Planning Your Family Reunion

(MONEY Magazine) – Depending on how fancy you get, organizing a one- to three-day reunion takes anywhere from a couple of months to a year. Generally, you need a coordinator to decide the reunion format, a secretary to handle correspondence and a treasurer to collect funds and pay the bills. Follow these other tips: Finding relatives. Start by questioning older family members about your clan, and then expand your research to include your library's historical division. For advice on tracing relatives through court records, write to a genealogical group, family association or ethnic society. You can get the groups' names and addresses by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Federation of Genealogical Societies, P.O. Box 220, Davenport, Iowa 52805. If you'd rather hire a genealogist, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (P.O. Box 19165, Washington, D.C. 20036) will send you a list of certified researchers for $3.50. Research fees average $15 to $35 an hour, according to where you live. To avoid big bills, limit the initial search to 10 hours and then assess what the genealogist produces. Setting a date. Hold your reunion during the summer or on holidays, so that school-age children and their parents can attend. Choosing the location. Rather than a central locale, the favored site is where the family originated or where most of its members now live. Planning costs and activities. In the invitation, specify any expenses that attendees will be expected to pay. ''Estimate far-flung family members' travel costs, and keep charges low enough so that no one is priced out of attendance,'' suggests Emma Wisdom, author of Planning a Family Reunion (Post Oak Publications, P.O. Box 8455, Nashville, Tenn. 37207; $10.95). Urge everyone to bring memorabilia, and prepare a family tree for display. Schedule a program of events but keep it simple: reunions work best as get-acquainted- and- reacquainted events.