Planning–How to Get People to Come


Lots of websites with invitation ideas. Use a photo of your ancestor that you are honoring. This invitation is found on

The number ONE RULE to get people to come is  ADVERTISING!



  • LOTS ADVERTISING and REMINDERS which requires 
  • ITINERARY. You can’t advertise if you don’t know what you are doing.
  • USE EMAIL, FACEBOOK, TEXTS , or send out invitations and follow-up with emails and text reminders.

B-FOCUS ON THE YOUNG for activities!

  • Plan for the Majority:  You want to focus on the young–Young adults, teenagers, older kids to young parents. Parents will more easily be persuaded to come if their children will enjoy it.We always tried to get something that most people would want to do and could do.
  • Older People: are usually content staying put and visiting with others.  So if you have a Comfortable “Home Base” there is usually a group who wants to stay behind. (You never want to leave people just waiting for you to come back.) Or have another plan for those who don’t participate in the major activity.
  •  Babies and Toddlers: Often the older grandparents will keep the little ones who can’t participate, or there are some moms that want to stay back with the babies. Plan something that they can do like a craft, or a museum, or a tour–it totally depends on where your reunion is located.

C-Other Tips We’ve Learned About Getting People To Come Long Distances:

1.  Fun Destinationsare a big draw. When people hear the family is getting together at some fun place, they don’t want to be left out. For destinations that have been fun for our family see Destinations.

 2.  “Big Ideas”–Plan something out-of-the-ordinary. Suggestions:

        2-A-Rentals:  Sometimes, to do something out of the ordinary, we have had to rent equipment. You can rent just about anything.

  • Big Blow Up Toys–I know people who have rented the big blow up toys like slides, bounce houses, etc. We have never done  that, so I have no information on them,  but kids love those.
  • Bikes–We once rented bikes for everyone in the family–even the grandma and grandpa and babies. We rented trailers for people with babies. Everyone paid for their own bikes or trailers. See Destination: Seattle
  • Horses– We have rented horses and borrowed horses. This usually works best if you have a variety of activities to choose from, and some ride horses while others may choose swimming, or golfing or whatever works for your group. See Destinations: Blanding, Huntington Lake State Park, Little Creek Cabin.
  • Jet Skis–We only rented a couple and everyone who wanted to ride them took turns. We had a schedule that you could sign up for the time. This was one of those times we had a variety. Some people went on a tour through a coal mine, others went horseback riding. See Destination: Huntington Lake State Park
  • ATVs –We have rented these for everyone, so every four wheeler had two people on it. When you rent these, they come with a helmet, and usually a trailer so you can haul them to the place you need them. You could also rent a few, if you have a base camp, and take turns on these. See Destination: Joe’s Valley, Paiute Trail.
  • Kayaks–We rented some kayaks for one of our family reunions–of the immediate family. Only  9 people wanted to go (we rented 4- two man and 1- one man), and the rest stayed on the beach and played. Kayaks only hold one or two people, so these aren’t necessarily the best for a big group, but tons of fun in with a smaller group and the right area. See Destination: Seattle
  • Rafts and Tubes–We rented rafts and took a guided raft trip down the Green River. Most people went, even 90 year old grandma. Babies couldn’t come. But later we rented rafts and tubes–self guided down the Provo River. See Destination: Provo River.

      2-B– Honor Someone: Celebrate the life of an  Ancestor.

  • Birthdays or other eventsFor instance, we had a family reunion on the 50th anniversary of my dad’s death. It was all about him. People were asked to bring pictures, and/or other items they had that had belonged to my dad. We honored and gave prizes to each person who had the name of Parker (his name). There were two with the first name of Parker–different generations, and one great-granddaughter who had married a man with the middle name of Parker.  People were asked to share memories, and also to tell about the heirloom or photograph they had. Some people that lived hours away had told us they couldn’t make it, but when they found out it was about Grandpa Parker, they came.
  1.       A Grandparent that is still living--Make a big deal about Grandma’s 90th birthday or grandparents’ 60 wedding anniversary, or just make it “All About Grandpa.”
  •  People will usually try harder to come for the grandparent’s sake. We planned an 80th birthday party for Grandpa one year, and people came from Georgia, California, and other states. If planned far enough ahead, people can get days off and cheaper airline tickets.
  • Grandma Nina’s Quilt Show–It was all about Grandma, and we asked people to bring quilts she had made. Most family members know the importance of honoring a grandparent and make more of an effort. See Grandma Nina’s Quilt Show

