As much fun as family reunions are, there are always jobs we don’t want to do. Cleaning up happens to be one of the lowest on the “excitement” list. You’ll quickly notice it is easier to get volunteers for the planning committees and set-up crews. People just don’t like cleaning.
Family members are more likely to volunteer time and effort for the fun parts of a reunion. They’re also more willing to volunteer for the pre-planning. But many are unwilling to clean up during the event. as they would rather mingle and enjoy the activities, of course. It makes sense, but that doesn’t change the fact: someone has to clean up.
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The Importance of Planning for Cleanup
Family reunion planners must plan ahead of time for cleanup duties. It’s important to have specific people and procedures in place for the cleanup of the reunion venue. If you don’t, then some poor family member will be left to clean all by themselves. Don’t leave Aunt Joan with a huge pile of dishes and silverware, or piles of trash to be disposed of!
Almost every large family has a couple of members who really do not mind cleaning up after meals and family affairs. It is also important to not overwhelm them with so many tasks during the reunion. They deserve to have a great time themselves too! A more streamlined and equal distribution of the cleanup responsibilities would be a better option for everyone involved.
So, what do we do with this conundrum? Here are ideas that will help family reunion cleanup go a lot more smoothly!
1. Include cleanup duties in sign-up sheets
If you have sign-up sheets or registration forms (paper or online) for various committees and responsibilities related to the family reunion, always include cleanup duties in the options. This helps family members remember that this is part of the many things that need to be planned.
Sometimes, reunion planners spend much time organizing committees for food preparation, venue setup, games and activities, and other event details, but the cleanup gets neglected. This allows participants to assume that it’s every man for himself; most of the time, this does not work well.
2. Assign duties to each family
If your reunion event lasts a couple of days (such as an entire weekend), then there will be several meals shared by the whole group. In this case, it’s just fair to spread out the cleanup responsibilities among the families represented. Assign specific families ahead of time so they know their responsibilities. If one family is assigned to cook lunch, then have another family take care of the cleanup.
3. Make it a competition
People love competition, and it’s often a sneaky way to get people to assume responsibilities. Announce a contest for the family group with the cleanest area (give great prizes for winners). This way, each unit is responsible for their space and everyone will be pressured to pick up after themselves. This is a great idea for reunions held in picnic areas or campgrounds.
4. Make trash collection and disposal easy
Have enough trash bins and/or garbage bags throughout your venue. When trash is made, people can then throw it away. This also reduces the cleaning and tidying up needed when the event is done. If you have different activities or games that leave behind trash, such as confetti, balloons, leftover food, etc., clean up the mess as soon as the game is completed. Don’t let trash accumulate! Fun Trash Fact: Did you know Disney World trash cans are always less than 30 steps away? Walt Disney’s team observed people at other theme parks to determine the ideal distance.
5. Include professional cleaners in the budget
For really large family reunions, you will benefit more from hiring professional cleaning assistants rather than doing it yourself. Most food catering services, if you have opted for catered meals, have cleanup responsibilities included in their packages. If this is not an option, call cleaning services in your area and ask about their rates. If you use their services, then add the cost of the cleaning to the reunion registration fee.