Saturday, June 13, 2009

How to Plan and Lead a Family Reunion

[note: I may update this with more information every now and then, but for now, here's a good first bunch of information]

Our family, the Will family, has had family reunions since I can remember. I remember as a child going to Grandma and Grandpops house for the reunion. We had root beer in a keg with ice all around it, my Aunt Martha running games, dancing to records (I remember Chubby Checkers "Twist" record playing so many times in the heat that it warped right on the record player), and watermelon.

So, you'd think we'd be pros by now, and I think we all are. For some reason we stopped having them after about the year 2000. Lately, several of my cousins and family have been saying we should have one again. So, I took the lead and worked with a bunch of family members and we got it together.

Our family must be the best at having family reunions because it really was very simple. I think because we've done it so long, we make it easy. Here are some pointers to a great family reunion and then I'll share some fun pictures from our day today.
  1. Best tip: Have everyone bring their own stuff (their own food, drinks, paper plates, plasticware, cups, etc.) and one item to share. This makes it so easy because everyone takes care of themselves and there is so little care for the planner!
  2. Rent a local picnic place - Then you don't have to pay too much for an expensive place. And, your not imposing on a family member. We just had my dad talk to his town and rented the picnic pavilion. It was a great place and was pretty inexpensive compared to many family reunions.
  3. Have a few conference calls to plan - we had a few conference calls in advance (we used
  4. Use emails to get the word out - we used a yahoogroup (
  5. Get volunteers to help - I had some great relatives who did things like sending out announcements, calling relatives, making name tags, setting up the games, making signs
  6. Plan a schedule for the day - Print it so people have it. Make it approximate to allow for flexibility
  7. Bring Family Photos - people love to see them
  8. Announce a core time of the day when most events will be held
The Day of the Reunion:
  1. Have someone start the BBQ grills early - if you're using charcoal, have someone start the grills in advance and set up the tables, put plastic table clothes on tables, etc.
  2. Bring the family tree - have people update it, and bring forms for them to enter informaion on
  3. Make announcements - let everyone know at least a few minutes in advance what's going to happen next
  4. Insist eveyone wears a nametag - this is such a big help. I still don't know the names of lots of relatives
  5. Give lots of free time - Let people talk and get to know each other
  6. Play some games for all ages - Let the young be with the old
  7. Do a mixer game - find a mixer game that get's people mix and meet others they don't know
  8. Announce Photo time ahead of time - let people know they need to let you know about an hour in advance before they want to leave so you can get everyone in a photo
A few other fun things we did
  • My sister and niece made a pinata
  • We always play bingo - everyone just brings a few "prizes" - almost everyone can play
  • We had a copy of the family tree that people could makes notes on
  • We had a sign-in sheet so people
  • We had a dessert competition. Everyone voted for their favorite. We gave certificates and took pictures of the first, second, and first place winners. We collected and traded recipies. Eveyone elso who brought a desert won honorable mention and got in the photo.
  • We always have family photos of each of the oldest siblings (oldest Generation), then their children, then their grandchildren, then their great-grandchildren, etc. This year we had 4 generations. We also take a photo of everyone. Then we take photos of each of the oldest siblings families.
  • We played the White Elephant game (also known as Yankee Swap) - or

Some family reunion websites:

Pictures of our reunion today

4th Generation:

Everyone that came:

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