How seriously do you take your family reunions? Are you the type who micromanages everything from what you’re going to wear down to what your aunts and uncles are bringing for potluck night? Or are you the type who doesn’t forget to hire the emcee but forgets to reserve a sound system anyway? Either way, you need a checklist! Here’s a quick guide you can use:

Three weeks before:

1. Secure your reservations.
Normally, you wouldn’t need to make a restaurant reservation this early, but remember that it’s Christmastime, and almost every family in town will be eating out. And don’t forget that a lot of companies and alumni associations will also be holding parties around this time of the year, too.

2. Send out the invitations: formally, verbally, or digitally.
If it’s important that everyone is in attendance, send out your invites early as well. Get a final count of who’s coming, who’s on the fence, and who’s absolutely not available. If there is a dress code, make sure you tell them as early as possible, too, so they’d have time to find something appropriate to wear.

Two weeks before:

1. Discuss food options.
Is someone in the family a vegan or a vegetarian? Is anyone allergic to shrimp or crab? Make sure the restaurant prepares options for them to partake on. If you’re holding a potluck affair, remind your relatives about who’s allergic to what, so they can make the necessary adjustments.

2. Decide on the program.
Will you be holding a dance or singing contest for the kids? Will there be loot bags? Is the head matriarch going to make a speech? Finalize these details before the end of the week to avoid chaos on the day of the reunion. If you want, you can print out program cards for the guests to read on the day of the reunion. You might also want to decide on the seating arrangement. Nothing ends a family reunion faster than two feuding relatives forced to sit together.

One week before:

1. Remind your relatives about the family reunion.
Consider this your final, final headcount. Call up your relatives, and remind them of the specifics. Call those who were unsure three weeks before, too. They just might have a change of heart.

2. Do one final check and relax.
Go over the entire event again, and check if you missed anything important. Visit the venue to check the sound system and the fire exits. Make sure the menu covers all bases and that everyone is seated correctly. When you see that everything is in order, then you can focus on yourself, what you’re going to wear, whom you’ll be bringing as your plus one, how you want to do your hair...

(Screencap from The Family Stone courtesy of Warner Bros.)

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