Reunion activities should be planned for several reasons. Many individuals at the reunion may feel like strangers. It could have been years since they have seen any of the family. Or, maybe they are newly married and have yet to meet the family. Reunion activities help renew family relationships.
I know, from personal experience, how you can walk by a family member and not even know them. I was at a family function recently and passed by a first cousin I hadn't seen in 40 years. His sister told him who I was so he called out to me - I couldn't believe it, the last time I saw him he was just a kid - he had been living out-of-state and had not been to any family gatherings in a long time - now here he was a grown, mature man, "hiding" behind a full beard!
It is the day of your BIG event. All your plans have been made and in place.
(For this scenario, let's assume your event is a family reunion picnic).
The Set-Up Committee has done its job by hanging a Welcome banner, set up tables and chairs and placed your "themed" decorations around the area.
The Welcoming Committee has the registration area set-up and ready.
Your first guests start arriving!!
Your Welcoming Committee starts the first of the reunion activities by having your guests sign the "Attendance Sheet" and by directing them to the name tags or buttons, which are alphabetized on a table.
All your committee members and volunteers should be ready to give directions or answer questions.
NOTE: This is also a good time to collect any fees that still need to be paid - remember to use your credit card reader (for those that forgot their checkbooks) - see how convenient the reader is?
Hand out adult "goodie bags", which are imprinted tote bags. One to a family should be good. These "bags" will contain a Welcoming Packet with a schedule of events, free gifts from local businesses and anything else you would like to include.
You may also want to include single use cameras for your guests to take pictures during the event, then ask them to turn in the cameras when they leave. Have the film developed and you may find many photos you will want to include in your newsletter.
By all means, have goodie bags and balloons ready for the children. These are usually printed paper bags (your teenagers can get these ready before the event) and will include bubbles, sidewalk chalk, crayons, coloring books and any other items you may wish.
NOTE: A favorite place of mine to find items to fill the bags for the little ones is my local Dollar Store. What a fun shopping trip!
Take pictures of each family as they arrive at the reception area - be sure to get the names of everyone for identification.
We always like to take a family group pictures after everyone has arrived. Our last one is hanging in our family grouping on our wall - LOVE to see those faces when I walk by!
If you started to develop a Family Directory, this is a good time to have a member from each family review the information you have and complete a "Family Directory Information" sheet to fill in what is missing.
Also, your Family Historian/Genealogist should also be at the Reception Area to get families to complete Family Group Data sheets to fill in the gaps of the Family Tree.
Everything will seem a bit chaotic for a while as your guests greet each other - with all the hugging, kissing and everyone talking at once (if it's a family like mine). But once everyone is gathered together, it is time for you, or someone you designate to step up and get the reunion activities rolling.
You will introduce yourself, thank everyone for coming, then it would be a good time to give a brief history of your family and the purpose and theme of your event. You will then introduce your special guest/s - especially if the reunion is in their honor.
This would also be a good time to acknowledge your Committees, and other members and volunteers, whose help was invaluable to help put your event together.
You may want to go over the schedule of events, if you have some activities set for certain times and answer any questions.
Depending on how you have set up your schedule, you may want to start a few "ice-breaker" games, or, if you are having a barbeque, you may want to have everyone start eating, the games and activities will follow.
Types of reunion activities vary according to your family and the "likes" of the majority.
Some families like structured activities where everything is planned out in a timely manner, such as taking a tour bus to a museum, then on to lunch.
Other families prefer a casual event with activities planned for different times and posted so they can participate in the ones that interest them, like the good old-fashioned family games like: the sack race, three-legged race or a pie eating contest.
Kids activities - make sure there is something going on all the time, they LOVE to be kept busy.
NOTE: If you find some kazoos, flutes, little drums and even some maracas, you may even plan a kids parade - you would be surprised the fun this can be! Can you tell?? - this one was 4th of July!!