Family Reunion Etiquette

Family Reunion Etiquette

Are you familiar with the song, “Family Reunion” by the R&B (rhythm & blues) group, The O’Jays?  The lyrics convey the message of a joyous time for “the family” to come together and celebrate their heritage. The song summarizes the gratitude and excitement surrounding a family assembly. Some of the lyrics are:


Family reunion (Got to have)
A family reunion
Family reunion
(It’s so nice to come together) To come together
(To get together)

It’s so nice to see
All the folks you love together
Sittin’ and talkin’ ’bout
All the things that’s been goin’ down

It’s been a long, long time
Since we had a chance to get together
Nobody knows the next time we see each other
Maybe years and years from now

A family reunion is a grand opportunity to spend quality time with relatives.  Your gathering may be as simple as a backyard barbeque or it may include other fun activities such as a picnic, talent show, game night, prayer breakfast and tours.  When planning a reunion, consider a theme that would enhance family unity and pride, and make family members aware of their heritage.  Some families incorporate their history and genealogy into the celebration.  The significant achievements of family members, vintage artifacts or the development of a family tree also adds value to your gathering.  Regardless of the timing, the location, or the chain of events, it is to everyone’s advantage that family members adhere to the following six etiquette tips.

R.S.V.P. in a timely manner
Inform the planners if you will be attending the event and do not bring others without first checking with the hosts.  Promptly pay any cost or fees (often deposits are required to reserve venues, purchase food, etc.).

Socialize with everyone
Take advantage of the opportunity to meet and spend time with “distant” relatives.  Do not just mingle with immediate family.  Participate in the family activities and cherish your time together.

Arrive on time for the planned activities
Be timely. Exhibit the highest degree of social decorum by being respectful of other family members’ time and effort in planning the events.  Also, if you are requested to bring food for a potluck menu, make sure that your dish arrives on time.

Parents should keep an eye on their child(ren) to ensure they are mannerly
While socializing with family members that you have not seen in years, it can be easy to become distracted and leave children unsupervised.  Organizers planning the reunion should include activities for children of all ages to allow them to have fun and occupy their time.

Acknowledge the elders of the family
Honoring their presence shows great esteem and teaches respect.

Show appreciation to the organizer(s) for planning the family reunion
How nice it is for the people overseeing the reunion to receive a thank you note from family members expressing sincere gratitude for their hard work and efforts.  Even though things may not have been perfect, a note of appreciation lets the organizers know that their work was not in vain.

Have a great summer!

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.