Reunions can be a lot of fun if they are planned to keep memories flowing and family friction low.
Good food and old friends, family or classmates are essential. Then add a little wine, beer, drinks or soda, some
good food, and plenty of conversation -- with a sprinkle of old pictures for spice -- and they'll be coming back year after year!
Far-flung relatives must be contacted, and a location must be decided upon. Does anyone have a big enough house to hold everyone, or would it be better in a community center or other outside venue?
Then there are invitations to be sent out -- food and drink to be arranged -- plus games and activities to be organized. And don't forget the battery charger for the camera!
Reunion party planning
Even if your reunion party is already well-established annual event, it's always best to plan early. Formal invitations can be sent later. First, contact everyone on your guest list with a "save the date" announcement well in advance of vacation time.
Depending on the size of the group, your venue can be backyard, a local restaurant party room, catering hall, a church basement, or community center.
When choosing a commercial venue, remember that local restaurants and catering venues are ready to negotiate during the slower summer months -- when most of their clientele are on vacation. Even with this added bargaining power, as always it pays to shop around. And, if there's no detailed written contract to sign be ready to walk away.
On the flip side, holding your reunion in a community hall or in someone's backyard is simplicity itself. Especially if you can all upon friends or family members to help with food and decorating.
Popular themes for reunions include a Christmas in July party, a fun Mexican fiesta (complete with a Mexican hat dance competition), or a Hawaiian luau (don't forget the hoola-hoop contest.) Or, how about a simply great pot-luck dinner where everyone is invited to bring their family favorites?
Once the venue and theme are chosen, it's time to send out the formal invitations. Purchase them at a local store, or save a bundle by printing them yourself on your desktop. If everyone is Internet savvy, make it easier still with a general announcement on a social media site or free e-vite service.
Reunion party fun & festivities
Next comes the fun part - the toasts, tributes, family history, and photos!
Since old photos are traditional entertainment during any reunion, be sure to plan ahead to ask classmates or family members for prints to display during the festivities - whether in a giant photo scrapbook, a digital computer slideshow, or to display on posters throughout the party area.
For family especially, researching the family tree is always a fascinating part of a reunion where everyone can gather around to see where they fit in the larger scheme of great grandparents, cousins and second cousins!
Toasts and tributes? Don't forget those for the head of the family, anyone marking a graduation or promotion, or celebrating a milestone birthday or wedding anniversary.
When the reunion party is over, send guests home happy with party favors such as class photos, copies of the family tree, and don't forget the candy treats -- for a sweet memory of a close and heartfelt time together.