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Planning a Successful Family Reunion

Updated on December 6, 2012

Possible reunion sites

Possibly for some wanting lake activities
Possibly for some wanting lake activities | Source
Not likely!!
Not likely!! | Source

A family reunion scenario

We have all heard about reunions that have been fun for everyone but we have also heard about those that were enjoyed by just a few or no one at all. The goal of any kind of reunion is for the people attending to enjoy it and have pleasant memories of the event. The following scenario will help those wanting to have a successful reunion.

If you and your siblings want to have a family reunion, for example, first decide where it should take place. Then, if one of you live in the general area, that person would be the best choice to act as organizer because of proximity and familiarity with what is available. The siblings should also decide who will attend. For example, It could be all siblings, parents if still living, and children of all siblings (if adult children don't wish to, that's O.K.).

On the surface that that sounds easy. It can be difficult, however, for several reasons. What about that sibling who is obnoxious, argumentative, or just plain hateful. Another sibling might 'stick' others with his/her restaurant and/or bar bills, saying "I'll catch you later" but never does. If you and your siblings are the focus of the reunion, you must disseminate the specifics of the reunion to all siblings. Your job is not to include or reject people.

When and where

When you and your siblings decided to have the reunion, some may have said something like "Any time is fine with me" forgetting that their vacation time occasionally is an assigned one. Another might say "Whenever in July is good" while forgetting places can be crowded during the first two weeks of that month, and so on. As the organizer, email each sibling asking their top three choices. If not all have email, you'll need to call. Keep good notes of your phone conversations. If you know how, you could do a spreadsheet or a table like the one I've pictured below. A highlighter is useful to select the most 'wants' in common.

Now that you have a date that works for all (arriving June 10, departing June 17), you need to poll your siblings as to their needs (no steps, for example), if altitude is an issue, and critical wants (fishing, deck hot tubs, swimming pool, horseback riding, on-site restaurant, and the list can go on and on) but their 'wants' should be from one to five, with one the most important. Of course, some will have far more wants than others but there will be some in common.

Once you know the expectations and high hopes, researching areas that have these amenities is the next step. When looking for an area's complete listing, for example, do not put in 'High Valley's accommodations' because you probably will only get a partial list. The reason for this may be that that particular site just lists those businesses that are members. Instead, put in 'High Valley Chamber of Commerce' and you will see a more comprehensive list. I am not specifically recommending any place ... there are many resorts in Colorado and other states with excellent facilities.

The next step is eliminating resorts because they do not offer the most commonly desired amenities. It appears that most of the siblings want a hot tub on their deck so you don't consider ones without private hot tubs. When reading a resort's amenities, you may see just 'hot tub/s' and that means there is probably one or two hot tubs for use by all guests. These are not private. Stream side accommodations and fishing are important so you can eliminate places that are not right by the stream. Now, think about the swimming pool requests. That could be easy but remember when the arrival date is ... you'll need to make sure the pool is open at that time as it is cool in the mountains. Call the resort/s you are seriously considering and find out. If their pools do not open until June 15, you'll need to contact your siblings. If adamant about the pool, the group might agree to changing the date to a June 20 arrival, or the swimmers may prefer to forgo the pool idea and keep the June 10 arrival date..

Organizational chart

Must haves
Requested Amenities
Swimming Pool, Deck Hot Tub, Horseback Riding Available, nearby casino
Deck Hot Tub, Excellent Restaurants Available, Streamside Accommodations
ADA Accommodation
Cell Service, Internet Access, Printer onsite, Large Living Room to gather in
Pets (1 well trained dog)
One deck with grill, Lake with boating and fishing (within five miles), antique shops nearby
Deck Hot Tub, Fishing Stream close to cabins, Cabins close to each other
No more than three steps
One deck with grill, Cabins close to each other, can share room but not a bed
Organizational Chart

Activities that people enjoy

Grilling at the cabin
Grilling at the cabin | Source
Swimming pool
Swimming pool | Source
Whoops!! | Source
Boating | Source

The Organizer's Choice

Very likely you will be able to select three or four of the many, many lodgings available, after eliminating others because they did not offer just what your group wanted, or they did not accept pets or children. Those that say they do accept pets but have restrictions regarding size and breed. You will need to ascertain this information so that you can contact that particular resort and get a firm response regarding Joe's dog.

Once you have determined which resorts fits with the family's needs and wants, there are a couple of ways to arrange the accommodations and communicate this to the various people.. One would be that you place people in cabins that you think most appropriate for each group and be sure that people understand the daily cost of their unit/s.

John and his family will be easy ... the ADA cabin which also has room for visitors. Keeping in mind that you cannot do steps, your own family probably should take the cabin with the large living room so others can congregate in your common space and you will not have to access cabins with steps as often. You also should have a crib in your unit as well since Rose's family will be spending quite a bit of time with you. Rose and her husband are raising their grandchild as the parents died in an accident.

After you have 'housed' everyone, at least temporarily, email everyone your proposed rooming arrangements in each of the sites you are considering. Because Aster is divorced and coming by herself, you might suggest that she will enjoy bunking in Rose's cabin which is why there is an extra bedroom in that unit. There may not be a charge for the baby but, if there is, it will probably be $10.00. The daily unit cost is always listed, showing rates as two person occupancy, for example, and $10.00 daily for each person beyond that. With Aster staying with Rose, she should understand her cost would not be $10.00 per day but the total divided by the number of people occupying it. You might be surprised that sometimes people don't 'get' the division concept, thinking that their share would be the $10.00.

Most people would say that what you outlined looked wonderful because it would be apparent, by then, there is quite a bit involved in being an organizer. Of course, occasionally there is one or two who would prefer a different cabin. You should respond with something like this: "That's fine. I'm working with the resort to hold the space until everyone's deposit is received by them. Just let them know which unit you prefer and you can reserve and make the deposit direct."

The Money

Sometimes it works to have people to send the deposit to the organizer and he/she passes it on to the resort. It depends on the people, however. You could ask that each family send the deposit direct and, if that particular family can't make the reunion, then the rest are not even involved. Be sure that everyone has read the information on their website policy about cancellations, check-in and check-out times, and any restrictions about pets, smoking, etc.

Unforseen events

Even though the weather is usually fair and sunny at the time you plan your reunion, it can be rainy, extremely windy, or anything that will keep most people indoors. Since you live closest, probably driving, and are the organizer, I would recommend you take an assortment of board games that would appeal to a variety of people. A deck or two of regular playing cards and a couple of pinochle decks would help pass the time. Consider taking an assortment of DVDs you own even though many resorts have a library on hand. People who knit, read, crochet, etc. always bring those items but you might prompt them to do so. They may not realize there might be some down time. Of course, you could always eat in one of those nearby excellent restaurants, shop for antiques, or check out nearby towns as an alternative to strictly outdoor activities.

Final words

We all want a family reunion to be successful and, if all participants have that goal in mind, it will be. Of course, things can go wrong but if it's nothing more than bad service or poor food at a restaurant, the hamburgers were overdone on the grill, someone caught only three fish and they wanted enough for everyone for dinner, the maid forgot to clean the bathroom ... well, so what? Those are no biggies!!!


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