If you’re thinking about organizing a family reunion or already working on one, you’re in good company. It is estimated that over 200,000 families, each averaging 50 persons hold reunions each year.
As Desmond Tutu once famously said, “You don’t choose your family. They are a God’s gift to you, as you are to them”. For some of us, the magic of this experience comes only a few times in a year.
We grow up together in close knit families and as kids there’s nothing to stop us, from being with them. As we begin to demand from life, moving away becomes inevitable. It is only at reunions then, that families get the opportunity to relive those incredible moments of pure love and happiness.
Organizing a family reunion is a gift. It is an unselfish commitment to your family to stay in touch and make an effort to be among kin. Family reunions are times for hugs and kisses, smiles and warmth. Family reunions are great adventures of intricate detail and opportunities to savor history and legend.
They are also ideal occasions to mend fences and build bridges. Traditions flourish once your reunion is established. Commitment to take responsibility is a special gift to your family.
Families our a Bridge to Our Past, Present, and Future
Why Should You Plan a Family Reunion?
It is your family right?
If done well, it could be lots of fun.
You really like your cousin Jill, but you have not seen her in 14 years…..isn’t it time??
Grandma will think you’re a saint for putting this all together!
A family reunion is a special time for members of your family to reconnect and share their experiences with each other. While some members of your family keep in close contact all year, many other family members may not have the opportunity to see each other very often, even if they keep in contact by phone or email. Hosting a unique family reunion for your family will help you to create a memorable experience for your family to share
“How to get organized.”
Start by creating a reunion committee. If it is a small affair, maybe it is just you. But if it is a big affair someone has to be in charge to make sure everything gets done and no one is slacking. This is to big of a job for one person–so search for that someone special in your family who is willing to share the work.
Make a Family Directory……prior to the reunion, and print off copies to distribute to each family at the reunion. Include phone numbers, addresses and email information for each family member. Request each family send you a brief bio and photograph, to let everyone know what they’ve been up to in the past year or so. In the family directory, include the family bios, photographs and contact information. It will become one of the most appreciated and useful souvenirs from the reunion.
Create a Family Crest By Family Reunion Helper….What a special time it would be to create a family crest for your family to enjoy and help build relationships.
Get Your Family Cookbook Started…..
Want that special something for the next family reunion? Try a family cookbook, involve the entire family and collect the recipes they each like the best. This is a great way to get your Aunt Mary’s recipe for Apple Pie!
If the family reunion is to be a pot-luck, have them bring a recipe card for the dish they will be providing. This method has several advantages; a picture of the person can be added to the recipe when the book is compiled.
This is a great memento of a special day for your family, enjoy it, and remember to send one to the family members who couldn’t be there for whatever reason.
There are several sites that offer photo books, but Blurb.com is one that that specifically offers cookbook formats.
Get started by downloading their free software and choosing one of their cookbook layouts. Drop the recipes into the layout and if you like, embellish the pages with illustrations, backgrounds, and photos.
Once your order is placed you will receive your book(s) in about a week. They also offer discounts on volume orders, so be sure to check into that if ordering enough for the whole clan.
Let your family know how special they are by creating certificates and awards for them. Use your imagination and try to think up as many categories as possible in order to recognize the largest amount of family members that you can.
Be sure to also include categories unique to your family (i.e. if you have lots of musicians have a ‘best tuba player’) category. Basic categories suggestions :
- The oldest and youngest family members
- Who traveled the least and greatest distances to attend
- Who has attended the most consecutive reunions
- Youngest grandparents
- Oldest cousins
- Couple with the most children or grandchildren
- Tallest/shortest family member
- Most enthusiastic family member (we all have one)
OTHER FUN THINGS TO DO ARE…..
BASEBALL CAPS AND CANDY BARS….
Get the family name, and the date and location of the family reunion printed on baseball caps. Fill up the cap with candy bars of your choice, and wrap it with net and ribbon. These make great family reunion favors. Everyone loves candy, and everyone wears baseball caps. These favors are great if you have organized a family reunion outdoors.
This implies gifting a tree sapling to all families, that they can plant in their yard, as a reminder of the wonderful family reunion you have hosted. It should be easy to plant, because not everyone has a green thumb. Wrap around the sapling a little ribbon, and if possible, have your family name engraved on the pot. While the tree will be planted, the pot can remain as one of the best family reunion favors. Don’t forget to include instructions on how to plant the trees when you give them as favors.
For this, you would need to create a large family tree chart and paste it on the wall. Your family members can have a great time filling it in and this will also prove to be a useful memento for all of you.
Have fun with some craft:
Have a game that involves the use of craft, which will help the entire family to bond well together and have a great time as well. You can use a large mural that is crafted from heavy-duty paper and hang it up on the wall. Then, ask each family member to come and add their own personal touch to the mural with a drawing of their own. Kids sure will love this game and it will keep them busy as well!
POTLUCK MEAL GAME….
