The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Family Reunion (With Checklist!)

The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Family Reunion (With Checklist!)

Nov 4, 2019

Planning a family reunion can sound daunting, we are here to help!  Below are eleven family reunion ideas and tips to help you make good decisions and take some of the stress off from making sure you aren’t forgetting anything.  You can also download our checklist here:

So, let’s get to it! here are the 11 ingredients you will need:

1. The Guest List

  1. Out of all the things you will have to do on your journey to a successful family reunion, compiling the guest list might just be the most daunting of all. Don’t worry, though, we will help you narrow things down a bit.  Here are some questions that will help to define YOUR group:
    1. Is this for a birthday? If so, inviting immediate family members is a must.  For example, if it is your grandfather, make sure that you invite any brothers or sisters he may have, along with their immediate families. (It goes without saying that you should also be asking his children and grandchildren as well.) Second and third cousins are optional here.
    2. Is it simply meant to be a time when family and distant family catch up and say hi? This is where you will probably want to be a bit more broad in who you invite.  So if it is your grandfathers family, this means you should invite the same group, along with your second and third cousins, if you can find them.
  2. After you have finished narrowing down the group, it is time to find a way to bring them together to discuss the details of the reunion. The simplest thing to do is to create a facebook group with as many people in it as possible. This group is only for limited feedback!  There are two things to remember with this group: 1. Not everyone is on facebook.  That is ok, you are only looking for a general consensus. 2. They will give feedback, but you and your committee will be making the final decisions.
  3. Speaking of committees, that is next on the checklist. Pick a few family members to help you on this journey.  If you know of people that will be good at specific things that you are not gifted in, that would be the place to start. For example, someone may be really good at virtual communication…ask them if they will take charge of that area.  I don’t recommend more than 3-4 people in a committee, so choose wisely.

2. Organize A Date

  1. Talk through dates with the committee.
  2. Now it is time to ask the broader audience. Go into your facebook group and give them 2-3 dates as options. Make sure you clarify how many days it will be, and a general location of the proposed event would be good for them to know as well.
  3. Pick a date! Remember: Not everyone will be able to make it on the date of choice, which means some may be upset at the date that is picked. This is normal!   Just be sure to give rational to the group as to why you and the committee chose this date.

3. Create A Budget

You have your group, and hopefully you have your location and date ready as well. Before you get any further, though, your committee will have to decide on a budget.

  1. You will have to decide who will pay, how much each person will pay, and what everyone is willing to contribute. You may have some family members who are willing to pitch in to pay some costs that others can’t afford as well.  (The upside of communism is great here.)
  2. The venue will generally create the greatest variance in your budget…it can be anywhere from $0(Backyard) to thousands of dollars(hotel). More on that in a bit.
  3. It is worth reaching out to the broader group on Facebook to see what everyone is comfortable with spending. It will not be a very fun reunion if half the people there are upset at how much they were told to give…

4. The Location

  1. Next, it is time for you to do some research. What are the venue options for having the reunion? Don’t overdo this, there are some simple options including:
    1. Your Back Yard. If you or a family member has a large back yard, this could be a great place to have the reunion.  Tip: If you decide to go this route, you may want to rent a large tent in case it rains or is really hot.  Make sure to include this in the budget.
    2. Your Church. Churches are a great place to hold large gatherings for a relatively good price. Even if you do not attend a church, you can reach out to local churches and ask what rental rates are.
    3. Local Town Hall. This is also a great option for a building with a large room that can accommodate big groups at a relatively good price.
    4. Camp Ground. When I was growing up, our extended family would all go camping together.  It is some of my greatest memories because of the time spent around the campfire, the boating on the lake, and the other various games that can be played with large outdoor areas.
    5. Hotels. If you can afford it, this can be a lot of fun. There are a lot of hotels that offer activities for kids, including waterparks or swimming pools.  If this is what you and your committee would like to do, just make sure your budget can accommodate this!!
  1. Narrow down the list of options with the committee and assign prices to each one.
  2. Now that you have a few options, it is time to go back to the Facebook group to get their feedback. Once again, YOU and the rest of the committee will be making the final decision.
  3. Make a final decision and let everyone know.


5. Want To Spice Up The Party? Use A Theme!

Themes for family reunions are becoming more and more popular.  There are hundreds of options when it comes to theme ideas, so instead of listing each one here, we will give you our favorite resources that hit specifically on this topic.

  1. How Does She: 39 Family Reunion Themes
  2. Gathered Together: Family Reunion Themes List
  3. Mommy Bunch: Top Ten Family Reunion Themes

6. Get T-Shirts Made!

Ok, you knew this was coming, didn’t you?  Not to toot our own horn or anything, but we are the best option for getting custom family reunion shirts made for you and your group.  Why, you ask?

  1. We have lots of family reunion templates! You will find a huge library of templates made for your family reunion right on our website.  It is super easy to navigate and find what you want, change the name and colors of your design, and order for the whole group!
  2. We are fast. We get your shirts to you in one week or less…guaranteed! If you are a procrastinator like me, this is some great news.
  3. Our focus is on being good to others. We do not use anything that is made in a sweatshop, and we give back to the communities we work in.
  4. Our prices are awesome. We provide better value than Custom Ink or any other major brand, but you are welcome to find that out for yourself if you would like.

