Planning a family reunion requires organization and inspiration. You'll be making lots of lists for organization. Here are some random family reunion tips--a baker's dozen, in fact--to provide the inspiration.
- Choose a coordinator.
Committees are great, but you’ll need one person or a couple to act as coordinator for the reunion. Grandparents make great coordinators because they are more likely to know most if not all of the family members. Coordinators should be mindful of the wishes of the group but able to make executive decisions when necessary.
- Use networking skills.
Communicating about the reunion is easiest electronically. If most members of your family are on Facebook, that's one way to communicate. You can create a Facebook group for your family or a Facebook event that will allow members to RSVP. If your family has a web page, it can be used to post updates. An event planning website, such as MyEvent.com, will allow you to communicate with family members and do some specialized tasks, such as collecting fees and donations. Email is also effective, although some family members may neglect to save emails in a special folder. Websites avoid that problem. You should use regular mail for any members of the family who aren’t web-savvy.
- Take time to update.
Be sure to take some time at the reunion to update addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. This can be done at the same time as the name tags. It’s easiest if you have a printout of the addresses you have, so that folks can make quick alterations to the information instead of having to start from scratch.
- Think about tees.
Some families order T-shirts for reunion attendees. Shirts can be ordered as cheaply as $5 apiece, and they can be ordered in different colors for different branches of the family.
- Tags can substitute for tees.
A cheaper alternative to T-shirts is to use colored wristbands on attendees to indicate the branch. If the reunion is large and lots of folks don’t know each other, name tags are a good idea. If you decide to use name tags, a snippet of colored ribbon can be attached to each to indicate the family. There’s no reason to do name tags ahead of time. Let the attendees fill them out as they arrive.
- Create a family tree.
Cover a wall with butcher paper and sketch in the main branches of the family. Ask each person attending the reunion to bring a snapshot. Each branch of the family sketches their part of the family tree and adds their snapshots. The quality of the photos needn’t be high. A computer printout or color copy is fine. The purpose is to help every member of the family learn every other member.
- Map family locations.
If members of the family are far-flung, post a map and allow attendees to mark their locations. This is a great learning activity for the younger members of the family.
- Tell what's new.
A good dinner activity for medium-sized groups is for members of the family to take turns telling what is new in their lives. Even preschool children can take part. Applaud each participant.
- Showcase family talents.
A talent show can be a big hit. You’ll need to notify family members ahead of time so that they can come prepared. Set a time limit to keep performers from wearing out their audience. Designate someone as emcee to keep the acts moving along.
- Share a slide show.
A slide show is a great addition to a family reunion that is being held indoors. Give that job to your most tech-savvy family member, and ask every branch of the family to email some favorite photos to him or her.
- Bid for a better reunion.
Some families raise money for the next reunion with an auction. Family memorabilia will bring the best prices. There are dozens of things that can be done with old family photographs, from putting them on china plates to making quilts with them. The easiest thing, of course, is just to have them reproduced and put them in a frame. Crafts done by members of the family will also be highly prized.
- Consider alternative games.
Although softball, volleyball and flag football are perennial reunion favorites, they can be too rough for youngsters. Consider washers, ladder ball or bocce; they can be enjoyed from ages eight to eighty.
- Hire a photographer.
Although most families have an abundance of shutterbugs, it’s nice to hire a photographer so that no one feels pressured to take pictures. Of course, some will want to take pictures anyway. Whatever you do, don't forget to smile!