This is the second installment of my multi-part article on planning the perfect family reunion. In this series I take you through all the things you will need to know to pull off a rewarding and fun family reunion.

You’ve chosen a location and date for your event, now it’s time to select a theme, invitation and method for managing your replies.


Your theme can be as simple as a single color that you carry through your invitation, decorations, t-shirts, etc. or it can be more elaborate such as a decade or era of history with coordinating decorations, activities and food. If you have a famous ancestor like Wild Bill Hickok or Annie Oakley, a western theme is pretty much mandatory.

Amy Atlas, a dessert stylist (yes, there is such a thing!) known for her fanciful dessert display tables is a source of inspiration for me when I plan an event. Her site has beautiful party photographs in every theme you can imagine. While you might not be planning a dessert table, the color palettes demonstrated on her site provide great inspiration.

There are many ways to carry your theme throughout your reunion – invitations and shirts that reflect your color palette or imagery are two fun and affordable ways to set the stage.


If your family has a sense of humor, you can have a lot of fun with your invitation. Here is an amazing invitation that designed by Calvin K. Carter of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Another humorous invitation that should resonate with just about everyone is by Sandra Denneler.

Courtesy of Sandra Denneler

For those of you that prefer a more traditional approach, there are several designs available on sites like Etsy and often you can hire the vendors to create custom invitations for relatively little expense compared to a larger design firm.


Usually purchased last-minute, t-shirts are typically an over-sized, embarrassing abomination of a shirt. The family reunion t-shirt often finds its way into the donation pile or becomes a dust rag. I’ve got great news, not only can your t-shirts fit everyone on your list, they can look so stylish you’ll want to wear them again, even when you don’t have to. Kin. T-shirt designs for family reunions, by designer Angela Hardison, offers seven stylish shirts that are customizable by design and color. Even better, Kin. will send you the artwork and you can choose any screen printing service and t-shirt you would like (Kin. recommends American Apparel shirts which are soft and come in a large variety of colors).

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Web tools

If you have a large gathering planned (more than 20 people), it will make your task much lighter if you use one of the many event planning tools available on the web. One service often recommended by family reunion websites is My Event, which has packages starting at $14.95. While I have not used this service myself, it does offer a customizable template that may appeal to people with limited or no web design experience.

WordPress, a blog host, offers several free templates that can easily be customized to give your site a unique and personalized feel. It allows you to post updates on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Additionally your guests can subscribe to the blog and have your postings delivered to their email automatically.

Before the event, the site will act as a platform for planning activities, allowing your attendees to contribute their ideas. After the event, you can use this site to share photographs and, most importantly, your genealogical findings. In short, this powerful technology can help you organize the event, communicate with attendees, and serve as an ongoing virtual repository of images, findings, and anecdotes.

Stay tuned for Family Reunions – Part 3. Next time we will explore special activities to make your family reunion fun and memorable.



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