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.
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.
Research locations and facilities.
Finalize the date and location. Find out what amenities will be available: drinking water, swimming pool, grilling facilities, changing rooms, indoor space (in case of rain), picnic tables, etc.
Come up with a tentative reunion schedule, theme, and approximate cost per person.
Send save-the-date e-mail or mailer.
Contact volunteers and dole out tasks as appropriate.
Hire a photographer.
Hire a videographer.
Hire entertainment -- disc jockey, band, or other entertainment, if applicable.
Schedule events and activities.
Schedule and plan meals. Whether you're doing a casual picnic, an extended camping trip, or a weekend in Las Vegas, you'll want to plan a menu and/or find reasonable restaurants that can accommodate large groups.
Finalize plans for reunion favors, video, family history pamphlet, or T-shirts. Family members will want something to remember this grand occasion.
Start a list of those who have confirmed their attendance, where they'll be staying, and when they'll be arriving.
Reserve rental equipment such as a podium, microphone, tables, or chairs.
Start compiling and writing your family history pamphlet or video. You'll need to finish this four months before the reunion to have time to order the number of copies you need.
Make final purchases.
Order copies of family history or video.
Confirm restaurant reservations and provide your latest guest estimate.
Confirm with relatives who are bringing food or other supplies.
Confirm meeting places.
Confirm sleeping accommodations.
Contact restaurants with a final guest count.
Contact any professionals you've hired and confirm times, locations and the final guest count.
Review your final to-do list.
Buy last-minute decorations and supplies.
Create signs and banners.
Make arrangements to donate leftover food to a local shelter or food pantry.
Review reunion minutiae with committees.
Prepare final payments and tips for any professionals and help you've hired. Put these together in separate envelopes so you can quickly hand them out as needed throughout the event. Keep in mind that you can send extra tips later if their performance was exceptional. Otherwise, a 10 to 15 percent tip is customary if it's not included in their charge.
Set up and decorate.
Get some sleep!
Write thank-you notes to special attendees, relatives who donated time and money, and any other people who helped make your event a success.
Send additional tip money and remaining final payments.
Develop film. Be sure to get CDs made so you can upload photos to ofoto.com or shutterfly.com. This way other family members can purchase copies of your photos.
Donate or distribute leftover favors, decorations, family history pamphlets, etc.
Follow up with videographer and photographer to find out when materials will be ready for distribution.
Send an e-mail or mass mailing to all who attended, summarizing the festivities, thanking them for attending, and telling them where they can purchase photos, videos, or any other follow-up items from your event.