How do you create a family reunion everyone will want to attend? It starts with good planning and ends with a great venue in a beautiful destination town. Take a look at our suggestions on this page for all the planning steps to make your next family reunion the best one yet. We offer our experience and top tips for enlisting your relatives’ help and then providing good communication, lodging, group meals and fun activities for the whole family. And check out our 7 beautiful beachfront suites that sleep up to 30+ people. Each family-size suite is completely unique to allow for lots of flexible sleeping arrangements for your next family reunion.
When to Start Planning Your Family Reunion
The earlier, the better! Every memorable occasion begins with a well-thought-out plan. Experts say you should start your family reunion planning 6-12 months in advance. Make a few phone calls to relatives you think might help, gauge interest, discuss the timing and possible locations, and enlist the people you know you can count on. This is your reunion too, so don’t try to do it all by yourself.
What Do We Do First?
As soon as you have a core group of helpers, brainstorm among yourselves and come up with options for your family reunion theme. This can really add to the fun of the event, so don’t skip it! Do you want to celebrate your family history, a special event such as the grandparents’ anniversary, a holiday like Thanksgiving or July 4th? How about a sports theme, a talent show or a food theme? Themes also help the planning team in coming up with decorations, food and unique activities for all ages.
Send an Exploratory Email to the Family
Have one of the volunteers put together a invitation list complete with updated emails and phone numbers. In your first email, ask for feedback on a couple of alternative themes, dates and locations for the reunion. Consider people’s budgets when creating options and include estimates for reunion expenses, not including personal travel, if possible. Some reunion groups use a free online survey tool such as Survey Monkey if the group is over 20 people. Be sure you give a deadline for response!
Send the Official Reunion Invitations
Once the deadline has passed, tally up the responses. The chances of you finding a date that suits everyone will be slim. Just choose a date that pleases the largest number of relatives and then stick with it. Next, decide on a location and venue. And follow up with an official invitation to everyone so they can lock in their travel plans and start anticipating the fun! Get firm commitments from attendees. And follow up if needed to get RSVP’s.
In the same email, ask for volunteers to help plan in specific areas of expertise– food, invitations, decorations, T-shirts, venue arrangements, games and activities, etc. Things will go so much better if people are working in groups in their areas of interest and strength.
Set up a Family Reunion Group on Facebook
You may also want to set up a Closed or Secret Facebook group page. Choose the level of privacy that works for your situation. There you’ll post all the plans, ask for volunteers, and share pictures and videos before and after the event. Have one person in charge of keeping the information flowing and building anticipation! Choose a great cover photo, one that embodies the theme for the reunion. After setting up the group, add family members to keep everyone in the loop. If you have a few who don’t do Facebook, you’ll also need another way to communicate with them.
Be sure to add the official reunion invitation to the Facebook group page and post photos and event schedules often to increase participation. Encourage feedback on Facebook to fuel excitement! Share pictures and video in your posts. Consider setting up an online photo gallery where everyone can share their own photos and videos after the event. Also use the gallery to view entries in a daily photo or video contest at the reunion.
Choosing a Location and Venue
If the charming resort town of Fairhope, AL is one of your location options, naturally, we think Jubilee Suites would be the perfect venue for your next family reunion!
Jubilee Suites is a beautifully renovated historic hotel with 7 individual suites, each with 1 or 2 bedrooms for a total of 11. In all, we can sleep up to 30+ people in beds and pullout sofas. If you’ve got a few more, call us about creating additional space we don’t advertise on our website! Each of our suites has a private entrance for an ideal mix of individual family space and group spaces throughout the property. Our guests have told us that our flexible accommodations make it easy to sleep families of all sizes. And parents, you’ll like the fact that every suite comes with a full size washer and dryer so packing is simple. Although each suite has a full kitchen and fully furnished living and dining areas, when your family reunion members rent the entire property, you also have the option of renting our brand new large central kitchen and gathering room. Use this extra space for group meals, socializing together, and for crafts or other group activities and we’ll provide seating for up to 30 guests.* See detailed descriptions of each of our fresh and clean modern suites and all the amenities.
If you’d like to bring your pet, we’ve got two suites that are now pet-friendly. There is a $75 pet fee and we ask that you crate your pet when it is unattended. You’ll also enjoy our four resident kitties who mainly just wander around looking for a friendly human head-scratcher.
Meals for a Crowd
There are several ways to plan for meals for a family reunion and the layout of the property makes just about anything possible. For starters, each suite has a fully furnished kitchen so families can cook in their suites. Upon request, we can stock individual refrigerators with simple elements for your first breakfasts, for instance. We also provide charcoal grills throughout the property so guests can grill outside if they wish. There are grocery stores close by as well as stores that sell gourmet prepared meals.
Your reunion guests may want to enjoy group meals together and there are lots of fun ways to handle that. When you reserve the entire hotel- all 7 suites- you’ll also have have the option to rent our central kitchen and the big adjacent gathering room for seating. Some family reunion groups may want to cook their meals together while for others, catering some or all of their meals is the way to go. Caterers love our setup and we have preferred vendors we can recommend. The choice is yours and we can help you plan it out before you get here.
Here are some other options for group meals:
- Have a big family dinner gathering the first night. If your group is mostly driving, a potluck might be great. Perhaps everyone brings their family’s favorite dish to match the reunion theme.
- How about a Steak Cookout or a Gulf Shrimp Boil served on the lawn one evening? There are some wonderful fresh local food sources in Fairhope and we can help you find what you need to host the perfect group picnic.
