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Plan a Fun and Fuss-Free Family Reunion

Easily manage details, from the dates and destination to the DJ’s final dance track.

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Multi generational family waving at reunion
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With the arrival of warm weather, many of us are hoping to finally get together with cousins, aunties and grandbabies we haven’t seen in years. But whether it’s an intimate backyard cookout or a hotel ballroom filled with a bunch of third cousins once removed, a successful family reunion depends on smart and timely planning. So before you start prepping the potato salad and queueing up your favorite ’80s hip-hop playlist, here are some tips to help make this year’s reunion one for the ages.

Start now. It’s never too early to begin getting your ducks in a row. And if you’re planning a large event at a popular hotel or considering a family cruise, you may have to book more than a year in advance! If you’re set on gathering this summer and you haven’t started planning, keep it simple: Consider hosting a small event in a family member’s home or at a local park or community center.

Form a committee. Now’s the time to corral all the detail-oriented, type A folks in the fam and put them to work doing what they do best: organizing. Make sure to include family members of all ages ­— from teens to grandparents — so that everyone has a say. Then, make an “action list” of tasks to be completed, each assigned to a specific person.

Consult the experts. You don’t have to go it alone; there are professionals out there who can guide you through every stage of planning. The Family Reunion Institute is a nonprofit that promotes research on family reunions and helps Black families in particular to organize them.​ Their website,, is a great resource for free advice and tips, including everything from how to raise funds for large or out-of-town meetups to activities that all ages will enjoy.

Use technology. When folks are spread across the country — or the world ­­— email, WhatsApp and social media platforms such as Facebook make it easier to communicate and share ideas across time zones. And payment apps like Venmo, Zelle and PayPal facilitate family members’ contributions and may allow them to pay over time.

Exchange info. The Family Reunion Institute encourages families to seize the opportunity to share health information. “Oftentimes, there are certain medical conditions that run through families, and families can organize to support each other to help prevent possible health conditions,” Suzanne Vargus Holloman, the institute’s codirector, told

Incorporate family history. After the “old heads” have taught the young’uns the Electric Slide and the teens have tried to teach grandparents whatever the latest dance is, make some time to share family history too. Activities such as trivia quizzes, recipe swaps (what is the secret to Miss Pearl’s barbecue sauce?) and impromptu story time with grandparents can help family members of all ages connect to and preserve their history.

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