Sunday, 23 February 2014

Holding a Reunion?

I am an active member of a few mailing lists and Facebook groups and recently someone asked for some tips about planning and advertising a reunion. So I posted to the mailing list and the response made me realise it was time I got back into blogging about the genealogy and technology things that I am interested in, so here goes...

One branch of our family held a reunion back in 2007 to celebrate the arrival of the eldest sibling (3 others followed later and all their descendants were included), so here are some of the tips we learnt.

Tip 1

Allow lots of time and space for attendees to talk with each other, many long lost cousins came together who hadn't seen each other for years and wanted to reminisce. In other words don't organize too many things to fit into the day.

Many wont have the energy to do anything at night so I would advise against it. Others wanted to make time together with just their smaller crowd, so not having something at night gave them space to do so. We had a children's corner with colouring in and a paper based quiz sheet to complete (family tree things of course) and space for them to play outdoor cricket so they weren't bored and the family could stay all day.

Tip 2

We found a place that had family significance and held it there. One room was dedicated to family trees - the tree printout was 58 metres long and went round the room twice! We had free standing boards in the centre of the room, arranged in groups for each child of the original couple with lots of biographical and historical info and pictures on them.

Tip 3

We colour-coded each child so all name tags for those attending had the relevant colour. This meant that those more closely related could meet each other and get to hear each others stories.

Tip 4

We did four talks during the day - all short half an hour - the first one being about the families life in the home country before arrival and pointing out that ALL of us in the room were here because of them rather than just being descended from the grand parent they knew. Does this make sense? Hard to explain but many folk don't see themselves as related to those people over there, when actually they are all related if you just go back one or two generations!

Esther STRONG nee VICKERS??? the rear says "Mrs Strong, grandmother of J S UTHER reputed to have been painted by her son." This painting was brought to Australia by another grandchild, John Samuel's sister Sarah KIRBY (nee UTHER)

We were lucky to have a projector, so all the talks were accompanied by power point presentations, so people weren't sitting in a crowded room in warm weather just listening to someone speak (and hence falling asleep).


Tip 5

We had a sheltered spot outside - here we had larger family descendant sheets and attendees were asked to correct and update them.


Tip 6

Food, I often think food is the second rule of genealogy, morning and afternoon tea as well as lunch. We hired a caterer to come along and cook a BBQ lunch, so no work for the rest of us and had after lunch entertainment with a local period group of performers doing dance from the time period. The morning and afternoon tea was easy enough to self serve - we had two spots for this to avoid long queues.

Tip 7

We gave certificates of attendance to all the children, can't remember what age we cut off at but somewhere around 15 I think. We gave certificates to the oldest and youngest present (these people were also marked on the huge tree so people could see where they were in the scheme of things). Certificate presentations were done in front of everyone.

Tip 8

We had a small display room so attendees could bring their family treasure to show, we had a volunteer in the room at all times and had white gloves for handling and for some items a “please do not touch” sign. Some items had cards beside them with the item's story. Like a mini family museum.

Tip 9

We had pages available on the day, we asked people to write their family stories on them – what they remembered being told by older generations and we had an interview room where one of our family interviewed all the older members, one to one and recorded the sessions. These were announced as possible source material for a book.


Tip 10

A long time prior to the event we sent out family group sheets and asked them to complete them, with the aim of creating a book down the track, rather than having a book already done in time for the reunion and finding lots of new info as a result of those coming along on the day. Would be a good idea to have a mock up of a book if you plan on producing one and take orders and a deposit towards the end of the day. These sheets also helped find the living members we were not aware of so we could contact them ahead of time.

You can set up a mailing list with google groups or yahoo groups or better still facebook and keep family informed on your progress, save $ on postage and saves you time, as you only have to send one email or post.

Tip 11

We had an optional day two where we hired buses and did a guided tour of significant places, (houses, churches, cemeteries and places of work). You may find something like this worth doing if there are enough locations in the area you are holding the event. We even produced a pamphlet tour guide on a tri-folded A4 sheet. Later we sent a CD out with all the photos from the day. (You might want to make sure you get two photographers on the day to take random shots as well as group shots of those attending)
People came from around Australia and New Zealand and even the UK. The bus trip was really worth the organizing.

Hope this helps, do ask away if you have more questions. Advertising suggestions and more photos from the 2007 Reunion will follow later this week... Thank you for reading this far. :-)


  1. Congratulations on the new blog. I'll be watching out for your posts.

  2. Thanks Jill nice to have you on board.