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Steps to a Successful Family Reunion

Show Time - Setting the Stage for a Memorable Family Reunion

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10) Determine the menu. Feeding a large group of people with different tastes is perhaps one of the trickiest parts of planning a reunion. Make it easy on yourself by selecting a menu that relates to your theme, or perhaps one that celebrates your family's heritage. Organize a group of family members to prepare the food for the family reunion or, if you have a large group and your budget allows, find a caterer or restaurant to do at least part of the work for you. A tasty menu makes for an unforgettable family reunion.
More: How to Work with a Caterer

11) Plan social activities. 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.

12) Set the stage. You've got a bunch of people, now what do you plan to do with them? It's time now to make arrangements for tents (if an outside reunion), chairs, parking decorations, programs, signs, t-shirts, goodie bags and other reunion-day requirements. This is the time to consult a family reunion checklist!
More: Reunion Planning Organizers & Checklists

13) Say cheese! While many family members will no doubt bring their own cameras, it helps to also make plans to record the overall event. Whether you designate a specific relative as the official reunion photographer, or hire a professional photographer to take photos or videos, you should prepare a list of the people and events that you want recorded. For spontaneous "moments," purchase a dozen disposable cameras and hand them out to volunteer guests. Don't forget to collect them at the end of the day!
More: Better Family Reunion Pictures

14) Invite the guests. Once you have most of your plans in place, it's time to invite the guests by mail, email and/or phone. You'll want to do this way in advance to make sure and give everyone time to get it on their calendar. If you're charging admission fees, mention this in the invitation and set an advance deadline by which at least a percentage of the ticket price is required (unless you're wealthy enough to cover all of the costs yourself and can wait until the actual reunion for reimbursement). Tickets purchased in advance also means people will be less likely to cancel at the last moment! This is also a good opportunity to ask people, even if they can't attend the reunion, to provide family trees, photos, collectibles and stories to share with other family members.

15) Fund the extras. If you don't want to charge admission fees for your reunion, then you'll need to plan for a little fund raising. Even if you do collect admissions, fund raising can provide money for some fancy "extras." Creative ways for raising money include holding an auction or raffle at the reunion or making and selling family hats, t-shirts, books or reunion videos.

16) Print up a program Create a program that outlines the lineup of scheduled reunion events to provide to family members as they arrive for the reunion. You may also want to send this out via email or your reunion Web site in advance of the reunion as well. This will help serve as a reminder to people of activities which may require they bring something with them, such as a photo wall or family tree chart.

17) Decorate for the big day The big day is almost here and now it's time to make sure it goes smoothly. Create catchy, easy-to-ready signs to point arriving guests to registration, parking, and important locations such as bathrooms. 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. Purchase pre-made name badges, or print your own, to facilitate mixing and mingling between unacquainted family members. Family tree wall charts are always a big hit as reunion attendees always want to know where they fit in to the family. Framed photos or printed posters of common ancestors or past family reunions are also popular. And, if you want to know what everyone thought of all your reunion planning, print up some evaluation forms for people to fill out as they leave.

18) Keep the fun going. Designate a volunteer or volunteers to create and send out a post-reunion newsletter with stories, photos and news items from the reunion. If you collected family information, send along an updated genealogy chart as well. This is a great way to get people excited about the next reunion, as well as include less fortunate family members who were not able to attend.

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