Family Organization

I come from a large family.  I have 9 siblings and 2 parents.  Some of us are loud and opinionated.  Some of us are quiet and reserved.  Some take over.  Some sit back.  Some love a party and others prefer solitude.  Some are entrepreneurs and some are scholars.  (All are going to hate that I posted this retro pick.  I am the one sucking in on the front right.)

My point is we are a very diverse group.  And in order to give everyone a voice, a place, and a little sanity, we needed some kind of family organization.  A few years ago, we had a family fight meeting, brainstormed jobs, and made assignments.

Here are most of the jobs and their descriptions that we have in our Stenson Family.  These descriptions are the ideal, but everyone is free to complete their jobs as they see fit.  We decided to change jobs every 2 years when many are home for Christmas.

Family President- This person oversees all the other jobs.  She nudges when necessary and praises when appropriate.  Sometimes she gets things rolling and makes sure people are aware of their responsibilities.    She can make assignments as needed. She also makes sure the family is restaffed for the next 2 year stint.

Gift Chairman- This person is in charge of the Christmas gift exchange as well as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and mom and dad’s birthday.  He can get others’ opinion, but once he makes the call on gift giving, we support it.  He has the option to declare that everyone is on their own for gifts or he can opt for a group gift from everyone.  Then he thinks of the gift idea, collects the money and buys the gifts.  It is my experience that there is little complaining because everyone is just happy they don’t have to do the work.

Dinner Chairman– We have family dinner once a month with those that live in town.  This person coordinates the meal and makes food assignments so my mom is not doing all the work.  Mom still always makes the gravy, but the rest of us can help with the other parts of the meal. The dinner chairman communicates where and when and what to bring.

Newsletter- This person sends out a newsletter once a month.  In the past, it was a good old copied newsletter you received in the mail, but now it is just a group email that is sent once a month.  It contains upcoming significant dates, a message from either mom, dad or the president, and a report on any action taken with family jobs.  The newsletter also acts as a forum for individual family updates. In theory, families just press ‘reply to all’ and give their monthly update on what their family is up to.

Treasurer- We have a family fund that we contribute to on a monthly basis.   The suggested amount is $5 a month per person in your family.  This is completely optional and we will still feed you on Christmas Eve even if you don’ t pay.  This fund pays for family activities or food when we are all together or parts of family reunions or it may help one of our family members in need.  It is kind of like a family savings account. We decide how to spend it as a group.   The treasurer set up a bank account and we even have a debit card.  He does the paying and reimbursing, and he also sends out a reminder once a month to make your payment. He is also the only one that knows who pays and who doesn’t.

Family Directory– With 10 kids, emails, phone numbers, cell numbers, addresses, significant others,etc. are always changing.  My dad has been in charge of the family directory for years and does a great job keeping it current.  He is very thorough and emails us an updated directory as necessary. He also includes some of the parent in-law information on the directory in case we need to get a hold of the other side of the family.

Thanksgiving Chairman- We made this job up this year for my sister because she hosts Thanksgiving every year so she might as well get an official title for doing the work.   Everyone (who can) goes to Boise and she plans a fun filled weekend with food, movies, activities, turkey bowl, and did I mention food?

Girls Day Coordinator- The girls that are in town (there are 5 of us) get together on a regular basis.  We used to do it weekly.  We would cook all together or go to lunch or do a service at someone’s home or plan an event or just sit and complain about life.   But we really haven’t done Girls Day as much this last year.  We all got busy and the coordinator got cancer so we will cut her some slack.

Family Reunion Chairman*- This person gets to plan the family reunion.  We do these every other year.  She picks the spot, the agenda, the budget, the assignments, etc. and we go with it.

Family History / Genealogy / Temple Coordinator –  This person works on our family history and any projects related to this area.  He also coordinates days when we go to the temple as a family.  He can decide if it is monthly or quarterly or if we all go on the same day or at the same time, but we do want to try to attend the temple as a family even though we live hundreds of miles apart.

Father and Sons Chairman*- The boys, son-in-laws and my dad like to take some time off together.  The last one was an epic trip to Louie Lake in Wyoming.  This person plans the trip and makes assignments.  Again, the details are up to him.

(*once every 2 years)

I don’t expect any one out their in blog land to use all these exact jobs.  But I do hope that some of you will be able to use an idea or two in your own extended family.  Even if it is just starting a family newsletter or appointing a family gift chairman.

Please know that my family does not function perfectly.  Some people don’t pay into the family fund. The gift chairman has been know to be wrapping gifts late Christmas Eve.  We may only have girls day every 6 months. Some jobs never get done. And we can really annoy each other in general.

But for the most part, our family organization is successful.  It helps reign in a large group and keeps us all on the same page. Our family organization gives everyone a chance to participate, a chance to lead, a chance to plan, and a chance to contribute to the family.  Dispersing the work takes the burden off of one person.

We are accepting applications for Family President 2013 if you’re interested.



5 thoughts on “Family Organization”

  1. Love the photo! I love this idea, I always implement your family ideas on my own family. I’m hoping they catch on fast. It’s a great way to stay connected especially for those of us far away. 🙁

  2. Absolutely love this post! Mum’s one of 5, and Christmas is always with her family (though of the 5 re-married, which seriously muddied the waters!). In any case, much of what you mention make for regular arguments! Good on you for trying to have a system!

  3. Family Picture- HAHAHAHAHAHA! Maybe we should have a family picture coordinator. We could sure use that.

    1. We need another family picture STAT. The last one was over 5 years ago and I had just had a baby. We both look better now.

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