Family Reunion Subcommittees

Unless you and the committee want to do all the work yourself (which, Mister Spiffy notes, is very, very uncommon this time of year), you will want to assign volunteers to a number of areas of responsibility. Basically, this section is advice on how to ‘pass the buck’ in various ways. Now, the best way to appease reluctant volunteers is to give them an official name: "You’re now a part of the Finance Subcommittee, isn’t that swell?" "Oh, yes!"

Each subcommittee can be managed by a single upstanding family member, or a whole family. Try to match up family members’ talents to the different jobs, when possible. Mister Spiffy’s bad example: "All right, Joe, seeing as you’ve been a champion in the Iron Man competition for the last five years, you’ll be in charge of finances – and your accountant brother can be in charge of sports. Okay"? Assign one person of each subcommittee as the chairperson for that particular subcommittee and make them responsible for reporting to the Family Reunion Committee. In English, now – put someone in charge of each one and make them tell you if they’re getting their work done.

These are just Mister Spiffy’s simple suggestions for subcommittees, and you may not need all of them (or any of them, or you may want to create one that isn’t listed here – Mister Spiffy can’t think of everything, he’s not a genius, despite the rumors going around). You may even want to combine the responsibilities of several of these subcommittees into a single one, if the job isn’t too hard. To make things easier to understand, the main family reunion committee (the one assigning the subcommittees) will be referred to as ‘the Big Important Committee’ throughout this section.

Finance Subcommittee

The finance subcommittee handles the money and bookkeeping (wow, three double letters in a row!). This committee puts together the budget (with the assistance, of course, of the other subcommittees and the Big Important Committee), and keeps track of how much money and whose money has been / will be spent. It also keeps track of which families have paid the admission (or whatever scheme you’re using to raise money to pay for this shindig). The finance committee should set up a checking account to deposit the income from tickets, auctions, et cetera. This checking account should be kept open throughout the years and used for every family reunion, especially if you anticipate any income or expenses between the reunions.

The treasurer is a member of the finance subcommittee and reports back to the Big Important Committee just what goes on behind the closed doors. He or she is the one in charge of the checkbook. Their signature is required (Mister Spiffy repeats, required) for the release of any small slips of paper exiting a checkbook, a wallet, or one of those little envelopes that money comes in from the bank. It would be preferable if the treasurer is good with numbers and honest above reproach. It is not an uncommon story in Mister Spiffy’s past cases for the money-handler to "borrow" money from the reunion account without paying it back. I know it’s appalling, but it happens out here in the real world. If you want a safety feature, you can get a checking account that requires two signatures on checks (although this can be inconvenient at times, as Mister Spiffy would be the first to tell you – he doesn’t even like to remember how it was when his cousin Mister Snazzy was touring the European continent). Once you have a good treasurer, it is often best for that person to remain the treasurer from year to year, instead of changing constantly.

Food Subcommittee

The Food subcommittee makes the decisions in those all-important food-related debates. This includes, but is definitely not limited to, how to feed the guests, whether everyone brings their own food, have a potluck, eat at a restaurant, or all of the above – although how that last one works, Mister Spiffy isn’t really sure. If you’re having a potluck, they are in charge of organizing it so that a good variety of food is provided, without the Big Important Committee having to worry about it. If a restaurant meal is being planned, they are in charge of finding the restaurant and making the reservations.

The food subcommittee is also responsible for making sure there are enough plates, silverware, napkins, and drinking straws, even if it is the simple task of informing the family members to bring their own.

Activities Subcommittee

The Activities subcommittee decides what everyone else is supposed to do at the reunion. This includes activities (Mister Spiffy says ‘duh’), games, a program (where the kids stand up and make a valiant attempt to sing), or a church service. They are in charge of planning the activities, making sure all the equipment is there and in a functioning and unbroken state, and printing up the certificates and awards for the various winners of various awards. They are also in charge of finding volunteers (or forcing volunteers) to run the games and activities if they can’t (or don't want to) do it themselves. This subcommittee is one of the most time-consuming jobs of a family reunion, so make sure you have enough family members to do the job, and do it right. If you want a job done right (but you’re too lazy to do it yourself), you’ll just have to settle for imperfections. Nobody’s perfect.

