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LIVE

Family Reunion

Its a
Family
Affair

What Type of
Family Reunion Is
Best for Your Brood?
TAKE OUR QUIZ TO FIND OUT!

WHERE IS MOST OF YOUR


FAMILY LOCATED?

A: Near the same town/city


B: Within a two-hour drive
C: All across the country

HOW MANY RELATIVES ARE YOU


PLANNING TO INVITE?
A: 15 to 25
B: 25 to 50
C: As many as we can

WHETHER ITS YOUR TURN TO HOST OR


IF YOURE LOOKING FOR IDEAS TO SHARE,
HERES EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO PLAN AN
UNFORGETTABLE REUNION

MEMORYMAKING
ACTIVITIES
BEFORE THE
REUNION

Austin TX.
March 1992.

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DIGITIZE OLD
PHOTOS AND
VHS TAPES

Have dozens of
black-and-white
photos spilling
out of albums?
GoPhoto.com will
gladly accept a
box of your old
photos and turn
them into digital
delights. Videopreservation
sites such as
ScanDigital.com
oer additional
services, including
converting VHS
and film footage
onto DVDs.

V I S I T E B O N Y. C O M / A P R I L 2 0 1 4

CREATE A
FAMILY TREE ON
ANCESTRY.COM

Start with what


you know: names,
birthdates, marriage dates, etc.
Then share findings with other
family members,
enabling them to
participate in the
process. The site
also has a new
learning center to
search indexed
legal documents
including draft
cards, slave records and emancipation documents.

A: Drama-free with plenty


of laughter
B: Somewhat fractured
and cliquey
C: Practically World War III

MOSTLY A s:

According to Vargus, young adults using social media have


been a driving force behind the popularity of reunions, introducing unique ways to preserve memorable experiences, such as
creating online historical databases.
There are now such a variety of tools that the earlier griots of
the family did not have, she says.
From choosing a location to buying festive favors, here is our
comprehensive guide to hosting the perfect reunion:
TRACE YOUR DNA
AND FIND YOUR
ROOTS WITH AFRI
CANANCESTRY.
COM

Genetic testing
can produce an
accurate lineage
and connection
to the continent
of Africa. Ask an
elder to use the
swabbing kit,
capture it on film
and showcase
the results at the
reunion.

START A FAMILY
WEBSITE

Create reunion central for members to


register and access
information on the
location, accommodations, cost,
exciting details and
more. Inevitably,
there will be changes, so update everyone at once on the
site. Design your
own at WordPress.
com or choose
from templates on
Celebrate.MyEvent.
com
LEFT: Gina Paige,

African Ancestry
co-founder, with
singer-songwriter
India.Arie

Pick a
Theme

DISTINGUISH THIS
REUNION FROM ONES
IN YEARS PAST WITH A
FUN-FILLED MOTIF

1970S THROWBACK

Its a blast from the past. With


disco music, blaxploitation
films and, of course, some
funky costumes, your family is
sure to have the retro reunion
of the year. And what would a
70s theme be without a party?
Compete with your kinfolk for
the best bell-bottoms or the
biggest Afro, all before taking a
stroll down the Soul Train line.

HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER AND/OR


VIDEOGRAPHER

While many hire


photographers
only for a wedding,
more reunions are
handing over the
photo duties to
the pros. Scour
Pinterest.com for
shots and experts
whose work you
like, then negotiate
a per-hour or perday rate. With professional shots (or
a video highlight
reel), your reunion
will be primed
for an album or
custom Blurb.com
photo book.

THROW AN
OLD-SCHOOL
BARBECUE

3 ALL-AMERICAN

Get patriotic with your


clan by celebrating the
best of the USA. Wear
red, white and blue to
show o your pride.
Grandparents, give
kids a personal history lesson by showing them photos and
memorabilia from the
wars you have fought
in, political activism
and emphasize your
familys contribution
to the founding of
America.

GAME TIME

Sibling rivalries and generational matchups are welcome


at this family aair. Finally a
chance to earn bragging rights
as the fastest three-legged racer,
the best flag football team or the
No. 1 shooter in a round of horseshoes. A reunion that revolves
around games guarantees plenty
of harmless trash talk and stories
for years to come.

THE HISTORY OF US

A reunion held at the ancestral home or farm oers


opportunities for learning
about your forebearers. Ask
participants ahead of time to
compile photos, mementos and
stories that they can contribute
to enhance the family tree and
celebrate the legacy.

Your close-knit
family would have
a ball at a park.
Assign Grandpa
Frank to the grill,
Aunt Rosa to
oversee games
and a decoration
committee for an
eortless outdoor
bash. Providing
the main dishes
and encouraging
the others to bring
their choice of side
dish will keep the
budget down and
allow family members to share timehonored recipes
and favorites. Plus,
the dominoes, obstacle course and
a game of kids tag
will get everyone
in on the fun.

