Family History Reunion Planning – Tips and Ideas
Are you hosting a family reunion and looking for ideas to make it an interesting and enjoyable experience? Has family history triggered your interest in hosting a family reunion or a family reunion made you interested in family history research? Family Reunions are good idea to share and develop your family history research! Here are some ideas and tips on having your family history be a part of your family reunion – things to remember, tools that might help, fun activities and ideas and managing and planning the event.
IDEA 1 – Reunion Type – Inviting Relatives You Know or Relatives You DON’T Know?
IDEA 2 – Make Your Family Reunion Unique and Fun with a Theme!
What nationality is your family history? Once you have chosen the side of your family history that reunion attendees will be related to you can use the nationality as the theme of the reunion. Are they Scottish? Have everything Scottish themed! Here are some ideas of bringing your theme to your family reunion:
- Food And Beverage theming – was the majority of the family from Scotland? What about trying some Haggis! Ask the family to bring a traditional dish? Or a secret family recipe?
- Traditional Format – re-enact an ancient ceremony ie. wedding, christening, coming of age
- Games with links to your family history (eg England – Croquet, Scotland - Highland Games, Italy – Bocci, Sweden – Kubb, Greece – Mini Olympics!)
- Fancy dress theme – family tartans? Period clothing?
- Traditional dancing and music
- Themed decorations
IDEA 3 – What to Bring?
To really bring your family history research to your reunion you should bring along some of your research. To make this more interesting you could:
- Have a board with family tree charts for different lines. Perhaps an index to the charts so that reunion attendees can look themselves up and see how they fit!
- Your laptop with your program – so you can tell people how they are related using the relationship calculator!
- Displays: Family History book? Family Tree Wall Hanging? Place significant images/posters around the venue as conversation starters.
- A Presentation! A family history researcher (genealogist) can make a formal presentation (slideshow and talk), or just join the mingle and be a good go to resource for interpreting documents, professional history searching to find answers on the spot, historical customs and key historical events context. See the bottom of the article for more info.
- Photographer/photographer booth – your family reunion is creating your family history! Photograph and document it – what a great opportunity for each family to have their annual family portraits done! Professional and Easy! Consider asking a photographer friend to make this easier and cheaper.
IDEA 4 – What Should Your Attendees Bring?
- Photos (hardcopy and electronic)
- Historical Wills and Diaries – first hand records of your Family’s Story
- Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates
- Military Records
- Family History Scrapbooks
- News Articles
- Their own family tree research (consider asking them to share the electronic ‘GEDCOM’ file if they use family tree software/online services
- USB Memory Stick - electronic files are easier to share, and pictures can be large and hard to email – if they bring a USB they can share and take away files.
- Some family legends, myths and stories!
IDEA 5 – Tool Tips for Your Family Reunion
Consider having some handy tools at your reunion to make the most of having so much information available in one place:
- Computers: Have a computer or 2 set up so that people can log into their family history online and share it on the spot, or even connect on Facebook!
- Scanner: Family members might bring some info/handwritten family trees/photos/birth certificates documents. What a great opportunity to ensure these primary records are preserved and shared! TIP: Don’t forget to record who has possession of the document for future reference!
- Projector/Big Screen: Show some family pictures in the background? or a planned powerpoint presentation of the family’s history by a genealogist!
- Computer Techie: Consider employing a computer techie to do the sweat work of scanning and cataloguing of documents - also having someone dedicated will also ensure quality scans and that it actually gets done! It would also be useful if the techie was familiar with family tree software, to help create, combine and search in files. Allow family members the time to share, reminisce, and bond!
- Tables to display family artefact, documents and books - don’t forget to let people know that there will space to place these things!
IDEA 6 – Invitations and Managing your Reunion:
Invitations are just the beginning! You then also have to manage the large group of invitees – but we can help make this easier with these tips!
- Snail Mail: Mail posted invitations will get exactly the result that you expect – the family will know, and come, but RSVP rates will be low, and you’ll probably end up chasing up invitees by phone – good enough excuse to get in touch! A small step forward would be to email the invites! There are loads of websites that can help with invitation formats and ideas!
- Print Advertising: It is uncommon for people to advertise in local newspapers, but given the internet age and people are much more mobile these days this method is becoming less practical.
- Facebook: Its very easy! Facebook is one of the most powerful ways to organise and manage a family reunion is via Facebook Events. If you aren’t familiar with Facebook I’m confident someone close to you is or you can simply and easily learn yourself! With Facebook, you can send invitations to only selected family members, or you can make it open to anybody to join – very powerful for letting extended family invite relatives they know but you don’t. Imagine your family being able to invite their cousins and families with a click of the mouse, as they are connected to these people through Facebook. A very powerful way to find more family groups that you might not have even thought of might attend, and your family reunion might end up needing a sports ground to host! The Events function also allows you to manage RSVPS, update times, locations, supply Google maps images of where the location if the reunion is and more.
IDEA 7 – Family History Presentation
To really make your family reunion about the common family history shared between those invited is to have a family history presentation. You can either do this yourself, or have one of our family history researchers present for you. One of our researchers can do all of the legwork to make it easy for you to turn your family history into a designed slideshow (powerpoint presentation) that is delivered by an engaging talk. Our researchers are specialists in the historical events and customs that shaped families and reasons that you came about! Our reunion presentation package includes a book of your family history to your family reunion to be used as a display (which the reunion organiser gets to keep afterwards). Even have some family Myths explored, or help finding that illusive ancestor on the spot!
Good luck with your Family History themed Family Reunion! I hope this idea list has triggered your imagination.