5 Ways to Organize a Family Reunion Heather Hopson July 3, 2012 Uncategorized (My paternal grandmother is in the striped dress.) Dear Diary, Summer is officially here, so what better way to celebrate the summer season than to gather with friends and family. Although July is family reunion month, the Hopson-Stephens clan got a jump-start! We’ve already attended two gatherings, and we’re weeks away from a third! The first event kicked off Memorial Day Weekend in Columbus, OH. My paternal grandfather’s side hosted a picnic at the park. Nothing like meeting people with your same last name! The organizers gave everyone color coded name tags, so we could easily see which Hopson we descended from. The kids were instructed to bring their water guns and when they arrived, they launched a full-fledged battle with super soakers, sprinklers and balloons. We didn’t dry off, because we stayed at a resort with an indoor water park, where Baby C made a splash with her first swimming pool experience. On the Fourth of July, my paternal grandmother’s side held another picnic in the park. To get relatives ready, the lead planner created a Wright Family Facebook Page, where you could find directions to the venue, purchase tickets to the Boat Ride and post pictures—some dating back to 1890!—of our ancestors. Before the excitement dies down, we’re on the next event in Deep Creek, Maryland for my maternal grandmother’s side. Grandma Clara and Stump, our pet name for our grandfather, met and married as teenagers. They stayed together 65 years and welcomed 15 children into their home! My mother is heading up the planning committee. Highlights will include a pig roast (sorry to those relatives who don’t eat pork!), a beach day, a Welcome Party and a Kids Party at a fun zone. Although I love all sides equally, this reunion weekend will hold a special place in my heart. Baby C will celebrate her first birthday on the Friday. I think I’ll order a Princess and the Frog cake. (Stay tuned for the Very Hungry Caterpillar Very First Birthday Bash report. Until then, you can check out my planning ideas on my Pinterest page.) Here are Five Ways You Can Organize a Family Reunion of Your Own 1. Use Social Media: Nowadays, even Grandma Betty has a Facebook page. My friend’s grandmother even asked her to set up a Twitter account and add a text messaging package to her cell phone! Create a family page, and reach out to your relatives who may live in different zip codes. 2. Vote on a Venue: At each event, my maternal grandmother’s side votes on the location of the next reunion. We hold reunions every other year. In the past ten years, we’ve travelled to Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Maryland. But you don’t have to go far to get together! Call your local parks department, and book a pavilion. 3. Contact the Tourism Office: In some cities, a designated staff member will help you plan your reunion for free! You’ll also receive coupons, sample products, family reunion checklists, hotel information and sample itineraries. You can work with the department to put together a program, which includes a dinner, a tour or a musical performance. Here in Pittsburgh, I received a hundred Mister Roger’s tote bags! 4. Create a Family Tree: From now through July 8, www.ancestry.com is offering free access to the world’s largest online family history resource. You can retrieve birth, marriage and death certificates. There are also searches for military, immigration and census records. Visit your older relatives, dust off their photo albums packed away in the attic and put together a pictorial history. There are also services to analyze your DNA. Howard University labs can trace your blood back to specific tribes in Africa! 5. Make a Proclamation: If you decide to hold your event at the same time and same place each year, go down in history! You can ask for a proclamation from your city for many reasons, including the date of your family reunion. You could ask that the day be declared, “Smith Family Reunion Day.” Typically, you can call your mayor’s office or log online to fill out a form. What family reunion activities are you participating in? What ideas do you have to keep your little one busy in the car if you’re taking a road trip? Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.