It's a Family Reunion
So you’re planning a Family Reunion? Here are some helpful tips to assist you in planning a successful one.
1. Form a reunion committee. If you’re planning a small reunion (less than 20), a committee might not be necessary. If you’re expecting more than 20, a committee will take some of the pressure off of you and provide an opportunity for other family members to get involved. For larger reunions, the reunion committee can often be the foundation of a great reunion. The more organized they are, the smoother the reunion will flow.
Select a reunion committee chairperson. The reunion committee chairperson is responsible for: scheduling planning meetings, presiding over planning meetings, keeping an updated timeline of finished and unfinished tasks and, most importantly, motivating all committee members to follow through with their responsibilities. After the reunion committee chairperson is selected, the rest of the committee can be assigned to major components of the reunion such as: location, events, entertainment, budget, mailings, travel, etc.
2. Create a list of family members. Assemble a list of family members to include, spouses, partners and children. Ask others for the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people you are missing. Compile a computer data list (preferably an Excel worksheet) of names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. The list can have numerous uses such as mailing labels, envelopes and as an RSVP confirmation list.
Tracking lost family members. There are many resources out there that assist people in finding lost family members. Here are few websites to help you get the tracking process started.
3. Take a survey. To gauge the interest of your attendees, it’s a good idea to send out a survey via mail or email. In your survey, include possible dates, proposed location, cost, interests, ideas and special needs. Ask for a timely response to your questions.
4. Select a date. Avoid scheduling conflicts by referring back to the surveys your family members completed. Select a date that is agreed upon by the majority. Most family reunions are centered around events like barbeques, galas and Sunday services. You’ll have to determine how long the reunion will be. The further that people have to travel the longer they tend to want to stay.
5. Pick the location. After the date is agreed upon, you can now choose a location. You want a location that is accessible and affordable. If your family is in a concentrated area, choose a location nearby. If your family is coming from both near and far, choose a location centrally located.
6. Create a budget. Setting a detailed budget helps determine what the pre-registration fee will be. Make sure to budget for catering cost, decorations, venue rentals, entertainment, t-shirts, lodging and special attractions.
7. Reserving the location(s). Start sourcing venues that can accommodate your needs such as: hotels, park districts, restaurants and banquet halls. Here are a few links that can help you in choosing the right venues for your family reunion.
8. Outline the program. Now that you have the date, location and venues secured, it’s time to plan in detail a run-of-day schedule. Don’t forget to plan the registration process step-by-step.
9. Invite your guests. Now that most of the planning is finished, it’s time to invite your guests. Make sure you're giving your guests ample time to put it on their calendar. If you're charging registration fees, make sure you mention it in the invitation along with deadlines by which at least a percentage of the fee is required.
10. Preparing for the big event. Create directional signs to point arriving guests to registration, parking and important locations. Purchase a guest book to collect signatures, addresses and other contact information. Purchase name badges to promote mingling amongst unacquainted family members.
11. Wrapping it up. Send out a post thank-you letter complete with pictures highlighting what a wonderful time everyone had. This would be a good time to include a pre-registration sheet for next year’s reunion and get a head start on the planning process!
Additional links you may find useful in the planning of your family reunion.