Everything You Need To Know About Family Reunions

Every family has a different set of traditions and expectations for family reunions. Some treat reunions as their opportunity to go on a vacation with their loved ones. Others look forward to seeing their whole family for the same Holiday plans, year after year. Whatever your family traditions are, if it’s up to you to plan your family reunion this year, you may be looking for a little extra guidance. If so, we’re here to help.

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What Is A Family Reunion?

A family reunion is a meeting, which can occur annually on the same date or by availability, of immediate and/or extended family members. Family reunions can serve as a way for a family to reconnect and strengthen bonds while providing an opportunity for a vacation. There is no minimum party size, frequency, or duration for a family reunion and the reunions may even include a few close friends outside of the family bloodline.

Common family reunion activities and plans include outdoor excursions, shared meals, party games, and passing down family history and stories.

family takes a selfie at their family reunion.

Why Should You Have A Family Reunion

Family reunions have several important benefits. Most importantly, these reunions improve familial bonds. These bonds need constant work and effort to remain strong through the years, and reunions are a great way to do this. Without constant contact and time spent together, family bonds can weaken and leave you feeling isolated. Other benefits for attending reunions include giving you time to relax and catch up on significant events in family’s lives. They also give young family members a chance to learn family history and older family members the chance to see everyone together.

How To Plan A Family Reunion

Ready to start planning your next family reunion? Simply follow the steps below to get started, and make your reunion one to remember.

  1. Plan head. You’ll want to give yourself at least a year to plan, especially for larger family events. Planning far ahead gives your whole family enough notice to take time from work, plan transportation, and decide on a date that works for the most people.
  2. Set a budget ahead of time. Decide on a budget each family will contribute well ahead of time. You don’t want to surprise any family member with the burden of a bill that they can’t pay at the end of the reunion.
  3. Give family options for date and location. When you have a budget and time frame established, send out a poll to each family member asking for availability across certain dates and desired locations.
  4. Send out invitations early. Send out informal notices as early as possible, and formal invitations at least six weeks in advance. Read our resource on when to send party invitations for additional help.
  5. Delegate some responsibilities to other family members. Ask for volunteers to help you with the planning of the reunion, or else you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed. Planning committees may include budget, reservations, food coordination, travel and lodging, entertainment, and a communications liaison.
  6. Start off the reunion on the right foot. Plan a welcome receptions for the beginning of the reunion. This might include food and drinks, a few games, and a welcome speech from a senior member of the family.

a timeless family portrait of the whole family

How To Start A Family Reunion Letter

Looking for guidance to help you write your family reunion letter? Look to the guidelines and sample below to make sure you don’t end up leaving any details out.

What to Include:

  1. Announce reunion. Include the family name(s) and the number of years it’s been put on.
  2. Give Location.
  3. Provide Date.
  4. Give Lodging and Travel Information.
  5. Include Additional Information. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected on them in terms of budgeting, dress code, and timing. If you’re also creating family reunion T-shirts, make sure to include this info here as well.
  6. Ask for help. Do you need committee volunteers or family heirlooms? Let them know here.
  7. Include additional sentiments. Feel free to share a few past memories and/or reasons why it’s so important for everyone to attend. You can also share a meaningful family quote or two.
  8. End with closing statement and contact information.

Sample Reunion Letter:

Dear (Name),

Get ready for some fun in the sun! It’s time for the 14th Annual Janson Family Reunion!

Based on our previous family survey, this year we are planning to host the family at Green Lakeside Campgrounds, CA during the weekend of August 12th-14th. We’ve reserved campground C, which hosts space for tents and camper vans.

Directions to the campground are attached, as well as a sign up sheet for extra space available RV’s and tents.

As we prepare for a family-filled weekend, we are asking for donations of $50 to help supply food and other necessities for the whole family. Please send any donations to the contact information below.

Additionally, we’re still looking for volunteers to help with lodging and entertainment.

We can’t wait to see you all there! We’re hoping for a super fun weekend without any mishaps (so we’ll be keeping Uncle Stan away from the cooking!) and can’t wait to get started!

With love,

(Your Name)



Tips For Hosting A Family Reunion

From organization to execution, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping the following tips in mind while planning your family reunion.

  • Make your own T-shirts. Making themed T-shirts ahead of time not only provides everyone with a special keepsake and souvenir, but they also give you some fun family photos.
  • Plan for off-peak travel season. This helps keep costs down and making finding open hotels and flights easier.
  • Raise extra funds beforehand. Small fundraisers organized by them family can increase your budget while giving you a few fun bonding opportunities.
  • Look for group rates for hotels and travel. Many flights, hotels, restaurants, and more offer group discounts if you ask them directly.
  • Offer a range of activities. Make sure there’s something to do for all skill levels. Refer to our guide on family activities for additional guidance.

Family cheering on teams competing in 3 legged race at a family reunion

Where To Have A Family Reunion

There’s no end to the possibilities of where to host your family reunion. You may want to go back to the same place you’ve always hosted it, or you may be looking for a fun new adventure. Here’s a list of some of the most popular destination choices:

  • Your house or a family member’s house
  • Summer home
  • Hotel or resort
  • Rented cabin
  • Campsite
  • Park
  • Community center
  • Favorite restaurant

What To Do At A Family Reunion

When you’re ready to start building your family reunion itinerary, keep a few of these common traditions in mind:

  • Play some games. Games help involve the whole family and set a cheerful and playful mood. For specific game ideas, read our resource on fun family games.
  • Plan a large potluck. Ask each family member to bring their favorite dish, or a dish that has significance to the family history.
  • Make a family reunion photo book. Ask for family members to provide old photos and take new ones during the reunion. Then craft a family reunion photo book using these family photo album ideas.
  • Go for a hike. Exercise is a great way to bond and stay healthy as a family!
  • Host a BBQ party.  BBQ’s are a family reunion classic for a reason. Check out our BBQ party ideas for more inspiration.
  • Take a family photo. Schedule a professional photography session during the reunion for a reunion photo the whole family can look back on.
  • Go on a family trip. Take a day trip somewhere special. Read our family trip ideas for help picking the right trip.
  • Do some arts and crafts. Arts and crafts are as kid friendly as they are fun for the creative members of the family. Check out our art projects for kids for some ideas.
  • Keep up with some family traditions. Including well loved and remembered family traditions in your itinerary is often key to a successful family reunion. And if you’re looking to start some new traditions, make sure to visit our following resources.

family reunion at a BBQ party with group of family members

What To Wear To A Family Reunion

The best clothes to wear to a family reunion most often depends on the environment and weather. If your reunion is in a cabin in the woods, you may want to plan for warm clothes that cover arms and legs from bugs. Whereas lighter clothing would be more appropriate for a family beach vacation. You also want to dress in a way that’s respectful and appropriate in front of older family members. And if you’re planning your wardrobe for family reunion photos, visit our guide on what to wear for family photos.

How To Keep In Touch After The Family Reunion

Once the family reunion is over and everyone has said their goodbyes, you’ll want a plan to keep in touch. Nowadays social media has made this a lot easier. However, it’s also a good idea to keep a constant email list and updated list of addresses (which is great for sending family reunion gifts) for regular correspondence.

Resources Related to Family Reunions

If you liked this guide on everything you need to know about family gatherings and you’re looking for additional content, make sure to visit the resources: