Large families are great for a number of reasons. More gifts on Christmas, more fans in the audience at all of your biggest moments, more people to call when you need someone to talk to — the list goes on. However, when it comes to putting on family reunions, a large family can lead to logistical difficulties and headache without proper preparation. The higher the headcount, the higher the hassle — unless you plan accordingly. In this guide, our event experts at Extreme Canopy are here to help you put together the perfect plan to ensure that your next large family reunion goes off without a hitch.
In the sections below, we discuss 5 essential planning steps that every matriarch, patriarch, or dutiful family member should follow when planning a large family reunion. Covering everything from location booking and invitation mailing to equipment purchases and home preparation, our guide gives you all of the recommendations you need to start your large family reunion off on the right foot. Don’t fear your next family reunion — plan it out like a pro. Learn how with our event experts, and shop event essentials here at Extreme Canopy.
Settle on a Location and Save the Date
Like planning most events, planning a large family reunion starts with getting the basics squared away. Unfortunately, basics like settling the date and location for a large family reunion typically requires more legwork than most other events. This extra legwork comes from logistical difficulties often inherent in large families. Family members are frequently scattered across the country (if not the world). Many have the schedules of spouses and children to consider. Some don’t use technology as well as others. And a chosen few may be obligatory invites — almost more trouble than they’re worth. These reasons and more can make starting the planning process for your family reunion feel like an insurmountable task.
Luckily, the extra legwork needed to plan out the basics of your family reunion can be minimized. For starters, beginning the planning process at least a year in advance of your projected reunion date will make it much easier to reckon with everyone’s calendars. Draft emails, make calls, and send out texts to establish a tentative timeframe that works for most everyone. (If you have a big enough family, you may end up with a least one calendar casualty. Don’t fret. These are often subject to change.) Ideally, your family reunion should last about a weekend. You can go a bit longer, but an itinerary that’s too lengthy will be harder to swing for those with busy schedules. On the other end of the spectrum, a reunion that lasts only a single day is difficult to justify for those who have to travel long distances just to attend.
As you begin to hone in on a date, float the idea of different reunion destinations to your family members. We recommend approaching your family with a list of no more than three. Test the waters to determine which is the most popular, and make the executive decision once you’ve gathered enough data. Again, you may not please everyone, but most people in your family will understand that the destination is not the main point of the reunion. What matters most is bringing everyone together.
Gather Your Guest List and Send Out Invitations
Speaking of bringing everyone together: once you’ve set the date and determined your location, it’s time to gather your family reunion guest list. Your guest list will help you determine how big your reservations and rentals will need to be, and who among your family may need special accommodations. If you’re worried about everyone making it, the reality is that most large family reunions fall short of perfect attendance. If you can get 75% of your family (that’s three out of every four family members) out to your family reunion, that’s a job well done. It’s good to budget in a few extra seats, reservations, and tickets for whatever you have planned, as you won’t get your final guest list until a few weeks (or even days) before your reunion begins.
To make sure that everyone is on the same page, send out formal invitations through every outlet possible. Though it may seem outdated, using snail mail to send proper invitation cards is an indispensable tool. Family members are more likely to put official invitations on their refrigerators, clipboards, or office desks. Visit a local stationery store or printing center in your area to have your reunion invitations designed and printed to meet your specifications. Add photos or fun fonts to spice things up, and always remember to include dates, times, locations, and big itinerary items on your invitations. Once you’ve sent out the physical invites, reinforce your reunion with reminder emails, texts, and phone calls to attending family. This will help keep everyone on the same page and help you work out the finer details before the big date.
Plan Your Reunion Activities
To make your family reunion fun and memorable for kids and adults alike, it’s a good idea to have a few activities planned. If you’re doing a home-hosted reunion, we recommend backyard barbecues and lawn games, supplemented with an outing or two to group-friendly parks or restaurants. Going the “great outdoors” route at a national park or campsite? Schedule group hikes, water sports, or other outdoor activities to get everyone in on the fun. Planning a destination vacation? Do your research to find family-friendly activities and local hotspots. Allergic to planning and price hunting? Opt for the “all-inclusive” reunion route on a cruise or resort, and your family itinerary can be planned for you.
Invest in Necessary Equipment
No matter what you decide to do for your family reunion, you’re going to need some equipment to ensure that your events and activities go off without a hitch. Starting with the basics, most large family get-togethers will need seating and shelter — especially if they take place outside. Whether you’re planning an intimate backyard barbecue or a large-scale banquet at a local hotspot, securing proper seating and shelter will help maximize comfort for every family member in attendance.
The easiest way to ensure that everyone has a spot to sit at outdoor gatherings is to invest in affordable, foldable lawn chairs for fast and flexible setup. If you’d like something a little more formal for dining, speeches, and other events, you can always rent metal or wood foldable chairs from a rental center in your area.
As far as shelter goes, there are several options to consider for your family reunion. If portability and ease-of-use are your top priorities, we recommend looking into instant canopies or inflatable tents. Also called pop-up tents, instant canopies feature expandable frames with height-adjustable legs, attachable fabric roofs (and optional sides), and portable carrying bags. They’re excellent for quick setup and tear-down in outdoor areas. Like instant canopies, inflatable tents also have short setup times, except these cutting-edge shelter solutions require virtually no labor at all. Users need only turn on their electric pumps and stand back while their tents inflate. Since inflatable tents feature no rigid materials, they can be manufactured in virtually any shape imaginable — great for adding extra fun to any family reunion. Need something a bit larger for your get-together? Check out custom inflatable tents, star tents, pavilion tents, pinnacle marquees, and crest event tents. Each of these tents features extra volume and surface area to accommodate both people and possessions.
Seating and shelter aside, signage is another important equipment essential for family reunions. Signs notify visitors to the location of your reunion, and they add a bit of welcome décor to both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Freestanding signs perfect for outdoor placement include feather flags and teardrop flags, as well as shuttle pop banners, oval pop banners, and pod pop banners. When set up at strategic locations, freestanding signs can help direct traffic and advertise your reunion. At your reunion itself, we recommend investing in a hangable custom banner or two to commemorate the event and create an eye-catching backdrop for the many (and we mean many) family photos in your near future.
Prepare Your Home
Last on our list of reunion-planning steps is a suggestion that hits very close to home — because it’s about your home. More often than not, large family reunions are held in the host’s hometown. This makes it easier for the host to find things to do during the planning phase and accommodate everyone once the reunion begins in earnest. If you’re the host, one of the biggest things you can do to help out your family is to offer up your home as a meeting place, events center, and part-time hotel during your reunion. To do all of that, you’ll have to prepare your home. Start by performing a deep clean several days before the reunion itself. (Enlist your immediate family, or hire professionals—the choice is yours.) Next, make sure your home is outfitted with fresh sheets and towels to accommodate any guests. Finally, try to free up as much space possible by storing seasonal belongings or other extraneous goods in closets, garages, or self-storage units. This will make it easier to entertain guests and put up family members who cannot find lodging elsewhere.
Learn More and Get Ready For Your Next Reunion with Extreme Canopy!
With big family reunions, a little preparation goes a long way. Use the list above to start planning for your large family get-together, and don’t forget to have a bit of fun in the process! Have more questions about family reunion preparation? Our team at Extreme Canopy is here to help. Contact us to speak with an event expert on our staff directly for advice and answers to your most in-depth event planning questions. Also, be sure to browse our blog for helpful guides, articles, and tips for events of all kinds. Ready to shop for your event essentials? Explore our site to learn more about the high-quality event tents, banners, and flags we design and manufacture, and order your very own custom products from our industry-leading team today!