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Right Off the Top of My Head
Top 3 Tips for a Memorable Family Reunion
by Craig Richards   June 1, 2002

It's estimated that 20 million family members gather at some 400,000 reunion events each year, spending more than $1.6 billion, making family reunions a full-fledged industry. Even better, there are lots of resources (many online) available to those who are planning a gathering of the clan, whether their first or fiftieth.

Aside from family gatherings organized throughout each summer (by far the best months due to breaks in work and school schedules), many reunions are also planned for the winter holidays. My own family has a get-together at Easter and also a weekend near Christmas.

Additionally, though not often thought of as a "reunion" are spontaneous family gatherings at milestone events such as births, graduations, weddings and funerals.

As the founder and publisher at FamilyReunion, one of the questions I am most often asked is, "What are the most important things to keep in mind when planning a family reunion?" Though there are many great books on the topic (some of which I've highlighted below), in this installment of Connections, I submit for your consideration my own Top 3 Tips for a Memorable Family Reunion...

I hope you enjoy this issue of FamilyReunion "Connections." As always, your feedback is encouraged and welcome.

A thought or two right off the top of my head. We are very interested in your views and opinions.

Until next time we gather around the warm glow of your monitor, I remain

virtually yours,

return to the TOP Craig Richards, founder and publisher
the family social network™

Top 3 Tips for a Memorable Family Reunion
  1. Plan Early. But Don't Overplan.
    Start organizing well before your gathering – the more expected to attend, the earlier you'll want to plan.

    Remember, though, your gathering is about people. When attendees look back at your reunion, what they'll cherish most is quality time spent with long-lost family members. A reunion crammed with a frenzy of activities leaves little time for visiting and re-establishing those family ties that give us a sense of "roots" and much-needed permanence (in our otherwise fast-paced society).

    Whether your reunion is centered around a potluck picnic in a neighborhood park or a on weekend cruise, try to keep your focus on your family and less on activities that, while entertaining, may only serve to distract from your memorable event.

    or listen to the interview now with RealAudio
    Background info: The Savvy Traveler is a public radio travel program and website produced by the people who created Marketplace, the public radio business news service. The Savvy Traveler is hosted by journalist, commentator, athlete, author and traveler Diana Nyad. Produced in Los Angeles by Minnesota Public Radio, The Savvy Traveler is distributed by Public Radio International.

    The Savvy Traveler is made possible by major grants from Diners Club International; with additional support from Public Radio International, the University of Southern California, and public radio stations nationwide.

  2. Mix Up Your Families.
    No, I don't mean you should confuse them. Just like when arranging where guests sit at a wedding reception, do your best to get family members to mingle. Social activities and games that get folks moving around work best. I also like the idea of having a member from each branch of the family stand up and share that family's struggles, achievements and milestones – The kind of stuff my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles used to share in their frequent letters. These days, letter-writing seems to be a lost art, so a reunion is a great opportunity to move past presumptions about other family members and really get to know them and their experiences, share the burdens and acknowledge each other's accomplishments. To me, that's what family's really about!

  3. Delegate.
    We are all busy these days and, at first, it can be difficult to recruit helpers. But it's sure worth the effort. Planning a gathering for a few hundred or a even few dozen guests can overwhelm the best of us – especially as the big day or weekend approaches. I speak from experience, here folks!

    The more you can "spread the joy," you will turn passive attendees who may simply arrive and wait to be entertained into participants with a sense "ownership" of the event.

    A great example of the success of delegating is at the largest family reunion in the U.S. – the 3rd Annual Hatfield & McCoy Reunion Festival in Pikeville, Kentucky, scheduled this year from June 6–9.

    Ron and Bo McCoy, descendants of the famous feuding families, and hundreds of volunteers, have turned their reunion into a festival that's spread across three counties and into two states (Kentucky and West Virginia) – complete with corporate sponsors and news media in attendance from around the world!

    return to the TOP Certainly their event has grown but, to me, the real success of the Hatfield & McCoy Reunion is that Ron and Bo say they actually enjoy going to their reunion and catching up with family and friends. And isn't that what we all want?

Must-Have Resources for Reunion Planners

There are literally thousands upon thousands of websites on what has become one of the web's most popular topics: Family history and reunions. Lots of them are in our searchable Resource Guide and here are a small handful of sites that have become popular among members of our community to help you get started...

On the Web
  • Announce your reunion free at FamilyReunion
    The site designed to help you streamline the invitation and registration process for family reunions.
    Information and resources, including their popular reunion-planning software.
    Search their databases for long-lost members of your family tree.
    Cyndi Howells' huge site of links to genealogy-related websites.
    Quickly growing to become a must-bookmark site for finding the missing links in your family tree.
    A genealogist with experience, knowledge and access to millions of records for United States, Canadian and European research.
    If you can't find your missing friends and relatives through The Seeker, they have left the planet.
    Get great ideas here for producing your own reunion.
Books to Help You Plan Your Reunion
Books About Activities and Games
Books to Help You with Family History Research
Books with Recipe Ideas
return to the TOP

FUN AND GAMES:   The Name Game

Here is this month's free Name Game! Print out as many as you want and pass them around. This is our new twist on a familiar word puzzle. You search for words (from the list on the right) that are hidden in the letter grid. Look vertically, horizontally, diagonally and backward to find them all!
Play The Name Game
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This month's Name Game
View the answer keyClick here to view the answer key
View the answer keyClick here to order your Custom Name Game

Did you know you can get your own custom Name Game? We create your custom puzzle from words important to your family – and we even host your Name Game online at FamilyReunion FREE! Folks just load it in their browsers and print out as many as they want.

Point your browser to and use the order form to compose your custom Name Game.

return to the TOP Your purchase of our Name Game service helps support the efforts of FamilyReunion to help connect families around the world – We are grateful for your continued patronage and the opportunity to help you Make Fun of Your Reunion!
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