Family Reunion Planning Committees

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Family Reunion Chairperson

  • Provides coordination between other committees and provides "big-picture" guidance for reunion planning and execution.
  • Recognize and thanks volunteers
  • Welcome family members when they arrive at your family reunion and help everyone feel comfortable
  • Troubleshoot any problems

Food Chairperson & Committee

(I highly recommend having a committee to work with the food chairperson. Feeding a large group of people with different tastes is perhaps one of the, most difficult parts of planning a family reunion. You can make it easy on yourself by selecting a menu that relates to your theme, or perhaps one that celebrates your family’s heritage. Take advantage of family cooking specialties such as Dutch Oven cooks, Aunt Mo;s onion rings, Grandma’s potato salad,, Uncle Richards’ Homemade Root Beer or Uncle Ben’s Turkey Steaks. Cooking hot dogs over the fire, Tacos in a Bag or using Pie Irons (recipes for these foods can be found at www.familyreunionhelper.com) can also lighten the food committee’s load. You can ask families to provide their own lunch but eat as a group for breakfast and dinner.)

  • Plan menus
  • One option is to find a caterer or restaurant to do at least part of the work for you.
  • For group meals, assign each family (or families) to one night of dinner duty or another meal.
  • Determine and reserve needed equipment (tents, barbecue cookers, tables, etc.).
  • Purchase required nonperishable. Arrange for their storage and delivery to the site.
  • Make assignments for preparing meals, cooking and cleanup
  • Make shopping list
  • Buy paper plates, napkins, tablecloths and plastic silverware
  • Ice for keeping food cold
  • Provide bags and boxes for garbage and don’t forget a container for recycling aluminum cans.
  • Make assignments for set up and clean up at each meal.

Family History Chairperson

  • Purchase or make a guest book to collect signatures, addresses, and other important information, as well as serve as a permanent record of the reunion.
  • If you have a large family, you may want to provide name badges to help family members become better acquainted with each other.
  • Make displays of family history pictures or a family tree wall chart.
  • Make a family history page for each person at your family reunion to fill out. Ideas for questions and sample pages can be found at Journal Page Samples & Question Ideas.
  • Prepare a family history presentation as determined by the reunion committee.

Invitation and PR Chairperson

  • Provide decorations, invitations, and signs
  • Invitations should create interest and anticipation
  • Be sure to include directions to the reunion site.
  • Mention if the guests should bring along any special clothing or equipment.
  • Include special assignments such as food assignments, decoration assignments or activity assignments. (The more assignments you give out the better participation you will have.)
  • Make signs to post along roadways directing your family members to the reunion site.
  • If RSVP is required, include an RSVP date, along with an e-mail address, phone number, or mailing address to which they can respond.

Events Chairperson

  • Plan activities and entertainment
  • Make assignments to individual families (when our family gets together, each of the original six children plan an activity. This year we are having a circus/carnival theme at our family reunion and each of the “Big Six” will provide a carnival type game.)
  • Responsible for awards, certificates and prizes
  • Arrange for some ongoing activities that family members can do on their own such as basketball, croquet, badminton, and volleyball.
  • You don’t need to occupy everyone all the time, but planned activities and ice-breakers at your family reunion will provide an easy way for people who do not know each other well to comfortable spend time together. Include activities that will appeal to all ages and further family knowledge of shared heritage. You may also want to award prizes for special distinctions such as oldest family member or longest distance traveled to attend.

Photography Chairperson

  • In charge of the photographer, videographer, and memory album. Hires professionals or takes responsibility for taking photos themselves.
  • Can put together a digital scrapbook of the family reunion for raising reunion funds.
  • Schedules time for “whole group” family reunion photo.
  • Takes individual photos of families in costume.
  • Can put together a family slide or presentation of the previous years family reunion to be viewed at one of the evening presentations.
  • Distributes copies of family reunion portraits – don’t forget to include postage when charging for photos.

T-Shirt & Souvenir Chairperson

  • Order T-shirts or other family reunion souvenirs
  • Find a company that designs T-shirts or a family member to design a custom shirt.
  • Determine sizes and number of shirts.
  • Collect T-shirt money
  • Distribute shirts at the family reunion

Finance & Fundraising Chairperson

  • Plan fund raising activities for your family reunion such as an auction or raffle.
  • Manage all funds and banking responsibilities
  • Collect all monies from fees and fundraising activities.
  • Manage donations and expenses associated with planning and executing the family reunion
  • Track Expenses
  • Make financial report available to reunion chairperson and family

Facilities Chairperson

If you are having your family reunion at a hotel or resort, you may want to have a facilities chairperson. A facilities chairperson should determine the following and make reservations with the most appropriate site:

  • Your group’s per night budget, Number of rooms required, Hotel’s location, Amenities (on-site restaurant, pool, in-room kitchens etc.), Meeting space and catering services available, Shuttle service and parking
  • Negotiate and book facilities and coordinate lodging
  • Meet with hotel staff, visit facility
  • Be the liaison between hotel and family members during family reunion activities.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Family Reunion Chairperson document

3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion

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Planning a family reunion can be a nightmare. But the good news is that you are not alone, we can do this together. I don?t know your specific situation but I can tell you that if you will follow these 3 important keys you will be on your way to having a successful family reunion. So let?s get to work- first key is…

Choose a permanent reunion date

This is the most important aspect of reunion planning- it’s not much of a reunion if no one can attend.

