By Deanna Roberts
All across America, the summer
months are a perfect time to reconnect with
the extended family. A reunion offers parents,
grandparents, kids, uncles, aunts and cousins
a chance to celebrate the past and create a
According to a recent report from
the National Convention & Visitors Bureaus,
there has been a national rise in the urgency
for families to reconnect with each other. Reunions
range from 50 to upwards of 350 attendees, folks
who gather to share their common heritage, warm
memories, good times and of course, great food.
Living in today’s world
is hectic. Making time for family sometimes
becomes a chore given all our other responsibilities.
Technology can prohibit our daily interaction
with family and friends. Hence, a family reunion
is the ideal way to link multiple generations.
Planning such an event is a major
task, but it doesn’t have to be tackled
alone. With so many resources to choose from,
if you need assistance to facilitate your event
plans, contact the host city Convention &
Visitors Bureau or hire an event planner. The
Convention & Visitors Bureaus and event
planners have resources at their disposal.
Even if it is your first time, don’t be
nervous. Just jump right in and begin!
· Step 1
Contact Convention & Visitors Bureaus in
the host city of your reunion. They can put
you in touch with all the local hotels, dining
facilities, caterers, entertainment, parks for
family outings, attractions etc. It is important
to gather as much information as possible up
front, in order to make educated decisions.
· Step 2
Budget permitting, hire an event planner. Planners
have numerous resources an able to negotiate
with local businesses. If you hire an event
planner outside of the host city, make sure
they have contacts in that city. They can help
you with contract negotiations, deadlines, timelines,
invitations and reports on your progress, alleviating
yourself of a lot of stress and time.
· Step 3
Form a reunion committee within your family.
If possible, make sure to have a representative
from each generation present. Your committee
can help create the theme for your reunion.
It is important to designate one person as the
chair of the committee. The chair will work
with the event planner (or alone), to meet with
local venues and businesses. The committee should
schedule activities for children as well as
adults Getting the younger generation involved
in family activities will ensure a successful
and memorable reunion.
· Step 4
Determining your budget is crucial. Once your
committee and/or event planner, has come up
with a wish list, it is time to plug it into
a budget. It is a great idea to identify a local
sponsor to help subsidize a portion of your
Your budget should be broken down
the following ways:
* Airline (look into group discounts)
* Entertainment (DJ, Band)
* Venue rental fees (hotel or park activities)
* Reunion T-shirts
* Gift Bags
Be sure to offer various ways
of payment such as individual (Adult and Child
prices) and/or a Daily Rate – some family
members may not be able to participate the entire
weekend and can pay accordingly.
· Step 5
Communication is key! Use regular mail and the
Internet to get the word out about the reunion.
In some cases, registration for your reunion
can be completed online through online services.
Get you family involved. Ask a younger family
member can create a website to keep your family
informed of the weekend itinerary. Do not assume
that everyone is online. Be sure to send out
a reunion newsletter for those family members
without internet access.
Tips on communication:
*Send a "Save the Date" reminder with
event location, hotel, airline and rental car
*Send a formal invitation & email blast.
*Send out confirmation newsletter with your
*Encourage the entire family to help promote
the event to each other!
· Step 6
Honor the elders. Create proclamations or plaques
to the longest surviving family members. Create
a family tree and encourage family members to
fill in what they can. Appoint a responsible
family member to act as historian for this memorable
Sample Itinerary for a 3 Day Family
o Welcome Celebration
o Registration & T-shirt distribution
o Family Recognition Day
o Family History
o Special Honors
o In memoriam
o Dinner Dance
o Kids dance and activities
o Family Breakfast
o Family service
o Closing luncheon
o Completion of family tree
Now that the reunion is over, don’t forget
the real reason you’re having the event—to
keep the family together. Make a tradition to
hold reunions regularly—whether it is
yearly, every other year or every five years.
The benefits of a close knit family will outweigh
all the preparation needed!
The Event Doctor, Deanna Roberts, is president
of D. R. Roberts Event Management. In her spare
time, Roberts can be found training for triathlons
and teaching courses in event planning at UC
Berkeley Extension and San Francisco State University.
Check out her website at www.RobertsEvents.com