What is a Family Reunion
A family reunion typically involves a group of extended family members getting together. Often, these are large events, and it’s not even necessary for all members of the family to know each other or to have met previously. While the oldest people in a family reunion will likely be first-degree relatives -- siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins -- the youngest generations may be second, third, or fourth-cousins.
Smaller family reunions are often possible. For example, first-degree relatives who live all over the country may make a point to gather and catch up. These reunions would include family members like grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
There are also some less conventional family reunions that take place. Children who have been put up for adoption may reunite with their birth parents, extended relatives, and siblings later in life. They may be able to locate each other through an adoption reunion registry or even via the power of social media. Similarly, sometimes half-siblings of sperm donors manage to find each other and meet in real life. A 2015 family reunion involved six of what turned out to be a total of 48 now adult children who were fathered by the same anonymous sperm donor. A donor sibling registry assists children of donors in locating each other.
Another type of family reunion is an international family reunification. For example, in August 2018, families separated across the border of North and South Korea were able to briefly reunite after decades apart. Though thousands of families long for news of their loved ones, only 89 families were given the opportunity to meet over the course of several days. Some were meeting grandchildren, nephews, and nieces that they didn’t previously know existed. Because of the situation in North Korea, South Korean families have no way to contact their relatives across the border or to even know if they are alive.
The Purpose of a Family Reunion
A family reunion gives families the opportunity to reunite (or even unite for the first time), have fun, and catch up. Distant family members get the chance to know each other and even learn about the family’s history. It gives people a sense of connection over shared heritage.
How to Prepare for a Family Reunion
For the sake of this article, we will focus on how to prepare for a conventional family reunion versus a reunion between adopted parties, children of sperm donors, or those who have been kept apart due to the international climate.
The further in advance that you plan, the better off you’ll be! Family members will have to take time off of work and school and make travel arrangements. Particularly if the family is spread out across the country or even the world, you’ll want to give six months to one year notice before the event.
You may decide for your family reunion to be a once-in-a-while event or a regularly scheduled happening that takes place once a year, once every five years, or once every ten years. It may be a day, weekend, or even week-long event. You could decide to have it at the same location each year or to take turns rotating between destinations.
One method for deciding on a location is simply to consider where is most convenient for everyone. If the majority of family members are living in one state or one region of the country, it makes sense for people to travel there. Additionally, if you have some relatives who are elderly and have difficulty with travel, everyone else can go to them so that they don’t have to be left out of the fun. See if there is one family member who is agreeable to playing host (or even several different family members if they live in the same town).
You may want to turn your family reunion into more of a vacation by booking a cruise or a resort. Some people even choose to host their family reunions at Disney World or other amusement parks. Resorts, ranches, and cruises sometimes have family reunion packages that you can book. The plus side of choosing this type of location is that there is less planning to do on your part. Entertainment and food can be part of the complete package deal. Additionally, there is less fighting over the bill since each person is paying their own way, versus an individual relative paying to host everyone in their home.
Another option is to plan a camping trip. Camping can be quite affordable (more than a cruise or resort) and no one person has to host. Kids and adults alike can enjoy camping, but remember that the elderly may find it difficult to physically manage.
It’s hard to plan a family reunion on your own. Give different family members different roles and delegate. For example, one family member can be in charge of entertainment, another can arrange food, one person can search for lodging and group discounts, and someone else can manage the budget. Speaking of budget, if you do decide to have one family member host, determine how much money will be needed for food and other costs, and make sure he or she gets compensated accordingly so there won’t be any anger or resentment later.
Family Reunion Ideas
- Host a Family History Trivia Night to see who knows the most about different family members and the family heritage in general.
- Have everyone bring clothes and items that they no longer want for a swap. At the end of the reunion, whatever is left can be donated to charity.
- Have a family talent show. This is a great source of entertainment and provides another way for family members to get to know each other.
- Create a photo album. People can email their favorite photos to one organizer who then prints them in a bound book.
- Organize a scavenger hunt.
- Play sports like flag football, soccer, and kickball.
- Enjoy a cookout together.
- If you have enough cooking space available, arrange for a cookoff! See who can cook the best chili or make the best pie.
- Have everyone bring baby photos to hang on a board. Compete to see who can identify the most people based on their baby pictures!
- Host a silent auction to offset the cost of the reunion itself.
- Have a craft area where people can make hats. Then throw a fashion show, complete with judging!
- Give secret gifts the way you would with Secret Santa.
Connect with old family members by running people search with GoLookUp. Easily find people online with GoLookup People Finder!