -- came together for a family gathering that wasn't associated with a major event or a holiday. Maybe it's time, then, to plan a family reunion.

Gauge interest and enlist some help

Talk to your siblings and cousins about your ideas for a family reunion. They probably will think it's a great idea even if they feel daunted by the planning. Get several family members to commit to the task. Much like planning any event, identify the jobs to be completed and dole them out. One person can coordinate the food, one can coordinate decor, one can devise games for the kids.

Finding a time

Choosing a time of year for your family reunion can be a little tricky, but planning well in advance is essential. With a large number of people potentially attending, space is a consideration. If your home (or whatever location you choose) is large enough to accommodate everyone indoors, then a snowy weekend in February will work just as well as a sunny June afternoon. If you need the outdoors for everyone to feel comfortable, then you are more limited in timing (and you're at the mercy of weather).

Although gathering at major holidays may seem the easiest at first glance, don't forget that family members may have expectations from in-laws at holidays, thus preventing them to committing to this event.

Once you've chosen the general time of year, the great scheduling task begins. Call, mail or email all family members and let them know what you are up to. Ask when they're available and then choose the day when most family members are available. This may take several rounds, but the more participation you have, the more fun it will be. And once the date is set, planning just takes off.

Choose a theme and activities

While not necessary, a theme and/or activities add fun to your event. Depending on your location and the time of year, a theme or activities may be obvious: A summer gathering at a lake, for example. But what about throwing some extra fun into the mix -- maybe a kids versus adults family Olympics, a family talent show or goofy family awards?

When planning a theme and activities, plan a variety of events in which everyone can participate. You don't want anyone to feel left out.

Make it a regular event

If the reunion is a success -- and chances are, it will be -- why not make it a regular event? Perhaps not every year, but every two or three years. And rotate the planning among family members, perhaps even different geographic locations. Before you know it, you will have strengthened family bonds, and your kids will have those idyllic memories with cousins -- and second cousins -- just like you do.

Share your best tip for planning a family reunion. Comment below!

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