Family gatherings can be a really fun way to socialize, catch up, and play fun games! Minnesota summers are the perfect time for reunions, especially since the kids are out of school and the days are longer and warmer. Outdoor activities such as bocce ball or ladder golf can part of a family tournament or encourage friendly competition. Bingo is a fantastic way for adults and children alike to play (white elephant gifts are a great idea for prizes!).
Broadway Party Rental has tents of all sizes, tables and chairs, chafing dishes for buffet-style dining, and a variety of games and activities. We may have the THINGS you’ll need to help host a family reunion, but HOW do you create a successful get-together? Our friends at Family Tree provide Ten Steps to Family Reunion Success:
1. Make a plan.
Start by picking a date and location. Professional planner Bill Gunkel of Reunions Unlimited recommends you begin planning at least 12 months ahead. Your best first step, he says, is sending questionnaires to family members to get input on when, where and what they want.
Gather a committee to select three possible dates and locations. Send questionnaires asking family members to rank the options. While you can’t meet everyone’s needs, a survey is the best tool for finding out what works for most relatives.
2. Recruit and delegate.
No one person can manage all aspects of a family reunion. Surround yourself with capable and enthusiastic committee members. As the chairperson, you’ll oversee the event, handle communications between committees, coordinate the volunteers—and occasionally play peacemaker.
For small events with 20 or 30 people, you’ll need only a few volunteers. Large events require more volunteers and committees. Here’s a brief list of reunion jobs:
- Finance director: handles the reunion checking account, maintains the budget, makes purchases
- Lodging liaison: Finds accommodations and negotiates group discounts
- Food director: works with the caterer or handles the potluck
- Correspondence officer: communicates with family members
- Entertainment director: organizes activities for a variety of ages
- Reservations officer: tracks who’s coming
- Mementos procurement: gathers mementos for display
- Welcome committee: makes name tags, agendas and signage; man registration; helps people mingle
3. Create a command center.
A reunion generates paperwork: Even with subcommittees, the reunion chairperson needs copies of pertinent information, such as contracts with food vendors, updated registration information, and lodging details. You might keep everything in a simple file folder, or you may want separate folders for each committee in a file box. Keep your records organized—you’ll refer to them often.
4. Build a budget.
Cost can be a big factor in attendance, says Katy Anderson, owner of Reunion Masters in San Jose, Calif. “Keep your costs down or try to give the family plenty of lead time to budget.” She recommends 12 to 18 months.
Give an idea of the price in the first mailing. For more-expensive get-togethers such as cruises, Anderson suggests offering monthly payment options. In mailings, asking each family to pitch in a set amount of seed money is a good way to offset startup costs. Get more dough with our fundraising ideas. Include financial updates in mailings.
5. Prepare a back-up plan.
If your reunion will be outside, reserve a pavilion that can accommodate all the attendees in case of unexpected weather. Pack a few board games or crafts that the children can do indoors.
6. Get the word out.
Send invitations as early as possible. You might opt for a simple flyer, an elaborate newsletter, or a postcard. Use mailings to relay information and incite interest. Opt for e-mail if your family is plugged-in to keep costs down and give an easy point of contact. Include family trivia in your communications. Encourage relatives to send stories, ideas and updates for the mailings. This involvement often leads to better attendance.
7. Offer something for everyone.
Offer a range of activities to meet varied ages and interests. You also can have optional outings such as golf, mall trips or excursions to historical sites. For kids, aim for a mix of outdoor and indoor activities. Teenagers can organize the younger children’s games.
8. Start with a bang.
Linda Johnson Hoffman, author of The Reunion Planner (Goodman Lauren Publishing), suggests icebreakers to kick off the reunion. “Getting everyone involved as they arrive is essential to setting the right tone,” she says. Here are some suggestions:
- Have a welcoming committee greet arriving guests
- Create a blank family tree and have each member fill in his information
- Provide an agenda of activities so no one gets left out
- Create welcome banners
- Give away freebies, such as imprinted pens or notepads, at registration
9. Share your family’s story
No matter how different your relatives are, your family heritage is one thing you all have in common. Celebrate it by setting out old photos and memorabilia. Incorporate food, music, and decorations from your family’s ancestral homeland.
Use the opportunity to make a family photo album (everyone brings pictures and create a page), a book of family stories, a video of reunion footage, or a family recipe book.
10. Maintain the momentum.
After the reunion, plan to keep in touch until the next one. Family newsletters and Web sites are great for this. Recruit volunteers to send a newsletter, or create and monitor a Web site or a profile on a family networking site.
Here are a couple of tips the experts at Broadway would like to add:
1. Break it down.
After the event, combine all your notes and critique it! What went well? What you’d do different the next time? What you had too much of? Too little of? Keep them available to reference in the future.
2. Pay it forward.
If you have any unspent funds, save it to be used towards the next reunion & maybe open up a Family Reunion Account.
3. Ask for volunteers.
During the reunion – have a brief meeting asking for someone to volunteer to chair the next reunion. Decide then WHEN it will be: 1 year, 2 years, 5 years?
Now that you have an idea of what you need to do, call Broadway to reserve the equipment you’ll need. Check out our catalog, from BBQ grills to tents and canopies, we have a wide variety of rental items and sometimes just perusing our equipment lists will spark an idea or just remind you of things you may need to help make your reunion go smoother and be greater success! If you don’t see what you’d like to rent, give us a call – with enough notice we often add to inventory based on customer request! Call us today for an estimate!