  • 2-
    1. Highlight an Ancestor
  •  Make it extraordinary weaving an ancestor’s homeland, occupation, hobbies, characteristics into the theme. Use your imagination. Use Pinterest. Don’t be afraid of Excess.
  • One of our ancestors was from England–So here are some ideas that we have done for more than one ancestor, combined in this suggestion–brainstorm with these and come up with your own ideas: See Pioneer Trek, Family History Focused Reunions.

  • Find recipes that are authentic to England and assign them out to people for a dinner.

  • Set the table with English teapots and teacups (You can serve any drink from them.) or see #3.

  • Decorate!! Grandpa ran a tin shop in Salt Lake City after immigrating to there. We found an historic photograph of it from the Utah State Archives/Historical Society. Have a copy place print it large and use it for wall decor, along with anything else that fits with that such as tin plates to eat on; tin buckets with prizes in them. (These would be basics, add excess to these ideas.)

  • Family History fan chart on the wall. Family History pedigree charts laminated for place mats/souvenirs.

  • Grandpa was sued in court by his first wife. That account was found in a newspaper, and presented as a reader’s theater. Any story could be acted out in a skit. OR Have someone with an English accent tell his story in first person and costume or some other drama.

    Horseback riding and/or horse and wagon rides to experience his mode of travel.

  • I assigned one of my nieces to make little booklets with his story in them that and pass them out so they can be read to children over so they remember that ancestor.

  • Copy photos of him and any histories–check out or search state archives for photos and histories, then make copies and pass them out at the reunion.

  • Ask people to dress in period costume for the era that he lived.


3–Choose a Place that has Family Connections–Reunion in a town or place that has family meaning, often draws people from all over, such as:

  •  A Home Town Tour–My husband’s family is from Georgia. We planned two years ahead. Everyone wanted to see Georgia.
  • We also set a reunion in our old hometown, Tooele. Destinations that involve ancestor pioneers will often draw people out, as well.  Family members have usually heard some stories about these places and want to see them.
  • We planned a camping trip to the Hole-in-the-Rock Trailmy great-grandfather had been part of that mission, so we wanted to explore where he had gone, and study what the group had experienced.
  • We re-enacted a mini Pioneer Trek. See Destinations: Blanding, Georgia, Tooele. See Pioneer Trek, Hole in the Rock Trail.

4—-Have a Reunion with a Fun Theme--such as Circus, Animals, Time Period, Pirates, etc. Planning ahead is important for this idea. With enough time, people can get costumes for the theme. (We have a costume rental place near where I live called “Doll’s Costumes.” She has everything and rents them cheap. Check your local places or come to Emery County!

  • My mom rented an Old Mansion in the Avenues for an evening. We had dinner there, and she wanted us to dress in late 1800s costumes. She wanted a cultured musical program, such a classic piano music, clarinet duet, classical songs sung by the trained voices in our family. We ate on china and crystal (the adults. I think the kids had paper and ate at a different table). It was a very elegant experience. Even the little kids loved it.
  • It would be  fun to do it in an Austenland– Jane Austen time period.
  • We had a Medieval Times reunion last year. That was the theme of Grandma Dottie’s Camp, and everyone participated. See Medieval Times Camp. Also see Pioneer Camp.
  • We have had two family “Murder Mystery Dinners.” They can include up to 20 people. We held them as dinner parties, but they could be a fun evening activity during a reunion, after little ones are in bed. You can buy these games or find them online. We did one that was a 50′s High School Reunion and one on a train in France. You receive an invitation which tells you who your character is and describes what she/he would wear. Everyone shows up dressed up as their character. Pieces of the story are handed out, and what each person’s role is in that part, and it is all ad-lib from there. There are some local trains-in many areas–that feature these. Reservations are made ahead, and they send out the invitations, etc. There is also a bed and breakfast in Manti that does these, so I’m sure there are many other places that could be found online.

