How to Plan a Family Reunion

Family reunions are a great time to reconnect with family members and see how your family has grown over the years. With so many people though, it can be a little overwhelming planning for everyone. Follow this step by step guide on how to plan a family reunion to help make things a little easier for you.

Recently, my dad’s side of the family just got together for the first time in years. I hadn’t seen my cousins since they were about five years old and now they are married with kids. It was crazy to see how much our family had changed.

It can be a lot of work to plan a reunion, but the memories are well worth it.

family reunion guest book

The thing about family reunions is that you can’t take a one size fits all approach to it. Families come in all shapes and sizes with a lot of different dynamics at play. Sometimes a family reunion can be a picnic in a park or it can be a full blown week at the beach.

Figure out what works for you and your family. Unlike weddings, there are no typical traditions or protocols to consider. The only traditions that exist are the ones that your family creates together.

family reunion trophy

Guest list

No matter the size of your family, it is important to start by gathering a complete guest list. This should include all family members, spouses, kids, etc.

Make sure you have up-to-date contact information for all the family members you wish to invite. The larger your family, you will need to give everyone at least a year’s advance notice. If you wait until last minute, there are greater chances that fewer people would be able to attend.

How to Plan a Family Reunion: Guest List

Choose a date

Consider how long you want your reunion to last. Will this just be a one day event or a whole weekend extravaganza?

With family reunions, it is best to pick a few different dates and then do a general poll to see what works best for everyone. The chances everyone being able to attend is slim, but you should be able to get a majority there.


Set a budget

Family reunions do not need to be over the top expensive. You should set a budget though as costs will add up quickly.

Think about where you might host a family reunion and if there are costs associated with that. You will also have to consider food, accommodations, and any sort of entertainment.

Discuss with your family and try to set a budget per family.


Pick a location

The size of your guest list will determine the best location to host your family reunion.

One of the easiest options is to rent out a pavilion at a local park. It is large, covered, and you don’t have to rent any tables or chairs. The one downside is you need to bring in all your food and supplies.

You could alternatively look into getting a large rental home. These work best for family reunions that last the entire weekend. They have a kitchen and individual sleeping arrangements, which can help give everyone a little more space.

Confirm accommodations

Consider reserving a hotel block at a location nearby. This will make reservations easy for your family and you can sometimes get a discounted price.

You can also look into renting small homes through AirBnb or VRBO.

Need help planning your family reunion? Reach out to a travel agent (like me!) to help you. For no extra cost to you, travel agents can help you plan all the travel logistics of your reunion to minimize the stress for you.

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Plan a menu

Planning a menu for a family reunion can be quite overwhelming especially if you have an extremely large family. Food served buffet style always works best for large crowds.

To make things easier on yourself, consider hosting a potluck where everyone is responsible for bringing a part of the meal. You can also look into purchasing catering from places like Panera or Chipotle.

How to Plan a Family Reunion: Menu
How to Plan a Family Reunion: Menu

Explore More: Need ideas for casseroles to make? Check out my post on make-ahead freezer meals.


You don’t need much entertainment at a family reunion as most of the time will be spent mingling and catching up. Having your reunion at places like a beach might not even require you to have any entertainment.

If you want to include some entertainment, think about doing something that brings people together. You could do some yard games or have a full blown field day of team events.

ladder ball yard game

At our family reunion, we had a pinball tournament. We also found ways to celebrate our Pennsylvanian Dutch heritage. So, my dad also created a quiz on Pennsylvanian Dutch culture that had mini prizes.

For extra large family reunions, consider having a raffle for gift bags or games like bingo. Another idea is to put conversation starter packs on the tables. It helps bring people together and get past the basic small talk.

family gathering conversation starter

Personalized shirts

It is always nice to have personalized shirts to remember your family reunion. These are especially nice if you have one every year and can add the date to your shirt.

personalized reunion shirts

I used to go on family vacations to the Outer Banks every year growing up and instead of shirts we would do craft projects. These were things ranging from tote bags, to tumblers, to drink koozies.

reunion koozies

Hot tip: If you have a really large family with members who might not yet know each other, have everyone wear name tags. It makes it a lot easier than trying to memorize everyone’s name.


This is the one type of event that you don’t really need any sort of decorations. However, there are a few things you can do to help spruce up the space.

Have a display board of old family photos. People love feel nostalgic and seeing how much people have grown. Photos albums can also help spark conversation and bring up some old memories.

family tree display

For newer members of the family, create a large family tree to have on display. This will help some people connect the dots to see how you are all related.

Have a Plan B

With a big event like a family reunion, it is important to expect the unexpected. If you are having an outdoor event, be sure to have a rain plan in place.

clear umbrellas

Remember to just relax! Families are filled with funny stories, so if anything goes wrong it will just be one more to add to that.

Delegate, delegate, delegate

Planning a family reunion can be a lot. Make a list of your tasks, but then delegate things to do to other family members. Everything should not fall to one person!

If you have an extra large family, try to have a representative from each family to help out with some aspect of the reunion. Someone can be in charge of games, another in charge of communication, and another can secure locations and accommodations.

Remember to just enjoy the experience! Things might not turn out perfectly, but that is okay. It is simply about creating new memories and celebrating your family.

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