Dreading your next family reunion? Dread no more.
The Rivke Family Club—a sprawling network of 1,150 living family members descended from eastern Polish immigrants—are pros at putting together amazing reunions every five years, and they’re here to help.
Two members of the family’s steering committee (yes, they actually have a steering committee) sat down with Make It Better to offer you tips for a perfect family reunion.
No one wants to get stuck with the work of organizing an entire event. So the Rivke clan learned to delegate duties (such as recording the event), and recommends your family does the same. “You have got to have a set of people who are going to do the work,” Zalman Usiskin says.
Decide Who to Invite
It’s no secret: Every family has at least one black sheep. Old family feuds can ruin any get-together, no matter how much you’ve planned, prepped and pruned. The Rivkes say they try to be inclusive, no matter old spats. “You’re not here because of what happened in the past,” Usiskin says. “You’re here because of now.”
Pick a Location
And try make it as central as possible. For the Rivke family, who are sprinkled across the globe, this took some thought. Still, because of their concentration on the North Shore, Linconshire was a no-brainer.
The bigger your family, the tougher it is to communicate. Organization is key to effective communication during the planning process, Marisa Phillippi says. The Rivkes maintain an e-mail list of nearly 700 people.
Avoid Sticky Topics
One of the key ways the Rivke family has kept close over the years is that they never talk business, politics or religion at family gatherings. “If [we] would allow these kinds of discussions, there would be conflict,” Phillippi says.
Photo courtesy of Mark Segal Photography.