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Celebrate: Your Family Reunion Survival Guide
Will you sink or swim as captain of the clan's next gathering? Rest assured: You're in for smooth sailing with our 10-step planning primer.
I was 30 years old when I attended my first family reunion. When I received word of the upcoming event, I envisioned reminiscing about childhood adventures and catching up on the years since I'd last seen my aunts, uncles and cousins. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed — the reunion planners merely called a few relatives and bought stick-on name tags. Many of my closest cousins weren't even notified.

I left the gathering disappointed by the missed opportunity to reconnect with cousins I knew well as a child. I made a solemn promise to never let a reunion shipwreck like this happen again and went a step further. To help other families avoid similar fates, I started a professional reunion planning service. Over the years, I've consulted with many families and given them tips to make their annual fests successful, fun and full of relationship-rekindling opportunities.

If you want to make your own reunion a meaningful, memorable occasion, you can't expect to simply call a few cousins and let the rest fall into place. Organizing a family reunion is challenging — it takes time, diligence, strong organizational skills and a dose of humor. Relatives will inundate you with suggestions ranging from brilliant to bizarre. You, the person at the planning helm, must filter through all the ideas, recruit a crew of volunteers, then pull off a fantastic reunion to remember. Whether your gathering is for a dozen cousins or several hundred relatives from around the world, you can make sure things go swimmingly — and you stay sane — with these survival secrets.

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