Ah the summer!  A time to connect with friends on the patio, road trips, outdoor summer concerts, time at the cottage and perhaps the (dreaded) annual family reunion.   

While we know the benefits of connecting intergenerationally between family members, we also know that this can also be a stress-inducing experience for some. Especially for the family reunion planner, a.k.a. the kinkeeper, who takes the initiative to plan the gathering in the first place.

Whether or not this summer is an extra special one filled with milestones, or just another season to enjoy, one thing is for sure - gathering with family can be made less stressful, dare we say even more pleasurable by following these tips. And while there might always be that uncle, or step cousin, who throws a wrench into things... with a little pre-planning and intention, you can provide the foundation for a successful reunion to take place.

TIP #1 Give everyone a role  

From what to bring to what to do AT the event, giving each family member a task creates an investment and accountability on the part of the attendee, helping to maintain the integrity of the event. An aunt who always likes the spotlight?  Ask her to sing and be part of the entertainment. The kids who sit on their phones and don’t interact with one another? Get them to make a centerpiece and set the table in the most interesting way.

TIP #2 Make a new ritual or tradition

Who said this needs to be just like every other family gathering? We are all for rinse and repeat when things work - no need to stress over new for the sake of new. But creating a new tradition at the event adds to the texture of the memory making. Are you a family that likes adventure and travel? Ask family members to bring a picture of their favourite trip from the past year and give travel advice and an itinerary to the family.

TIP #3 Manage the conversation

Often differing political views and the dreaded small talk makes for awkward, shallow conversations. Leave out your pack of Family or Memoir Conversation Cards for lulls in conversation. Or make it a game of bingo with this easy printable - encouraging participants to fill their bingo card with stories! With prizes of course :)

TIP #4 Opt for a virtual connect or small events

With clear intention and purpose, the format and logistics of your event will flow and follow. Is travel or geography preventing you from all reuniting this summer?  Who says virtual is just for covid-outbreak times? Instead of one big reunion that puts a lot of stress on the organizer, think about how you can break it up into smaller gatherings.

Like #2, if it works don’t fix it, but some of life’s seasons call for something different.

Leave a comment