Tips And Ideas For A Great Family Reunion

Planning on throwing a family reunion in the near future? Here are some tips and ideas you might want to consider for your next reunion.

Organization and early preparation are the keys to a successful family reunion. Families can be spread across the state, the country or the world, so this is not the type of party you simply want to slap together at the last moment. Family reunions are wonderful times for families to reconnect and reminisce whether they happen every one, two or five years. They are a welcome and relaxing break from the quick "mini-reunions" that take place with graduations, birthdays and, unfortunately, funerals. If you are planning on throwing a family reunion in the near future, here are some tips and ideas that will ensure you have a great reunion that the entire family will remember and enjoy going to.

* Organize a committee of interested family members to help with the planning. While it is tempting to shoulder the burden of the entire party, you will be happy you relied on others for help once the reunion date gets closer. Call family members or send out a brief invitation that announces an upcoming family reunion (you do not have to decide on a date just yet; simply state that the reunion will be held in the near future) and calls for volunteers for the committee. As the committee head, schedule several meetings to discuss venues, food and catering and entertainment (if committee members are out of state, they can easily "attend" the meeting through speaker phone).

* Choose a theme for the entire reunion, to make planning easier. For example, if you choose a camping theme, you can pick a state park or camping grounds for a venue where everybody brings their own tent or rents a cabin. Camping food can consist of items cooked on the grill or shipped in coolers. You can do a fish-fry, a 70s or 80s theme or an Olympic theme reunion. Be creative and have fun.

* Send out the invitations early, at least three to four months in advance, especially if family members have to drive in or fly in from out of state. List the dates of the reunion, as well as a basic itinerary. If certain clothes need to be brought (such as ski clothes or swimming clothes), indicate that on the invitation, as well. Also, if families will need to chip in with the cost of the venue or food, include this in the invitation. Include a list of contact names for the family, local hotel information (for those who will need to find rooms) and directions.

* A slide show is a fantastic way to start off the reunion and set the mood. When sending out the invitations, ask that each family provide some candid or formal photographs that symbolize pivotal moments in their life. Gather all of the photos and create a slide show with music to screen at the reunion.

* If you have a technically inclined person on the committee, have them develop a basic website that lists the itinerary and developments of the reunion. Special messages can be posted here and a family bulletin board can be created that allows family members to discuss topics and ask questions. Include the web site address in the invitation. If there is nobody willing to create a family reunion website, send out monthly newsletters to the family with updates for the reunion.

* At the reunion, have a family member stand post at the entrance to take instant photographs of each family member (like Polaroid). Have each family member write a small message in the white space underneath their picture. These photos can be organized into a family reunion scrapbook.

* Have a video camera and chairs set up in a roped off section at the reunion. Here, family members can record themselves talking about the reunion or the past year's events for their family. At the next reunion, you can create a video montage showing these recordings.

* Use a portion of the money collected to hand out family reunion souvenirs like mugs, t-shirts or bumper stickers that have the family name on them.

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