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Planning Details For A Family Reunion

It's summer and that means it's reunion season -- a time when many families gather for reunions.

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Prepared by: Bob Brooke
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It's summer and that means it's reunion season —a time when many families gather for reunions. Some are as simple as a backyard barbecue. Others take on the trappings of a convention. Whichever type you're planning for this summer, make sure you've carefully thought out the details.

The larger the reunion the more you'll need to feel that everything is under control. To accomplish this, you'll need to do lots of visualizing ahead of time. Imagine just what each venue will look like and how each activity will work. Visualizing helps you plan for when things don't go perfectly, reducing your frustration and stress.

Room set-up is a good example of something you can imagine and plan beforehand. If your reunion facility is a hotel, resort, or cruise ship, you'll have the staff to help you. Work with them as a team to assure your details. It's a blessing to arrive in a room that has been properly set up, outfitted and arranged so you can concentrate on more important things.

Being a reunion organizer means having your eye on every possible detail. Paying attention to the obvious ones will make surprises small. Plan to keep a small survival bag handy in case of emergencies. Fill it with a pen, Tylenol, Band-Aids, disinfectant, an ace bandage, sunscreen, scissors, safety pins, paper clips, a needle and black and white thread, a roll of masking tape and a Swiss Army knife. You should also have a well-stocked first aid kit on hand.

Registration is an important step for all reunions because it lets you know who has arrived. If yours is a reunion that has many ticket and entertainment choices, have schedules, assignments, tickets and programs ready at registration.

Reunion registration depends greatly on the size of your group. For small groups, a simple table and family checklist will do. For larger ones, you might want to use a laptop computer to keep records of reservations and registrations accurate in order and allow you to make changes on the spot. If you can also bring a small printer, you can have family members proofread the information you keep about them. Have them make their corrections on paper, but wait until later to make changes in your database.

The size and length of your reunion also dictates how you'll let everyone know the schedule of activities. For a single-day event or reunion in close, private quarters, a bulletin board posted with a schedule will do. Large reunions, on the other hand, require a printed program. This will make sure that everyone knows when their favorite activities will occur.

Since a program must be assembled and printed in advance, be sure to confirm details early enough. A good and accurate program can be a great helper in making your reunion a success. It also makes an excellent souvenir. Save it in your reunion scrapbook as the introduction to that year's reunion.

Lead the way for everyone with lots of signs. Wherever your reunion is being held, place signs in strategic locations on the highway so it can be found easily. Hotels often have a lighted marquee. When holding your reunion at a hotel, ask if an announcement of your reunion can be placed there

Name tags are important at large reunions and can be designed to symbolize many things other than just names. Different colors or designs can distinguish branches and easily identify relationships. Each branch chooses a different color and generations can often be guessed by the age of the wearer.

And don't forget to be sensitive to the needs of members with limited resources when planning activities, and even accommodations.. The youngest families and oldest members are often least able to afford reunions. Recognizing that and doing something about it assures greater attendance.

For instance, you could plan to hold your reunion at a resort, but make arrangements with a budget hotel down the street for those who can't afford the resort's rates. While they won't be in the same hotel, they'll be close by and can attend all the functions. You may have to make special payment arrangements for special dinners and such. Ask about this when making reservations.

Planned activities are essential at all reunions. Many families think swimming and

softball are enough to entertain everyone. Ask family members what they'd like to do ahead of time. Not offering age-appropriate activities can be a disaster.

Encourage reunion attendees to bring treasures with appropriate labels to display on a table reserved for memorabilia. Hold a home-movie night. Play bingo. And what about horseshoe or other tournaments with prizes. And don't forget activities specifically for children.

Lastly, you might assign a family member interested in photography to take official reunion photos–and especially a group photo--to display on the memorabilia table in future years. And don't forget an important part of any reunion: Collect genealogical information to update the family history.

Source Information: Everyday Genealogy, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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