It's best to organize a Family Reunion Committee. By organizing a committee you can decide whats best for the whole family and multiply brains is always better than have one leader who organize and run everything.
Organize meetings of the reunion committee. At the first meeting you may wish to assign responsibilities and titles to go along with them. Consider electing people for the following roles. Any of these could be combined into the same person, or set up as sub-committees with multiple people.
- Family Historian. The person in charge of coordinating and presenting family history information. See the section on family history for reunions below.
- Reunion Secretary. This person should take notes at the meetings, but also keep everyone in the family informed of what's going on. They can be in charge of collecting mailing addresses, sending out e-mail notices, making phone calls, etc.
- Reunion Treasurer. It's good to have one person in charge of the money. Here are some tips on another site about Family Reunion Budgeting.
- Reunion Webmaster. Having a reunion webpage is almost essential these days. This may be an opportunity to recruit a younger family member to help.
You might also consider putting individuals or groups in charge of the following: Food, Decorations, Games and Entertainment, and Cleaning.
Select Type of Reunion
One of the first decisions to make: what sort of party will you be hosting? For this decision you need to consider your family's culture, your budget, the number of people you're inviting, the mix of children and adults, and perhaps most importantly, your budget.
There are two basic possibilities:
Outdoor Barbecue or Picnic
This is a popular choice if you have children attending. You might consider hosting the event at a state or local park. An extension on this idea is an overnight or weekend camping trip, which can be a lot of fun if it fits your family's style.
A more limited version is a simple party at a family home or backyard. This is the most casual option. You don't even need to plan a meal if it's held at a late hour and there will not be many children. Drinks and hors oeuvres will suffice.
To keep expenses low you can make it a pot-luck where every family brings a dish. Be sure to coordinate who is bringing what. It's easy to end up with too many desserts, no drinks, etc.
Indoor Dinner or Reception
This is a relatively more expensive and formal option and it's not ideal for children, but it may be more impressive for your older guests. One advantage of this approach is that you have restaurant, caterer, or event facility staff take care of a lot of the work involved.
Here's something to consider. It's becoming popular to coordinate a reunion with another family event, such as a birthday, anniversary, or wedding, or simply a holiday such as the Fourth of July or Christmas. Many of the same family members might be attending this event anyway so it can save you a lot of expense and planning effort. By making it clear the event is also a reunion you may attract many guests who would not otherwise plan to attend. Although you may be worried about slighting the couple getting married, for example, by turning their wedding into a reunion, they may be honored by the extended family group and welcome the opportunity to defray the cost.
Promote your Family Reunion
How will you inform your family members and promote the reunion? Below are sections on sending invitations, creating a reunion webpage, and using social networking sites such as Facebook.
Send Electronic Invitations
You must send out invitations as soon as possible, if only as "save the date" on Etsy notices.
It is traditional to send paper invitations or cards. If it's a large reunion you could get custom printed invitations. Look up "Stationery" in the yellow pages or try the Google search.
Get a Custom Family Reunion Website
Creating a website for your reunion is a great way to help keep people informed. It's practical for family members who are internet savvy. They will love having a place to find the latest information about the date and location, who to contact, etc. It can also be a place to post questions and comments and share family photos and stories.
It's east to get a custom website these days with companies who offer custom built websites at prices that will fit any family's budget.
Use FacebookSocial networking sites can be a great organizational tool to supplement your reunion web design. If some of your family members use Facebook this is recommended, but other social networking sites may be just as useful and more efficient if it's what your family members are used to using.
Facebook can help you organize simply by serving as a place to exchange private messages or "wall" posts. You can also create a Facebook Group for your reunion and/or a Facebook Event
Reunion Activity IdeasWhat will you do at the reunion? The main idea, of course, is to mingle, catch up, and get to know each other better. Here are some ideas for breaking the ice and making this easier and more fun.
Welcome Family MembersIt's a nice idea to plan to give a little welcome speech. You can use this opportunity to talk about the day's activities you can also list the activities on your custom website . You might also want to list some of the people that are attending. You can recognize certain individuals or families that have traveled from far away or who might be less familiar. This can be a good way to introduce people to each other.
Another way to welcome people and help introduce them to each other is to print up a guest list or directory. Including contact information is a good idea, so people can keep in touch after the reunion. If you want to get fancy you can include photos.
This blog is written by Mary-jo Rootin