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12/29/2010
Planning a last-minute family reunion? Follow our tips to make your get-together a success.
Summer is the perfect time for a family reunion. If your clan is anything like mine, though, you don't actually get around to planning anything early in the year -- and then all of a sudden, it's June. But that's no reason to put off your gathering till next summer. Follow these simple steps to organize a last-minute reunion that will let everyone relax and relate -- even you.

Whom to invite

Who can come to a reunion on short notice? Certainly not everyone in the nation who shares your surname or all the second cousins you've never even met. Instead, focus on the relatives who are nearest and dearest to you.

Many traditional reunions consist of the descendants of a single couple (say, your grandparents), but you might want to consider a more unusual family grouping. My grandmother once invited all her granddaughters to her house for a week. A few years ago, my siblings who have children took our families on a kid-friendly getaway. A woman I know gets together each year with just her sisters. Any way you slice it, the guest list will be all about family.

Next, don't worry if not everyone can come -- bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to reunions. My husband and I flew to a reunion last summer that only half my relatives attended, and the weekend's informality and intimacy were charming. I hiked a mountainside with Cousin Kristi, sun-bathed with Aunt Shirley and chatted with my new step-grandfather in the hot tub. By the time we said goodbye, I knew everyone better, even my cousins' young children.

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