Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Going forward

Going forward with your reunion plans will involve not just thinking about it, but actually taking the steps to make it happen.“It’s only too late if you don’t start now,” is the title of a popular book by Barbara Sher.  (Although not about family reunions, it is a wonderful read.)

The above statement applies to planning your family reunion too.  Here it is, April, only a few weeks between now and the end of school for the year.  It's not too late to have a reunion this summer, or begin planning for one to be held next year.  The months will go by quickly!

My first bit of advice:

Schedule the dates for the family reunion well in advance.  Advance planning is necessary so other family obligations do not interfere with attending the reunion.  Poll each family for their preference as to the length of the reunion, then schedule the event so that a majority of family members can be present during most of the days set aside.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to find distant family members given the state of art of communications today.  Email, Facebook, and personal websites will all facilitate finding even family members you haven’t kept in touch with for years.  I’ve successfully found several of my cousins just by searching on Facebook.

Once you reach at least one of those long lost childhood kin, they can direct you to others they may have found.  Cast your net wide to reel in as many extended family members as possible.  They will thank you for taking the initiative in establishing contact again.

Once you have email addresses or a physical mailing address, send each one a form to fill out, polling them on dates for holding the reunion.  Include questions to collect data on their family as well:  Name, name of spouse (if any), children’s names (if any), contact information including physical address, email address, and phone numbers.  Make it easy for them to reply by enclosing a Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope (SASE) if you’re using regular mail to send them the form.  You want to make it easy for them to reply!  Enclose a business card with your name and contact information so they have it handy for later.

Suggest two or three dates for the reunion, and ask for their first, second and third choices.  Ask how long they’d like the reunion to last.  Should it be a weekend event, a three-day weekend or an entire week?  The preferences may be influenced by how large your extended family is.  The more people you’re inviting, the longer the reunion should be for maximum visiting time.

Lastly, ask for volunteers to help plan the reunion once you tabulate your results and set a date for the event.  There will be lots of work for as many volunteers as are willing to help.

With a little advance planning, in a few months you may be at your very first family reunion!

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