Your Family Reunion Planning Checklist

By Family Tree Editors Premium

One Year to 18 Months Before the Reunion

  • Recruit a planning committee
  • Schedule committee meetings
  • Assign responsibilities (such as attendance, finance, communication, venue, food, activities, etc.)
  • Set a date and place (survey relatives if need be)
  • Gather relatives’ contact information or update contact list
  • Collect starter money (if a first-time reunion) or evaluate balance from the last reunion
  • Set a budget (estimate costs, determine admission price)
  • Open a reunion bank account (if you don’t have one)
  • Set up a reunion website and/or Facebook page
  • Send “save the date” announcement 
  • Determine a theme
  • Brainstorm activities, entertainment and food based on
    the theme
  • Investigate any events permits or other requirements

12 Months Before

  • Book the reunion venue
  • Book a caterer, if using
  • Book a professional photographer/videographer, or ask a relative to shoot photos and video
  • Book entertainment, if using
  • Reserve other services, such as tables and chairs or site clean-up
  • Apply for permits
  • Prepare map/directions to event site

9 Months Before

  • Design the invitation and tickets (if using)
  • Order mementos and souvenirs
  • Set up an email template for your registration confirmation message
  • Begin preparing personal histories, slideshows, videos or other reunion handouts or displays
  • Note milestones to acknowledge at the reunion, such as anniversaries, graduations, etc.
  • Send a reminder announcement
  • Look for sales of non-perishable supplies, such as decorations, plates, cups and napkins

6 Months Before

  • Plan decorations, displays and centerpieces
  • Send official invitation
  • Update address list as needed; continue to contact non-responders and potential attendees
  • Arrange for door prizes and game prizes
  • Prepare door prize drawing tickets
  • Book accommodations for traveling guests, if necessary

3 Months Before

  • Send reminder announcement (include enticing reunion details)
  • Get event insurance as required
  • Determine venue layout
  • Make name tags
  • Make table centerpieces and other decorations
  • Prepare photo collage
  • Prepare signage (marking the venue, registration area, drinks, bathrooms, etc.)
  • Finalize schedule
  • Designate event emcee
  • Prepare announcements
  • Prepare printed program

1 Month Before

  • Finalize personal histories, memory albums, slideshows, videos, etc., and order professional copies as necessary
  • Update attendees list
  • Assign dishes for potluck
  • Continue attendee recruitment efforts
  • Send reminder announcement
  • Recruit helpers for set-up and clean-up
  • Inventory items needed on-site and who is responsible for bringing each one
  • Prepare a reunion survey
  • Make name tags as needed
  • Shop for nonperishable supplies

2 Weeks Before

  • Send reminders or tickets if using them
  • Finalize attendance
  • Prepare list of paid guests (if applicable)
  • Confirm event details with all vendors and suppliers
  • Finalize announcements and deliver to emcee
  • Verify delivery of donated door prizes
  • Finalize and print any handouts and labels
  • For potluck, confirm who’s bringing what

1 Week Before

  • Update attendance list with last minute guests
  • Finalize list of paid attendees
  • Prepare name tags or registration packets
  • Set contingency plans for weather or other unexpected events
  • Give meal count to caterer (if using one)
  • Shop for perishables
  • Prepare final payment to venue and vendors
  • Confirm room set up and equipment arrangements with venue (if applicable)
  • Prepare checklist for the day of the reunion

1 Day before

  • Pick up beverages, ice and food (cake, cookie trays, sandwich trays, etc.)
  • Prepare food and drinks as needed
  • Deliver supplies to venue if possible

Day of reunion

  • Bring reunion day supplies (including checkbook) and checklist for the day
  • Set up food and drinks
  • Set up decorations and activities
  • Have fun and enjoy the day!
  • Clean up and pack items
  • Retrieve supplies

After the Reunion

  • Send survey (if not distributed at event)
  • Finalize photo book and or video with photographer/videographer
  • Send memory albums and other handouts to those who paid but didn’t attend
  • Send thank you notes and follow up letters
  • Close bank account once all checks have cleared, or keep open with a minimal balance for the next reunion
  • Store reunion supplies in convenient location
  • Evaluate survey responses
  • Meet with committee to discuss successes and pitfalls
  • Send regular updates via a family website, social media, email and or mailings
  • Update contact list
  • Recruit planning committee volunteers for the next reunion

From the September 2013 Family Tree Magazine.