Be it resolved that you will give yourself enough time to organize the reunion.
If it’s your first reunion, allow enough time so everything is done and in place. If you have lots of members around the country/world including some you still need to find, you might want to allow as much as two years. Once you decide to go ahead, let nothing interrupt your course.
Be it resolved that, when you select a date and place for your reunion, you will stick to it.
Announce a date and place, make everyone aware of your schedule with flexible and reasonable deadlines.
Be it resolved that you will not organize the reunion alone. Delegate.
Often reunions are started by a family firebrand who can and will do all the work to make sure it gets done. However, when this is the case, you lose broad-base reunion ownership. Others need to feel they have an investment and have contributed to this effort.
Start a committee of members you can count on to do what they agree to do. Delegate. Conduct an inventory of the wonderful skills and talents throughout your group. Delegate. Who can maintain your mailing list(s) as a database? Who can produce your newsletter? Who can explore and choose places to stay, to have your banquet, to have your golf tournament, or to take the kids? What will the family genealogist or historian bring to your program? Delegate.
Be it resolved that you will establish a budget and stick to it.
Money will always be one of your reunion’s biggest challenges. How much will you need? What do you want and how much will it cost? Who will get the estimates and make the decisions? Who will pay for it? All these questions (and many more) are important agenda items for a committee meeting. Consider affordability, which will vary greatly among members.
Many reunions include fundraising activities to help cover some costs and reduce overall expense for everyone. If fundraising will be among your activities, you must make that decision before the reunion and inform everyone. If you will be having an auction, raffle or white elephant sale for which everyone is expected to contribute, you must let members know in advance. If you’re going to publish a memory book, directory, cookbook, or make a quilt, you’ll want to start early (often a year or more) and be sure everyone knows what items cost, to come prepared to buy, and how proceeds will be used.
Be it resolved that you will plan enough activities to keep kids happy.
Adults are often satisfied to sit and catch up all day and maybe all night. However, children are soon bored, if there are no plans specifically for them. Places with swimming pools go a long way to keep kids happy, but additional activities must be considered.
Games, contests and tournaments can engage kids for days at a time. Or this may be the perfect time for cousins to take lessons in activities or sports that are important to other members: golf, rafting, tennis, fishing (grandpas are good at this!), or sailing. Also, don’t overlook those Fourth of July games that are such fun: sack, three-legged and wheelbarrow races, water balloon and egg tosses, sprints, jumps, and relays. They’re fun for kids still today.
Be it resolved that you’ll use all the organizing help you can.
It’s much easier to find help organizing reunions now than it was even as little as ten years ago. First there are Reunions magazine, Reunions Workbook, reunionsmag.com along with a large array of books available to give you inspiration and countless ideas.
First, talk to others who have planned reunions for their ideas and suggestions. At your first opportunity, attend a reunion planning workshop, most sponsored by convention and visitors bureaus who offer lots of planning help. You’ll learn from speakers and sharing ideas with other reunions attending. Also look for reunion workshops and classes offered by genealogical societies, church and community groups and community colleges.
Military reunion planning workshops tend to be familiarization (FAM) tours that last three to four days. Several companies sponsor these events in different locations. Note: FAMs should never be construed as vacations because your hosts deserve your full attention. They will fill your time with so much to do and see, mountains of information, and answers to every conceivable question. To qualify for an invitation, be prepared to introduce your reunion.
Feel free to share this with your reunion committee members!
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©2012, Reunions magazine, Inc.
Happy New Year to You and Your Families!
Edith Wagner is the editor of Reunions magazine, author of Reunions Workbook and The Family Reunion Sourcebook. She collects material for this column and Reunions magazine from family reunions and invites you to share your reunion ideas, concerns or questions. You can e-mail Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit reunionsmag.com