When we began planning the “Stewart” family reunion we were only working around about 20 people and it was fairly easy to find a date that was good for everyone, but now that we are more than 100 family members strong we would never be able to find a date that met everyone?s needs. Lucky for us, about 20 years ago we set Labor Day weekend as the permanent date for our family reunion.

We have found that holding the reunion at the same time every year helps family members plan their busy lives around that weekend. They always know when the Stewart reunion will be and although the location may change the date never does. Unbelievable but true- we usually have all but about 3 family members attend our reunion each year.

If you can?t choose a permanent date, plan your next reunion date before you end the reunion you are currently attending. Planning in advance will increase the odds that more people will be able to attend the reunion, which translates into more fun for everyone. If you book early, you can most likely get better rates and/or reserve your preferred hotel or retreat site, flights and other travel arrangements. Most campgrounds and parks can be booked a year in advance.

Last of all, stick to your decision. Changing dates in the middle of planning can create a huge amount of anxiety and additional work.

Delegate!

People always wonder why we have such good attendance at our reunions and I tell them, “Because everyone has a job!” There is always someway that everyone can contribute to your reunion no matter what their age or their ability. You can assign a couple of pre-teen girls to do a story time or games for the younger children at your reunion, ask a 5 year old to bring a can of olives or assign someone that loves music to lead a sing- a- long.

It’s impossible to organize a reunion by yourself, I know, because I„ve tried it. Not only that, but it is good to have the input of different family members’ points of views. Family members that have a responsibility feel greater ownership in the reunion.

Delegate tasks according to those with special talents, skills and connections. Our Uncle Ben owns a restaurant whose specialty is turkey steaks and quite often we have turkey steaks at our reunions or family parties. We have great Dutch oven cooks in our family and of course, we give them the opportunity to practice their skills. Use the resources that you have.

There are certain jobs at our reunions that have become tradition- for instance cousin R.D. and Uncle Richard always make the homemade root beer, Aunt Lynn is always in charge of Bunko and Uncle Steven always makes his Dutch oven potatoes.

So how do you put all these people and their great ideas together? Let me tell you how we do it. There are six original children in the Stewart family; we call them the “Big 6”. We schedule a planning meeting and ask that there be a representative from each Big 6 family at the meeting. These people become your liaison from each branch of the family.

At the meeting we discuss our plans and make assignments, that way every family has a representative and if they have concerns they can be addressed at that meeting and each families? fun ideas can be implemented. We ask for volunteers to be in charge of each major aspect of the reunion – food, family history, invitations, photography, games and activities, finances and facilities. The chairman of the committee, that?s me, takes the ideas and suggestions home and makes a master plan or schedule which is emailed to the committee members for their approval.

A reunion committee is essential to planning a smooth, successful family reunion. Be sure your chairman (if you?re reading this than the chairman is probably YOU) is creative, energetic and willing to put in the time and effort required to organize a reunion.

Planning a family reunion is a too big a job for one person, so make a checklist, get some help, put your entire family to work and let everyone share in the satisfaction of a job well done!

Select a Theme!

A theme gives your family get-together an added twist that can build excitement. Choosing a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend your reunion. Who wouldn?t want to attend a “Caveman” reunion? A theme also makes it more fun to plan when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion.

If you have a wedding anniversary or a significant birthday coming up in your family you could choose to celebrate around those special events. If your grandparents were married in the 50?s, plan a fifties reunion complete with poodle skirts and sodas. If Aunt Addie will be turning 70, celebrate with her by having a seventies party- make tie-dyed shirts and decorate with peace and flower power signs.

Just because it is a family reunion doesn?t mean the theme has to be centered on the family itself. Plenty of other party themes are perfect for a reunion. Plan a western, caveman, boot camp or other similar theme.

A few years ago my sister-in-law suggested that we have a caveman reunion and I was pretty nervous about it- caveman? How do we do a caveman reunion? But we all shared ideas at our planning meeting and guess what- our caveman reunion turned out to be one of our best family reunions ever.

Whatever theme you choose, design your decorations, food, activities and games around that theme. Your caveman theme might feature Brontosaurus burgers and a dinosaur egg hunt or a pirate theme might include Barbecued Parrot and a treasure hunt.

