Got a family reunion question? Please review this valuable resource of family reunion frequently asked questions. Here I have complied a list and broken it down into seven topics. To view all questions, simply click on the topics below. The questions and corresponding answers will expand.
Where do we start when planning a family reunion?
The first action to planning a family reunion is to form a committee. This committee will be in charge of all final decisions of how to plan a reunion for their group. Reunions don’t just happen by themselves!
How do we determine who to invite?
Decide which side(s) of the family you are inviting. Do you want to include siblings or all descendants of Great Grandpa Williams? Just remember, every step back will add a ton of new possible attendees.
Do we need invitations?
Start by assembling a guest list of family members, children, grandparents, cousins and spouses. It’s usually a good idea to touch base with an elderly family member from each branch of the family to help you track down contact information for each person. Make sure to collect email address for speedy communication. Once you have plans in place, it’s time to invite the guests. You’ll want to do this well in advance (six months to a year) and also send a reminder a few weeks before the occasion. If a ticket price is required be sure to include that cost with a deadline for payment. Tickets purchased in advance also means people will be less likely to cancel at the last moment!
How can we get a commitment?
If your family reunion is going to have many people, consider sending out a letter to let people know that a reunion is possible. This will help you see how much interest there is as well as preferences, and ask for help with the planning. Include possible dates, accommodation options, a preliminary itinerary, contact person with a phone number, all cost, payment procedure and directions. Ask family members to survey their family and respond back to the committee. Don’t get frustrated–getting commitments can be the hardest part of how to plan a reunion, but it will be worth the time in the end.
How do you entice people to attend?
Send out a survey with a list of activities everyone might enjoy. Let the family members choose what they want to do during the reunion. You can also get everyone involved by assigning them a task that is compatible with their skill set. Having a task gets them excited and excitement is contagious. The younger members will encourage the older members to attend and vice versa.
Always be proactive and interactive, again, a good website is the perfect way to keep everyone informed and excited.
How do we select the dates?
First you will need to determine how long you plan to get together. The farthest distance members have to travel the longer the reunion should last. Choose your absolute date based on what’s best for the majority of family members.
How to plan a reunion around everyone’s schedule?
This is a toughie… It takes great coordination of schedules. That’s why you start the planning phase a year or two before the actual day. Family reunions aren’t planned in a weekend, unless, of course, you only have a few members in your family. You can also do some of the following:
- Some families send out a survey during the planning stage. It’s also helpful to have a website where you can put a calendar, so family members can choose a day. Sometime the majority wins and those who want another day just have to adjust their schedule. It depends on your family. Also, if you’ve had a reunion before, listen to the feedback and make adjustments.
Where should we hold our family reunion?
The ideal reunion site is one which is accessible and affordable for everyone. Select a central location to reduce travel expenses. Select a committee to conduct site visits of prospective properties. When choosing a location for your family reunion, here are some things to consider:
- Distance – Will the family reunion be a week, weekend or a day? Longer reunions can allow for more travel.
- Convenience – A location that has easy access to a major airport will provide you with improved attendance.
- Accessibility – Consider elderly relatives may need elevator access and children are happier with a pool and playground area.
- Affordability – Cost is important to consider for all family members. Ensure the location you choose fits into your budget and your relatives. Most places will have group discounts for multiple rooms.
- Accommodations – Will your family be comfortable in a hotel or would they prefer the comfort of full service condominiums. Some may like the outdoors and prefer rustic lakeside cabins while others prefer a cabin feel with all the comforts of home.
How often to hold a family reunion?
That is a question for your family. Some families have them every year, while others have one every two years. Some have them every 3 years and some families have them every 5 to 10 years. Sadly, some families don’t have them at all. So, to answer what is the normal time between family reunions, it’s a matter of family preference.
How to get the younger generation to show up?
Have activities for the younger generation. Keep communication open through the year and involve them in happy occasions such as births, anniversaries, birthdays and other events that happen throughout the year. Also send pictures of their cousins doing crazy things or just an image. It will peak their curiosity to meet with them.
It also helps to have them involved with the family reunion. Ask them to put on a skit, recite a poem, or do some type of presentation for the activities. Asking the younger generation’s option is a great way to involve them and a sure way to get them to attend your family reunion. If the older generation is having a hard time committing, then send the invites to the kids and let them invite the older ones.
