7 Easy Steps for Planning and Organizing a Gatlinburg Family Reunion

Three kids sitting outside together and smiling

There’s no better place to spend time with family than Gatlinburg. It’s best to plan ahead any time you are planning a vacation, but it’s especially fun to plan a Gatlinburg family reunion. There’s hundreds of attractions, restaurants and things to do in the area that you’ll want to see, and it’s even more fun when you get to share those experiences with family. We’ve put together 7 easy steps to help you plan a memorable family reunion in Gatlinburg:

1. Put Together a Guests List

You’d think that choosing who to invite to a family reunion would be easy, right? Family! But the tricky part is knowing how many family members to invite! The guests list could go on and on, so it’s important to set a cut-off point. Make sure you decide how many to invite, then start putting your list together.

As soon as you have your list made, notify everyone of the invitation. If you’d like for each family member to be responsible for a portion of the cost of the Gatlinburg cabin rental, attractions tickets, etc., let them know right away. This way, they can each start planning their budgets accordingly.

2. Get Your Family InvolvedHusband and wife planning a Gatlinburg vacation

Everyone wants to be involved in the planning process! And when you’re talking about taking a vacation, everyone has their own ideas of which attractions they want to visit and which restaurants they want to eat at. Instead of having to manage all of the special requests when you arrive, go ahead and get everyone involved right away!

Ask all of the family members a few questions to get an idea of what everyone wants to do. Here’s some examples:

  • What is your vacation budget? (This is important for deciding on the cost of a cabin rental, how many attractions to visit during your vacation and which restaurants meet everyone’s budget)
  • Do you have any dates that you absolutely can’t attend the Gatlinburg family reunion? (Some family members may have ‘black out’ dates at work or school where they can’t take time off for vacation)
  • Will you be driving or flying to Gatlinburg? (You’ll need to know this to organize transportation)
  • Which attractions do you want to visit?
  • Which restaurants are you most excited to visit?
  • Do you have any special requests?

3. Choose the Dates

Now that you have a pretty good idea of everyone’s expectations, you can really dig into the planning. Start by choosing the dates for your reunion. Once you have the dates selected, you should send a final RSVP before booking a cabin rental. This way, you know exactly how many people to plan for, so you don’t spend too much on a cabin rental that’s too big for your vacation.

Two wooden chairs on the deck of a Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg cabin in the Smoky Mountains4. Find a Gatlinburg Family Reunion Cabin Rental

Once you know exactly how many people will be visiting, you can start looking at Gatlinburg family reunion cabins. These group cabins are perfect for a variety of different group sizes, so you can choose the rental that works best for you.

After you decide on a cabin, check in with the family members, then get it booked! Cabins are popular, so when you find your dream cabin, you’ll want to get it booked quickly.

5. Finalizing Your Family Reunion Plans

So, booking a cabin is done and everyone is invited and ready for a fun family reunion! What’s next? Here’s a few questions to ask, so you don’t miss anything:

  • Will there be a theme? If so, it’s time to start buying any of the products or decorations you’ll need for the theme.
  • Which attractions will you be visiting? (You can go ahead and purchase tickets in advance if you know when you’ll be visiting each attraction!)
  • Which restaurants are you visiting and when? (Plan ahead by making reservations since you’re with a large group. This will cut down on your wait time.)
  • Are you planning to cook some meals in your cabin? (Make a shopping list for what you’ll need to take with you and what you’ll need to purchase when you arrive.)

6. Create a Flexible ScheduleGroup hiking in the mountains on a classic hike in the Smokies

We find it extremely helpful to lay out a day to day plan for activities. Of course, keep your schedule flexible so you can truly enjoy the reunion, but it helps to give everyone an idea of what will be happening on each day.

Here’s an example for a day in case you need some help getting started:

  • 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. Sleep in, enjoy the coffee on the porch
  • 8 a.m – 9 a.m. Get ready for the day
  • 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Breakfast at the cabin
  • 10:30 a.m. Meet at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg
  • 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Free to explore Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Everyone meet for lunch at Feeding Frenzy inside the aquarium, then finish the aquarium into the gift shop
  • 3:00 p.m. Aquarium gift shop
  • 3:30 p.m. Free time to explore the Gatlinburg Parkway
  • 6:30 p.m. Meet for dinner at Calhoun’s Restaurant in Gatlinburg
  • 8:30 p.m. Head back to the cabin for movie night

Believe it or not, these small itineraries make a huge difference and they keep everyone on track throughout the entire vacation! It also helps narrow down on how many questions you’ll have to answer throughout the trip, so you can enjoy Gatlinburg just as much as everyone else!

7. Share a Packing List with Family

Lastly, make sure everyone has a good idea of what to pack for the trip. If you’re spending lots of time in the national park, be sure family members know to pack plenty of hiking clothes. If you’re spending a day at Dolly’s Splash Country, you’ll want to be sure to have all of your swimming needs! Here’s a helpful packing list to get you started:

Gatlinburg vacation packing checklist

To help you out, you should share our Ultimate List of Gatlinburg Vacation Packing Tips with your family members. That’s where you can find this packing list as well as other helpful tips for packing for your Gatlinburg family reunion.

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