Super-Fun Ideas for Family Reunions
Capture relatives all together to celebrate the occasion. Plan ahead and hire a photographer to capture everyone in the shots—a company like Flytographer can help you handle all the logistics from finding a photographer where your reunion is to directing all the shots. The photographer provides you with digital files, but before the clan shows up, paint a few inexpensive picture frames. During the event, place a sticker with a family's name on a frame so they have a designated keepsake and can frame the photos once they get them printed. [Use the code Parents25 for $25 off your shoot, Flytographer.com]
To make the event even more special, host it somewhere with fun attractions you can experience together—like Colonial Williamsburg, an easy weekend destination for East Coast families. There are archaeological digs, tours of American Revolution landmarks, and interactive theater experiences geared toward the younger set, while adults can find relaxation at five resorts (home to golf courses and spas).
Time Line of Family History
When did Aunt Kay come to America? How old is Cousin Sam? With this tabletop activity, you can collect answers to all those "when" questions. Tape a piece of butcher paper to a table and draw a long line that starts with a significant date (Granny's birthday, say) and ends with the current year. Segment the decades with colorful washi tape. Encourage everybody to write or sketch in all the milestones—birthdays, weddings, graduations—as well as other memorable events from those decades.
Day-in-the-Life Slide Show
Yes, someone might have to talk Grandpa through the concept of a selfie, but it's worth it for this cool montage. A month before the gathering, ask each family to take pictures of themselves going about their routines: waiting at the bus stop, practicing lacrosse, gardening, resting on the couch after dinner. Text or e-mail them to a tech-savvy family member who knows how to turn them into an excellent slide deck that you can project at the reunion.
Here's an easy way to feed a crowd that lets folks show off their culinary creativity. Have all the standard condiments at the ready but also invite each family to bring some favorite fixings: for their state's specialty, perhaps, or a combo they have made up and named. Set out card stock signs listing suggested ingredients. You can find our list of regional hot dog toppings below.
Have a Banner Day
Celebrate achievements—and inject a little healthy competition into the gathering—with a display of pennants earned during the event. Hang lengths of yarn on a wall or between trees and stock a "victory station" with pens, paper, miniature clothespins, and card stock pennants (assign each branch of the family a color or pattern). Then invite each family to decorate and pin up pennants to honor their various triumphs and cooperative moments: "Dominated at volleyball"; "Washed the breakfast dishes"; "Participated unironically in the family talent show."
Name That Relative
Who are you again? Genealogical badges make everybody's connections relatively clear. Before the reunion, string card stock rectangles on lengths of yarn and set out labels and pens. As guests arrive, they can craft personalized name tags that show the branches of the family tree.
When family members come together, that's a perfect time for trading an array of treasures. Consider these ideas.
Souvenirs: Peanut fridge magnets from Georgia, Idaho fishing lures, I HEART NY buttons...contribute some fun regional representations of your home state, and have others bring more, to exchange.
Photos: Ask guests to share extra prints, good-quality photocopies, and even collections of old family snapshots on a flash drive. Everyone will want that one of 5-year-old Grandma riding the roller coaster at the World's Fair!
Gently Used Items: Inventive upcycling turns trash into idolized-older-cousin treasure. Families can donate their kids' best outgrown clothes, books, and toys to The Great Hand-me-down Switcheroo.
A skating elephant isn't the only way to break the ice! The quirky categories of this get-to-know-you game will prompt conversation and plain old silly fun. To play, print out our bingo cards below and give one to each family member. Players circulate, searching out kin who can answer yes to a description ("Likes Lima Beans," for example), and having them sign the squares. Play continues until everyone gets a bingo (or is sick of hearing about the time Uncle Sal skinny-dipped in Schenectady).
Amazing Reunion: Create a free union website, manage the guest list, collect reunion fees, and purchase accessories like T-shirts all from one app. Free (in-app purchases); iOS
MyEvent.com: Choose from a variety of templates to build a free reunion website. Send invitations, track responses, and accept online payments or donations.
MobileFamilyTree 8: Gather everyone's info in this app, and it will generate a family tree, a historical time line, and a set of fascinating statistics to share via e-mail or social media. $18.99, iOS
UBeesize Phone Tripod and Wireless Remote: Take flawless group portraits with this smartphone stand. Its bendable "octopus style" legs make it easy to grip to railings and chairs for angle options, and the wireless shutter control works from up to 30 feet away (no timer needed!). $14; Amazon