By Conrad H. Wilcox
DCGS Publications Committee Chairman
SIXTY IDEAS FOR USING THE COMPUTER AND INTERNET
IN PLANNING A SUCCESSFUL FAMILY REUNION
PLANNING AND ORGANIZING
1. Compile as many family e-mail addresses as you possibly can and do a quick family survey to aid in the early decisions. Get family ideas or preferences for type of reunion, preferred dates, duration, possible sites, leadership, committees and budget.
2. Search the Internet booksellers such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble for locating and possibly purchasing some of the best current books on Family Reunion planning.
3. Go to Everton’s online edition of "Planning a Family Reunion" at http://www.everton.com/oe3-7/planning.htm.
4. If you are on AOL, go to AOL’s Reunion Planning Checklist for what to do 6 months to a year ahead, 3 to 6 months in advance, 2 – 3 months ahead of time, 4 – 6 weeks in advance, 2 – 3 weeks before the Reunion, the week of the Reunion and after the Reunion.
5. Go to http://www.reunionsmag.com/ and order a subscription to Reunions Magazine and your free copy of Reunions Workbook for the latest ideas and resources, whether you are planning a Sunday potluck picnic or a lavish reunion cruise.
6. Consider ordering Broderbund’s Family Reunion Kit, which includes: 1) The Family Reunion Handbook, 2) The Print Shop Standard Edition, 3) Super Iron-Ons from Printpaks, 4) Adrienne Anderson’s Fun and Games for Family Gatherings book, 5) Cookbook USA on CD-ROM.
7. Recruit committee members and volunteer helpers through e-mail or a special reunion Website. Conduct committee meetings by e-mail or private Internet chat rooms.
8. Take full advantage of Web surfing and searching to compare and select the best possible site for your reunion. Some reservations can even be completed using the Web. Access information related to accommodations, amenities, on-site food, gratuities, price range, area activities, and meeting space needs.
9. Search and visit other family reunion web sites to sift out the best ideas that others have tried and proven successful. Go to http://www.yahoo.com/society_and_culture/Reunions/Families/ for links to several good family reunion web sites.
10. Depending on the size of your family gathering, poll your members to explore interest in computer generated publishing projects such as a group history book, a momento book, a family genealogy book, or a reunion cookbook. These also could also be released on CD-ROM or even put on the Internet.
11. Develop your reunion mailing list on the computer, using one of the many good programs for that specific purpose. For example, simply give Family Tree Maker each individual’s address and phone number and then print out directly on to post cards or envelopes.
12. Find those lost family members for informing them of the reunion,
by using one of the many online directories or "people finder" search engines
on the Web, such as Four11, Switchboard, AnyWho or WhoWhere.
DEVELOPING AND COMMUNICATING
13. Select a good reunion theme and use the computer to help develop the graphics in order to integrate the theme or slogan into all of the reunion promotion, program, contests, decorations, displays, and music. For example: a western or country theme, The Halleen Family Round-Up in Steamboat Springs, CO.
14. Using one of the many good publishing or print shop programs, design, print and send out a Family Reunion Newsletter such as Round-Up Ramblings for a western theme. This will quickly build enthusiasm and announce all of the plans and details to the whole family.
15. Design your own family reunion graphic logo on one of the computer graphic programs and use it in all reunion materials and activities. Try having a family contest for the best logo.
16. Check the Internet for producers and suppliers of reunion keepsakes such as tee shirts, hats, mugs, plaques or personalized calendars.
17. Have a family member design and produce graphic name badges for each one attending, using the selected logo.
18. Using your computer and the reunion logo, create an artful bookmark for each attendee to have and take home. Perhaps the reunion schedule could be placed on the souvenir bookmark.
19. Search the Internet for ideas on recipes for large groups or potlucks.
20. Search the Web for the best games and activities that will match the reunion purpose and theme.
21. Use the Internet to provide details regarding your potential or selected site as well as detailed information on local area activities.
22. Search the Web to provide transportation options, schedules and fares as well as for booking tickets. Use computer travel and map programs or CD-ROMS to print out maps and instructions, listing accommodations and restaurants along the way.
23. Use the Internet to find and select a local photographer to take the official family photo or someone to videotape the entire gathering.
24. Using a simple publishing program, design an attractive and colorful family directory to be distributed at the first session on the reunion. Include names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and birthdays.
25. Using a calendar program, design a family birthday calendar, with birthdays printed on the appropriate date throughout the year. This could be handed out at the close of the reunion as a take home souvenir.
26. Through e-mail and correspondence, request a few favorite recipes from each family involved. Compile these into a computer generated family recipe book to be sold or distributed at the reunion.
27. Many Web genealogy sites accept family reunion announcements. If you have a large, widespread reunion, take full advantage of these sites for valuable promotion.
28. Prepare a nice reunion press release on your word processor and send it to the appropriate newspapers. Most local papers can be found and accessed on the Internet.
29. Using your computer generated Reunion Newsletter, communicate to the whole family, all important information such as arrival instructions, program schedule of events and activities, eating arrangements, sleeping accommodations, free time activity options and costs.
30. Using a computer graphics program, create an attractive tee shirt design. Make up the tee shirts ahead of time for reunion distribution or take the decals for each person to press on later.
