If you’re planning a reunion for your family, being organized can save you a ton of trouble. Follow these simple tips to make your family reunion a success
Take a quick survey
Before you start any planning, call up some of your closest relatives and test the waters. Are they interested in a family reunion? How far would they be willing to travel? How long would they need to plan? What major holidays/events do you need to plan around? What kinds of activities do they like?
You’re not going to be able to make everyone happy in picking a venue and date, but this will at least give you an idea of how many of your family members might attend, which is important to know when picking a venue. Having a rough number of attendees might also help you get a group rate for lodging.
Start planning early
How long you will need to plan depends on how elaborate your plans are or how far people will have to travel, but start planning at least 2-3 months ahead. This will give you time to get in touch with everyone and for your family members to be able to plan around other travel, work, or school plans.
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Share the responsibilities
Create a committee of 3-5 family members to help you make decisions and share the tasks. Identify the major tasks and break them down into steps for each person. These tasks may include planning food, sending out invitations, obtaining t-shirts or other keepsakes, handling cleanup, planning games, etc.
Once someone has been assigned a task, periodically keep in touch with him/her to see how things are going and ask if they need any help. If things aren’t going well, be understanding and find another family member to help with the role.
Set a budget and stick to it
The cost of small items can add up if you don’t think to include them in the budget. Things like trash bags, cleaning supplies, and paper plates might be overlooked. Brainstorm every possible cost in the planning stages, so you aren’t stuck with a huge bill after the reunion. Keep costs minimal so that the reunion is affordable for everyone.
Keep in touch
Once you have picked a date for the reunion, send out a “save the date” card as early as possible – even before you have selected a location. This will help out your family members who have small kids or busy lives to plan around.
After a location is selected, send out invitations (either virtual or paper) and ask everyone to RSVP or, better yet, include a response card. If a fee is required, then ask them to return the RSVP with a check. Be sure to be clear about what the fee includes and what it does not. Being detailed in your description can help avoid misunderstandings later.
On all correspondence, include your contact information so that if someone has a question they can give you a call or send an email.
Use online tools and apps to simplify
There are a bevy of online tools and apps that can help you with planning, organizing, and keeping in touch with your family. For example, you can set up a website where people can register and pay online and see the details about the reunion. Or you could use social media to keep in touch with everyone and send out alerts or stir up excitement for the reunion. You can even have family members post old photos before the reunion on social media for the whole family to see. Social media and email can help you find the addresses for those family members that you haven’t seen in a while. If you do make use of online tools, don’t forget about family members who aren’t online. For those individuals, you will need to pick up a phone or send letters.
Send out reminders
Keep track of who has and hasn’t responded to the invitation and send out reminders or give them a call. As the date approaches, send everyone a final reminder, especially if you sent out the invitations months in advance.
Last, but definitely not least, enjoy the reunion and reconnecting with long lost family members.