As you begin making preparations and laying out arrangements for your family reunion event, you will notice how much easier you can get volunteers for the planning committees and set-up crews compared to the cleanup after the event itself.
Family members are more likely to volunteer time and effort for preparations leading up to the reunion, but not a lot would be willing to clean up during the event itself as they would rather mingle and enjoy the activities, of course.
Family reunion planners have to plan ahead of time to have specific people and procedures for the cleanup of the reunion venue, otherwise some poor family member will be left by themselves with a huge pile of dishes and silverware to be washed, or piles of trash to be disposed of.
Truth is, almost every large family has a couple of members who really do not mind cleaning up after meals and family affairs, but they should not be overwhelmed with so many tasks during the reunion and end up not having a great time themselves. A more streamlined and equal distribution of the cleanup responsibilities would be a better option for everyone involved.
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, so family members will know 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 so participants 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 will stretch to a couple of days (such as an entire weekend), there will be several meals shared by the whole group, and 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, 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 will be responsible for their own space and everyone will be pressured to at least pick up after themselves. This is a great idea for reunions held in picnic area or campgrounds.
4. Make trash collection and disposal easy
Have enough trash bins and/or garbage bags throughout your venue. This makes it easier for the reunion participants to put away their trash, and 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 so the trash does not accumulate.
5. Include professional cleaners in the budget
For really large family reunion groups, you would probably benefit more from hiring professional cleaning assistants rather than doing it yourself. Most food catering services, if you have opted for catered meals, would have cleanup responsibilities included in their packages. If this is not your option, call cleaning services in your area and ask about their rates, and then add the cost of the cleaning to the reunion registration fee.