Destination: Sand Hollow State Park

Sand Hollow Reservoir is near St. George, Utah.

There is a big reservoir in the red rock area with shallow areas and very deep waters with a huge rock from which to dive and jump into that water. It was a great water park for all ages. We splashed in the shallow water with the little kids. The older kids and all of us swimming.

Sand Hollow-001

Then the older kids walked over to a high rock where they could jump and dive.  The rock has so many levels from which to jump, that all the kids 8 and over were jumping from that rock.

Sand Hollow1-001

It is actually attached to the main rock, so it is an easy walk to the top of this rock from the other side. Once you jump off, you can climb backup by using the rope that you can see in bottom left photo. Kids jumped and dove off the rock. I thought the most fun was just watching.

We had a picnic, snacks, lots of visiting and photo shoots. It is gorgeous! And we made so many memories!

It’s a great place for all water sports, and there are also sand dunes, and ATV trails, as well as golfing, and other activities at this state park.

Family History Destinations–Georgia

Going Home–Milledgeville, Georgia 

My husband is from Georgia. Two of his brother still live there. The other three boys lived in Utah, at the time of this reunion. My mother-in-law, Nina wanted us all to go to Georgia for a family reunion. We planned it two years ahead. We knew we wanted to be there in the Springtime when it was most beautiful and not too hot. The folks in Georgia did a lot of planning on their end of it as well.

Family Reunion-Georgia
The top left picture is just one of the fishing trips that were planned. The top right is a family blue grass band that has recorded their music, and Uncle Tut Taylor, famous among blue grass music lovers. He has made many albums, and won a Grammy for one of them! “He’s called the Flat Pickin’ Dobro Man.” So we were entertained a lot!

We had a huge southern barbecue, where they cook a hog over  a pit all night long. And then, added to that, were all the fabulous southern dishes and desserts. It was fabulous. All cousins, aunts and uncles in the whole state were invited! Feasting and visiting went on for three days!

Top Left–Nina (Ben’s mom) with her brothers and sister–all still living in Georgia. Center–Charlie (Ben’s Dad) and his sister. Right–One of the old homes Ben lived in as a boy. Bottom Row Left–The old Methodist Church where Charlie’s parents are buried. Center–Gravestones of Charlie’s parents. Right–The Old State Capitol building, now a Military high school.

We went to Georgia a few more times, and each time we had a big family barbecue and learned more family history. We toured the town and saw all of the houses that Nina and Charlie had lived in through the years of raising their five boys; where Nina had worked and gone to school; The Georgia State Mental Hospital where Ben’s grandfather and aunt worked; the theater they used attend; the old schools; Georgia Women’s College, which once The Governor’s Mansion and other State Buildings. In the early 1900s Peabody High School was in one of the college buildings, and that is where Nina attended high school. Note: During the Civil War Milledgeville was the state capitol. After the Civil War the capitol was moved to Atlanta.

Family Reunion--Georgia-Hilton Head-Savannah1

One year all the brothers and sister-in-laws got together in Georgia for a family history tour and discussions. Then we all went to Hilton Head Island and rented a beautiful beach house for three days. We visited Savannah and other wonderful sights, but our evening conversation was always about memories of Georgia, grandparents, aunts and uncles, skeletons in the closets, places the family lived and worked, etc. We taped our conversations so it could be typed up as history later. And on every trip, we  got to see Uncle Tut Taylor and be entertained by his wonderful blue grass music played on a dobro! Although he moved to Tennessee long ago for his music career, he always came to Georgia to be with family when we got together.tttitl-002

Song written about Tut,  sung by Don Humphries with Tut playing the Dobro.


