The Dos and Don’ts of Planning an Outdoor Family Reunion

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Getting the whole family together is a task in and of itself, and you want to add yet another layer to that to-do — you want to have an outdoor reunion. Planning such an event can be slightly harder than scheduling a party for your extended family, and not just because the weather’s unpredictable. As such, you have to prepare wisely. Here’s what to do — and what not to do — as you plan your next reunion in the great outdoors.

Do: Start Early

One of the biggest mistakes you could make as a party planner is to wait too long to start. This fact rings especially true if you’re putting together a family reunion — the sooner you nail down a date, the sooner you can tell everyone so that they, too, can block it out on their calendars. To that end, you might consider starting with a survey to see when everyone is free for a family party or weekend-long reunion. That’ll help you choose a date that works for as many people as possible. 

Be sure to send multiple reminders about the big day, too. Perhaps you’ll start with a mailed paper invite, followed up by an email reminder to get everyone to RSVP. The sooner you do so — and the more often you check in — the more likely your family members will be to remember and join in on the festivities. 

Do: Make Sure an Outdoor Gathering Makes Sense

Not every party should take place outside. Let’s say part of the day’s itinerary includes a slideshow. Without access to plugs, a screen and a projector, you might not be able to share your chosen photos. As such, an outdoor venue might not be suitable.

So, try and crystallize your vision for the reunion. Will you be grilling out, playing games and socializing? If so, a simple outdoor gathering could do the trick. More in-depth schedules and electronically reliant activities might have to take place inside.

Do: Spring for Decorations

A family reunion tends to bring together people who haven’t seen each other in a while. As such, it shouldn’t feel like just any other event. So, don’t be shy about decorating the place, wherever it is. You might bring along streamers, tablecloths and balloons for a simpler affair, or accentuate your outdoor gathering spot with gorgeous bouquets if you envision a more upscale reunion. In the case of the latter, make sure you order your decor about four weeks prior to the big event so the florist has plenty of time to prepare.

Don’t: Fail to Think About All Attending Age Groups

As you start putting together your reunion, make note of the ages of your attendees and plan accordingly. For instance, you shouldn’t choose an outdoor location with a steep or otherwise uneven walkway if you have elderly guests attending. Picking somewhere that’s kid-friendly could be vital, too. For both of the aforementioned groups, a big trip could be out of the question, so picking a more local destination could be your best bet. No matter what, you should think about any potential pitfalls or limitations of locations before settling on one. 

Don’t: Plan Without a Plan B

Even if you’re planning your reunion in a place where it rains once every 50 years, have a back-up plan in case of bad weather. You just never know when it will strike and you don’t want to be left outside without cover. Even if you scope out a nearby park for the gathering, make sure they have some sort of pavilion or picnic area where you could move your party in case of inclement weather. You might not have to use it, but it’s always nice to know you have the option. 

The same goes for entertainment on the big day. An itinerary packed with backyard games and contests is great… until you can’t play any of them in the rain. So, bring along some games and crafts that little ones can do indoors until the weather passes and the outdoor reunion can resume. 

Don’t: Go It Alone

In planning any family reunion, whether it’s indoors or outside, you should always seek help from a few relatives — you’re not the only person in the family, after all. So, recruit the help of relatives who can handle such responsibilities as communications, finance and lodging. Even if you’re coming up with the main party concept, enlisting others can provide huge relief in finalizing the logistics. Ultimately, working together to produce such a memorable gathering will bring you all closer — and that’s what a family reunion is all about!

So, as you prepare to plan a big outdoor family party, keep the above dos and don’ts in mind. Your thoughtful consideration will ensure you plan a gathering that suits everyone, which isn’t always a simple task, but it’s certainly a rewarding one. And, in doing so, you’ll get the greatest payback of all — you’ll get to enjoy some time with your entire family, all thanks to your own hard work. 

A special thanks to Kacey Mya, a lifestyle blogger who wrote this awesome article. You can find more of her work at