Family reunions mean good times and lots of fun with your relatives. It can also be a perfect time to celebrate major life events like birthdays and anniversaries. You definitely want to plan a family reunion that everyone will look forward – including you, the planner. Cragun’s Minnesota Resort has been fortunate to host hundreds of family reunions and two of our family reunion planners, Tanya Sawyer and Sue Putnam have helped guests plan perfect family reunions for over 25 years. Here are some of their tips to make your job easier:
- Plan Ahead – start at least 6 months in advance and as much as 18 months – the more people involved, the more planning time it takes. Cragun’s can arrange lodging that is close together (even if some families prefer lodge rooms and some prefer cabins). A room block will be assigned so family members can simply call in and choose a room from the block, knowing they will all be near each other.
- Delegate – this is a FAMILY reunion so don’t hesitate to get the family involved. Draw on particular family member’s strengths and let them take the lead in that area. If you have an aunt that loves to cook, let her organize the food.
- Communicate – Cragun’s can create a customized lodging form for your group and mail or e-mail “save the date” notices to your list of potential guests. Cragun’s will also communicate with the planner to keep them up to date on which rooms have been picked up from the block, any questions attendees are asking, etc.
- Include all generations – This is the perfect opportunity for all generations to spend time together on a casual basis and get to know one another. These gatherings also lay the groundwork for the next generation to keep these traditions going.
- Plan but Don’t Over Plan – You will want to offer plenty of things to do for all ages. Keeping young children occupied and happy will make everyone happy. Planning activities that involve the whole group will also help foster camaraderie. Cragun’s will help you coordinate activities like a family golf tournament, day trip to the Spa, volleyball or tennis tournament, family horse drawn trolley ride or even a story time. Your family will be assigned a gathering room that can serve as your headquarters and may be used for everything from playing cards to sharing meals.
- Get Professional Help – Cragun’s has a catering staff to help you plan any special meals you would like to include, a recreation staff to assist with family activities, a full service marina and many more amenities to make sure your family reunion is exactly as you hoped. Cragun’s will provide a personalized agenda for your family that they will receive at check-in and can also help in distributing any items, such as t-shirts or gift bags, that each family will receive.
- Document Family History – make sure several people bring cameras and agree to help capture the fun as it is happening. If you have someone who is handy with a video camera, this is a great time to do some mini-interviews and document family history.
These are all good tips. However, Tanya and Sue want you to remember the most important tip for planning a family reunion: remember to have fun and include everyone! Families are dramatically diverse in ages and interests, but everyone wants to have a good time when they’re together at a reunion.