Get ready to take selfies with your second cousin and hear Big Mama tell stories about what your dad was like as a kid: It’s officially the dawn of family reunion season.

You always look forward to a good time reconnecting with the relatives, but with everyone in your clan coming in from all over the country and beyond, organizing is no easy feat.  That’s why we made a schedule of everything you’ll need to make this year’s festivities a summer smash. See what you should have in the “done” column from week to week, about a month in advance of the fun. And trust us when we say this: Your Aunty Pearl twice removed will be righteously indignant if you forget to bring the smaller plates for her special German chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Read our suggestions below and take these tips with you by downloading the checklist right HERE.


  • Be accommodating.  The celebration is still almost a month away, but this is no time to rest on your laurels.  Make sure everything is in order for hotel stays, arrangements and that contracts with vendors are signed. Triple-check that everyone on the planning committee has clear, set tasks to complete.
  • Get in touch. Schedule a quick touch base by phone or video chat, but you can also leverage shared documents, such as Google Doc spreadsheets, to tick off any remaining assignments.
  • Hey, DJ.  If you’ve splurged on a professional turntablist, call and make sure the pro is prepped with bouncy, upbeat and family friendly fare.  If you’re relying on streaming services, such as Spotify or Pandora, now’s the time to work on a list of songs.  You can be flexible and take requests, but it’s good to have some sounds planned for a long day out in the summer sun.  Just don’t let your big brother slip his latest mixtape into the offerings unless he’s the next Drake.


  • Game on.  Once everyone is done catching up, you’ll need some pre-planned fun to keep spirits high.  We’ll have another post detailing some unique twists on common family reunion activities from card games to kiddie-appropriate sports to grown-up gameshows.  But whatever you plan to play, you’ll need to make arrangements for any cards, board games, or tools and have them ready to pack.
  • Schedule another video chat or conference call. Check-in No. 2 is just to make sure all i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. This is also a good time to make sure that if any additional monies are owed, you settle it up swiftly.


  • Weather or not. Check the forecast now that it’s closer to the date.  If there’s a chance of rain, you should be prepared with your backup location if the festivities were slated for the Great Outdoors.
  • Get in sync on supplies.  Apps, such as Out of Milk, allow multiple parties to share and sync up to one grocery list. It’s very helpful to add to, and also check off, items on the list.  If your fam is old-school, schedule a quick phone call to make sure everyone responsible for certain items is planning, or has already made, their jaunt to the store.
  • Pack it in. Toward the end of the week, pick up packaged goods and snacks that don’t require refrigeration.  Getting plates, Kingsford Charcoal, lighter fluid, cups, cutlery, chips and other items will make for a lighter grocery run the day of the event.


  • Grab those groceries. The fresh chicken, ribs, hot dogs, or even bison burgers you plan to toss on the barbie should be picked up and packed in ice.
  • Have a seat. Arrive at the site early, whether it’s park district property or someone in your family’s biggie-sized lawn to be sure you have enough chairs and tables to accommodate a day of games, eating and catching up.
  • Group project. Do you have other group activities planned?  Call ahead and make sure that the amusement park, theater or restaurants you’ll be visiting are ready for your party.  Update your guest numbers, double check any special accommodations and be sure you know if there are any special cut-off times, such as if a member is running 15 minutes late they won’t be able to join in, as this might encourage fashionably late familia to get a move on.

Got all that?  We know, it’s hard to commit it all to memory, but no worries.  Remember to download and print out THIS CHECKLIST to be sure you’re on point when it comes time for your family members to meet up.