Planning family reunions takes time and patience. After considering suitable family reunion locations and making basic decisions, it's time to send a save the date invitation and further develop the event planning timeline.
I've divided planning a family reunion into three basic phases:
Find a general family checklist for event planning, use this one or develop your own.
A planning timeline is simply a comprehensive task list of items that need to be done before the reunion. Ideally, it's a flexible document that you can edit, add and change as you go along.
When planning events, I find it helpful to think backwards. In other words, start with your event date. Then think about what needs to be done *right* before the event and add those items to your list.
Next, think about what will need to be done in order for you to accomplish the tasks you just listed. Often times, one task leads to another. For example, you can't send save the date invitations until you:
Start with the event's MOST important aspects and expand from there.
It's my recommendation that planning a family reunion should always include:
One of the key components of a successful family reunion invitation is well-defined list of people who should receive that invitation. Don't skip over this part!
Regardless of your chosen communication method (email verses a website verses a formal card sent through the mail verses a series of family reunion letters), a common way of extending family reunion invitations is to invite the head(s) each branch of the extended family and ask them to extend the invitation to their adult children and grandchildren.
Don't do it.
You simply canNOT trust your family reunion invitation to be successfully distributed or properly understood if you rely on this traditional transfer of information. Let's face it - your sister-in-law, Great Aunt Sally, may not value the family reunion as much as you do, or simply doesn't have the means or desire to send the invitation on.
Instead, create a centralized guest list and go the extra mile to ensure that EACH adult member of your family receive his/her OWN save-the-date card or family reunion invitation. Include as much information as possible, especially if you have a plan for continued family communication, such as a website or Facebook page.
Not all family reunion communications and announcements need to be distributed to each individual - but make sure at least one item goes to each person. He/she will feel valued and be more likely to be involved and want to attend and pariticpate.
Even if it's very very basic, like "dinner followed by a program," don't forget to outline an itinerary for your attendees.
This becomes especially important if you're planning multiday family reunion or family summer vacation. Your family will need to know how much down-time to expect, how much pocket change to bring and/or when they'll be able to feed the baby.
Are you ever finished planning the family reunion? Well, if you want to establish any sort of tradition, probably not.
So be sure to take a moment shortly after the reunion to make a few notes as to what went well and what didn't. Record how many people attended, how much money was spent and how much food was purchased and eaten. Include samples or pictures and comments from family members.
Even - or perhaps especially - if the family reunion planner rotates between siblings or various people, pass your experience forward.