Look at the skill set and find something for them to do such as cooking, baking, singing, or play an instrumental for the clan. Find what they like the best and exploit it… err, I mean, use it to your advantage. Just don’t give up, they will respond the more involved they are with the planning. You can use www.freeconferencecall.com to keep in contact with your clan throughout the year.
Who should plan the family reunion?
That, of course, depends on your family. Some families vote, some utilize a rotational schedule and some opt to let the same person plan it every year since they know all the ins and outs. However, no matter who ends up with the responsibility, planning a family reunion it is not the easiest thing to do. It takes a lot of organization and time, so you can choose another member to plan it, or take turns. Again, it depends on your family and how often you hold a reunion.
It’s unfortunate, but you can’t please everyone — no matter how much you try. The complainers will always be there. If you let them do it, you might end up doing it by yourself. You can always ask for volunteers, telling them you’ll help out with what you know, if you’ve planned one before.
You can also take turns if you have one every year. You should always ask for help planning the committees, festivities, and activities. If you ask who should plan the reunion, most likely they will volunteer the person who planned it last time, seeing as how they have experience in planning a family reunion. Again, it depends on your family and how often you have a reunion.
How to create a traditional family reunion?
If it’s your first reunion, then vote when everyone is together who will plan the next reunion. Use everyone’s skill set and incorporate those activities into the reunion. Try to include everyone in the planning. It’s much easier on the planner, and the family feels involved and they all have a say in the matter of planning.
Always be open to suggestions and Solutions. Again, you can’t please everyone, but the majority will agree with the solutions on planning. Pay close attention to those who will have a struggle attending. Give advanced notice about events and the planning. A good website will keep everyone informed of what’s happening at each stage of the planning.
What’s the average number of people who attend family reunions?
That, of course, depends on the size of your family. If you also invite extended family members, it could be up to 200 people or more. However, the average number is about 75 to 100 people per reunion.
Our family is spread out all over the world. Even with using social media, we’re having a hard time getting family members involved. How do we get the clan excited about our family reunion?
The first thing you can do is start giving things away such as those who post the most pictures receive a free 8 x 10 picture or those who respond receive a gift certificated to Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com including an Amazon Kindle gift card. You can also be sure everyone has access to the Internet.
You wouldn’t believe it, but there are still many people who just can’t fathom how the Internet works. Maybe contact the local library or an Internet café and see if they can help your clan members look at the website, or social media networks.
You can always use old fashion snail mail to send out flyers highlighting planning events. Also, remember to give family members plenty of time to work the reunion into their schedule of daily activities.
Call them on the phone and talk to them about the planning and how much fun it will be visiting and catch up on everyone’s life. Plus, they will get to meet the new members of the family.
What’s the general experience of planning a family reunion?
That, of course, depends on your family, how much experience the person had, and how well they are at organization. There are horror stories of planning a reunion that was a complete disaster, but there are other stories of a wonderful and rewarding time people had at their reunion.
Just remember, you can’t plan a family reunion in a weekend for a couple of months away. You have to use your judgment, of course, and it depends on how many members of your clan there are, but planning a family reunion takes time, energy, and organization. The average time for one should be at least 6 months away.
Financing The Fun: How to collect, cost, fundraisers
What’s The Best Way to Collect the Money?
There are hundreds of ways to raise the money needed for a family reunion. It will take a little work on the part of the family members, but it will be worth it in the end.
In addition to setting up a bank account in the family reunion’s name for payments, there are several online collection methods such as PayPal, Amazon WebPay, Skrill, Dwolla, and Square. The clan members would have to create an account, but it will allow the money to be available when you need it.
It’s easy to create accounts at any of the above, but you can also use your credit/debit card to transfer money into a special account at the bank. Using the online collection payment accounts is easy, free and convenient; however, some of them have processing fees starting at 1% of the payment.
What about a “Work It Off” Program For Those Who Can’t Afford The Cost?
Yes, you can have the one who can’t afford the full price to help out with support at the reunion. They can offer their services such as web design, carpentry, electrician, and other services you may need at the reunion. It saves on hiring a company you may need to hang lights or set up a website to keep the communication open with all family members.
One thing you can do is have an auction during the family reunion. It helps defray the costs and gives everyone an opportunity to get rid of something they no longer use. Everyone brings an item or two and setup up an open auction in the city where the family reunion is being held or you can use eBay or any of the other online auction sites. Another way is to offer a family cookbook, pictures or other subject you think may sell. Of course, pictures of your family may not be a big seller, but everyone takes sunsets, beaches, and sunrise pictures that others will enjoy.
