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Plan Your Reunion In Greater MORE!gantown

DOWNLOAD THE MEETING AND REUNION PLANNING HANDBOOK




Summer reunions present you with a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family, friends or colleagues, and Morgantown, West Virginia presents the perfect setting for your reunion. Remember, Morgantown starts with More! So whatever your reunion plans are, Morgantown can answer it all – state park or state forests, luxury rooms or cabin rentals, catered affairs or world class dining, you’ll find it all and more within spectacular scenery and the fun of a university town!

The Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau would like to be your resource and assist you in the preparation of your event. We are committed to making your vision a success. Whether you’re creating a detailed itinerary or just exploring as you go, the Greater Morgantown CVB Visitors’ Center will help you make the most out of every minute you spend in Mountaineer County! Contact our destination experts today at 800-458-7373!

GETTING STARTED – 6 MONTHS TO 1 YEAR OUT

THREE MONTHS OUT

ONE MONTH OUT

REUNION TIME

REUNION CHECKLIST

GETTING STARTED – 6 MONTHS TO 1 YEAR OUT

Organize a Reunion Committee

If you are planning a small reunion (25 people or less) then your committee can be one person. If the reunion includes more attendants, then make the committee larger. The committee should create a planning binder with lists of subcommittees, guests, assignments, resources, financial status and anything else that seems important at the time. Creating a binder will keep all participants, whether one or ten, on the same page, organized and avoid the loss of relevant information.

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Reunion Committee Chairperson

Every organization needs a leader, so select a committee chairperson. The chairperson is responsible for:

  • Scheduling committee meetings and notifying members of the meeting
  • Presiding over meetings and maintaining peace
  • Making a list of volunteers and their job assignments
  • Keeping a calendar of finished and unfinished business
  • Motivating people to follow through

Reunion Subcommittees

Depending on the size of your gathering, it may be necessary to form subcommittees to handle the various aspects of the reunion, such as, games, mailings, food or shopping. Each sub-committee should have a chairperson or one person that reports back to the overall chairperson.

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Select a Reunion Type

The simplest reunion to host would be a picnic or a barbecue at a family members home or nearby park. It takes less time to plan and doesn’t cost a whole lot. Your reunion could be rotated from the homes of various people over the course of years or you can just find a nice park and hold it there each year.

Other relatively easy to plan reunions include a nice dinner and reception at a good restaurant, or maybe a nice hotel or resort. These don’t require a large amount of planning, all you need to do is make a few reservations, plan a few activities for people to enjoy and notify relatives of wherever you happen to be going.

If your family is the outdoors type, try out a family camping trip. Make sure the campsite you reserve is large enough for the family and that everyone knows to bring their own accommodations (RV, trailer, tent or at least a sleeping bag). If everyone brings their own food, this becomes very easy to plan and carry out.

Big reunions need to be announced very far in advance to give everyone enough time to plan around it and save up. This would include, but is not limited to, reunions at theme parks, like Disney, or larger reunions where massive swarms of relatives descend upon the event, most larger reunions require a significant amount of planning by those in charge.

You can always mail out a survey to family members that ask your relatives what they would like to do. It might also be a good idea to speak to the elders in the family and learn about what was done in the past and to get their ideas and concerns.

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Selecting a Date for the Reunion

Keep in mind that no matter how hard you try or how pure your intentions are, you probably won’t find a date that works for everyone. Just try your best to get as many people as possible to come. If you are planning this event annually, it might be a good idea to always hold it at the same time, such as the second weekend of June. Long weekends or family milestones, like Grandma’s birthday, can also be a good time for a get together.

While most people think of summer as the time to hold family reunions, don’t limit yourself to just that. Maybe your family would enjoy a ski-trip, football game tailgate or the beauty of fall foliage. Did you know that some hotels offer discount rates during slow times?

