Coronavirus will soon be no more and families will want to finally reunite to relive the good old days when “social distancing” was a term that made little sense. By the way, in my world, home improvement goes beyond choosing the right window curtains; a happy family or good family relations is also an essential component of home improvement.
We are Social Beings
It is a happy family, nuclear or extended, that makes staying at home worthwhile especially now that the Covid-19 has limited our movements. We are social beings, at the end of the day. I won’t urge you to always improve your home but forget to bring your relatives together once in a while.
Now fancy this: In a preliminary family meeting, the Organising Committee has elected you its chairperson to take charge of the family reunion plans. If the plan fails, you take many chunks of the blame. Moreover, your reputation as an organizer is henceforth considerably strained.
If not well-managed, a family reunion can instead break up the family and result in long-time disunity. In addition, you as the disgraced coordinator will never be let to plan any ceremony in the family again — not even your own child’s birthday party!
That’s why before you put the boots on the ground, you need to understand what lies before you and what exactly is expected.
The following simple tips should help you organize one of the memorable reunions, solidify your reputation, and build your resume (who knows, you’ll soon be invited to plan family reunions even where you are not part of the family):
The first step to kick off the plan is to fix the date. This is where some plans fail even before they take shape. That is, picking an unsuitable date when hardly anyone is available. Consult and find the date most convenient for most if not all of the attendants expected. Avoid weekdays if possible. Most people are free on weekends and are likely to turn up if invited to a weekend ceremony.
Deliberate on the most suitable place to hold the ceremony. Consider the spacing and accessibility when choosing the venue. It must be a place the attendees are comfortable — or at least familiar — with. A conducive environment.
If you were not in good terms with some of the family members, for one reason or another, make amends before proceeding further. The bad blood between you and some of your cousins and uncles might hamper the smooth progress of your lofty plans. Do settle past disagreements tactfully so that you can always be able to reach out to anyone without hard feelings. Lack of cooperation can spoil everything from the word go.
In fact, if you have many enemies within the family, you are the wrong person for this role. Quit if you cannot sort out the pending misunderstandings. While some critical family feuds could be beyond your power to settle, do sort out those you can so that this family reunion can be a success. Who knows, those decade-old family feuds could finally be laid to rest at this very forthcoming ceremony you are working on!
- Regular Updates
Update the members from time to time. Keep in constant touch. Some less enthusiastic family members might ‘forget’ about this important event and commit to other personal programs. Always let them know about new arrangements, developments, and so on. Have their contacts to be able to reach them as quickly as necessary. Go out of your way to let the reluctant, somewhat withdrawn, low-income members feel they are part of the family reunion plans.
You can start a WhatsApp group, as is the norm in this digital era. This will give you a platform to reach many family members at short notice.
Even as you update the non-committee members, do coordinate and cooperate with all the Organizing Committee members. Don’t run the show alone. You can’t always do it alone.
You are the first among equals. Consult where necessary. It’s not a lone-wolf kind of thing. Remember, it’s a family reunion. Unity should begin on a personal level. Self-centredness is one cause of disunity in the family.
Don’t always let your ideas carry the day at the committee meeting. Concede ground where possible. Move along with everyone. Don’t cause further divisions in the process of organizing family unity.
This is not the time for the I-know-it-all mindset. My way or the highway! Take time to listen even to those very reserved family members who never air their views in public. Reach out to them. Have a one-on-one with them.
Plan Within The Budget
Whatever your lofty plans for this grand reunion are, stick to the budget unless you have other reliable sources to complement the available capital. This is where some great plans become a mess even before they take shape. It’s not possible to have all your wishes in this particular ceremony. Some of your goals may have to be postponed or shelved off.
Check how much funds have been raised or pledged and approximate the final net. Work within that. Do not invite your favorite local singer if he proves too expensive for this humble occasion.
Do not invite more non-family guests than the budget can accommodate, even if they are bringing costly gifts. The embarrassment the family could incur if the guests run out of food might outlive those gifts by several decades.
Furthermore, please make sure the family members and the guests never in turn invite more of their friends than the budget can handle.
This sounds mean and may be hard to implement, but if you want to succeed as a family reunion organizer, tough decisions must be made! If friends are left to invite more friends, things are bound to fail.
A family reunion is a day to relax and have fun, tell old stories and relive those fond memories. It is all about nostalgia. Find creative ways to involve everyone in fun-making.
Come up with entertainment or engaging activities that many will enjoy participating in or watching. Consider all the members: kids, grannies, those cheerless cousins usually hard to please.
Find what and what turns them on. Maybe it’s a soccer match after the speeches, tug-of-war or hide-and-seek game. Or it could be sitting down and forming a ‘parliament’ where those argumentative family members might have the opportunity to debate some of the current political issues. Bring out those old newspapers and best-sellers of your time and let the literary members engage in scholarly discourse to while the time away as kids skip over the ropes.
Have Backups In Place
You may have put everything in place, but come the long-awaited day, things turn South. Maybe the hired caterers have failed to turn up for reasons unknown yet.
Or there’s a power blackout in the area following heavy rain the night before. So it is wise to plan alternatives where necessary. Have options on standby: generator, catering company, transport, PA system, MC, singers, etc.
Engage Prominent family members
In every extended family, there are those prominent members considered “pillars.” That uncle of yours who is studying abroad, that brother who is a lawyer, doctor, lecturer, or an engineer. Let them talk about their achievements and experiences. They have a lot to share.
Give them recognition. They have elevated the family status. This may not go down well with the other never-do-wells, but this is a case of ”damn if you do and damn if you don’t.”
On your part, you only have to do it without malice or ill motives. Let the successful members at least shine.
Find out what each family member is good at and assign them roles based on their talents. Let that cousin who is a doctor be the first aider. Let that brother who is a cop be in charge of “internal security.”
That cheeky aunt should entertain the kids. That niece who is studying journalism should be the “reporter” at the ceremony, or the Master Of Ceremony, updating the gathering about who just arrived, what’s cooking… Let everyone feel good about themselves. That’s the spirit of a family reunion.
Family feuds are common. While a family reunion may not be about solving internal misunderstandings over matters like inheritance, it nevertheless could be a perfect opportunity to defuse tensions and calm tempers tactfully. It could turn out to be the ideal opportunity to initiate peace talks, find amicable solutions leading to reconciliations.
Let this reunion be remembered for helping two brothers who never saw eye to eye bury the hatchets and shake each other’s hand as the music play. Do plan for such reconciliatory outcomes.
Armed with these tips, it is hard to see how your plans could fail. You can now confidently commit yourself to this great task.
Okay, I mentioned festive season gifts to carry with you on your way to the family reunion event. Do not turn up empty-handed. Bring gifts for your brothers, sisters, parents, cousins and any other person you are likely to meet at the family reunion ceremony. In fact, encourage everyone to bring some gifts.
I have the following suggestions to give a try:
The following make good festive gifts:
- Humor T-shirt – It is a simple, funny T-shirt you can gift a brother or in-law just for fun.
- Dabbing Santa Shirt – It is another T-shirt you can give as a Xmas gift to a brother or sister.
- Funny Christmas Shirt – Yet another T-shirt gift to give to you father, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother or a neighbor who turns up for your family reunion event.
- Anne Klein Women’s Genuine Diamond Dial Bracelet Watch – This cute bracelet is yet another festive season gift to any female family member you wish to surprise with an expensive gift.