How To Balance The Family Reunion With The Family Vacation?
That, of course, depends on the family, some families have reunions every other year and plan their vacation around both events. One weekend with the family and the rest is spent on vacation. If you have a reunion every year, then you could combine the events to save on travel costs.
Is There An Assistance Organization To Help With The Finances Of A Reunion?
No, not really. You can talk to your church and see what they say, but a national organization does not exist to help out with the finances for a family reunion. Most local companies will only help non-profit organization.
What Are Some Good Fundraisers for Next Year’s Reunion?
You can sell T-shirt, CD, and baskets, but most people don’t really want the items your family members might like, so it’s best to have an auction, yard sale (if all your family is local), or online auctions. Cookbooks with tons of recipes are a great seller, picture books of images you and your family have taken over the years of mountains, the moon, sunsets, birds, and other images you think people might like.
Plus, don’t sell just to your family. Sell to neighbors, have a stall in a farmer’s market, or using a website online to sell any item to gather up money for your reunion. Café Press, Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and Lulu are some of the places you can sell your wares. Just be sure it’s something other people will want. They might not want pictures of your family, but they would love a cookbook or beach images.
A great way to always have money for a reunion is to open a shop on Café Press and sell coffee mugs, T-shirts, or even handkerchief with a logo on them to other people. It can be run year around without much cost to you since Café Press takes care of inventory, making the product, shipping, refunds, and sends you the difference in the profits.
You can also make quilts, pillows, or any handmade item and sell it on Etsy.com. It’s another online eCommercesite you can run year around without too much trouble. The only thing that is required is, the product must be handmade.
It Cost Too Much For Some Of Our Family Member To Attend The Reunion? How Can We Help Them Without Dipping Into Our Pockets?
They can hold a car wash, raffle, bake sale, have a stand at the farmer’s market, mow lawns, and any number of things they can do to earn the money to attend. For that matter, other members of the family can hold the same activity and use the Internet to video between family members to see who makes the most money.
Make it into a competition for everyone to do an activity to help the members out to offset the cost of attending the family reunion. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Don’t know who said this, but if they really want to attend, they will find the money by doing what needs to be done.
How To Handle Clan Members Who Don’t Pay Or Only Pay Half The Cost?
It does depend on the family, but the best way is to set up a bank account they can put money in throughout the year. That way it doesn’t hit their pocketbooks so hard when the date of the reunion comes around.
You can also collect when everyone checks in for the reunion or use wrist bands to paid functions. However, so everyone gets to attend all the functions, it’s best to have an account they can pay into throughout the year. If they put in $1 a day, they will have most of it paid by the time the reunion comes around.
Where does the money come from for the invitations and other costs for the reunion?
Mostly it’s included in the total cost for attending the reunion, but some families also use the “work it off” program to get things like invitation, flyers, and other items needed for the reunion.
Since the invent of the Internet, it’s much easier to use email, video calling, and other Internet abilities to keep in touch with the clan. Some families can make the invitations while others can make the decorations, bring along dishes, and help set up some of the events. This also saves on the cost of hiring cater for the event.
Setting the Scene for the Reunion(Location)
There are thousands of places to hold a family reunion. The trick is finding one that everyone can agree on and be happy with while enjoying the reunion.
How Do You Choose The Best Location When Your Family Is Spread Out All Over The US?
That’s a trick question, but one that needs attention before you go any further with planning your family reunion. Find a location can be as simple as one that appeals to everyone such as Disney Land/World, SeaWorld, or other amusement parks.
Other times, especially when you have family on the East coast, West coast and everywhere in between, it’s hard to find the right location. You can choose from the price it takes to go to the reunion, a favorite spot in the family, grandmas favorite holiday cabin, or a location everyone wants to visit.
You can also find a location that will be central to everyone, or at the family home, or mountain retreat. Sometimes you have to put locations in a hat and choose that way.
What About Family In Another Country?
Of course, you want everyone to attend and it may take a tremendous effort for everyone to agree on a location. You can also agree to have the reunion in one country and another country the next reunion. You can also use video conferencing through the Internet so they can at least “be there” for some of the events. You can use:
And a host of other video conferencing websites. Some have software to download while others can be done through the web browser. You do have to check them out to find the best one for your family reunion.
