Family Reunion Planning Timeline
This planning timeline will help you stay on track. It's a comprehensive task list of things that need to get done before the reunion. Planning a family reunion starts 1-2 years in advance. This checklist for event planning will guide you from start to finish."Good fortune is what happens when
opportunity meets with planning."
- Thomas A. Edison
Use this planning timeline as a general outline. If there are parts that don't apply to your event, simply ignore them. If your gathering requires additional tasks, add them to the list. If some items need to be changed to fit your reunion, make the edits.
The whole purpose of a planning timeline is to break all aspects of event planning into manageable chunks of time. Planning ahead will eliminate the stress - well, most of the stress, anyway - and make the process more enjoyable.
18-24 months ahead
Determine interestDecide which family branches are gathering Develop potential guest list Gather names and addresses, develop mailing listSolicit help for brainstorming and feedback. It could be a planning partner or full family reunion committee.Research location options and reunion sites, compare amenitiesDecide how everything will be paid for and how costs will be sharedSend out a survey to determine interest, activity options, date & location choices, etc.
12-18 months ahead
Decide type and feel of reunion (picnic verses banquet; an afternoon verses several days)Determine date(s)Determine initial estimates regarding the number of attendeesChose a locationFind lodging, negotiate prices, and reserve a block of hotel rooms if necessary (If there are portions of this planning timeline that don't apply to your special event, simply skip them and move on.)Make reservations, pay deposits and feesIf you’ll be outside, determine alternate plans in case of inclement weatherEstimate costsDevelop budgetSend save the date card
6 – 12 months ahead
Continue to evaluate guest list, add addresses and edit mailing list as neededDecide themeDetermine food plan (how to split the costs and the work)Make assignmentsFurther develop reunion agenda, events & activitiesCommunicate with family members via website, email, newsletter or other means (get people talking and excited)Research local entertainment options, hire entertainers as neededDetermine whether any special awards or recognitions will be givenOrder favors, souvenirs, t-shirts and any other keepsakes or give-away itemsHire photographerTrack budget and expenses
6-9 months ahead
Make and send invitations – design, proofread, print, stuff, mail
3 – 6 months ahead
Follow up on assignments given to various family membersMake additional assignments as neededConfirm facility reservations (check and then double check)Develop family meeting agendaPlan program portion of the reunionSelect menusPlan decorations; order and purchase props, napkins or other unusual needs (Again, if there are portions of this planning timeline that don't apply to your special event, simply skip them and move on.)Print award certificatesRecord RSVPs as they are receivedCompile and print the family directoryMake reunion itinerarySend final communication to family members; confirm registration as needed
2 – 4 weeks ahead
Confirm or solidify any outstanding reservation concerns Finalize decoration and facility arrangementsFollow up on assignments given to othersMake direction and welcome signsGather suppliesStuff registration packets (if needed)Know the weather forecastIf outside, make a bug plan – spray for insects, set up a bee trap or bring mosquito repellantFinalize counts and room set up with caterer, facility and/or hotel (make sure you have enough space for the anticipated number of guests)Take delivery of souvenirs, t-shirts and other printed materials. Verify you have the correct amount. (Allow a minimum of 6 weeks for professional printing of any kind.)
1 week ahead
Pack, gather all suppliesMake last-minute purchases
The Day Before
Arrive on siteMeet with sales manager and other staff contacts, inspect facilitySet up, decorateSolve last-minute problems and changesTouch base and review details with reunion committeesMake sure your car is filled with gas for last-minute errands
Family Reunion Day(s)
Have all the clothing and accessories you will need for the entire day with you in case there is not time to get away to change.Have all instructions, directions, phone numbers, keys, etc. on handKeep a first aid kit and local emergency contact information on handSet up registration tables, rental equipment, audio visual, displaysThank volunteersManage agenda and reunion details Maintain a positive attitude, stay calm and have funHave fun! If things are less than perfect, chances are no one but you will notice
After the Reunion
Congratulate yourself!Finish all outstanding clean upEvaluate and make notes (What went right and what could have been different or better?) Include specifics regarding money spent, amount of food eaten, numbers of attendees, etc. The more detailed the evaluation notes, the easier it will be to plan the next time.Complete bookkeeping, pay any outstanding billsWrite thank you notes to volunteers, facility staff, caterer, etc.Start planning for the next family reunion
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