This is one of the best game ideas for family gatherings and reunions. At the gathering, don’t prepare any food for the family members. Get a truckload of ingredients from the grocery store and stack them up on a table. Write down the name of all the ingredients, individually on separate chits of paper.
Divide the number of guests into equal groups and make sure every group has a few elders in it. Ask every group to pick up a chit, one by one, until all of them are over.
Once the chits are over, every group will have a few ingredients with them. In the decided number of time, each group has to prepare one dish for everyone present. The best preparation wins the game and you also have a potluck meal ready at your reunion. As a back up, keep some drinks and snacks ready!
“Others Things May Change Us, But We START and END with Family.”
FOOD FOR THE REUNION….
One of the best ways to get the family together is through a potluck meal. Every family provides one or more food items, and all the items are shared between the families.
To get a balanced meal smorgasbord, make sure you assign each family a specific category of main-dish food, vegetable, salad, dessert, drinks etc. so that you don’t end up with just fifty bags of chips. Ask each family to bring a bit more than their own family would eat, to ensure that you have enough food to feed the entire gang.
Since some food items cost more than others, you may want to assign some families a couple of the less expensive categories. Another option is to have each family bring their own main dish, and provide a potluck-style dish.
FAMILY REUNION QUILTED WITH LOVE GROUNDED BY MEMORIES….
Let us bring together family memories into a professionally designed Photo Collage Jigsaw Puzzle. Unique to your family, it offers an activity that all ages can participate in from kids to grandparents. Not only are they fun, but they naturally encourage family members to interact with one another for the perfect family activity.
1. Send out small 9 or 24 piece postcard puzzles as family reunion invitations. This is a novel and unique way to announce your family reunion to family members and something that they are not likely to forget. These postcard puzzles can be personalized for each family member and give details of the reunion location and date.
2. Give puzzle pieces in advance to all family members with the instructions to bring these with them and complete “their piece of the puzzle”. This is symbolic of bringing the family together and a great way of saying the family is not complete without them. (tip: it’s a good idea to have a second duplicate puzzle ready just in case some of the pieces are lost) .
3, Have a photo collage layout made-up in the design of a family tree showing each family member and their place within the tree. Everyone who comes to the reunion can see how they “fit” into the family puzzle. You can have a large 1000+ piece puzzle made for the family to work on during the reunion and have smaller individual puzzles for each family member to take away as a keepsake of the event.
4. Have a small 8x10in puzzle made-up from a photo of each family member or family groups and give these out at random. The first person to make their puzzle and identify the family member wins a prize. This is a great activity to get people talking and one that any age can participate in.
5. Have a photo collage puzzle made up after the event based on photos of the family and activities at the reunion. A copy of this can then be sent out to each family as a memento or keepsake of the event.
Family reunions are making a big comeback– they’re an affordable way to have a great vacation, get back to old-fashioned principles of what matters in life and reconnect with those cousins you haven’t seen since you were a kid at Thanksgiving nearly two decades ago.
Good luck with the planning and enjoy the main event!
GAMES GAME AND GAMES A wonderful way to start your games is the M&M’s game. We have played it and it is a lot of fun.
Sit in a circle. Pass around a bag of M&M’s (for more fun, buy several bags and dump them all in a huge bowl). Tell everyone to take as many as they want, but not to eat them yet.
You will always have those groups of people who reach in with both hands and scoop half of the bowl–don’t worry they’ll get theirs in the end.
Once everyone has their candy inform the group that for every M&M they took they have to tell someone about themselves. “Oh No they have 100 M&M’s! Um, one, my name is Chuck, Two…I am tall. Three, I…play the clarinet.” Fifteen minutes later…”Ninety-nine, I have a brother. One hundred..uh..uh..my brothers name is Matt! Done”!
Watermelon Roll….. Set up 2-liter plastic pop bottles bowling-pin style about 20 feet out and weight them down with a little water. The first person on each team gets down on hands and knees, rolls a watermelon forward with his or her head to knock over the bottles, then rolls it back to the next member of the team, who continues the game.
First to finish are the winners.
This is a list of games reunions play. Many are childhood games that generate just as much excitement and laughs as they always have.
Use these to get everyone involved and smiling.
|Games reunions play
Capture the flag
Duck, Duck, Goose
Find the Leader
Follow the Leader
Jump Rope/Double Dutch
Mother, May I?
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Red Light, Green Light
Ring around the Rosy
Steel the Bacon
Tug of War
Wolf & SheepRaces
Three-legged Race Team sports
Kick the Can
Bob for Apples
Dive for Pennies
Water BasketballBoard games
|TV board games
Wheel of Fortune
Who Wants to be a Millionaire?Card Games
War Genealogy/History Games
Ancestors & Questions
The Ungame In a category by itself
A Couple of Family Reunion Recipes……. We did this at ours last year and it was a Big Hit! We used a Coleman Crockpot and it worked so well!
