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.

Planning Timeline

18-24 months ahead

  • Determine interest
  • Decide which family branches are gathering
  • Develop potential guest list
  • Gather names and addresses, develop mailing list
  • Solicit help for brainstorming and feedback. It could be a planning partner or full family reunion committee.
  • Research location options and reunion sites, compare amenities
  • Decide how everything will be paid for and how costs will be shared
  • Send 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 attendees
  • Chose a location
  • Find 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 fees
  • If you’ll be outside, determine alternate plans in case of inclement weather
  • Estimate costs
  • Develop budget
  • Send save the date card

  • 6 – 12 months ahead

  • Continue to evaluate guest list, add addresses and edit mailing list as needed
  • Decide theme
  • Determine food plan (how to split the costs and the work)
  • Make assignments
  • Further develop reunion agenda, events & activities
  • Communicate with family members via website, email, newsletter or other means (get people talking and excited)
  • Research local entertainment options, hire entertainers as needed
  • Determine whether any special awards or recognitions will be given
  • Order favors, souvenirs, t-shirts and any other keepsakes or give-away items
  • Hire photographer
  • Track budget and expenses

  • 6-9 months ahead

  • Make and send invitations – design, proofread, print, stuff, mail

  • family reunion planner

    3 – 6 months ahead

  • Follow up on assignments given to various family members
  • Make additional assignments as needed
  • Confirm facility reservations (check and then double check)
  • Develop family meeting agenda
  • Plan program portion of the reunion
  • Select menus
  • Plan 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 certificates
  • Record RSVPs as they are received
  • Compile and print the family directory
  • Make reunion itinerary
  • Send final communication to family members; confirm registration as needed

  • 2 – 4 weeks ahead

  • Confirm or solidify any outstanding reservation concerns
  • Finalize decoration and facility arrangements
  • Follow up on assignments given to others
  • Make direction and welcome signs
  • Gather supplies
  • Stuff registration packets (if needed)
  • Know the weather forecast
  • If outside, make a bug plan – spray for insects, set up a bee trap or bring mosquito repellant
  • Finalize 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 supplies
  • Make last-minute purchases

  • The Day Before

  • Arrive on site
  • Meet with sales manager and other staff contacts, inspect facility
  • Set up, decorate
  • Solve last-minute problems and changes
  • Touch base and review details with reunion committees
  • Make 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 hand
  • Keep a first aid kit and local emergency contact information on hand
  • Set up registration tables, rental equipment, audio visual, displays
  • Thank volunteers
  • Manage agenda and reunion details
  • Maintain a positive attitude, stay calm and have fun
  • Have fun! If things are less than perfect, chances are no one but you will notice

  • After the Reunion

  • Congratulate yourself!
  • Finish all outstanding clean up
  • Evaluate 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 bills
  • Write thank you notes to volunteers, facility staff, caterer, etc.
  • Start planning for the next family reunion

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    Go to Family Reunion Success Home

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