One of the highlights of my family's summer: when we gather for a week with my siblings, their families, and my parents for a good old-fashioned reunion. We live about eight states apart, so it makes for pretty special cousin (and grown-up) time when all fourteen of us crowd into one big rental house on the beach or a lake to swim, play cards, make homemade ice cream, and generally try to fit in enough in-jokes and laughs to tide us over until we can see one another again. When extended family can join us, it's even better. Here are some ideas we plan to try this year, from FamilyFun's reunion fun guide.
Roll out some craft paper, then let everyone fill in a timeline of your family's history, from birthdays to weddings to more obscure dates, like when Grandma and Grandpa had a first date at an Elvis concert. You never know what fun details you'll pick up.
Print out these great bingo cards (or make your own), then play a little family reunion bingo. Got a family member who's been scuba diving? Check! Someone who's acted in a play? You're well on your way to bingo!
This one takes a little work, but I'm convinced it's going to be well worth the effort. About a month before your gathering, ask each family to take pictures as they go about their daily routines (and I'm sure everyone will through in some fun surprises, too). Send the pics to a volunteer who can then turn them into a day-in-the-life slide show you can all howl over at your reunion. You'll get insights into your family you'd never see any other way.
Got a competitive crew? Put out some paper pennants and let each kid or family decorate a victory banner every time they win (or participate in, if that's your family's style) a game or activity. You can also use the pennants to reward helpful behavior, like washing the dishes.
Swap stuff! A reunion is a great time to hand over the cousins' outgrown toys and clothes. And ask everyone to bring extra prints of family photos to share, plus good-quality copies of old snapshots. My parents recently discovered the only known photo of one of my great-grandfathers. We're all going to want copies, of course.
Got some great ideas for your own group gatherings? We'd love to hear them! Add them to the comments section below.
Mary Giles is the Deputy Editor of FamilyFun. Last year, about 35 family members attended her reunion.