Written by Peter Plevritis, Associate Advisor
Returning to Family Gatherings after the Pandemic
Family, love them or hate them, you are stuck with them. Coordinating family gatherings can be daunting as a task. The past year has shown us that it can become a logistical nightmare to coordinate with family across time zones on video conferences and phone calls. Once everyone involved gets on the same page, the task of planning a family reunion, planning remotely for an elderly loved one, or even a funeral can run smoothly. With Covid restrictions easing, some families may want to have a get-together if they have not seen each other due to distance and pandemic restrictions. Some may have lost a loved one in the past year and were not able to have a proper funeral due to Covid. Whatever the circumstances there are plenty of tools and considerations to be had to get you organized together.
A family get-together will be a success if there is buy-in from other members of the family that are willing to organize and pitch in to help out. In a perfect world all of your family and loved ones would be nearby and be agreeable on plans, but life gets in the way. Looking for an opportunity to celebrate, whether it is a simple reunion to catch-up, the celebration of someone’s life or the end of quarantine, having a get-together will need your loved ones to be prepared to pitch in on tasks. Allocating roles to everyone that is taking part in the organization of the event will be key. How successful the celebration can be will need the buy-in by “leaders” within the group to guide the rest.
In the early stages of planning, after there is some commitment to hosting a gathering, the platform must be chosen. Will you all meet in person? Online? A vacation spot or hotel? If the gathering is in person, a venue must be decided upon. Will you all meeting at someone’s home, a vacation spot, or some middle ground that is convenient to everyone involved? The financial situation of all involved should be considered. Being sensitive to other’s financial circumstances can avoid the awkwardness of being left out. The consideration of the family members travel costs or the thoughtfulness of an online platform or stream can be considered for those who cannot attend in person but want to be a part of the event. If in person, you may even consider group rates at hotels if your family is large enough and you can promise a certain amount of rooms will be booked at a certain hotel. This can lead to discounts at the hotel. You can look at accumulated airline miles that can be used for flights or companion tickets that are provided through certain incentive programs. These may help narrow down where and when the event can be held as some may have blackout windows on when they can be used.
There will typically be one or two central organizers that can delegate responsibilities. Keeping track of who is organizing what part is important. You can leverage free online tools to keep everyone in touch leading up to the date of your event. Keeping all involved in the loop using a group chat room, or social media private groups will encouragement everyone to stay involved and keep that “buy-in” feeling. You would not want to leave anything to chance or spontaneity so a few meetings to get everyone on the same page in choosing dates and times dependent on availability, etc. should take place. Use online invitation platforms to keep track of RSVP lists and to also blast important information via email. Communication will be of utmost importance in the days leading up to the event. Last minute changes not communicated can lead to unhappy family members!
The Main Event
Now that everyone knows their part in the event, you can take a breather right?? Nope! It is now time to make it all come together. Making touchpoints with family members, no matter how small along the way will keep everyone up to date and avoid complex longer planning sessions. Hosting and planning should not be done alone and remember if you are in charge, do not become demanding of people, keep in mind what this whole project is about. Bringing family together, seeing and re-connecting with loved ones that you have not seen in a long while.
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