Destination: Goblin Valley and the Reef

Sensational Geology!

Goblin Valley      San Rafael Reef      Little Wild Horse Canyon

Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wild Horse Canyon are two natural playgrounds for kids! The geologic formation of these places set imagination spinning.  The San Rafael Reef in the same area is also an amazing rock wall tilted to almost vertical position!

Family Trip--Little Wildhorse Canyon1

Top Row: Hoodoos (geologic term) found in Goblin Valley State Park
Bottom Row: Uplifted rock to almost vertical position is called San Rafael REEF, near Goblin Valley.

We have had a great time at Goblin Valley with the kids by dividing into two groups and playing hide and seek, using two way radios to give clues as to where you are hiding, because it is a large are full of funny-looking formations. It’s also fun to look at the hoodoos and tell what they look like to each person. We’ve found turtles, horses, elephants, etc. Fun!

Goblin Valley is a campground with restrooms and campsites with fire pits, etc.  It’s not easy to get a spot there, however. Behind the San Rafael Reef, close by Goblin Valley are many good primitive camp spots. We camped up against the hill. In this same area is a narrow slot canyon named Little Wild Horse Canyon that is a super fun place to explore!

Family Trip--Little Wildhorse Canyon

All photos are different areas of Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon.

It is a fairly easy hike, even tiny kids can do it (see bottom right photos–she’s two and a half. The canyon is full of pockets, holes, and twists and turns. It’s like exploring a basement hallway in the San Rafael Swell. Crazy fun! The spring a this year–a few weeks ago–there was knee deep water in part of it that you had to wade through. That was even more fun!


Destination: Moab and Arches

Sego Canyon and Arches

We actually started this family gathering in Green River and stayed in a motel there. It is an hour away from Moab. The first day we hiked to some Native American Rock Art sites in Sego Canyon near Green River. Dinner, of course, was a burger at the famous Ray’s Tavern.

Sego Canyon

Sego Canyon is filled with many types of rock art. On top of a rock are footprints (top left); Grinding stone grooves  in the rock that was once lying flat (top right); Petroglyphs and Pictographs; and a ghost town as well.

The next morning we drove to Moab. Some of the family went  on some trails with ATVs. The rest of us shopped and went sight-seeing, and visited all of the art galleries. In the afternoon we visited Arches National Park.

Family Trip--Arches1

Top Row L-A small arch in the park; C-Hiking up the solid rock; R-Hiking to Delicate Arch. Bottom Row–Hiking to Delicate Arch–a pretty long hike, but so worth it!. R-Our ballerina daughter-in-law did some poses for me under the arch.

There are several arches to see, and we love to hike, so we trekked  to the farthest, and most famous–Delicate Arch. Everyone in the world should see this national park! Amazing formations, and amazing views!!

Destinations: Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula

Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula

My parents went on an LDS mission to the Olympic Peninsula, and while they were there, each of their kids’ families visited them at some point during that year. We all loved the area! So with a daughter living in Bothell, Washington, she and her husband planned a family reunion to their home for a few days, and then we went to the Peninsula and visited the two areas where my parents/their grandparents lived as they served their mission–now some 20 years later..

Family Trip--Seattle 06_21

Seattle: Top Row L-Grandma and kids; C-The Troll Under the Bridge; Ballard Locks. Bottom Row L-Pike Place; C- Street Musician at Pike Place; The Space Needle from the Ferry.

We stayed in Bothell at my daughter’s house. We had beds all over the floors upstairs and down, but our family is accustomed to chaos, and we deal well with it. She had scheduled so many great activities, that we had fun every second of the trip. Many of the family had never been to Seattle, so we visited Pike Place Market and watched the fish-throwers, ate food from other countries, bought souvenirs and enjoyed the street musicians. We made a stop at the Troll who lives under a bridge. He has a Volkswagon bug in his hand, which is a real car. We visited the Locks in Ballard and watched the boats come into the locks, be raised up to a higher level and sail out on new waters. It always fascinates me, and they have a Salmon Fish Ladder there as well, where you can watch the fish. We rode up to the top of the Space Needle and had our picture taken. We have had dinner at the Space Needle and it is wonderful. You a very slow 360 degree turn as you eat dinner and see every part of the city and Sound. But its too price to take all of us there, so we settled for an elevator ride to the observation deck.