31. Use the computer and Internet to help plan appropriate activities for kids by searching the Web for children’s games and thematic activities. Use you r modem to determine the number of children to expect and to recruit volunteers to help with the children.
32. Using a print shop program, design a clever reunion invitation that harmonizes with your theme. For example, for a western theme, design a "wanted poster" by inserting inside an open picture frame, the relative's name or perhaps a picture if available.
EXECUTING AND PROGRAMMING
33. Using a large screen and a computer graphics adapter on an overhead projector, prepare a good set up to visualize for all attending, a variety of family information and graphics from a computer source.
34. Consider bringing a scanner and a copy machine to the reunion so the members can access family information in useful formats. This could include such family memorabilia as old love letters, great grandfather’s baby picture or a piece of lace made by great grandmother.
35. Create a Family Reunion Scrapbook using a program like Family Tree Maker’s scrapbook function. Insert sound and photos. Project this at the reunion and print out for each family attending.
36. Create an electronic slide show of family photos, complete with captions.
37. Develop a special computerized, visual tribute to a certain relative or ancestor including sound files.
38. Scan copies of important documents that family members have brought to the reunion and project them right there on the scene.
39. Using a laptop at the reunion, develop a "Talking Family Tree" that has sound clips from each individual. Have each one tell short stories, recite poetry, relate momentous events or sing a song.
40. Try morphing an ancestor by scanning pictures of a great grandfather at different stages of his life, when a baby, child, youth, young adult and old age. Morph the images together, showing in animated and graphic form, how he changed through the years. Morphing software is readily available and simply allows you to start with one image and end up with another.
41. Print out charts from your computer genealogy program to form a large graphic family tree. Then tape them together and display at the reunion.
42. Using a print shop program, design on the computer, an attractive reunion banner to welcome all families on arrival.
43. Where possible, take full advantage of Voice E-mail for those not able to attend.
44. Consider using a color digital camera and have immediate use of family photos and reunion activities in beautiful presentation form.
45. Sometime during the reunion, schedule a cyber session or workshop to help get the whole family on e-mail and the Web for future family communication.
46. Set up a computer in a continuous display area where anyone can access and view the family
genealogy on such programs as Family Origins, Family Tree Maker or Ultimate Family Tree. Other family presentation programs could also be accessible showing a family slide shows, past reunions, special family events or heirlooms.
47. On your print shop or graphics program design a Certificate of Achievement, personalized with the reunion logo, dates and place to use for prizes in the family contests and games.
48. Take a quantity of blank family group sheets to the reunion and have each family fill out with the names, dates and places for their family. Enter the updated data into your computer genealogy program right there or on returning home.
49. Since reunion time is the time to catch up on news and family interest and activities, consider designing on your computer a family story questionnaire. Make three different versions for children, youth and adults. Make the questions short and fun like giving their favorite things to do, funniest memory, proudest accomplishment, hobbies or favorite TV programs.
50. Using a simple computer crossword puzzle program, create a Family Crossword Puzzle that is full of family information. Pass out the puzzle at an appropriate occasion during the reunion and give prizes to the ones completing it first.
EVALUATING AND CONTINUING
51. Since honest and objective evaluation is a crucial step, design a reunion evaluation questionnaire on your word processor and e-mail or send it to all participants. Or get the evaluations done on the spot collecting them before the members go home. Save in a file, these honest comments about what worked and didn’t work, and pass on to the person who will organize the next reunion.
52. Make better use of those two hours of camcorder tape that you took, and make video clips by using video capture software and hardware. Connect your video camera or VCR to your computer using a video capture device called snappy.
53. Send e-mail thank you notes to committees, volunteers, hotel staff, caterers, etc. Another option is to send notes or cards that are pre-made but personalized and animated with sound and music. These are found on many greeting or cyber card Web sites..
54. Using your computer financial program, tie up all of the financial loose ends of expenses and budget and prepare a final report of pre-reunion expenses, reunion time expenses and past reunion expenses.
55. Summarize your reunion ideas and program on a web page so that other families can benefit from your experience. For example, send an e-mail with the reunion information to firstname.lastname@example.org and your story will help thousands of other as they make their plans.
56. As a quick and easy way to distribute photos taken at the reunion, scan them on to a special Web page so that each family can instantly see them and can download to their own computers the photos that they desire. They can then print colored copies for themselves on their colored printers. Or they can simply select from the group of scanned photos, the ones that they would like hard copies of later.
57. As a result of the momentum generated by the family gathering, create a family Web page if you don’t already have one. This will easily allow you to share all of your family information, not only within the family, but also with thousands of other outside of your family. Most new genealogy software programs will help you create your own web page.
58. Using your recently acquired computer and internet expertise and experience, start planning immediately for your next reunion, taking full advantage of the digital age and all of the computer related tools and resources that make reunion planning easy.
59. As more of your family get on the Internet, consider the possibility of a future "Reunion in Cyberspace" or a "Cyber Reunion".
60. Building from the enthusiasm of the family gathering, the new updated family data and a new expanded mailing list, from your genealogy computer program, generate an attractive family genealogy book or CD-ROM to be made available to all family members and for many future generations to come.
THE REVIEW of the DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society, January 1999, Issue #144