Not Your Average Family Reunion

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by Tara McIntosh

Planning a one-size fits all reunion can be challenging. Here are some tips to organize a stress-free event and have a wonderful reunion that will be remembered for years to come:

Start with practical expectations. Whether it is a weekend event or a month at the cabin, have a realistic vision from the beginning. There will be boring moments and maybe a few melt-downs. There will also be moments to remember for years or generations to come. Document the best moments and forget those that don’t measure up to expectations.

Make a plan. Come up with a list of simple achievable objectives. Decide to be happy with that list when it is met. The amount of structure planned into the event can facilitate your overall objectives and communicate to attendees what is expected throughout the event. Giving purpose and communicating it, when democratically applied, allows everyone to relax as they know the rules of engagement so-to-speak. Examples include: get to know one another better, strengthen relationships, laugh, learn something new about your heritage, share recipes, etc.

The purpose of having simple achievable objectives is not to have low expectations of the event. The purpose is to understand the outcomes that can be planned into the event. If coming up with a list of achievable goals is less than satisfying, develop a list of personal goals as well. Or develop a second list as an objectives wish list.

Something for everyone. Simple things that include each person at their comfort level can help maintain a harmonious atmosphere. Distribute responsibilities, vary activities to cater to the different strengths within the family, utilize technology to include family who are too far to be there in person.  You can find some great ideas about this in Family Reunion Hangouts by Mark Olsen.

Incorporate value-added experiences. Getting together is a wonderful time to learn more about your heritage. Check with the local historical society to invite a historian or genealogist for a lecture. Talk about stories from reunions past. Schedule a time to relive a historical event or lifestyle from the perspective of an ancestor. Encourage sharing between generations and extended family about the joys and trials of life.

Families offer a refuge when life is good and during tough times. Reunions are the ideal setting for strengthening relationships that offer the best support. By incorporating practical planning and valuable experience the outcome of any get together will be top notch.

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