A: Just me
B: A small collection
of representatives
C: Anyone and
everyone

WHICH BEST DESCRIBES


YOUR FAMILY?
A: Traditional
B: Laid-back
C: High-maintenance

FAMILY OCCASIONS
ARE USUALLY

C O R B I S /A R I E L S K E L L E Y

very summer, cities are inundated


with neon T-shirt-wearing aunts, uncles, grandparents and kids convening for their annual family reunions.
They travel from all over the country
to enjoy barbecue, dance the Cupid
shuffle and to hear stories about how
things used to be back in the day.
Mom and Dad lead family karaoke
while the domino table is the place to be for seniors.
Many African-American family reunions started out being held in someones backyard or as a one-day cookout in the
park, says Ione Vargus, Ph.D., professor and dean emerita at
Temple University in Philadelphia and founder of its Family Reunion Institute. Now since relatives no longer live in the same
neighborhood as they once did, the reunion serves as a vehicle
for strengthening kinship bonds.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON THE


PLANNING COMMITTEE?

WHAT ARE YOUR FAMILYS


SPENDING HABITS?
A: Penny-pinchers
B: Willing to spend
C: Money aint a thing

MOSTLY B s:

A WEEKEND
FOR THE MEMORY
BOOKS

With your committee, execute a


three-day weekend that will entice
even the most
distant of cousins.
Whether pegged
to a holiday or a local festival, this reunion will be filled
with group outings
to theme parks,
an adults-only bid
whist tournament
and sampling local fare. There will
be plenty of time
to snap photos
for the family Instagram hashtag.
Walking tours and
free tourist attractions will provide
the perfect backdrop for all the
activities. Best of
all, since the reunion is local, family members wont
have to sweat the
travel expense.

APRIL 2014

MOSTLY C s:

SOMETHING
FOR EVERYONE

Skip the stress of


one big event to
please the masses. Your jet-setting
family would much
prefer a series of
impressive events
that speaks to
various tastes.
Upon arrival to
the host city, a
welcome mimosa
brunch will satisfy
the older ladies,
while a fuss-freeyet-competitive
game night for
guys will be a surefire hit. Round up
the kids for family
tree crafting. End
the reunion with
an elegant hotel
gala, complete
with a cover band
and sit-down dinner to honor the
eldest member of
the family. Cap o
the evening with
an awards segment, complete
with trophies.

/ V I S I T E B O N Y. C O M

77

LIVE

Family Reunion

Planning
Checklist

C U STO M FAVO R S

BE THE REUNION
HOST WITH THE
MOST WITH
THIS TO-DO
TIME LINE

9 MONTHS AHEAD
Compile list of invitees
Establish committee
Create a budget

Begin to research potential host city/

location and attractions

6 MONTHS AHEAD

Outline itinerary and schedule

Reserve hotel rooms, restaurants,

parks and group transportation, if


necessary
Create a reunion website

4 MONTHS AHEAD

Send formal invitations

Begin collecting family memorabilia

3 MONTHS AHEAD

Finalize menus with restaurants/

caterers

Reserve group tickets

Finalize plans for reunion favors

2 MONTHS AHEAD

Reserve photographer/videographer
Finalize activities

If necessary, adjust hotel block for

last-minute attendees

Family Reunion Swag

Order favors or personalized T-shirts

SKIP THE AGE-OLD BOXY T-SHIRT. TRY ONE OF THESE PICKS FOR
THE FRESHEST FAMILY FASHIONS.
1

CHAIN GANG

TOTE-ALLY
AWESOME

Ladies will love to


wear a dainty initial
to represent their
family name, while
guys can sport
manly dogtags with
their name, relation
and reunion year.
M.Frances Jewelry Initial Charm
Necklace ($37;
etsy.com)
Dog Tags Pronto
Dogtags ($69.50
for 10; etsy.com)

78

Represent your
home state or your
familys last name
with a customized
tote bag.
BaggedandLoaded I Love Texas
Tote ($17.50; etsy.
com)
BaggedandLoaded Personalized
Vintage Flower
Circle Tote in Plum
($17.50; etsy.com)

V I S I T E B O N Y. C O M / A P R I L 2 0 1 4

BRAND IT

The Keep calm and


carry on slogan
has permeated pop
culture thanks to
memes, posters and
coee mugs. So
why not use it for
your reunion? Plug
in your family
name, and voil!
Keep Calm & Love
Jackson Baseball
Jersey and Gym Bag
($34.49 and $30.99;
cafepress.com)

PHONE HOME

Personalized cell
phone cases are
nothing new, but
artist Lisa Nelson
depicts families as
quirky cartoons.
The perfect takeaway for an intimate reunion.
My Little Bualo
Custom Family
Illustration and
iPhone Case
($65 and $30;
etsy.com)

2 WEEKS AHEAD

Create welcome packets and sched-

ule of events, maps, contact list

Confirm final number of attendees

with attractions and vendors

Confirm with photographer

3 DAYS AHEAD

Shop for signs, decorations and last-

minute supplies

Arrange for taxis or family members

to welcome others at the airports

Meet with committee to review details,

responsibilities and address concerns

THE DAY BEFORE

Pick up any rental equipment

Prepare payment for vendors (and

dont forget the tip money)

Get plenty of sleep!

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