There really is no set-in-stone walking taco recipe. Just open a snack size bag of Fritos and add your desired toppings. (I like a little of everything.) Eat it straight from the bag, and the entire thing can be tossed when you’re finished — so simple!
I filled mine up with seasoned ground beef (2 lb. browned ground beef + taco seasoning to taste), Velveeta queso (16 oz. Velveeta + 1 can Rotel), and spicy black beans (2 cans black beans drained and rinsed.
Here’s a different way to serve up a classic appetizer: Deviled Eggs as a Dip! All of the flavors that you love, easily served on a crisp cracker.
Since it’s too difficult to take along root beer floats on a picnic, take these cookies instead! I’ve found the flavor is even better the next day. The hard part is convincing my family to wait that long before sampling them.
Root Beer Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 teaspoon root beer concentrate
- 4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
- 3-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1-1/4 teaspoons root beer concentrate or extract
- In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a
- time, beating well after each addition. Beat in buttermilk and root
- beer concentrate. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually
- add to creamed mixture. Stir in pecans.
- Drop by tablespoonfuls 3 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove
- to wire racks to cool. In a small bowl, combine frosting
- ingredients; beat until smooth. Frost cooled cookies. Yield: about 6
Give small children a white T-shirt and have them decorate it with finger-paints making hand-prints and let them put their name on the shirt.
First-Aid….Delegate someone to be in charge of first-aid. Not everyone will remember to bring sunscreen or bug repellent and this can make a big difference in enjoying an outdoor gathering.
- Insect repellant
Family Reunion Survival Kit-Now and Later – Laffy Taffy or nuts – ” Families are like fudge…mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
Perfect for: Family Reunions, Family Reunion Gifts, Party Favors, Family Picnic Gifts, and MORE! Classic Candies-Unforgettable Sayings! Everyone Loves Getting a Candy Survival Kit!
A story time is a great part of any family reunion – it’s amazing how members of the family remember the same stories, but in different versions.Family storytelling becomes a tradition; it keeps family history and memories alive.
You can begin with the family elders – offer them topics like: childhood.
Who was their best friend.
The depression of the 1930’s.
World War II, Korea or Vietnam, etc.
How did they spend the holidays.
Favorite subject in school.
Favorite teacher and why.
What did they want to be when they grew up – did it come true or not.
My favorite – what stories can be told about family members, past and present.
These stories can be recorded and transcribed into a Family Remembrance Book.
Everyone loves to take home something to remember an event by. This goodie bag is just that, a wonderful bag full of ‘memories’. These are just a few ideas to get you started.
Everyone in attendance will love you for this:
A few old herbal remedies.
instructions for something for pioneer days or early days; lye soap, candles, scented rose water, etc.
A few Collected recipes from ancestors.
An inexpensive framed copy of an ancestor,, g grandparents, can be scanned and printed off on computer and then framed in clear plastic hard frames.
Items collected from the towns chamber of commerce as a memento.
Packaged seeds of flowers that grew around the family home place, or bulbs.
A copy of confederate money if an ancestor served in the civil war.
A poem that was written by an ancestor… I have one that was written by my grandmother when her grandchild died back in the early 1930’s. can be typed in computer and then printed off with nice font.
What you learned at the reunion Quiz. Make up a simple short quiz of questions about ancestor data…give multiple choice answers.
A family roster of names, addresses and telephone numbers.
A short newsletter made up as a ‘news article’ about the reunion to put in their memory books or journal. Done like the old days when they wrote up family reunions in small town newspapers.
Tells who attended, what was served at dinner or lunch, games played, program , any info that was accumulated before the reunion…births, deaths, marriages, anniversaries, etc.
Inexpensive souvenir of the area…. in Georgia a pack of peanuts,,, in Washington state an apple,,,, in Florida a small tied string bag of sand or sea shell, etc.
Copy of an old letter found of relative… I have been given some old letters written by my grandmother from 1871…. I also have some civil war letters by great grandparents in 1862,,, people would adore having copies and reading them.
Balloons, gum, life savers, post it notes…little things useful and every time they use them…. guess what they will think about…. reunions.
T- shirts with a family logo put on it….if you have a big budget to work with.
Buttons made up with family logo or an ancestor photo inside.
Pencils made from tree branches…bought in craft stores,, rustic looking.
A little pin cushion for the ladies made out of an ancestors old torn up quilt, or article of clothing, etc.
A postage stamp in plastic holder: this was the neatest thing I got one year,, there was a stamp one.
Year of the prairie state that my grandparents homesteaded and it had a sod house on it…It could be a ‘canceled’ stamp or a new stamp.
If anyone in the group has a special talent of some sort, have them provide something for the bag,,,,,, a calligraphy favorite quote of an ancestor or poem.
A GAG GIFT IS ALWAYS FUN TOO!
A Cousin Is a Little Bit Of Childhood That Can Never Be Lost. Enjoy Your Family.
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