Don't mean to make you feel bad but just today I sent off the last Christmas
presents to family in Germany; if I do it well enough in advance I don't
need air mail and I can send big boxes of books (their favorites and mine).
It may feel a bit premature, but it's really never too early to talk about
holidays...reunions at holidays, holiday reunions, taking advantage of
Reunions at Holidays
Many reunions happen at holidays because more people than usual are together,
or they use the holiday as the excuse to have a reunion. Add a couple
of days for activities or programs that may have little to do with the
holiday and extend the camaraderie. If everyone's already there, the opportunity
is usually ripe for some extra bonding.
Reunion traditions can be part of many holiday celebrations. And if your
reunion is some other time of year, perhaps incorporating these holiday
traditions will help older members recall the past and give children a
family hook to the future.
What about using your ethnicity to create holiday reunion themes? And
tastiest of all, use ethnic foods to draw members in. The warmth and nostalgia
that the essence of sharing food produces is often a great reunion memory.
Holiday reunions are the ones where many families gather but can rarely
expect everyone to be there...in-law obligations, can't afford the trip,
can't get off work to travel. The solution to the holiday reunions without
everyone present is to use the theme of that holiday when you do have
a reunion where everyone can get together.
Many families create their own holidays. These are families who recognize
they may never accomplish the desire to have everyone together for an
actual holiday so they create one. Make sure the date you pick for your
reunion holiday doesn't conflict with anything, then get everyone's commitment
to reserve the special date.
There Are So Many Ways to Take Advantage of Holidays
Think Holiday Theme Reunions
Taking advantage of holidays can be the most intriguing of these holiday
suggestions because it involves something more and more people are getting
into every year: shopping the half price sales the day after the holiday!
What on earth could that have to do with reunions? Lots, it turns out!
Look for bargains and be prepared way in advance for a Christmas in July
or Thanksgiving in August theme for your reunion. Get decorations, paper
goods (napkins, plates, cups), prizes, mementos and gifts, tree ornaments,
gift wrap, Santa suits maybe even candies packaged to be fresh
in six months.
If one of your reunion activities will be to make Christmas decorations
or ornaments, collect supplies while the sparkles and spangles are still
predominantly red and green. Planning ahead is crucial in reunion success
and using a holiday theme is easy if you think ahead to collect things
that you will certainly be hard-pressed to find in out of season.
When you're preparing your holiday card lists, separate family from friends
and stick extra information in mailings you send to family. You can even
save a bit of money by combining your greetings for holidays and for your
If your reunion is next summer, a holiday mailing can be as simple as
a reminder with the date and place or you can include more in anticipation.
If you do a newsletter, this might be a time to send it and. It's also
a good time, if your reunion report from last summer hasn't been sent,
to reconnect and remind everyone of the great time you shared ... and
can look forward to again.
If you're collecting materials for a cookbook, memory book, or quilt
this is a perfect opportunity to "prod" members; move them to submit information,
recipes, or quilt squares. No one is immune from the procrastination bug,
and copying recipes or searching for old photos or documents is so easy
to put off. If you have a holiday theme planned for the next reunion,
remind members they'll need wrapped gifts for children or decorations
Another way to take advantage of holidays is to have reunion committee
meetings while members are home and have a little time off. Meetings six
to eight months ahead can be very productive for staying ahead of or on
top of many details. Housing should be chosen by now so activities, entertainment,
and communication details become more important and there are lots of
decisions that can be made.
Reunion Holiday Gifts
What would the holidays be without gifts? And there are lots of things
you can give as gifts for reunions as well. For the reunion organizer
or committee members, any of many books available on the web from amazon.com
and bn.com (Barnes and Noble) and some in bookstores.
I'd be far too humble if I did not suggest my own book, The Family
Reunion Sourcebook. The Sourcebook takes the reader through
all the organizing steps using hundreds of actual family reunion examples.
Reunions Workbook is the step-by-step outline and gigantic check
list appropriate for all reunions. And, of course, a subscription to Reunions
magazine always makes fine gifts and brings new and fresh ideas for
your immediate reunion organizing four times a year (Workbook included).
Call 800-373-7933 or check www.reunionsmag.com.
If you are the reunion organizer, buy yourself any of these gifts! You
deserve the help for all the work you put into organizing your reunion.
Also consider gifts for members of your committee and for family members
whom you hope to encourage to help with or eventually take over your organizing
Any one of several reunion organizing software programs can give you
some well-deserved help to save time and keep track of your members. Most
of the software packages are reasonably priced and generally include guest
lists, manage finances, have the capacity to generate memory books, to-do
lists, checklists, rosters and name tags. All these have free demonstrations
The Reunion Planner by Linda Hoffman (Goodman Lauren Publishing,
11661 San Vincente Blvd Ste 306, Los Angeles CA 90049; 800-899-6978)
is both a book and software in one package. Free
demo is available online.
Minutiae Software's Reunion Planner. Free
demo is available online or call toll free 1-877-MINUTIA.
Family Reunion Organizer. Free
demo is available online or call 800-327-2317.
Or how about some special games to play at your next reunion? These are
some family history games in stores and catalogs: Generations,
LifeStories, Reminiscing. Any of these can get everyone
talking and many telling stories that will share family stories and history.
Questions and Ancestors is available from Conestoga Book Service,
Box 7, West Willow PA 17583.
What about genealogy gifts that help you preserve family history? Or
software such as the newest edition of Family
Tree Maker or Family Origins
Gift of Heritage
is a video about how to create a family documentary and interview extended-family
members with suggested questions to ask to preserve the past. Call 800-224-8511
for more information.