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Master Family Reunion Checklist

This checklist shows all the elements you need to take care of for your family reunion.

Step 1a. Start with the Basics

Take a moment to set your goals for this particular reunion. It will make sure you accomplish what you set out to do.

You don't want to invite the whole world, so who exactly do you want at your family reunion?

Use a guest list to make it easier to invite family members.

There's a lot of difference betweeen a group of fifteen and a group of 150.

Do you want a backyard barbecue Saturday afternoon, a two-week vacation or something in between?

When will you hold your reunion? There are better times and worse ones for many family members.

You can choose the old homestead, someone's backyard, a church or a park or an island in the Caribbean. What do you have in mind?

Are the facilities you're considering right for your family reunion? Use this checklist to make sure it meets your family's needs.

Step 1b. Make It Fun!

Make the planning process easier and the family reunion more memorable by choosing a theme.

A simple color scheme can unify your reunion and make it more memorable.

Make your family members believe they belong together by using clothing to bond you into a group.

Make sure you have the right activities to make your family reunion a success without being overwhelming.

Games are an activity that can create a lot of fun and family interaction.

For many at your family reunion, the food will be the main attraction. Make sure it's great!

Step 1c. Make the Arrangements

There's lots to do to prepare for and hold your family reunion so write the key deadlines on your calendar to make sure everything is ready for the big day.

If any family members have to travel to attend your family reunion, you'll want to make sure they have someplace to stay.

If several family members are traveling from farther away, you may be able to save them money by arranging group fares.

Decide what signs you'll need to help people find their way.

How much will the family reunion cost?

Reserve the facilities, furnishings, travel and lodging you'll need for the reunion.

There are several ways to raise the money to pay for your family reunion.

Step 2. Invite Your Family

Once you've planned the reunion, it's time to let everyone know about it. There are many ways to invite the family. Be sure everyone finds out and puts it on their calendar as soon as possible.

Every important product and occasion has a logo to help people identify it and to make it stand out in their minds. Get one or make one for your family reunion.

Written invitations let you share your excitement with family members while providing them with all the essential information.

Deliver your invitation in a timely fashion so family members can plan for your reunion.

If you can't reach all your family members personally, consider announcing your reunion publicly to get the word out.

Step 3. Prepare in Advance

On your marks! Get Ready!

While you wait for the date to get here, gather all the things you'll need for your family reunion: the supplies, the food, the furnishings, the items to strengthen your family ties. Confirm your reservations, too. Then you'll have everything ready when the big day arrives.

Order the clothing or other items you'll need to help family members realize they are truly part of your family.

Whether you need a few tables and chairs or a giant tent, now's the time to make sure you'll have everything you want to rent or borrow.

Get out the crepe paper, the photos, or whatever you have in mind to set the theme and the mood for your reunion.

Order or prepare the signs to help people find where they need to go and make the reunion seem well-planned.

You may or may not like computers, camcorders, digital cameras, microphones or loudspeakers, but they are important for preserving and enhancing your family reunion.

Unless you're having your family reunion catered or holding it at a restaurant or resort, you'll want to get food and other supplies ready.

You may want name tags, forms for collecting information, genealogies and so on. Now's the time to print them.

Whether a child gets a scraped knee or an adult suffers an upset stomach, it's good to be prepared for emergencies. Be sure to have a plan, supplies and phone numbers.

They may blame it on computers but human error is the reason reservations get canceled or never made. Avoid embarrassment and chaos by checking once again that all your reservations are in order.

Let people know your family reunion is still on schedule and that you hope they'll be there.

Step 4. Set Up

Your family reunion is finally happening. It's time to get out all the food, signs, furniture, decorations, identity gear, electronics and everything else. If you're prepared, it won't take long.

Set up chairs and tables, a podium, the grill and everything else you need.

Make it clear where family members should go when they first arrive at the reunion.

Break out the photos, streamers or other decorations you need to achieve the look you're after.

Pull out your signs and put them in the right places.

If you're eating potluck or barbecue, get out the silverware, napkins, condiments and centerpieces.

No matter how much you try, your family reunion will generate some trash. Be ready for it.

If your family is coming in the cold season, be sure you have a place to put coats and hats and gloves and boots.

Pull out computers and cameras and microphones and everything else electronic. Remember the extension cords!

Step 5. Hold Your Family Reunion!

You've done everything you can to plan and prepare for your family reunion. Now your efforts will pay off with a reunion that family members will enjoy and remember.

As you start your family reunion, take with you our wishes for good luck along with some tips to get your going.

Give family members a hearty welcome as they arrive, and take care of registering them for the reunion.

Start teens and younger family members on games right away. Adults can join in if they like.

Since ancient times, eating together has had special meaning. Enjoy the occasion with your family.

A program, preferably about your theme, can create long-lasting memories and focus the attention of family members on their shared heritage.

Heirlooms are the physical reminders of our ancestors. Showing them to each other helps family members understand their history.

In twenty years, this family reunion will look like ancient history to a new generation. It will be a source of interest to future generations as well as those who attend.

Knowing who ancestors and descendants are gives us roots. Spend some time on sharing this information at the reunion.

If your reunion is large enough, you'll probably have someone there who causes trouble.

Sure you have to clean up the trash and return anything you borrowed or rented. But you need to save the memories, too.

Step 6. Follow Up for Extra Impact

Just because your family reunion is over doesn't mean it's over. With a little effort (and a little fun) you can make the reunion bind your family together even more tightly after its over.

Take five minutes and jot down what went right with the reunion and what you wish had gone better. It will help you or some other family member in the future.

Update your family directory, your genealogy and other family records using what you learned at the family reunion.

You likely promised to do something for one or two (or more) family members. It was kind of you to do, and now you need to keep those promises even though you wonder where you'll find the time.

Email copies of your best photos to family members or post them on your blog or someplace where everyone can find them. If you're old-fashioned, print copies and send them to special people.

Put photos in an album. Add some text and maybe a bit of video or audio. It will make a long-lasting record of your family.

Just because some people didn't attend the reunion doesn't mean they aren't part of the family. Make them part of the reunion.

As soon as you've recuperated from the last reunion it's not too early to start planning for the next one.

A star indicates a task that is essential for all family reunions. Unstarred tasks may or may not be essential, depending on how you structure your reunion.