Update: If you’re planning on throwing your own family reunion, check out:
Whether it’s obsessing over Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History or interviewing my parents to learn more about their childhood, I’ve always been fascinated with the past.
Luckily for me, one of my grandmother’s sisters, my “Aunty Jean” as we call her, was visiting Hawaii with her extended family – most of whom I had never met. This meant that my Aunty Gerry would be responsible for organizing a casual family get-together.
If your family is large and anything like mine, this usually consists of a meal at Zippy’s where families sit next to their immediate family and talk story / catch up with those they’re familiar with. I mean, I should know since I’m definitely guilty of this myself.
After all, we’re human. We tend to gravitate towards familiarity.
Yet, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that this setup isn’t ideal since we don’t get to learn about other family members aside from at a “surface level”. There isn’t much depth to the relationship, and sadly enough, we end up knowing more about our friends than our own blood. Don’t get me wrong – some families may be better off this way, but I’d like to think that my family should know (and want to know) more about one another.
I wanted to do something different.
With about a week’s notice, Sara and I helped my Aunty Gerry organize the reunion. Even though we have quite a bit of experience organizing large community and corporate events, there’s an inherent pressure in dealing with family. No matter the size, you always want it to reflect the best of your abilities because ultimately, it’s a reflection of your parents.
When thinking about what a successful outcome would be, I came up with the following three outcomes that would ultimately shape the day’s activities:
- Family members should interact and meet one another – no matter their lineage. This was our main goal. If this happened at some level, even if none of the other outcomes occurred, we would have had a successful reunion.
- Take a family photo that every family should receive.
- Enable corrections to the family tree that my Aunty Gerry and I have spent hours constructing.
All in all, the reunion turned out better than even I could have imagined!
Not only did we accomplish all three outcomes, but as a bonus, we received email contacts for family members whom I had never even met prior to the reunion! Big props to my wife, Sara, for doing a large chunk of the design work including the design of the game, the program, and the family tree above.
Over the next two blog posts, I’ll be posting the documents and visual assets we used to plan and organize the events of the day – so that you too can plan your own family reunion! I’ll also be detailing how the day unfolded and things we could improve upon for the next reunion.
Stay tuned for the next post where I discuss what goes into planning a reunion when given a week’s notice!
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