Vissac of Paramus attended a family reunion where
relatives of all ages and from all over the US gathered
together in Canada. "It was wonderful to see
relatives I hadn't seen in year and it allowed my
children to meet family members that formerly had just
been a face in a photo album," she says.
Mary Lou Riso of Wood-Ridge cherishes the memories of a
family reunion she attended four years ago that
reconnected her family after a 25-year feud. She
reflects, "It was a wonderful experience that linked
us back together and revived our shared history."
You can be the catalyst to reconnect and revive your
family connections by planning a reunion of your own.
Though there's a lot of planning and coordination
involved, the end results usually prove to be well worth
First, gather the names and addresses of family members
and send out a short letter explaining your plans for a
family reunion and a list of proposed dates and locations
from which relatives can rate their preferences and
Most family reunions take place during the summer when
the weather is better, travel is easier, and school is
Reunions can last anywhere from several hours to several
days. The general rule is that the farther people have to
travel, the longer the reunion.
Some options include one's home, hotels in big cities,
ranches, cruise ships and campgrounds. To get the best
attendance, it's usually best to choose a site that is
centrally located to all members.
What to eat?
Whether you choose to cook at home or have someone else
cook for you, feeding a crowd requires planning. Serving
home-cooked meals can be a lot of work but some find the
idea of cooking with others a lot of fun, and relish the
opportunity to bond and swap recipes.
Other options include potlucks where everyone contributes
food to share, and barbecues where cleaning up is
painless. Others choose not to worry about food
preparation at all by going to restaurants or having
their meals catered.
If you're having a longer-lasting reunion, you may want
to have different options for different meals. For
example, you could let people go out on their own for
breakfast, get together for lunch at home, and order
pizza for dinner.
facilitate contact and sharing, it's a good idea to plan
some activities for everyone.
Some ideas are:
Post baby pictures of adults and have everyone guess
Fathers-and-daughters vs. mothers-and-sons volleyball,
under-30 vs. over-40 tug of wars, women vs. men relay
Give prizes for everything and to everyone -- best
potluck contribution, cousins who look most alike...
Share stories such as how grandma and grandpa met, dad's
first words, and Aunt Susan's prom disaster.
Get handprints and footprints of every family member,
create a family quilt, make a family tree.
Photos make great souvenirs to take home and
great gifts for members who couldn't attend.
NOT TO DO
Adults have a tendency to kiss and pinch children's
cheeks but for some children, such attention can be
overwhelming. Respect and protect kids' space and time to
get used to the crowd on their own terms, and ask that
others do, too.
Also, don't set yourself up for disappointment by
expecting everything to go as planned. No matter how
carefully you organize, the daily course of life
sometimes has plans of its own. Try to keep a sense of
humor and remember that despite the rough spots, life is
full of things to be grateful for -- namely, your family.
Hong of Paramus is an editorial assistant at The Parent