Five Things Reunion Planners Should Stop Doing Now

Magazine Features, Planning Tips

Stop Sending Invitation Through Snail Mail

For more than a century, the mailbox and the rotary dial phone were how we communicated. But times have changed. We no longer have eight track tapes, floppy disks, typewriters and no one is using shorthand. Family reunion planners should embrace the advances in technology when sending invitations and keeping in touch with family members.

I’m all for sending thank you cards, Christmas and birthday cards and wedding announcements by snail mail, but when it comes to family reunion invitations texts just makes sense.

First off, consider the ts ling every family an invitation adds up quickly, especially if you have a large family. Also, factor in the cost of paper and the ink toprint it on or the cost of taking your invitations to a print shop to have them professionally printed. You also need to figure in the labor involved, sorting, stapling, folding and putting your invitations into envelopes.

A reunion planner can sit at her computer, compose a quick message or create a beautiful custom invitation and send it off to the entire reunion family in a matter of seconds. No stamp is required, no trip to the post office and no time is taken to physically fold, staple and lick. Just send it out and your whole family can be reading your reunion information in a matter of minutes.

Our family has enjoyed sharing our news and information on our family Facebook page and I know some families that have created their own family websites. Both are convenient, instant and inexpensive ways to keep in touch. Although sending reunion information by email is awesome, grandma and grandpa and great aunts and uncles may still need a physical invitation that arrives in their mailbox or a call they can answer on their rotary dial phone.

Stop Trying To Do Everything Yourself

This one is huge. As a reunion planner, you have enough to do without worrying about every detail of your reunion. Form a committee and give out assignments or, if working solo, make a list of activities and divide them up among family members. A simple way to make assignments is by family group.

There are six children in my husband’s family. They are all over 60 years old now and have adult children of their own. For most reunions, each family group receives an assignment to do an activity and plan and cook a meal. When my family is given an assignment, my children help with the planning and implementing of that assignment.

The theme of our last reunion was, “Game On.” Every family group was responsible for a jumbo-sized family game. Our game was one of six games we played at the reunion and one of six activities the reunion planner didn’t have to worry about.

Many years ago, we planned a cruisethemed reunion. Each of the family groups choose a port of call and planned activities and a meal that represented the culture of that port. Because there were six families, we sailed tosix countries, including Mexico, Alaska, Africa and Paris, France.

Stop Spending Your Own Money

No matter how much you love each other, it still costs money to hold a family reunion.

You may charge reuniongoers a fee for attending the reunion or you may ask them to donate food or other supplies, but if you are a reunion planner, I guarantee that you are spending your own money (probably more than you think) to make your reunion successful.

For many families, putting someone (or a committee) in charge of managing the money is a huge help. This person should be responsible for all things money including any fundraising that takes place.

Our family does a family auction to help with reunion expenses.The responsibility for the auction, including encouraging family members to bring donations to be auctioned off, is up to our reunion financial guru. She keeps track of all winning bids and collects the money. She also deposits the cash in our family reunion bank account and pays all the bills. It’s one less thing the reunion planner needs to worry about.

I suggest every reunion organizer purchase a notebook to record each purchase they make for the reunion. Glue an envelope in the back of your notebook for keeping receipts and at the 1 Stop Sending Invitations Through Snail Mail Five Things completion of your reunion, review your purchases and submit your receipts to the money manager.

Keep in mind that the purchases you make are made with precious funds and take care to spend wisely, but if there doesn’t seem to be enough funds for one of your activities, unless you pay for it, then it’s time to cut it from the list or find a creative way to pay for it.

Stop Worrying About Family That Does not Attend the Reunion

When you’re the one that has worked so hard to plan and implement a reunion, it’s pretty hard to not take it personally when someone tells you they can’t attend.

Over the last 40 years of family reunions, I have heard some pretty ridiculous reasons and excuses that someone can’t attend a family reunion, but I’ve also learned that if someone doesn’t want to come to the reunion they’re just not going to come, no matter what you say or do.

Focus instead on all the wonderful people that come to the reunion like cousin Toby, who planned his wedding so that his anniversary would never fall on the reunion weekend, and Aunt Jean and Uncle Mack, who save their work vacation every year so that they can attend. Those are the people that need your attention and are probably the families that are most excited to lend a hand.

To encourage attendance at the next reunion, send out a nice, personalized email or text to those that didn’t attend letting them know that they were missed. Be tolerant and patient with those that don’t make the time or put forth the effort to be at your reunion. Perhaps you’ll see some of the non-attenders next year when they hear how much fun everyone had at the reunion they missed.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

We live in an age when everyone is sharing their expertise and experiences on the internet. At reunions in my early years, I’m sure reunion planners never considered planning a reunion with a Caveman, Western or Wizard of Oz theme, but today, families have thought up some pretty amazing reunion themes and activities. As a reunion planner, you will want to talk with friends and co-workers to find out what their favorite family reunions are. The experiences of others is a great jumping off point for creating the perfect reunion for your family.

Search the internet for the thousands of reunion ideas you can find there. You might not find exactly what you’re looking for, but reading about other reunion planners’ experiences can help get your creative juices flowing. After you’ve done your online research, put your own family’s spin on the ideas you found there. is a simple, free online service helping people plan their next family reunion. They can help with registration, hotel reservations and collecting fees. is a website that offers reunion-themed packages that are packed full of reunion ideas, activities, games, recipes, printables and templates that take a lot of the “planning” out of reunion planning.

A family reunion is a huge responsibility for reunion planners but as you work through the reunion process, keep in mind the reason you’re having a reunion. Don’t wait for a funeral or wedding to get your family together. When you plan a reunion, you give your family the opportunity to play and have fun together. The work you do will assure that children will get to know their distant cousins and is a way for families to reconnect with their roots and find a sense of belonging.

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