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Prepare your Guest List

Compile a list of family members and their contact information. The number of people on your guest list will be a factor in many of your other decisions, such as reunion locations or the size of the facility you will need. How many people will you need to pay for and how much do you need from each person or family? Try to determine the best way to communicate your reunion. It may be mail, e-mail, facebook or through a family reunion registry web-site. Most registry web-sites are free and are a great way to communicate with relatives near and far and it is quite simple to create a Facebook family reunion page where all committee members could post status updates and communicate frequently and for free!

It is very important to know approximately how many people and families you can count on attending. If your guest list is very long, then it may be helpful to send out a survey mailer to inform everyone that a family reunion is in the works. Include in the mailer a suggested projected date, proposed reunion type, a general location and possible costs.

Tracking down the lost relatives can be difficult but make every effort to be as inclusive as possible, no reason to hurt anyone’s feelings because they were left out or not included in your reunion.

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Choose Your Location

Now it is time for you to start searching for a place to host your family reunion. Choosing that location could be rated up there as one of the most important decisions you will make in the planning of a reunion. Try to foresee special circumstances or special needs that certain family members may have. Often people with infants, people with disabilities and the elderly feel left out because they cannot participate in the same way as other family members. Do your best, but remember, it is almost impossible to please all the people, all the time. A little consideration though will go a long way.

Suggestions for locations:

Home Sweet Home

Your own yard can be a great place for a small family reunion and is a very cost effective, no-nonsense location. Or was your family raised in the area, or still own property in a wide open space? If your group has some interest in exploring family history or your ancestors homestead, you could explore your roots and hold your reunion at the family farm. If you decide to go this way, you may find that you need to rent some tables, chairs or other equipment. Morgantown Power Equipment is your one stop shop for all of your rental needs.
Helpful Link: www.mperentals.com

Picnic in the Park

City and state parks are the most popular locations for most family reunions. Parks have the ability to accommodate a large crowd and offer other niceties like picnic tables, barbeque grills, playgrounds and restroom facilities. In Morgantown, a park reservation or pavilion reservation could be made through www.boparc.orghttp://www.boparc.org. For state parks visit www.wvstateparks.com.

Camping Out

An easy and enjoyable location for a reunion is a campground. Many campgrounds offer activities like swimming, hiking and even water parks! For those who frown on camping, or just want a bed to sleep in, a cabin rental may be the perfect answer. To really get away from it all, consider one of the areas campgrounds or cabin rentals.
Helpful Link: www.tourmorgantown.com/stay.php?area_zone=&area_stay_type=Camping+%26+RV

Weekend at a Hotel

A week-end reunion at a hotel can be a very nice way to relax and visit with your family. Many area hotels offer pools, fitness rooms, restaurants, banquet facilities and some have spas and additional amenities conducive to a little R & R. With a little planning and flexibility you may be able to negotiate a group or off-season discount.
Helpful Link: www.tourmorgantown.com/stay_home.php

Bed & Breakfast

For a very small or adult only reunion a charming bed and breakfast might be exactly what you need to unplug and renew those family relationships. Elegance, Historic, Rural, whatever you might be looking for, West Virginia has a Bed & Breakfast that will meet your needs and provide inviting hospitality.
Helpful Link: www.tourmorgantown.com/stay_home.php

Specialty or Event Related Reunion

Why not hold your reunion at the golf course, visit the winery or take in a show at the public theatre? Maybe you and your cousins have a fond memory of attending the Buckwheat Festival or a Mountaineer sporting event as a child and you just have to do it again. Visit tourmorgantown.com or request a Visitors' Guide to plan a specialty reunion just right for you! (Tip…plan early, some greater Morgantown and Preston County events fill up quickly.)

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To Theme or not to Theme

You don’t really need to have a theme for your reunion, but it can add to the fun and tie your games, food and activities all together. Some theme ideas to consider:
Circus | Western | Under the Sea | Fiesta | Outer Space | Safari | Hawaiian Luau
Or if you are planning around a holiday, family birthday or attending a special event, why not play off that significance and have a special reunion tie in?