What Do You Do If The Planned Outdoor Reunion Is Rained Out?
Always, always, always have a backup plan. That way all you have to do is change location. If you leave it to the last minute, there won’t be any place to hold your reunion. Check with the local YMCA, your church, the local gym and other hotels and buildings that will hold your entire family.
How to Feed the Clan
Feeding the hundreds that show up to your family reunion takes a little bit a talent. Not at the chef level, but with organization skills. Coming up with a menu of foods everyone will enjoy is not an easy task. You could, of course, have everything catered, but it does cost a pretty penny. However, many caters might help you put together a eating plan for the whole clan. Asking them will help take away the need to organization.
If someone in your family can do the food prep, then it’s always best to let them use their expertise to help out at the reunion.
Our reunion is outdoors, in the middle of July, with no air conditioner. What foods would be the best?
This reunion would benefit from lots and lots of ice. Having a shelter is also important since it will be hot and hydration is a consideration that needs to be addressed. So, that means a lot of bottled water, lots of ice, lots of coolers and cold food such as salads, fruits, and prepared food. The main thing is to be sure none of the food will create bacteria that will affect everyone who eats it.
Use the following as a guideline for food outdoors:
- Keep hot foods hot – above 140°F- and cold foods cold – below 40°F.
- Bacteria starts to grow within two hours in the 60-125°F range. This is the rapid growth range where a bacterium grows quickly.
- Store all perishable foods such as eggs, meat, and dairy at or below 40°F.
- Choose foods that will not support bacterial growth, such as nuts, peanut butter, or dried foods such as dried fruit. Stay away from mayo, mustards, etc.
- Discard any perishable foods from picnics or potlucks that have not been kept adequately chilled or heated during the course of the day.
Is It Acceptable To Have A Pot Luck Lunch Or Dinner?
Yes, it’s always great to have everyone bring something to the reunion. It saves on the cost of food as it spreads it around to all members of the clan. it also give everyone the opportunity to taste use popular family recipes. People also tend to bring the food they like to eat, so it makes for happy people at the reunion.
Is There An Easy Way To Plan The Meals?
Yes, several ways starting with a spreadsheet. Some people take to spreadsheet, some do not, either way, find a menu plan you’re comfortable with and go for it. You can also use the expertise of a caterer to plan the meals, but not cater the reunion. Also, if you have a chef in the family, use their ability to plan the entire reunion.
How To Handle Those Who Overindulge on Alcohol?
This is always a family matter, but having a set of the biggest men in your family keep an eye out for the one who will cause the problems. You know your family and the members who will do this. Just keep an eye on them and don’t let them ruin the entire reunion due to their overindulgent.
How To Deal With Multi-Day Reunion Food Preparation?
You can use simple foods, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, or you can have it catered. You can also use fresh fruits, granola bars, cheese and crackers, humus, or cheese balls, etc. another way is to have different foods, as in a meal plan, each day of the reunion such as a BBQ the first day, roasted pig or half beef the next day, and use the leftovers on the third day.
Food is the hardest to prepare for a reunion. Again, a caterer is one option, but when you tend to the food, the chef and helpers usually miss out on all the fun because they are tending the food. If you take in the cost of food, even a potluck, it will pay for itself if you have the entire reunion catered by a local company.
Fun and Games at Your Family Reunion
There are thousands of activities that are fun to amuse the crowds at a family reunion. It all depends on what your family sees as entertainment. Some families like baseball games, while others enjoy visiting the ballet or the opera, while others families like board games or card games.
It’s usually best to send out a survey to all members of the clan to see what they would like in the way of entertainment at the reunion. You’ll receive a plethora of suggestions, so you’ll have to narrow it down to what will please most of the members. Click here for some fun reunion games.
How To Entertain The Youngsters At An Outdoor Gathering?
Contrary to popular option, adults like to finger paint as much as kids do, so when you’re looking for a way to entertain the kids, think about what the adults will like as well. Choose paints, coloring, finger painting, balloon toss, egg toss, and other games adults can join in, especially if you can’t break the kids up into groups because there aren’t enough of them.
You can also add board games such as Monopoly, Sorry, and Chutes and Ladders. Games you played as a kid with the family. It brings back many memories for everyone as well as entertaining them.
What Kind Of Games Will Both The Kids And Adults Enjoy?
