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Great Places to Go for Family Reunions

HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

THE FIVE ESSENTIAL STEPS
1. Do a head count. How many people are in your family—or how many do you want there to be?If you're thinking big, great Web sites to know about are peoplesearch.net and cyndislist.com/finding.htm.

2. Consider family tastes. Are you freewheeling barbecue folks or yacht-club types?More important, how many of you have a serious golf fixation?

3. Figure out what the majority of potential attendees can afford. Consider setting up a reunion bank account, and organize fund-raising raffles or souvenir mug and T-shirt sales.

4. Pick a place on the map and research reunion locales by perusing tourist board Web sites —or choose a hot spot from our list.

5. Set the dates. The goal is for everyone to bond—what takes one family a few hours might take another a week—without lingering long enough to let any skeletons out of the closets.

BOOKS
These sources guide you through all the steps, from designing irresistible invitations to coping with post-party letdown.

Family Reunion: Everything You Need to Know to Plan Unforgettable Get- Togethers,
by Jennifer Crichton (Workman). In-depth profiles of 13 recent gatherings, plus well-designed tip sheets on topics like baking cakes for 50 and delegating responsibilities to young relatives—just don't let the 15-year-olds handle valet parking, Crichton warns, no matter how much they plead.

Family Reunion Handbook: A Complete Guide to Planning and Enjoying Family Reunions,
by Tom Ninkovich (Reunion Research). Especially savvy about reunion financing; Ninkovich explains, for instance, how to convince your reunion venue to maximize freebies, such as shuttle bus service. Also check out his Web site, www.reuniontips.com.

The Family Reunion Sourcebook,
by Edith Wagner (Lowell House). The book's advice includes the nitty-gritty (what to pack in the group's communal first-aid kit) and the soaringly imaginative: Why not stage a Wild West shootout with sheriff cousins arresting an unsuspecting aunt or two?For more tips, as well as links to reunion- oriented professionals who'll even videotape oral-history interviews with your aged relatives, see a quarterly that Wagner edits called Reunions ($3.95 a year; www.reunionsmag.com).

WEB SITE
www.family-reunion.com An easy-to-scroll site particularly rich in ideas for breaking the ice among cousins who have just met. Check out the printable forms for reunion organization, including post-event surveys to find out what the clan might want done differently next time.

TRAVEL AGENTS
The Web site of the American Society of Travel Agents (www.astanet.com) lists more than 250 specialists in family travel who can help organize reunions.

OUTFITTER
If you want to reunite in the American Southwest or the American or Canadian Rockies, Off the Beaten Path (800/445-2995 or 406/586-1311, fax 406/587-4147; www.offthebeatenpath.com) can walk you through all the planning. The cost is considerable, but you get what you pay for: OBP's staff has scoped out every high-end resort—not to mention ice floe and ghost town—worth visiting. Choose from 30 self-guided 7- to 14-day trips, or commission a customized itinerary.

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