Planning a family reunion requires serious effort and thoughtful strategic planning but if will follow these 3 important keys you will be well on your way to a memorable and successful family reunion. And who knows- maybe they?ll want you to be in charge next year too.

Aunt MO

Click here to download a PDF version of the 3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion

Make a Deal at Your Family Reunion

If you have ever seen the television game show, “Let’s Make a Deal” you will probably remember that in the final moments of the show, Monty Hall would say, “I’ll give you $50.00 if you can give me a paper clip (or some other item). The audience member would dig frantically in their purse or pocket to find a paper clip and win that $50.00. Monty would sometimes ask for the strangest items but it seemed that 90% of the time someone would be carrying it around with them. Monty’s strangest “quick” deal was, “I’ll give you $50 for a Hard Boiled Egg.”

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This little game can be a fun activity that you repeat throughout your family reunion. Not much preparation is required and you can use it to fill in any lag times in your reunion. Play “Let’s Make a Deal” while you’re waiting for a meal, between acts at your family reunion talent show or even during your reunion dance. Just be sure to assign a “crazy” uncle to play the part of “Monty” for extra entertainment.

One rule you might need to enforce is- the item asked for must be on them or in a purse or bag with them. They may not run off to their tent or car to get the item.

Instead of using real money as prizes buy a bag of small 100 Grand candy bars. Below is our list of items to ask for but I’m sure you’ll come up with some good ones of your own.

Baby Toy
Baby wipe
Ball
Band-Aids
Breath mint
Book
Button
Candy
Chap Stick
Clippers
Comb
Cough drop
Coupon
Dental Floss
Deposit Slip
Diaper
Earrings
Elastic
Floss
Gum
Handkerchief
Lifesaver candy
Lip Stick
Lotion
Pacifier
Paper lip
Pens
Pencils
Pocket Knife
Receipt
Sewing kit
State Quarter
Stickers
Ticket
Toothbrush
Prescription paper
Q-tip

You can also ask for the person with the:
Most Credit Cards
Most Business Cards
Most pennies
Most pictures

Lot’s of famous families have played “Let’s Make a Deal”- the Flintstones with host "Monty Marble, Sanford and Son and the Simpsons. Plan to make this fun game part of your family too.

Aunt MO

Love is the only game that is not called on account of darkness.
Thomas Carlyle

Keeping in Touch When the Reunion is Over

All good things must come to an end, but saying goodbye at the end of your family reunion doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year’s reunion to visit with your favorite cousin. In today’s high tech world it’s pretty simple to keep in touch through emails, web pages and social networking. Why just this month I learned, through social media, that Cousin Bobbie has a new car, Cousin Lindsey is having dog problems and I don’t dare say who… is expecting another baby.

Take Advantage of Email

clip_image002E-mail is a great way to send a spontaneous note. People love to catch up on the latest family news, and you’ll find that they will reply to your message more often than not!

It’s hard to beat the convenience, and cost savings of sending emails when planning your family reunion. You do have to be sensitive to those that haven’t yet discovered email and be sure they aren’t kept out of the loop.

Online Chat
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A unique way to plan your family reunion and to keep everyone up to date on reunion plans is to invite your relatives (or those who can participate) to join in an online family chat. It’s easy to set up a private chat room on America Online just by going to People Connection and selecting Private Room. Tell everyone the name of your room and when you plan on "talking." Use the chat to plan the event and the details of travel. Roundtable chats are also an excellent way to keep in touch after everyone returns home. Other chat options are Google Talk, Skype, Yahoo Instant Messenger or MSN Live, a Microsoft program. Talk to family members at your next family reunion and find out what chat method will work best for them when planning your family reunion.

Family Newsletter

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A family newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with each other between reunions. A monthly newsletter is great but often difficult to keep up with. A quarterly newsletter can be a better option. Ask family members to email information about family activities and upcoming events such as weddings, baptisms and births. Include information about your upcoming family reunion. A family newsletter is a great family reunion planning tool. To save on postage expenses only mail your newsletters to family members that don’t have email.

Family Webpage

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By creating a website for your family, you can share special events such as birthdays, graduations, family reunions and parties. A family webpage can also be a great place for family reunion planning and to share ideas. For a family webpage to be successful family members have to be committed to participating by checking the site regularly and contributing to conversations.

You might consider using websites such as Carepages, Caringbridge, www.mygreatbigfamily.com or Blogger for your family webpage. They need very little computer knowledge to "operate", yet provide an excellent forum for families communicate and to send out family reunion planning updates.

Technology has changed how we keep in touch. Studies have shown that almost half of the baby boomer generation is on social networking sites, and 31 percent say the first time they saw photos of a new grandchild or family member was through the internet. Two-thirds of boomers, or about 64 percent, E-mail friends and family more frequently than they call them on the phone. The internet helps us be more connected to loved ones and when used appropriately can help with family reunion planning and distributing reunion information.

Aunt MO

“Trees without roots fall over.”