There are many of them that both young and old will enjoy, especially if they were played when young. Of course, you can add the newer games to the mix such as Family Feud, Family Fear Factor, Minute to Win It, and include competitions, talent shows, favorite comics or cartoons, dress up, etc.
How To Get The Teenager Group Involved?
This is the age of the rebellion, but you can include them by putting them in charge of the games for the kids or even the adults. Making them a part of the games by being in charge allows them to get over their feelings of maybe not knowing their cousins and other members of the family they haven’t met. Once they start engaging, they will find it a lot of fun to keep going with the entertainment.
How To We Take Care Of The Little One Without Missing Most Of The Reunion?
Of course, many people will want to take care of their own kids, but you can switch off between parents and other relatives to take care of the little ones. Grandma and grandpa will always want to spend a few hours with the kids, but don’t expect them to take care of them all day. They don’t have unlimited energy.
You can make a list of those who want to care for the little ones so their parents can have a great time and not worry about the kids. You can also make a fenced in area in the middle of the reunion so everyone can watch the babies and little ones can see their parents. Of course, you can always hire someone to care for them during the reunion.
Create a “Kids’ Corner” or “Kids’ Activity Center”for the little ones to play with others, but will still be able to see their parents and the parents can enjoy knowing the kids are being amused by crafts or other activities.
How To Print Out A Family Tree?
You can use the local printing company or have them printed before the reunion. If you’re updating the family tree, use the local printing company. Use a PowerPoint program, a family tree program, or there are many free genealogy websites (Ancestry.com) where you can create a family tree and print it out on your printer. You can also download the file and take it to the local printer.
How Can We Incorporate Our Family History Into Our Reunion?
Story telling is always a great way to pass on the history of your family. Remember to record the stories to put on a DVD or CD. That way everyone can have a copy and remember the history of your family.
You can also use a local company that specializes in recording the history of families. It will be professionally done, and you don’t have to worry about missing the stories while you’re trying to video or record the conversation. At the end, the company will put together a DVD with all the stories so they are always remembered.
A family cookbook is always a great idea. The family recipes will be recorded for all times, and everyone can purchase a copy for their library. A skit or short play during one the reunion events is ideal. Have the ending of the night with a story time when everyone is laid back and ready to listen. Try not to have it during the day when energy levels are high. They won’t stick around to listen, especially the younger generation.
What Is The Most Economical Way Print A Family Tree?
There are several ways to print out the family tree. You can have a huge tree on the wall and have everyone input their information. At the end of the reunion, take several pictures of it, and email them to everyone and they can have it printed out when they arrive home. OR you can have a local printing company print it out.
When you have a digital image, you can send it out to have a poster made. It’s also easy to email to all members of the family. If you would like a different twist or spin on a family tree click here. This website is allows you to create family trees using family names.
Another way is to hand draw the family tree. Each member makes a copy of the tree and all you have to supply is the paper and pens or pencils or magic markers. It’s especially fun for the younger generation to copy the family tree.
Using Freebies, Prizes, Gifts and Awards
What Do Families Usually Do For Door Prizes, Freebies And Giveaways?
It depends on the family and what type of gifts to include during the family reunion. You can use home made products such as soap, quilts, notebooks, tote bags, and even pillowcases and sheets. Although, since you know your family, it should be gifts they can use and be happy with and remember the reunion. Here’s a list of some items you can use:
- Small calendars, with magnet backing
- Personalized items such as wallets, pens, handkerchiefs, etc.
- Party hats
- Key frames
- Pictures of family members, especially old timers like great, great grandparents
- Trading cards
What Kind Of Welcome Packages For Our Reunion?
This can include many items, depending where you’re holding your reunion. For example: if you hold it in Florida, then a great welcome package would be a pair of sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, a pair a shorts, and a can of bug spray along with the list of activities, the itinerary, and a map to the local hot spots.
Visit hunt4freebies.com and hip2save.com to find some free items to use at your family reunion. Plus, you can always use national brand coupons and discounts, gift cards, and other items the members of your family will enjoy.
What Type Of Awards For A Family Reunion?
You can have the awards after a game, after dinners, during one event, during all events or any time you want to have them. It can be the last day of the reunion, if your reunion goes into multiply days. You can use a clock to count down the hours that are left or any number of times to pass out the awards. Click here for family reunion activities and fun family reunion award ideas that puts a different spin on typical awards.