The highlight of Seattle was probably the bike ride!

Family Reunion--seattle 06 5

Iron Horse Trail: Top Row L-Getting ready. (Some brought their own bikes and assembled them there); C-Breaking for lunch; R- Just out of the Tunnel; Bottom Row L- Gorgeous Scenery; C-Trailer with two little ones in it. R-Wild Foxgloves along the trail.

 We rented bikes for everyone with trailers for babies, and seats for little kids, so everyone in our group went on this bike ride, even though I had not ridden for years. Our daughter had reserved all of the bikes, helmets, trailers, etc. ahead of time, and it all went very smoothly! We biked along the Iron Horse Trail which is an old railroad grade. There is a tw0-mile long tunnel that you ride through which adds excitement to the event.   It is a long, long trail, but we just went the 17 miles. We stopped along the way at a picnic grounds to eat our lunch that we had taken in back packs. Every bit of it was delightful!

7 (76)-001

Historic Port Townsend, Washington

The next five days were spent on the Olympic Peninsula. Our first destination was the old Victorian town of Port Townsend, where my mom and dad first lived as they served their mission. There is an old army base there that is now Fort Worden State Park. We rented two of the Officer’s Homes. The homes are duplexes, so we rented one full house/two units. (In 2013, we went again. There were fewer of us, so we rented just one duplex. One four bedroom duplex/house for two nights was $715.00.) While there we explored that lovely town, went kayaking, explored the old bunkers that date back to 1800s. The parade green in front of the Officers’ Row is perfect for ball games, Frisbee, or Kubb (Viking Bowling).

Family Trip--Seattle 06_1

The Olympic Peninsula: Top Row L- Ferrying out to the Peninsula; C-Officer’s Housing–a Duplex; R- Officer’s Row in the evening; Middle Row L-Exploring one of the old bunkers; C-Kayaking in the ocean; R-Walking on the trail to 3rd Beach; Bottom Row L-Third Beach; C-Buried in the sand; R- Our family walking along the beach with Sea Stacks in the background.

After two nights in Port Townsend, we moved to the next place my mom and dad had lived–Forks, Washington. We rented four two bedroom apartments for our group in Forks for two nights, and spent the next day at 3rd Beach. The Quiliute Tribe owns the property where three fabulous beaches are located. First Beach is right at their town of La Push. Second Beach and Third Beach are also considered LaPush,  but you have to hike through the gorgeous rain forest to get to the beachs, about a half mile. The beaches are fabulous. Everyone wanted to revisit this vacation in the future, and so we have.

 The next day we split up because we couldn’t do everything we wanted to, so we had to make a choice. Some hiked up to Sol Duc Falls, and others drove to  Hurricane Ridge for the spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains.  We always stop at the gorgeous Lake Crescent when we go to the peninsula. The sights to see and places to play are endless in this area. Best of all reunions EVER!


This is the website for the Quiliute Nation. When we went there, they had a sign up that said, “Go Away!” But since the Twilight Book Series made them famous, the sign now says “Welcome.” And they have a tourist website now. We had not heard about Twilight until we were walking to 3rd Beach and some of our family passed Stephanie Meyer and a group of young people and overheard her talking about a book and mentioned vampires.  A few months later we heard about the book and read it. La Push is 12 miles from Forks.

Destination: Gooseberry Creek

Gooseberry Creek  Forest Rangers Administration Site

We rented the whole Forest Ranger Administration Site, that is now rented out to groups. It has three sleeping barracks/cabins and one kitchen cabin, a meeting cabin with just chairs in it, and a cabin that is bathroom and showers.

