Reunion Planning Checklist
You've no doubt seen wedding checklists that begin with a list of things to take care of 6 months to a year ahead of time. The following is patterned after this idea and the time frame is approximate. Each family and family reunion is different and will have different needs and ideas. Some of the best ones are personalized with information from family stories and utilize talent, time, and treasure found within the family itself. Please take into consideration the number of people expected and the distance they may have to travel as well as any reservation requirements pertinent to the location of your gathering. (You shouldn't have to worry about pre-wedding jitters, however ;) Happy Family Reunion!
* What is your own idea of a family reunion? Write down ideas and expectations. Find a good book or magazine that carries family reunion stories and planning tips.
* After researching any history of past family reunions and consulting with a few family members, set the date and place. Make tentative reservations if needed, at the facility.
* Begin collecting names and addresses to contact about reunion. Decide who will be invited: any and all with a particular surname, or just extended family related by fairly recent common ancestor?
* Update and review your genealogical data. How much will you send out ahead of time to be completed by prospective attendees? What will you bring with you and in what format? Is someone writing the family's history?
* You might consider forming a reunion committee, especially if this is to be a large reunion. Include close family members, relatives and friends who have helped plan reunions in the past, and anyone else who might be interested or helpful.
* Decide how the reunion is going to be paid for. Will you and/or the committee foot the costs for postage, phone bills, any pictures, momentos, printing, facility rental, etc.? Or will each individual or family invited pay a fee?
(Now you know why some people form family associations!)
* Send out letters to all on your list so those interested will have time to plan for the date and respond. You don't have to relay all the details until the next letter or postcard. The date, time, and place, and a contact are vital. This would be a good time to send a family group sheet to be filled out and returned by mail (if so, send SASE) or to the reunion. If you or someone else is working on a family history or genealogical database to be distributed or offered for sale at the reunion, you will want this to be done by mail ahead of time.
* Contact the manager or owner of the reunion site. Arrange to tour it and have a written list of questions ready to ask concerning use limitations, costs, etc. Take someone with you in case there is a problem or misunderstanding later on and it won't be your word against the manager's. (If you've never dealt with this facility before, get it in writing!) Be sure the date is firm if everything looks good.
* Discuss with your committee or family ideas about activities, T-shirts, group photos and other possibilities. Browse through Reunions magazine (or another publication) to see what other families have done and what is available. What might your group enjoy?
* What about a family recipe book? Each family or individual can be asked to send in his or her favorite recipe (or one handed down in the family) for inclusion in a family recipe book. (Another committee member can work on this.)
* See what is available in the area and contact photographer, vendors, and get price quotes after letting them know about your reunion and what you have in mind.
* If desired, advertise your reunion on-line or in newspapers and magazines. Solicit help in finding lost relatives, if needed.
* You will get some envelopes back with expired or incorrect addresses. Keep up with these as you go. Re-send if possible.
* Keep track of expenses.
* Begin putting together a reunion newsletter that details your activities and schedule. Make final decisions as to activities and options. (Will there be swimming? Is there a lifeguard on duty? What about alcohol? How far away is lodging? Is this a one day or week-end long affair? What fun things can the children do? What about food?) Inform them so they will know what to expect and what to bring. Write it up and format in an interesting and attractive style.
* Contact known family members with special talents or services. Is Uncle Bill a musician and can he bring his guitar? Can Aunt Betty bring her wonderful pies? Will Cousin Joe plan some games for the kids? Let them know you appreciate them and their gifts and ask them for assistance in their special areas.
* Begin collating family group sheets that have been returned. Enlist someone to help you work on these or turn them over to another genealogist (or organized person) in the family. Give it up and just be a consultant!
* Firm up plans with photographer. Let him or her know an approximate number and what kind of setting you require.
* How are the T-shirts (or baseball caps or . . ) coming? Will they be given to each family as they arrive or will they be ordered at the reunion and delivered later?
* Send out the family reunion newsletter with the fun details and any registration/order forms included. Be sure to include a map or detailed directions to the site.
* Meet with your committee to go over responses received and iron out any possible difficulties.
* Will the food be catered? If so, make arrangements for this.
* If some family members are coming from a long distance, find out if others nearby can meet them at the airport. Treat them like family -- don't make them take a cab!
* Do you have a list of who is coming and what, if any, special needs they have? Does Grandpa need wheelchair access? Does Cousin Sue have a nursing infant?
* Call and check on items ordered, hotel rooms, etc. Don't assume everything is going the way you ordered and that no news is good news! Be friendly, but firm!
* Look over final version of family history or genealogical data to be shared at reunion. Is everything correct as far as you know? Have someone else read over it as well.
* Have a back-up plan in case someone becomes ill or isn't able to come. Have extra food, extra games, an extra room, just in case! (Do you have a rain plan or a plan B? Think about it!) If all else fails, remember: KISMIF (Keep it simple, make it fun!)
* Send out reminder postcards if budget allows. Keep it short and friendly. Let them know their presence is important and you are looking forward to seeing them!
* Meet with committee one more time to iron out any final details. Plan to pay those bills on time so you won't give your family a bad reputation with area businesses.
* Take care of copying and sign-making at home or at the printers. Don't wait until the last minute if you can help it.
* Contact those family members you asked to provide special entertainment for free. Make sure they are still coming and can do their thing!
* Is your family ready to go? Do you have film, clothes, tickets, equipment, etc. prepared? Take along what you need to have a good time!
* Relax and enjoy your family reunion!
* Pay those bills in a timely manner * Meet with committee one last time. Evaluate the reunion. Discuss pros and cons. What was good? What could have been done better? What about next time? * Write thank you notes to those who provided a special service or businesses who served you well. * Stay in touch with those special relatives you met for the first time or with whom you renewed auld acquaintance.
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