- If you want to avoid the prep, we can help you hire a caterer to prepare and serve practically anything you want for your reunion family meals. What are you hungry for?
- Some families split the meal planning, food purchasing, cooking and cleanup by rotating responsibilities each day over the reunion week. Set up a schedule for each family (or two) to plan and prepare dinner one evening for the rest of the group. Another family takes on cleanup that day. It rotates the work and it also means there are days when your family has no responsibilities for cooking at all! Sweet!
- Try setting up a breakfast bar in the big kitchen each morning. With a waffle iron, a bowl of batter in the refrigerator and a variety of syrups, fruit, and other toppings, a waffle station is a great option for a reunion. Other mornings you might try an omelet station or simply offer a continental breakfast.
- For some families, especially those with small children, a lunch bar can also work. Set out a variety of healthy ingredients- breads, meat, cheese, fruits and veggies- and let each family create their own lunch plates according to their children’s preferences.
- Fairhope has some wonderful restaurants and one day you could make reservations for a large group out on the town. Follow up your meal with a trip to the Fairhope Pier to walk it off.
Activities at the Hotel
Jubilee Suites is directly on Mobile Bay and situated on a bluff about 65 feet above our 200 foot long private beach. See us on Google Earth here! Pictures of the sparkling water by day and the sunsets by night simply don’t do it justice. Guests tell us there is a sense of peace and tranquility here that you have to experience for yourself. The beach is rustic and private and perfect for keeping kids of all ages busy. We have kayaks for your use and guests also enjoy fishing, swimming, crabbing, and paddleboarding. Some family members may enjoy simply sitting under a tree and enjoying the view. We often see bald eagles, pelicans, and osprey overhead, and you’ll see some boat traffic in the Bay too.
Up on the lawn, guests can feel free to set up lawn games or rearrange the chairs to suit.* We also have a fire pit for chilly evenings and a platform that would be perfect for a family reunion talent or fashion show, a sing-along, an outdoor movie, or whatever your creative team can come up with. For more creative ideas on how to entertain the family, see our article on 25 Fun Activities for your Next Family Reunion.
Because Jubilee Suites is on a bluff looking westward over Mobile Bay, we are constantly delighted by the ever-changing nightly sunsets. We take the time each evening to sit and enjoy the view as we wind down from our busy days. Bring a beverage and grab a lounge chair. It’s a tradition! Get your camera ready for unforgettable views!
The beautiful tree-covered courtyard in front of the building is for use by everyone and is lovely for quiet reading or just sitting and enjoying the fountain. Five of the suites have either ground floor patios or upper floor balconies, perfect for morning coffee, sunset viewing or late night star-gazing.
We also have a full yoga studio in the building and we offer at least two classes a week. Ask about times and prices. Dana Maloney, your host, is a certified yoga instructor and she would be happy to have you either join her in her daily practice or direct you to one of the many classes in town. Yoga classes on the beach or on the backyard bluff are also options. And for truly relaxing luxury, ask us about scheduling an in-suite massage while you are here.
Don’t Miss Visiting the Town of Fairhope!
Fairhope is bike-friendly and we can arrange bicycle rentals for your family. It’s also sidewalk-friendly and you can easily get to town by walking about a mile south along the Section Street sidewalk. And of course you can drive. Once you get downtown, there are lots of interesting dining options and cute shops among beds of gorgeous flowers everywhere. Looking for something in particular? Ask a friendly local. Fairhope is one of the fastest growing small towns in AL and in 2018 was named the prettiest small town in AL by Architectural Digest magazine. We also think it is the friendliest.
One interesting way to discover Fairhope and also marvel at its famous flowers is to take the Walking Tour of Outdoor Sculpture starting at the Eastern Shore Art Center just down the street from us. Or for those who like history, take a group to the Fairhope History Museum right in the heart of downtown. You’ll discover how an adventurous group of 28 people founded the “single tax” experiment called Fairhope, AL in 1894. The whole museum is a local treasure. Top off your field trip with a nice meal. The restaurants all through town offer an abundance of local seafood plus regional and international cuisine. Ask us for a recommendation.
And you won’t want to miss the famous Fairhope Pier that extends about 1/4 mile out into Mobile Bay. You’ll meet locals and tourists enjoying the sights as they stroll along or take their daily power walks. Whether you like people-watching, waterfront dining, checking out the boats in the marina, or viewing the avid fishermen and the shore birds just waiting to steal their catch, the Fairhope Pier is a local gathering spot like no other. For more ideas, check out our ever-growing list of fun things to do in the local area.
Reunion Time is Finally Here!
Setting the tone the first night is important. Make sure the organizers are there ahead of time to greet everyone, and pass out t-shirts, schedules and other resources. Someone may want to lead tours of the hotel so everyone knows where to find each other!
Plan an icebreaker. Not everyone will know each other even though they are related. Having an icebreaker early on the first day will help guests discover connections and encourage conversation, and perhaps stimulate new relationships that will outlive the reunion. One way to break the ice is to plan to gather for the sunset party in the backyard. At Jubilee Suites, we have a sunset party every night. By the time you leave, this may be the thing you’ll miss most!
Enjoy each other! Encourage everyone to relax, unplug, talk to each other, and simply hang out. Jubilee Suites is a perfect place to enjoy a peaceful, happy reunion in a simply beautiful, natural setting.
Let us help you plan your next family reunion. Contact us to reserve your view and for answers to any questions you may have about availability and rates. We look forward to meeting you!
*Equipment rental such as extra seating, tents, bikes, extra kayaks, etc. and all catering services are extra, and prices depend on your specific needs. We’re happy to help you source what you need to make your reunion a success.