Stop Sending Invitations Through Snail Mail
For more than a century, the mailbox and the rotary dial phone were how we communicated. But times have changed, we no longer have eight track tapes, floppy disks, typewriters and . no one is using shorthand. Family reunion planners should embrace the advances in technology when sending invitations and keeping in touch with family members.
I’m all for sending thank you cards, Christmas and birthday cards and wedding announcements by sail mail but when it comes to family reunion invitations and flyers using email and texts just makes sense.
First off, consider the cost, at almost 50 cents for a stamp, the cost of mailing every family an invitation adds up quickly, especially if you have a large family. Also factor in the cost of paper and ink to print it on or the cost of taking your invitations to a print shop to have them professionally printed. You also need to figure in the labor involved, sorting, stapling ,folding and putting your invitations into envelopes.
A reunion planner can sit at her computer, compose a quick message, or create a beautiful custom invitation and send it off to the entire reunion family in a matter of seconds. No stamp is required, no trip to the post office, and no time is taken to physically fold, staple and lick. Just send it out and your whole family can be reading it in a matter of minutes.
Our family has enjoyed sharing our family news and information on our family Facebook page and I know some families that have created their own family websites. Both are convenient, instant and inexpensive ways to keep in touch.
However email isn’t perfect, Grandma and Grandpa and great Aunts and Uncles may still need a physical invitation that arrives in their mailbox but using the latest technology is a great tool for reunion planners.
Stop trying to do everything yourself
This one is huge. As a reunion planner you have enough to do without worrying about every detail of your reunion. Form a committee and give out assignments or if working solo, make a list of activities and give out assignments. A simple way to make assignments is by family group.
There are 6 children in my husband’s family. They are all over 60 years old now and have adult children of their own. For most reunions, each family group receives an assignment to do an activity and plan and cook a meal. When my family is given an assignment my children help with the planning and implementing of that assignment.
The theme of our last reunion was, “Game On”. Every family group was in charge of a JUMBO sized family game. Our game was one of 6 games we played at the reunion and one of 6 activities the reunion planner didn’t have to worry about.
Many years ago, we planned a “Cruise” themed reunion. Each of the family groups choose a port of call and planned activities and a meal that represented the culture of that port. Because there was six families, we sailed to six countries including Mexico, Alaska, Africa and Paris, France.
Stop spending your own money
No matter how much you love each other, it still costs money to hold a family reunion.
You may charge reunion goers a fee for attending their reunion or you may ask them to donate food or other supplies but if you are a reunion planner I guarantee that you are spending your own money (Probably more than you think) to make your reunion successful.
For many families, putting someone (or a committee) over managing the money is a huge help. This person should be responsible for all things money including any fund raising that takes place.
Our family does a family auction to help with reunion expenses. The responsibility for the auction including encouraging family members to bring donations to be auctioned off is up to our reunion financial guru. She keeps track of all winning bids and collects the money. She also deposits the cash in our family reunion bank account and pays all the bills. It’s one last thing the reunion planner needs to worry about.
Every reunion organizer needs a notebook to record every purchase they make for the reunion. Glue an envelope in the back of your notebook for keeping receipts and at the completion of your reunion, review your purchases and submit your receipts to the money manager.
Keep in mind that the purchases you make are made with precious funds and take care to spend wisely but if there doesn’t seem to be enough funds for one of your activities unless you pay for it then it’s time to cut it from the list.
Stop worrying About Those that don’t attend the Reunion
When you’re the one that has worked so hard to plan and implement a reunion it’s pretty hard to not take it personally when someone tells you they can’t attend.
Over the last 40 years of family reunions I have heard some pretty ridiculous reasons /excuses that someone can’t attend a family reunion but I’ve also learned that if someone doesn’t want to come to the reunion they’re just not going to come, no matter what you say or do to change their mind. The reason they give you for not attending may have nothing to do with the real reason they’re not coming.
Focus instead on all the wonderful people that come to the reunion- cousin Toby that planned his wedding so that his anniversary would never fall on the reunion weekend and Aunt Jean and Uncle Mack who save their work vacation every year so that they can attend. Those are the people that need your attention and perhaps you’ll see some of the non-attenders next year when they hear how much fun everyone had at the reunion they missed.
To encourage attendance at the next reunion, send out a nice, personalized email or text to those that didn’t attend letting them know that they were missed.
have very strong memories of being around my extended family while I was growing up. It was so meaningful to the older generation to sit around talking and spending time together. Seeing someone’s child, the extension of your family play and run with other family members was a joyful and celebrating occasion.
There was a time when people felt such a connection to their family that even though they may have moved to another city or state, they still longed for home.
In past years, when I attended family reunions we end up divided into groups of people that we associate with on a regular basis anyway, and never get to know distant cousins and other relatives who have traveled great distances to be here, so what’s the point?
11. (Enter name) will be there and I refuse to be in the same room, let alone city with that..
I can’t justify spending (enter amount) dollars to travel across the country to spend time with people I will not see or hear from again until the next family reunion.
To have a strong family, we have to be a strong family member. We can’t sit back and say what someone else isn’t doing when we aren’t doing those very things ou
reunions can be an opportunity to solidify or even create important boundaries that have been ignored or neglected in the past. One way to do that in advance is to remind a spouse, sibling, in-law or parent if you’ve told them something you want kept private from other family members. Another is to set ground rules with your spouse about maintaining a united front in discussions about your marriage, child-raising, financial status, or any sensitive topics that are just between the two of you.
They may come next year when they hear how much everyone else had.
Don’t Reinvent the wheel
We live in an age when everyone is sharing their expertise and experiences on the internet.
AmazingReunion.com is a simple free online service helping people plan their next family reunion. They can help with registration, hotel reservations and collecting fees.
Familyreunionhelper.com is a website that offers reunion theme packages that are packed full of reunion ideas- activities, games, recipes, printables and templates that take a lot of the “planning” out of reunion planning.
Glean from the experiences of others when organizing your reunion. Talk with friends and work associates, find out what their favorite family reunions are. The experiences of others is a great jumping off point for creating the perfect reunion for your family.
Planning a family reunion is a huge responsibility for reunion planners but as you work through the reunion process keep in mind the reason you’re having a reunion. Don’t wait for a funeral to get together, plan a reunion where your family and play and have fun together. The work you do will assure that children will get to know their distant cousins and is a way for families to reconnect with their roots and find a sense of belonging.