Has it been years since you’ve seen all your siblings, or spent time with your parents? Have you recently connected to family you never knew you had, or has it been too long since you’ve reconnected with your cousins? Maybe you’ve discovered new branches of your family tree via some ancestry websites. Perhaps you’ve uncovered an old photograph capturing the last family holiday. Have you ever imagined how wonderful it would be for you all to get together in one place again after so many years?
Family reunions are a good way for different generations and branches of a family to come together and share your heritage. With some advanced planning and a bit of creativity, you can organize a memorable family holiday. It would surely be a special time that everyone talks about for years. So take a holiday; retrace the roots of your ancestors; learn about the past and enjoy the presence in the company of family.
A guide to planning a successful family reunion
1. Embrace that family holiday feeling
Vacations are a time for family, so gathering together after months (even years!) of being apart is quite a special affair that may well turn into a family tradition. A family holiday reunion is a chance for the old and young members to meet and greet each other. Children can hear the tales from their greater relatives of how Uncle John ate all the sweets under the Christmas tree, the time when grandmother went on a bear hunt with the little ones on a family trip to Cornwall and everyone ended up getting lost in a cave. I’m sure your family has hilarious tales of their own.
2. Get Key Family Members Involved
There’s no denying that every family has a leader, someone other members turn to. You’ll want to get this person’s participation as quickly as possible. A reunion committee is almost essential to planning a smooth, successful family reunion. Put someone in charge of each major aspect of the reunion – location, social events, budget, mailings, record-keeping, etc. Why do all the work yourself if you don’t have to? Besides, working together on “Project Family Holiday Get Together” is a fun and easy way to bond.
3. Choose A Date
This is a special occasion, so choose a special date for your family reunion. Perhaps it’s your great grandmother’s birthday, or a special anniversary such as a celebration of a ruby wedding. The date should be one that most everyone can make. There’s no point in booking a two week holiday in the Caribbean during a school term as it means both parents and children will be excluded. Summer holidays or Half Term breaks are great times to go away as most people are free. You don’t want to be in a situation where everyone starts saying, ‘what a shame Cousin Rob can’t be here!’
4. Find The Right Location
This could either be one of the easiest choices in the world or one of the hardest. If your family were originally from a different country and then emigrated, it would be fantastic to visit the older generation’s country of origin. You may even have family out there who you could meet for the very first time. It’s an opportunity for you to sample the tasty dishes your ancestors would have made, and hang out at the places they would frequent. Likewise, with families stretched out across the country, having a gathering in the city of the families roots is always a great choice.
The difficulty of choosing a location is that everyone has a differing opinion of what a holiday is. Yes, the main purpose of the trip is to reconnect with family members you haven’t seen for ages or have never even met, but if the holiday is in a place that doesn’t appeal to some members they’re not going to have a good time. Luckily there’s an array of choices for a family reunion. From nature walks and camping in the country to family cruises around the Mediterranean to family resorts. So make sure, everyone is taken in to consideration.
5. Eat Your Way Down Memory Lane
Food is an important part of holidays and family gatherings, and it can be a great trigger for the memory. Make your grandmother’s apple pie recipe or your father’s famous banana bread. Food from different countries where your ancestors lived is always exciting and encourages an appreciation of changing tastes. You can prepare a special family meal out of long lost family recipes where everyone can get involved and share a few of their traditional and favourite dishes.
6. Keep In Touch
Don’t forget the sole purpose of this holiday – to connect with family. Unlike the friends you make on holiday who you spend an amazing time with and then politely say your goodbyes at the airport, you need to vow to keep in touch. Get updated addresses, telephone numbers and social media connections for those who attend. You could even establish a Facebook group for everyone to belong to.
7. Record The Touching Moments
Have plenty of cameras ready to take pictures of the day. Get family groups together and take pictures in groups. You may want to have someone taking down names so you’ll be able to remember them when the time comes to create scrapbook pages or send copies to others. You may want to establish an online photo album that everyone can contribute to. Who knows, in 20 years, the children who attended the family holiday reunion may look at a copy of the photo and plan their very own reunion. Keeping it in the family!
About The Author: Nina is a freelance writer from London. You’ll also find her blogging for The Huffington Post, EasyLiving.co.uk and Fluid London. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop you can find Nina wandering around London markets rummaging through boxes of vintage books, scouring the charity shop clothing rails or writing down inspirational literary quotes in her notebook.