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Reunion Food

Food and beverage provisions can be accomplished in a number of different ways, it all depends on your budget and in some ways the type of reunion you are planning. Please remember to allow provisions for food safety, such as, chilling or ice service for certain foods, or you can utilize the four hour rule, meaning if it has been out for more than four hours, throw it away.

Potluck Dinner

Every family could provide one or more food items and all the items to be shared between families. To get a balance make sure you assign a specific category of food, main dish, vegetable, salad, desert, drinks etc. Another option is to have the reunion committee provide the main course, which is an item that you will need to budget for. Or each family can bring their own main course and provide a potluck type side dish.

Restaurant or Catering

The advantage to dinner at one of these venues is there isn’t any worry about cooking or clean up, leaving everyone free to enjoy their family visit. The disadvantage is cost and planning. If this is the way you decide to go, search for the perfect place early and make reservations as soon as possible. Request confirmation in writing and remember to budget for the 15% to 20% most restaurants charge for large groups. Another option to explore is many local restaurants provide a catering service, this will also alleviate family responsibilities for cleaning and cooking.
Helpful Link (Contact Restaurants for Catering Services): www.tourmorgantown.com/eat_home.php

Everyone for Themselves

This is certainly the easiest option for the planning and budget committee. Every family will bring what they want to eat, prepare it and clean up after. The main disadvantage is family’s tend to go off in their own little clicks. The important thing is to do what is right for your group.
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Budget and Finances

Creating a budget, collecting money and using it appropriately are all important aspects of a successful reunion. Your first financial task is to create a budget for anything that is to be paid for or reimbursed by the reunion committee. For this reason, it is a really good idea to appoint a treasurer or financial committee, someone within the family that has an aptitude for figures and is trustworthy.

Some expenses will be paid for directly by your traveling family or participant, like hotels, travel, etc, so while they may be a consideration in planning, you really don’t need to budget for them. Try to make sure that you specify and communicate what is and isn’t paid for by the reunion committee when you send out the invitations.

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Fundraising Activities

Once you have an idea of how much the reunion is going to cost you, just how are you going to pay for it all? One common way to fund your reunion is to charge an admission fee or a ticket price. A simple formula to calculate the ticket price would be to calculate all reunion committee expenses and divide that total by the number of participants or attendants and you have arrived at your ticket price.

If you would rather not collect money from each relative, you could do a little reunion fundraising by holding an auction. Some creative ideas include having each relative bring a home baked good or a white elephant gift that is either auctioned off or raffled through ticket sales. At our family reunion we ask each branch of the tree to prepare a themed basket that is raffled off through ticket sales. An arms length for $5 and a significant amount of money is raised to fund our activities.

You could always do a combination of all of the above. Whatever the idea, be sure to keep accurate records of how much money is collected and from what source so in the future you’ll have a better idea of what works best or has the most success with your group.

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Make Reservations

This is a great time to reserve any facilities, hotel rooms, entertainment or other venue you might want to have present at your reunion or that your guests will need to attend the family reunion. At six months to a year out, you have a better chance of getting just what you want, and most of the time you won’t need to confirm until a later date.

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THREE MONTHS OUT

Invitations

With all the basics covered, you are ready to send out invitations to your guests. This is often the first exposure that your family members have to the upcoming event. Remember the old saying,” you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”, the same is true of your invite. Make it neat and interesting and try to build up interest or anticipation for the reunion. There are several on-line companies that can provide ideas, or you can visit the local craft or stationary store. Even if it is a simple word document, spice it up a little with background photos or decorated paper. Whatever you chose, the content of the invitation should include:

  • Date, time and location of the reunion
  • Contact person or committee chairperson, phone number & address
  • A description of the event
  • Cost per person, if you are charging a ticket price and payment procedure
  • A pre-addressed response card or form, if your budget allows, stamp it
  • Directions to the event
  • Mention of special clothing or equipment, (bring your grill or bathing suit)