I know we may not look like much, but we can print some killer family reunion tees!! You can check out our family reunion templates here:

7. Food Coordination

Ok, back to the reunion planning.  Next, you will have to decide how the food will be taken care of.  You have several options for this:

  1. Bring in the caterer! This is the simplest and probably the least stressful option.  The downside is that it is more expensive.  You may want to go back and look at that budget again.
  2. Have a potluck. This can be a coordinating nightmare to make sure that you have enough salads, appetizers, main courses, and desserts.  The upside is that it is cheaper and everyone is pitching in to help.

You assign the food to someone in the family. If you have some cooks in your family like I do, then this is also a good option. They can make some of the food and then coordinate a few others to help them with side dishes and desserts.  This is the middle ground from the two options above.  Just know that you are putting a huge responsibility on the person you put in charge of this.

8. Entertainment

What is a family reunion without some games?? Here are a few tips when it comes to planning out the fun for the reunion:

  1. Ice breaker games are a must for large family reunions. The beginning of a family reunion can be awkward if a lot of people don’t know each other very well.  Including some ice breaker games will give people an opportunity to get to know each other and hopefully relax and open up a bit.
  2. Make sure to include at least one game or gathering time that brings in some family history. Ideas for this could be family trivia, story time, or making a family album together.  Everyone will enjoy this and it will bring the family together around memories shared.
  3. Try to make sure that the little ones coming to the reunion have some sort of fun outlet. Things like inflatable bounce houses, coloring/art activities, and planned games for those 10 and under will be very exciting for the kids and also give the parents a bit more of an opportunity to enjoy the event as well.

There are so many options for this segment that it deserves its own blog post. I recommend reading a more about family reunion games( from our friends at Gathered Together.

9. Bring On the Memories!

If this is a family reunion, there is nothing more important than making sure you have a good outlet for family members to share memories.  It may be that you just give time to people to share while everyone is gathered, but more often than not, people like to be able to see pictures and videos from the past. Those that remember the pictures also like to relive those moments and tell the stories to the younger generations.  There are countless ways of doing this, but here are a few that are pretty common:

  1. Family Story Book. This is really cool.  Tell family members to write down their favorite family story, and include pictures if they have them.  You then have someone compile it and make it into the “Family Book.”
  2. A traditional board display. This is very time consuming and difficult to pull off well, but can be very cool.  If you have someone willing to take this project on, it would be wise to let them  take care of it while you coordinate the rest of the event.  They can speak with everyone and tell them to bring pictures and stories, and then they can organize it on the display when everyone gets there. (If they could get them in advance, that would be even better!)
  3. Virtual Display. There may be someone in the family who has already curated a lot of videos and pictures for the family.  You could have a set time when everyone sits down and watches it, or you could simply have it playing in the background as the reunion is going on.  Either way, this is a great choice if you have the content.

10. Create The Memories

Now that you have past memories ready to shine, you will want to make preparations for future memories to be made.  As the event is happening, it will be ideal to have someone in charge of capturing the moment. This could be done in a few ways:

  1. Hire someone to take pictures and videos. Once again, this is the expensive way to go, but you will probably get the best moments as well. This takes pressure off of family members to have to feel like they have to be the ones to capture it while they are busy trying to experience it themselves.
  2. Compile pictures and videos after the event is over. This can be done in a variety of ways.  You can have everyone email you with these, or you can create a hashtag and have it all saved on social media somewhere.
  3. Put a family member in charge of this. You can let someone in the family take videos, and another can be in charge of pictures.  This puts a lot of pressure on people, though, and they normally miss out on being present because they are busy taking the video. (Although if someone volunteers, I wouldn’t discourage them either.)

11. Invitations

Yes, I saved the best for last! (That was a bit sarcastic) Invitations!! Obviously this is a must when you are planning your family reunion.  There are also many ways to get this to-do accomplished.  (And if you were wondering, no it is not enough to simply tell everyone in the facebook group.  There is a good chance that not everyone is in that group, and people normally like to have some sort of visual to remind them every so often.)  So, without further adu, here are a few of the options that we have found most helpful:

  1. The first place to find some great templates for your family reunion invitations is from a site called ( The reason that people love this site is because all of their templates are free! You can quickly customize a template, and then download it to your computer. The downside is that you will have to print them yourself or find a printer, but at least you don’t have to wait for them to come in the mail!
  2. If you have a lot of family members coming and don’t have the time to print, pack, and ship the invitations, you can use a service like You can make the template on Greetings Island, and then immediately upload it onto overnight prints. This service will then take care of everything! (Printing, packing, sending to every member of the family.)  All you have to do is give them the addresses of every person and the image you want to send.
  3. If you would rather design the template and have them printed and sent to your door, you may want to use They also have great templates to choose from, and they will print the invitations for you.

Whew!  That was a lot of work!  But if you have finished all of these steps, then you are well on your way to a successful family reunion. Make sure to download the checklist to make sure you don’t forget any of these vital steps, and have a great time celebrating your family!

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