A guide to help you plan future family reunions
If you have a sincere desire to improve your family reunions, consider asking family members to fill out a family reunion evaluation form. Evaluating your past reunion gives you pertinent information to use when making plans for your next family reunion and can make planning future reunions easier.
We all hope that the reunion we plan will be without problems and will run smoothly and we hope that everyone will love every activity and meal that we plan, but unless you evaluate you’ll never know for certain. Sure, people will talk and some may complain but it’s difficult to get good constructive comments unless you ask for them using an evaluation form or survey of some sort. Even though there may not be big changes that need to be made in your reunion planning there are always little differences that can help you plan a better family reunion.
One year a family member had a concern about all the soda cans and water bottles that were left around our reunion site. Most were still half full but had to be thrown away because we didn’t know whose they were. Because of that one comment on our reunion evaluation we now use water bottle holders or write names with permanent marker directly on water bottles.
But here’s a word of warning- Don’t ask if you don’t want to know! Sometimes I feel disappointed when I receive an evaluation back and there is a criticism or negative remark of some sort. I work so hard to plan a perfect family reunion and I tend to get defensive and have my feelings hurt. I have to make myself give careful consideration to suggestions and remind myself not to take negative comments too personally.
Evaluations are basically just a way to find out what your family is thinking. For instance, in the evaluations we received this year, one family expressed a desire to go “green”. What a great idea- an idea I would not have thought of. As we plan our next reunion we will try and incorporate some of this family’s ideas for “going green” in our reunion plan.
Edith Wagner of “Reunions” magazine said, “The reunion, after all, is the product of the person or persons who organized it. The evaluation offers some ideas that, if regarded seriously, can make the reunion the product of many more people. Knowing that their opinions, comments, ideas, suggestions and, yes, criticisms will be taken seriously makes your members offer constructive responses.
It was through evaluating our Stewart family reunion that the idea for having an auction to raise reunion money came to be. Uncle Richard and Aunt Sue had some experience with the auction idea and were able to share their ideas on the evaluation form. A reunion auction is now something we do every year at our annual Stewart reunion.
Finally, try and get family members to fill out your reunion evaluation before leaving the reunion. It can be very difficult to get evaluations returned after everyone has returned home. I usually go through the evaluation forms before our first planning meeting and type a summery for the reunion committee.
I have to admit there have been times when I have read a suggestion or criticism on the evaluation and thought to myself, “Maybe they should just be in charge next year.” But it basically comes down to this- you’ll never learn and your reunions won’t improve unless you open yourself to the additional ideas and suggestions that evaluations can generate. You don’t have adopt every suggestion and implement every idea into your reunion plan but who knows- you might just get a great cost or time saving idea or start a new tradition that will make a great memory for generations to come!
Click the following link to download a sample evaluation form.