Contact WV Commerce Office

The West Virginia Department of Commerce offers reunion kits for planners that are holding their family reunion in the state of West Virginia. This is a special promotion that is in effect from Memorial Day to Labor Day, or while supplies last. The starter kit includes 25 plastic convention bags with the WV logo, 25 regional business guides, 25 state park bookmarks, 25 special editions of the Wonderful WV magazine, 50 scenic WV postcards, 15 state park brochures, 15 business climate pieces, a genuine WV T-shirt and three come home to WV hats to offer as door prizes. Additional pieces are available at your cost. Event coordinators may request reunion kits by visiting genuinewv.com or by calling 304-957-9332 or 304-957-9363. A completed official application form may be submitted on-line at genuinewv.com or downloaded and mailed to West Virginia Department of Commerce, 2012 Reunions, 90 MacCorkle Ave. SW, South Charleston, WV 25303.
Helpful Link: www.genuinewv.com

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Games and Busy Items

By this time you have decided on your theme, if you’re using one, you have chosen where the reunion will take place, you have set up lodging for out of town family members, and you have created and sent off your invitations. Now, it is time to decide exactly what you will DO at your family reunion.

Icebreakers

A goal for any reunion organizer is to have people talking and enjoying themselves as quickly as possible because there is so little time to do it. Some adults find it difficult to strike up a conversation and others may just feel uncomfortable. Icebreakers can be a great way to cut the jitters and make everyone feel at home, a few suggestions follow:

Reunion Trivia – Twenty five to thirty questions should be just about right. Start with serious questions to inform. How many living generations are there in our family? Who is the eldest living member? Who is the youngest member present? Which couple has been married the longest? Shortest? Who traveled the furthest distance? Shortest? How many sets of twins are there in the family? How many children did the family founders have? Can you name them? Include some silly questions too, like, What is Aunt Anna’s cat's name? Or Uncle Joe’s nickname? Who is the tallest in the family? Shortest? And finally, some bragging questions. Who graduated college this year? Or who is a new freshman in college this year? Who bought a new house? Or who is expecting?

Consider presenting awards to the oldest and youngest family members, or those that are entering or graduating college. These can be conversation pieces later in the day.

Display Genealogy – Family photos or special remembrances will quickly get everyone remembering and mingling.

Guess the number – Fill a fishbowl with peanuts or candies and let everyone guess how much it contains, winner gets the bowl.

Bingo – Get acquainted Bingo. Create a card of characteristics that a person might have. These can be physical characteristics (like hair or eye color) things a person has done (like graduating, flying in an airplane). Pass out the cards to all family members and have them try to get a bingo or blackout by finding other family members that have these characteristics.

Two Truths and a Lie – Hand out index cards and request that everyone write down three statements about themselves, two true and one a lie. Each person then stands and reads their card as others attempt to guess the truth or the lie.

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Games For All Ages

Games are surely the most common activity at family reunions. Not only are they fun, but they force people to get up out of their chairs and interact together. You could print up certificates or hand out inexpensive treats for the winner, or simply let them bask in their victory spotlight.

Simon Says – Or you can change it up a bit and have Simon be the oldest member of the family and call it, Mary Says! For those who don’t remember this game, Simon or Mary issues a command to those that are playing. If he or she starts the command with Simon or Mary says, then participates are expected to do it. If the two magic words aren’t spoken but a participant does it, then they are eliminated. The winner is the last person standing.

Red Light – Green Light – Choose one person to be the stoplight. The stoplight stands at the finish line with his or her back towards the starting line. Everyone else lines up. The stoplight calls, “Green Light” and at this signal everyone races toward the stoplight, he or she can then call “Red Light” and turn around when doing so. If the stoplight sees someone still moving, that person must go back to the beginning of the line. This is continued until someone reaches the stoplight and tags them.

Egg & Spoon – Give each participant an egg and a spoon. The participant must hold the end of the spoon while holding the egg in the scoop. The participants then proceed to the finish line and the first one there with an intact egg wins! You can change this up a little by putting folks in teams and having them pass the egg, without using their hands, along the way to the finish line.

