Sunday, January 4, 2009

Step #1 - Deciding Who to Invite

The reunion or retreat planner's first step of many is deciding who to invite. This issue is most important because it must be decided before any other issue can be resolved. These other issues include the number of organizers that the planner will need, the size of the reunion or retreat venue, the amount of food to be served, etc.

In determining the number of people to invite, the planner should first examine his or her experience level in planning reunions or retreats. If the planner has no prior experience, he or she may wish to host a small gathering to include, for example, only immediate relatives or only the eighth graders of a church youth group, whereas an experienced reunion or retreat planner may be comfortable hosting several hundred guests. Whichever path the planner chooses, the planner should create a guest list which contains the guests' contact information. The guest list should also have a logical beginning and ending. For example, a family reunion may include immediate family members, all descendants of the reunion planner to include in-laws, or all descendants of the reunion planner's grandparents. A class reunion may include one grade or a few grades, depending on the size of the class. A church youth retreat may include one grade, two grades, or all members in primary or secondary school. The planner should also make it clear to all invitees who the members of the invited group are. (That way, a fifth cousin twice removed should not be upset if they are not invited to a family reunion that only includes immediate relatives).

Once the reunion or retreat planner has decided who to invite, he or she should contact the invitees and inform them that a reunion or retreat is in the planning stages. (If it is a large group, the planner may wish to delegate contacting the invitees to one of his or her organizers). If the group meets on a regular basis, the planner may easily inform the invitees of the reunion or retreat at the meeting. However, if the group does not meet on a regular basis, the planner should begin be phoning, e-mailing, or writing the invitees. If the planner does not have the contact information for all of the individuals he or she wishes to invite, the planner should ask the invitees that he or she is able to contact whether they have the contact information for the missing invitees.

When contacting the invitees, the planner should attempt to get the invitees' emails because providing later information regarding the reunion or retreat is much faster and efficient via e-mail rather than phone calls or letters.
Additionally, the reunion or retreat planner should tell the guests that it is still in the planning stages, but that he or she would like to know if the invitee would be interested in attending the reunion or retreat. It is essential to have an idea of the number of attendees in order to begin the overall planning process. Once the organizer has contacted the invitees and gotten an idea of the number of attendees, he or she can move on to the next step - Organizing a Reunion or Retreat Committee.

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