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Family Reunion Planning Tips

Top 15 tips and ideas when planning a family reunion

They can be the most heartwarming—or the most chilling—words in the English language: Family Reunion. If the thought of organizing your extended clan for a long weekend away sends a shiver down your spine, relax. If you start early, do your homework, and take advantage of digital tools, you can pull off a multigenerational jaunt that will delight everyone from one to 100. Here, our all-you-need-to-get-started guide to planning the party of the year and use the 15 family reunion planning tips to help you save time.

1. Which family?- It may seem obvious, but the first step for any family reunion is to decide who is family. Which side of the family are you inviting? Do you want to include only close relatives or all descendants of Great Grandpa Jones (or other common ancestor)?

Are you inviting only direct-line relatives (parents, grandparents, grandkids) or do you plan to include cousins, second cousins, or third cousins, twice removed? Just remember, every step back on the ancestral tree adds a ton of new potential attendees. Know your limits.

2. Start the Conversation- At least nine months in advance, start talking to your extended family's "thought leaders"—the ones who typically make the decisions and do the heavy lifting at, say, Thanksgiving. Family-travel expert and former Family Vacations editor at About.com Teresa Plowright suggests that earlier is better when coordinating the schedules of many families. "People like to know 'Next June we're all getting together'—you just have so many work/vacation schedules for adults, seasonal jobs, sports programs for teens, etc." 

3.Create a guest list- Start by assembling a list of family members, including spouses, partners and children. Get in touch with at least one person from each branch of the family to help you track down contact information for each person on your list. Make sure to collect email addresses for those that have them - it really helps with updates and last-minute correspondence.

4. Delegate- If you're the type who's reading this story and already taking notes, you're likely the one who is going to volunteer to do too much. Don't. As with any family get-together, a reunion will require delegating important tasks. Depending on the family dynamic, this might mean choosing a leader to coordinate the event while one person is the reservation-keeper, another is in charge of meal planning, another for activities. If all of this is starting to sound like work, well, it is. Like a well-run business, the reunion will require a staff that works independently and reports back to the group regularly.

5. Select the date(s)- It's not much of a reunion if no one can attend. Whether you plan your family reunion to coincide with a family milestone or special day, summer vacation, or a holiday, it helps to poll family members (see step 3) to avoid time and date conflicts. Since family reunions can encompass everything from an afternoon barbecue to a large affair lasting three or more days, you'll also need to determine how long you plan to get together. A good rule of thumb - the farther people have to travel to reach the reunion location, the longer the reunion should last. Most importantly, remember that you won't be able to accommodate everyone. Choose your final date(s) based on what's best for the majority of attendees.

6.  Pick a location- Aim for a family reunion location that is most accessible and affordable to the majority of people you want to attend. If family members are clustered in one area, then select a reunion location that's nearby. If everyone's scattered, then choose a central location to help cut down on travel expenses for far-flung relatives.

7. Develop a price point- This will determine the scale of the food, decorations, accommodations and activities for your family reunion. You can choose to have families pay for their own overnight accommodations, bring a covered dish, etc., but unless you have another source of income, you'll also need to set a per-family registration fee to help with decoration, activity and location costs.

8. What about a theme?- Creating a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend. It also makes things more fun when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion. Family history themes are especially popular, as are reunions which celebrate a very special family member's birthday or anniversary, or the family's cultural heritage (i.e. Hawaiian luau).

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Hire entertainment - Nothing beats having an entertainer to make your gathering a reunion to remember.  Hire a band or a DJ or another entertainer. Magicians is one of the best option that suits everyone from all age group. This is one of the best in the USA working. Here is the website.

12. 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!

13. 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. 

14. 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.

15. 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.

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Event Planning Tips.online is your online resource to help you plan the perfect event. This is Family Reunion planning guide. We wanted to give you the checklist to make sure that everything is taken care of. With those areas covered, you should be well on your way to throwing a Family Reunion birthday party to remember.

We wanted to give you a complete guide at hosting and planning that VERY special event you may be having in the near future. This guide is full of tips and resources to help save you money on having your event, save you money in planning your event and make your life less stressful, so you can aquatically enjoy the event you are having and involved!

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