Common Questions & Answers For Reunion Planners
Question: Where do we start when planning family reunions?
Answer: The first action to planning a family reunion is to form a committee. This committee will be in charge of all final decisions of how to plan a reunion for their group. Reunions don’t just happen by themselves!
Question: How do we determine who to invite?
Answer: Decide which side(s) of the family you are inviting. Do you want to include siblings or all descendants of Great Grandpa Williams? Just remember, every step back will add a ton of new possible attendees.
Question: Do we need invitations?
Answer: Start by assembling a guest list of family members, children, grandparents, cousins and spouses. It’s usually a good idea to touch base with an elderly family member from each branch of the family to help you track down contact information for each person. Make sure to collect email addresses for speedy communication. Once you have plans in place, it’s time to invite the guests. You’ll want to do this well in advance (six months to a year) and also send a reminder a few weeks before the occasion. If a ticket price is required be sure to include that cost with a deadline for payment. Tickets purchased in advance also means people will be less likely to cancel at the last moment!
Question: How can we get commitment?
Answer: If your family reunion is going to have many people, consider sending out a letter to let people know that a reunion is possible. This will help you see how much interest there is as well as preferences, and ask for help with the planning. Include possible dates, accommodation options, a preliminary itinerary, contact person with a phone number, all cost, payment procedure and directions. Ask family members to survey their family and respond back to the committee. Don’t get frustrated–getting commitments can be the hardest part of how to plan a reunion, but it will be worth the time in the end.
Question: How do we select the dates?
Answer: First you will need to determine how long you plan to get together. The farther distance members have to travel the longer the reunion should last. Choose your absolute date based on what’s best for the majority of family members.
Question: Where should we hold our family reunion?
Answer: The ideal reunion site is one which is accessible and affordable for everyone. Select a central location to reduce travel expenses. Select a committee to conduct site visits of prospective properties. When choosing a location for your family reunion, here are some things to consider:
- Distance – Will the family reunion be a week, weekend or a day? Longer reunions can allow for more travel.
- Convenience – A location that has easy access to a major airport will provide you with improved attendance.
- Accessibility – Consider elderly relatives may need elevator access and children are happier with a pool and playground area.
- Affordability – Cost is important to consider for all family members. Ensure the location you choose fits into your budget and of your relatives. Most places will have group discounts for multiple rooms.
- Accommodations – Will your family be comfortable in a hotel or would they prefer the comfort of full service condominiums. Some may like the outdoors and prefer rustic lake side cabins while others prefer a cabin feel with all the comforts of home.
Question: What kind of activities work best?
Answer: What attractions and activities does the reunion site have? Leisure activities such as boating, swimming, golf and camping can be fun for a family reunion. Attendees may enjoy a location with nearby lakes, museums, amusement parks, sports facilities and other attractions. Don’t worry about filling every minute of every day-but a few planned activities and ice-breakers at your family reunion will provide an easy way for people who do not know each other well to get comfortable and spend time together. Include activities that will appeal to all ages and play games to break the ice for family members that have not seen each other for some time. Have a contest and award prizes for longest distance traveled, youngest member, oldest member etc. The possibilities are endless and picking out activities can be the most entertaining part of planning a reunion!
Question: How do we pay for the reunion & who is responsible?
Answer: Develop a budget. This will determine the level of the accommodation, decorations, activities and food for your family reunion. You can have families pay for their own hotel stay and set up a small fee for other expenses.
Question: How much should we spend on food?
Answer: Feeding a large group of people with different tastes is perhaps one of the hardest parts of planning a reunion. Make it easy on yourself by selecting a menu that includes a selection of meats, vegetables and desserts with an all inclusive price. A tasty menu makes for an unforgettable family reunion. Having your event organizer assist with selecting the menu usually works the best but should you decide to use your own caterer be sure to communicate your wishes well. Remember, most reunions are centered on the meals!
Question: How do we organize picture taking?
Answer: Family members will bring cameras but you might want to designate a definite relative as the official photographer, or perhaps you should hire a professional to take photos–but in either case make a list of events and people you want covered. Have a committee member create and send out a newsletter with stories and photos from the reunion. This is a great way to get people excited about the next reunion, as well as include less fortunate family members who were not able to attend. A newsletter is also a great place to ask for help in how to plan a reunion next time!
Question: What about all those extra expenses?
Answer: If you don’t want to charge for the extras at your reunion, then you’ll need to plan for a fund raising event. Hold a raffle or have an auction, develop and sell a family cook book or reunion video.
Question: Do we need a program?
Answer: Yes! Make an outline of any scheduled events you have planned for the reunion. This can be provided to attendees as they arrive and these days you should also email copies to as many people as possible or put it up on a dedicated reunion web page ahead of time. Some event facilities will help you set up your own website so don’t be afraid to take advantage of it. This will help remind guests of activities which could require them to bring something. At the reunion, a guest book for signatures, collecting addresses, and other info will not only help you at the next event, but will serve as a reminder of this one.
But the most important thing to remember when you ask-“How do I plan a reunion?” That it’s supposed to be fun! Make plans and follow through with them to make the family reunion planning go smoothly, but don’t be afraid to be flexible, and never forget the ultimate goal–visiting and reconnecting with those you don’t get to see often. People will remember their time together longer than they will remember most activities or meals. Those are just icing on the cake.
If you’d like more free information about reunion planning, just visit Family Reunion Planning, created by our experienced group event staff.
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