You could also do an egg toss by dividing people into two teams. Have them stand facing each other, two or three feet apart. Pass out eggs, one for each team (or on a hot sunny day, water balloons) and have participants pass them back and forth to each other. After the toss, every team with an unbroken egg or balloon is still in the game. Have each team member take one step backwards and begin again. Repeat this until only one team has an unbroken egg or balloon.

Duck, Duck Goose – Sit everyone in a circle and choose someone to be it. It walks around the circle, patting everyone on the head and calling out, “Duck, duck, duck, etc. Finally they choose someone to be the “Goose”, and they promptly begin running, the chosen goose must chase and the finish line is the goose’s previous spot. If the Goose gets there first, It must begin again, but if It get there first, the goose becomes It.

Scavenger Hunt – Give people or groups a list of things to hunt for, and the first one done wins. There are some variations to this game, like the clean-up hunt, which is especially good towards the end of the day. Give everyone a list of trash items, like an empty soda can, napkin, plastic utensil, watermelon rind, etc, or just let folks collect the most trash, no digging in the can allowed, items must be found on the ground. The first complete list or the person with the most trash wins! Or you could also play the family hunt, giving participants a list or personal characteristics and have them find family members who match (for example, no hair, tattoo, green eyes, born the same year) and the person who has the most matches wins!

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Develop a Schedule for the Reunion

The best laid plans being the concept here, but the most important thing to remember is not to expect everything to go exactly as planned. Be flexible to the inevitable changes that will come your way, but a simple outline that plans for activities and when to do what, will help keep the day running smoothly and avoid forgetting something that you really looked forward to. A sample outline is provided for your use or to assist you in creating one for your event.

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Reunion Schedule

  • Welcome guests with a smile and try to greet everyone as they arrive
  • Inform them of need to knows (like restroom facilities)
  •  Provide name tags
  • Provide any printed materials that you may wish to distribute
  • Reunion Schedule
  • Registration form that collects family information to make the next reunion you plan more simple
  • Evaluation Form, let folks tell you what they liked and didn’t, again this will assist you in planning your next reunion event
  • Get folks involved as soon as possible – Icebreakers!
  • Let the games or the meals begin (rotate as you see fit)
  • Clean Up – Make sure you have lots of help!!

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ONE MONTH OUT

Send out a reminder

Your invitation is out but sometimes folks need a little help. A simple postcard reminding family that the reunion is around the corner should suffice. You can also put in a call to action for anyone that may still need to pay if you are charging an admission or ticket fee.

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Pick up your Reunion Kit

If you have contacted and registered with the WV Department of Commerce office you should have been notified by mail, e-mail or telephone how to retrieve your reunion kit. Essentially, you can pick it up at the Charleston Commerce office, or at your local Convention & Visitors' Bureau, office hours are Monday through Friday from 9AM to 5PM, or Saturday from 9Am to 3PM, or it may be directly shipped to you, if you choose the shipping option, there is a shipping cost associated. This should be done approximately one week prior to your event.

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Go Shopping

Purchase paper items, decorations, prizes or awards. Your reunion plans will help you determine your shopping list. It is also a good time to think about picking up any equipment you may need for the game playing, as well as name tag preparation. If the reunion committee is providing any part of the menu, prepare a grocery list at this time for later shopping.

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Smile

Charge the video camera battery and make sure you have plenty of film to record your family memories.

Confirm

Follow up on any reservations, entertainment or arrangements that you are relying on an outside vendor for. Probably your last chance for changes, if any.

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REUNION TIME

Today is the big day! Don’t worry everything is ready and remember to recruit assistance! Whether your reunion is large or small, it is nice to have a welcome address. No need to be to wordy, but welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming and a thank you to your committee and helpers would be appropriate to get it all started. Just remember to Enjoy yourself and Have Fun!

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REUNION CHECKLIST

Download this handy checklist to help you plan the perfect reunion.

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Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau

1-800-458-7373 / 304-292-5081
341 Chaplin Road, First Floor, Morgantown, WV 26501
Visitors' Center Open Mon - Fri 9-5
Serving Monongalia and Preston Counties

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