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There is no better time to pull together grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins than during summer when kids are out of school and families are looking to get away and have some fun! Planning for a family reunion should be a time of celebration, but worries such as cost sharing, strong opinions, and deciding who should be invited can quickly turn the joyous occasion into a headache. Whether your family reunion includes eight or 80, these ten tips will help you plan one for the ages!

1) Create Your Roster

The very first thing to consider is who will be invited. Are significant others and long-time friends and neighbors welcome? Establishing the guest list early can help to prevent difficult situations as the event approaches. If you're having trouble reaching consensus on this, a good resolution is to include a welcome event like a simple BBQ or bonfire that is open to the larger group, but reserve the rest of the reunion for a smaller, more intimate group.

2) Update Your Contact List

Once you've decided on the invitation list, be sure to keep track of RSVPs as well as contact information in an easily sharable database, like Google Drive. You're likely to need to get in touch with some people at the last minute, perhaps for arrival times, last minute changes, or other unpredictable factors. Having a list of cell-phone numbers and e-mail addresses on hand will allow you to keep in touch with all guests as the event approaches - even those distant cousins you've never called on the phone before!

3) Save The Date!

While weekend dates at hotels and resorts are often booked six months to a year or more in advance, you're likely to find plenty of mid-week availability, and might even be able to take advantage of mid-week savings. Consider hosting your reunion during the middle of the week so you can take advantage of these special rates. Additionally, if you have a group of more than 10 guest rooms, you may qualify for group rates and food and beverage promotions.

4) Location, location, location

Location is everything, and when some family members are traveling across the country or even the sea, it is essential to select your location very early in the planning process so guests can request time off from work, arrange for dog and house sitters, and make plans for lodging and transportation. When choosing, select a location that is relatively easy for guests to get to, and provides ample lodging and gathering space options to accommodate the size of your group.

5) Communicate The Bottom Line

Decide early on how the costs of the reunion will be covered. While most guests will assume they are responsible for their own travel and lodging costs, they may not think they are responsible to help kick-in for food, beverages, and supplies. Be sure to let everyone know how much will be expected per person, and how payment will be collected. It's a good idea to over-estimate the cost of your reunion to accommodate any unforeseen needs. You can always refund any contributions that went unused, or even better, make a donation to charity in memory of a grandparent or loved one no longer with you.

6) Feed the Masses

Meals may be the only portion of your reunion the whole group actually participates in, so make sure they are memorable! If there is a family recipe or tradition you want included, don't hesitate to ask your reunion site if they would be willing to tweak their menu options to accommodate your request. We are happy to include those special requests at The Abbey!

7) Delegate The Details

Make a list of the details you'll want included in your reunion and assign small tasks out to attendees. For example, you may want a photographer, snacks, a playlist and speakers, and possibly a t-shirt to commemorate the reunion. By breaking the details down into individual tasks, you'll be much more likely to find volunteers willing to take on the duty.

8) Have Fun For All Ages

Even over the course of a two-day reunion, there will be plenty of down time. If you are not at a resort like The Abbey where a full-time activities specialist can help you fill that down time, conducting a simple internet search of "Family Reunion Games" will generate plenty of ideas like family-themed versions of charades, telephone, trivia, and more. Consider awarding small prizes to game winners, or even hosting a playful awards banquet to conclude the reunion.

9) Be Flexible

Be sure you have plenty of activities planned to keep guests entertained, but don't go overboard. Many attendees will want to simply sit together, catch up, and reminisce about the good ol' days. If that is their preference, allow them to enjoy their time as they wish.

10) Go With The Flow

The most important thing you can do to prepare for the family reunion is to ready yourself to relax and have fun! Even with the most detailed, tedious planning, there are sure to be things that don't go quite as planned. Hiring professionals to help with catering or tapping into resources offered by your selected resort or reunion site can go a long way in helping all guests sit back, relax, and celebrate the time together as a family.

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