Large family reunions are wonderful occasions designed to celebrate your family's long-lasting heritage and traditions, and your family's future. These types of reunions usually span several generations, and include fourth and fifth cousins, maybe even more.
If you're planning a large family reunion, it's a good idea to start gauging interest and gathering contact information more than a year in advance. Even more important: Assemble a team of relatives who will help you coordinate this large event and all the things that go with it. Here's a checklist to help you and your family get started!
Create a mailing list. Begin a database of mailing addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses that you can add to and update so you can get the word out. Consider starting a "group" online at Yahoo or on Hotmail so you can easily stay in touch.
Determine interest of family members. Send out a family poll (by e-mail or by post) to gauge interest in a reunion, get an idea of how many people might attend, determine dates, locations, and find out what their idea of the perfect reunion might be.
Form reunion committees.
- Site coordinator to set up accommodations
- Treasurer to keep track of expenses and organize fund-raising activities
- Culinary planner to arrange menus, schedule meals, contact caterers, and evaluate local restaurants
- Set designer to handle decorations and signs
- Events director to plan activities and entertainment
- Reunion secretary to coordinate communications and handle inquiries
- Historian to provide family background when needed
- Photographer/videographer to record the event
- Head housekeeper for cleanup
Create a budget and bookkeeping system.
Begin fund-raising. Large family reunions can get pricey for the organizers, even when each attendee is paying his own way. Here are some ideas to help you defray your expenses, or to finance the attendance of far-flung family members, or people with special needs.
- Hold a family-only raffle, auction, or garage sale in which the items for sale include Grandma's quilts, hand-me-down furniture, kids' art, or memorabilia. Coordinate the sale on the Internet.
- Make a family documentary using movie-making software. Screen it at the reunion and sell copies.
- Ask for donations from family. Set up a reunion Web site over which donations can be made through a PayPal account, a secure online service that allows you to send and receive money with a checking account or credit card using only an e-mail address.
Research locations and facilities.
- Have your events director research places that cater to a variety of interests, age levels, physical abilities, and financial resources.
- The backyard barbecue may be the classic venue, but consider memory-making opportunities such as a cruise ship or a dude ranch. Ocean or lakeside family resorts are ideal; there are things to do on both water and on land -- activities to keep kids busy and lounging opportunities on the beach for grown-ups.
- Many vacation areas have a "destination manager" who can help you with the details of your reunion. Additionally, hotels and resorts often designate one member of their sales staff as the reunion specialist.
Continued on page 2: 10 Months Before