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Put Together a Guest List

A guest list will help you know how many people to plan on. Later, you can use it to send invitations.

A guest list has many uses. It gives you an idea of how many may attend your family reunion. It helps you contact them. It influences how you plan the reunion because rather than planning it for a faceless crowd, you'll know the people who are coming and can cater to their needs.

If your reunion will be a cozy get-together of ten or twenty people, creating a guestlist will likely be easy. Jot everyone's name on a sheet of paper, then add contact information such as street and email addresses.

If you're planning to invite hundreds, on the other hand, you may not know who all of them are. But it still will pay you to list everyone you do know; that way, you can invite them and let them help you spread the word to others.

How to Find Family Members

Unless you're inviting a small group of family members you associate with frequently, you won't have the contact information for everyone in the group you want to invite. How can you find "lost" family members so you can invite them? Here are some ways.

  • Ask other family members. In most cases you'll be in contact with at least some of the family members you want to invite. Call them and discuss the reunion with them. Ask if they have contact information for people you're missing. Promise to send them a copy of the directory when it is finished. (And do it, of course.)
  • Ask friends. If you have a friend who may be in contact with other family members, ask him or her.
  • Use Google. Use Google or another favorite search engine to locate missing family members. Type the person's name, enclosed in quotation marks, in the search box. Add the name of the place you think he or she lives or other information you have about the person such as "biologist" or "astronaut". For example, you could type "Mary Jones" Minneapolis author. Of course, if the name you're searching for is common, you may find several candidates and you'll have to narrow them down to the right person.
  • Use some of the "free" online services. There are many free online services for finding people. The more you know in terms of address and phone number, the more likely you'll find your missing family member. Some services let you use prior addresses to identify people.
  • Check phone directories. You can check both local and online phone directories for places you believe your family member may reside.
  • Use some of the online "For Pay" services. There are online sites that charge you a small fee but have a lot of information you may not find in the free sites.
  • Hire a detective. You'll have to be really desperate to find someone before you'll hire a detective to trace him down. But it's an option worth mentioning.

Gathering family names can be a painstaking, time-demanding task. You'll probably add to the list gradually. You may want to invite someone else in the family to help or to be in charge of the process, depending on your own skill with the Internet and your level of patience with this type of work.

However you do it, creating a list of family members you want to invite is a crucial step in holding a successful family reunion. If you share the directory with other family members, it is also a service to them that will help strengthen your family ties.