Communications Subcommittee

This subcommittee is responsible for managing the address list and mailing all the various invitations and follow-up reminders. Now, Mister Spiffy had to take a class in Communications to get his Family Reunion Doctoring Diploma, so he knows this quite well. If you decide to send a survey out to find out what kind of reunion the family is interested in, he suggests that you have the communications group take care of it, and just report the results to the Big Important Committee.

Fundraising Subcommittee

The Fundraising subcommittee is in charge of planning and carrying out the varying fundraising activities for the reunion. These can include auctions, raffles, cakewalks, or other more bizarre ideas you could come up with that Mister Spiffy hasn’t suggested. They are also in charge of obtaining any items needed for any of the fundraising activities, or for contacting family members if items liked baked goods or homemade crafts are needed. They will work very closely with the financial committee.

Family History Subcommittee

The Family History subcommittee is responsible for collecting family memorabilia for display at the reunion. This committee can create a large wall chart with family members’ names to hang on the wall for guests to see how they are related to each other (Mister Spiffy suggests decorating it with bright colors, so as to hold the interest of our younger guests). If changes or additions need to be made to the wall chart, the family history subcommittee will be in charge of updating the chart for the next reunion ("Someday… someday, we’re going to get this thing right"). If any research side trips are planned, it is this committee which takes care of the details.

Photography Subcommittee

Mister Spiffy loves photography. Did I mention that he took a class on it a few summers ago? Well, he did, and now he considers himself the guru of advice on the subject. I never go near him with a camera anymore, because I know I’ll never get away in less than two hours. But, I digress. The Photography subcommittee is responsible for making sure the reunion is fully documented photographically. They should make sure there is a photographer attending, whether it is a family member who is semi-talented with a camera or a professional who actually knows what he’s doing. (Hint – Mister Spiffy is not a professional). Once the photos are developed, the committee is responsible for noting which family members are in each picture.

If a video is to be made of the reunion, this committee also has the responsibility for lining up a camcorder or hiring someone to create the video tape. If they neglect to do so, they may have to answer to the Big Important Committee – and that’s never pretty.

After the reunion, the photography subcommittee should make copies of the photos or video available to family members, and decide on a price that will cover the cost (or, perhaps, Mister Spiffy says with a knowing smile, make a little profit for the next year’s reunion).

Accomodations Subcommittee

The Accommodations subcommittee is responsible for finding accommodations for visiting guests, such as hotels, motels, nearby Dumpsters, et cetera. Okay, never mind the Dumpsters. Anyway, they can negotiate for blocks of rooms or discounts to pass on to the family members (yeah, that’s right – you want some sneaky people on this one). If camping, this subcommittee should make the reservations for the campsites, or tell the family members how to make their own reservations.

Welcoming Subcommittee

The Welcoming subcommittee is responsible for welcoming the guests to the reunion (is it just me, or is Mister Spiffy getting less creative with his committee naming?). They are the ones who print all those nametags nobody will wear, and who meet the guests at the front door. They should perform any of the planned welcoming traditions (such as a lei at a Hawaiian-themed reunion, a noisemaker at a birthday party-themed reunion, a prick in the bottom with a cactus at a Western-themed reunion, et cetera).

Setup and Cleanup Subcommittee

The Setup and Cleanup subcommittee is in charge of setting up chairs, tables, and other items for the reunion. If items like barbecue grills, picnic tables, grand pianos, large water fountains or giant plastic palm trees are needed, they are responsible for obtaining them as well, no matter what the cost. They also get to (note that they don’t have to, they get to) hang up any decorations or banners.

At the end of the reunion, this committee is responsible for taking down the chairs and tables that they so painstakingly set up for the Big Important Committee. They also pick up the general area. The committee doesn’t have to do all the work themselves, they can ask family members to help out as well. Sorry to disappoint you.