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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Surviving Family Reunions

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Family reunions are the perfect time to announce big news, celebrate wins and share your losses with the people you love the most. They can also be quite stressful. If you feel a mix of excitement and anxiety when you see the date getting closer on your calendar, you’re not alone. There are a few things you can do to set yourself up for more good times than bad.

Designate (or hire) a photographer

How many different directions are people looking in every picture you snapped at the last reunion? Make it less of a struggle to nab the perfect shot by hiring a photographer or designating a single family member with a high quality camera. Make it clear that everyone will receive a link to the image files via email shortly after the party. Enforce the rule with a tight smile and no apologies for encouraging relatives to be present in the moment rather than removing themselves from the fun by playing amateur photographer.

Make name tags that include a subtitle line that reads, “daughter/son/wife/husband of ________”

It’s been a while since you’ve all seen each other. There’s no need to be embarrassed about forgetting names or family ties, particularly in a large or extended group. Sidestep the confusion and create name tags for everyone that includes a line to list out some lineage. You can pre-print name tags or create fill-in-the-blank ones – I personally prefer the latter so you don’t have to rely on RSVPs and so last minute attendees don’t feel left out. The best part of these name tags is they will help family members with memory issues feel more included, since they’ll have clues to remember relatives without having to ask.

Communicate any and all allergies ahead of time

Since allergies develop all the time, it’s best to make it clear from the beginning – if you have an allergy, it is your responsibility to communicate that to the group ahead of time. With food allergies, contact the family members coordinating the food and beverage options right away. It’s fairly easy to leave out certain ingredients ahead of time, but you’d hate to miss out on half the fun at meals because they contain foods you can’t eat. If you are allergic to pet dander, make sure to communicate that, as well, so your relatives with pets (dogs are the most travel friendly) can make other arrangements for their furry friends. 

Tricia Mullin
Director of Community Relations
Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

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