Gooseberry Admin site

I held Cowboy and Outlaw Camp for the kids, so we did lots of activities with that. We divided into two teams and had water guns. One team was the outlaw group, the other were the Sheriff Posse. There are plenty of Hiking Trails.

Cowboys and Outlaws

Top Row shows the big lawn in front of the cabins…Middle Row–They have just discovered gold and are each getting their share allotted out.We herded pigs–the kids drew pig faces on the balloons, and divided into two teams. Each kid had a fly swatter and had to herd them into a corral made of chairs. Balloons are as uncooperative as pigs.

There is the big green area in front for frisbee, etc. It is close to the creek and several lakes and hiking trails.

Grandma's Camp Cowboys and Outlaws1

Top row: Two of my little outlaws–a three year old and five year old. The three year old would not even take his mask off to eat. He stayed in character the whole first day. Middle Row: We are all reading the same book. Our talents show was so cute!

We played games, and read books (we were all reading the same popular book, at the time.)  There is a fire pit with lots of benches around it. We had a talent show near the fire after the sun went down. The kids came up with cute and funny things.

To rent the whole place is $300/night which is a fabulous deal because it has 50 beds. Cabins are rustic with lots of beds in each one. There are three barrack cabins. But plenty of space for tents and trailers. You have to bring your sleeping bags–no bedding.

Destination: Duck Creek

Duck Creek Village and Cedar Mountain

We rented a 6 bedroom cabin and stayed at Duck Creek Village. Fishing, hiking, mountain atmosphere!

Family Trip Duck Creek1

Top L-Skating in the Ice Cave; R-Fishing in a lake; Middle L- Trail to Crystal Falls; R-Crystal Falls; Bottom L and R–Evening Family Entertainment, playing a tune on desk bells, and dancing queens.

While at Duck Creek we took some side trips. There is an Ice Cave nearby, on Cedar Mountain, and a Bristle Cone Pine Trail–Bristle Cone Pines are thought to be one of the oldest living things on the earth, some of them are 5,000 years old! Navajo Lake was close by and good fishing. Crystal Falls is a really great hike!  We traveled from Cedar City up Cedar Mountain, past Navajo Lake to Duck Creek. The side trips were in that same area.

You can rent a cabin 3-6 bedrooms for $175-350/night. See the link at the top of this post. Sometimes cabins have a two or three day minimum stay. This in between Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument just 42 miles away.


Destination: Black Dragon

Black Dragon Canyon– Camping/Hiking

We have been hiking and camping in the San Rafael Swell so many times and have seen so many parts of it, that I would say we have seen about all of it, except that is impossible to do in one lifetime! We had hiked the canyon rocks before, but an old timer told us there was a cave up behind the boulders, so we went searching. My husband and I found it, but it was so full of soft dirt and dust that we thought when we brought our whole family back, we needed to put masks on them (middle right).

Family Trip--Black Dragon1

The cave is exciting to find. It takes some searching. There is only a small opening that you have to stoop to fit into (bottom right looking from the bottom of the cave up to the opening). The cave is so deep and dark that we all had headlamps (bottom left).   The ceiling and floor are lit up by the flash, and you can get the perspective. There is plenty of other wonderful sites to see in this high rock walled canyon (top left) like pictographs (top right). The Black Dragon pictograph here has been enhanced. It is very faded. It is a fun place to go, and there are lots of camping sites close by, and many other sites–see Goblin Valley and the Reef

Destination: Bryce Canyon

Ruby’s Inn Campground at Bryce Canyon

We planned our reunion for Bryce Canyon, and because of our grandchildren, we thought it would be fun to stay in Tipis. They rent for $35-53.00/night depending on how many people–2-8. The cabins rent for $52-65/night. There is a restroom/shower building and also an indoor pool that is available to campers.Family Trip--Bryce Canyon  We participated in the wagon ride and chuck wagon dinner one evening. We went on several gorgeous hikes! I think Bryce has the most unusual formations of any of the National Parks. It is a fun place to explore, and tipis made the trip all the more enchanting.