If you are organizing your family reunion, you have a lot on your plate and your list. St. Louis has many fabulous state parks that are geared to organized groups with camping and fishing available. Here are some tips to help you to plan everything, leave nothing out and have a great time with your family members. It is a great way to see relatives that you don’t get to see often and even a greater surprise to see how all the grandkids are growing.
Make a List of Relatives
This is an important first step before you do any of the specific planning of the reunion. Try to get started about four to six months in advance of the date you want to set for the big event. After you make your list of invitees, decide on costs and who will need to pay for what or get a ballpark figure together for the costs and write down how much each person will need to pay to cover accommodations, food and activities while on the reunion. If you have family members that live pretty far away, you will most probably want to book accommodations in advance for a few nights. When you are deciding the costs per person count on some of the people not showing up or additional costs that may come up.
Making Contact with Relatives
Since snail mail is not always dependable, email your initial contact out. You most likely won’t have an exact date yet, so you can state a month and perhaps that it would be on a weekend. This will let you keep a main folder with the invitations you send out with an RSVP and all of the responses you get back, so you can have a detailed listing of how many people to expect. Some relatives may not be able to make it on a specific date. In the case that several can’t make it, you can actually poll everyone that wants to attend and see if maybe you can change the date slightly to accommodate the largest majority. If few people show up, it’s not as fun as a large group. If you have older relatives that don’t really do the internet, then have a separate list of them and give them a phone call to invite them. If you are getting overwhelmed with a large family, ask a few other family members to share some of the responsibilities with you. Most large families have at least three members with duties to spread the process out among them and get things done in record time.
Choose Your Date in Advance
Most family reunions are planned in the summer, because the weather is nicer in the warm months and there is less chance of being rained out or people not attending because of winter weather. In the summer, all the kids are out of school and you’ll get to see those happy little faces, some maybe for the first time in your life if they are young. Summer is also the time when families take their vacation time to coincide with the kids being out of school and making plans for a family affair. You can plan the date around a three-day holiday when most everyone can come, however, be aware that airfare, car rentals and accommodations are likely to be higher over a big holiday. Another great idea is to plan the family reunion close to someone’s birthday. Some of the best family reunions celebrate a large birthday for an older relative that is turning 80, 90 or 100. This will give them the gift of family for their big day, which is the best gift of all for aging family.
Choose Your Location
Choosing a location for a small family reunion is simple and it can be held over just one day in someone’s backyard. However, most family reunions are held at some other place so the homeowner isn’t stuck with all the clean up.
This is the exciting part of having your family reunion in St. Louis. You can choose a location at a park that caters to groups and has amenities for all. Imagine campfire sing a longs and smores over a roaring fire while everyone reminisces about the old times and laughs over the new memories made. There are 13 group camps at seven state parks in Mo. for your enjoyment.
These areas are hand-tailored and are just perfect for family reunions. They each include a dining hall and a kitchen for whipping up those family meals like a pro. There are sleeping quarters or barracks for comfortable sleeping even for the oldest relatives. You can enjoy modern restrooms and showers and many outdoor recreational events. Some of the camps even include recreation buildings along with craft houses, sports courts, hiking trails and areas for swimming and boating. Some areas also have nature centers and horseback ridding. This is basically the best of the best for your family reunion.
The parks have a different amount of minimum and maximum capacities to check out in advance. Many only have a minimum of 20 people, which would suit even the tiniest family reunion. The parks with these group accommodations are Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State park, Crowder State Park, Culvre River State Park, Knob Noster State Park, Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Roaring River State Park and Mark Twain State Park.
Send Out Invitations
Now that you have sorted out a date, location and have an idea of who wants to come, you can send out invitations. Again, as you did with your initial contact, use email for the same family members and a phone call or an actual invitation in the mail to people who prefer these means of communication. Make sure and include the date, time, length and address of the location you chose. Also, put a contact person on the invitation in case anyone needs any more information and make sure to say they need to RSVP and say how many people are coming. You can also include the cost of your family reunion, the activities that will be included and a reminder to bring a dish if you’ve decided for it to be a potluck event.
Catering for a Family Reunion
You can decide to have your big event catered, but make sure you have ample time to select a great caterer and make the reservations in advance. Some people have a professional photographer or a videographer at the family reunion and then all family members receive copies of the photos or videos to have as a keepsake. You can even decide you want to hire a DJ to get those older folks up and see them jitterbug once again as well as newer music for the kids to bust a move.
Many other ideas are available for a family reunion. It’s best to make certain that you have an outdoor area with a large tent, chairs and tables to enjoy the lovely summer Missouri weather. No one wants to be stuck inside for a reunion, but would rather breathe in the fresh air. Many family reunions include concessions that are both fun and like a fantasy for all from young to old. Oh, and don’t forget the bounce house for the little ones, there are many different types to choose from for the smallest child to the most childlike adult.
Reconnect with everyone that doesn’t RSVP to make certain if they are coming or not. Make sure and check on all your reservations for everything because it’s easier to double check than for someone to make a mistake in scheduling. If you are completely organized, you will have a great experience for yourself and all of your entire family.