I love and loath family reunions. I love the idea of gathering the generations and preserving memories and relationships. I love looking for the family resemblance (not only in physical appearance, but in passions and talents and personalities). What I loathe is not knowing who everyone is. Most people, I’ve learned, actually do more of the loathing when it comes to a family reunion – particularly the younger generations or those who have married into the family. So below are several fun ideas to help your family connect better at your family reunion! And don’t worry, introverts – I’ve got ideas in mind for you, too!
1. Entertaining Updates
When we worked overseas, we would gather once a year with workers from other countries nearby for a retreat. This was the only time we had to get updates and really find out what was happening in their corner of the world. One year we landed on the idea of having a contest for the most entertaining update. Why not do this with your extended family? Favorites of the past have included late night show parodies, popular song remakes, and game show spoofs. Establish a secret panel of judges and publicize a prize (like an ice cream gift certificate for the whole family) and the following guidelines:
- Within the time limit: 10 minutes
- Effective at introducing the members of your family (so we can get to know each other better)
- Entertainment value
- Informative for prayer
- Bonus points for utilizing every family member in your update
2. Color Coded Conversations
This is good for the introverts among us. There is a table of ribbons to attach to your clothes. Each ribbon means something different (grandparent, descendant of ______, married into the family, retired, working, entrepreneur, willing to talk about politics, I have a good story about our family to share… the possibilities are endless). I would recommend no more than five colors. It’s also a good idea to have business card sized reminder to take with you that decode the colors as you’re talking. It gives people a good way to start a conversation!
3. Scavenger Hunt
This is best if you mix immediate families up to form different teams and let them at it! The focus of the group isn’t to get to know each other better, but you’ll have a goal to work toward together (and a shared experience is a great way to start a conversation later, if you want). Better yet, make it a photo scavenger hunt where it takes teamwork to create the photos on the list (famous movie scene, Biblical story, something that looks really dangerous, placing the last piece of a 50-piece puzzle…). Reviewing everyone’s work will be sure to bring lots of laughter! (idea from past reunions)
4. Family History Timeline
Mapping out your family history can be a fun activity, as well as a great way to make family history more visible and meaningful for the everyone, even the littles! 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 (personal or historical). (Originally published in the June/July 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.)
5. Family Trivia
Send a questionnaire to all family members before the reunion so you can collect information (Survey Monkey or Google Forms is a great way to collect and store the data). This will help you compile the list of trivia questions to ask during the reunion. During the gathering, split the group into several teams—the size and amount of teams will depend on how large your family is. You can do this Jeopardy-style or take turns asking each team questions like in traditional trivial pursuit.
You can create categories such as:
- Love and Marriage
- Work Life
- Art and History
- Middle Names
- Detention (what different people have gotten in trouble for over the years—stick to minor, funny offenses)
And here are some sample trivia questions: Grandma came to the U.S. in what year? Uncle Jack played soccer for which Division I college team? Someone in this group has always wanted to be an astronaut. Who is it? (idea from Gathered Again)
6. Family Photo Shoot
Of course I’m going to mention this! Be sure to get more than just the group shot, though. Do groups by generations, first cousins, individual families, the oldest family members, the youngest family members, the oldest family member with the youngest family member. Send the photos to someone who is willing and able to tag everyone and share (hint: keep a notebook and a pen nearby to take notes while the groups are being organized).
7. Award Night
Have a fun awards night and give out the ultimate family awards… You can even make your own awards with some hot glue, plastic cups and paint! Hand out a Lifetime Achievement Award: Choose one family member to honor, soliciting testimonials from friends, coworkers, and family members in advance. Read them aloud and present the hard copies to the honoree. (idea from The Dating Divas)
8. 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. (Originally published in the June/July 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.)
9. Create a Family Crest/Slogan
Some families have a family crest and know what it looks like and the values and principles it was created to represent. More often than not, I suspect, families don’t have any idea if their family has a crest or not. So why not create one? Spread out some butcher paper and crayons or colored pencils on a table. Spend some time in a group discussion to agree on the values and principles that are important to your family. What do you want your family to be know for? Then brainstorm what symbols or images would be a good metaphor for those values. Have your visual learners sketch out some ideas. Find a family member with an artistic bent who can work with all your ideas to narrow it down to your family crest (idea from The Dating Divas). Do you have a way with words? Adapt this idea and create a family slogan. Bonus: you can put it on next year’s reunion t-shirt! (idea from Gathered Again).
10. Interview Grandparents
Grandparents hold so much wisdom and understanding! They have so many fun stories that the family might not know or remember. Hold and record a special family interview so that you can have those memories for years to come (idea from The Dating Divas)! Premiere the interviews at the end of the reunion, or in a private Facebook group for everyone to participate in later. Here are some questions that I thought of that you could ask:
- What was your favorite holiday to spend with family and why?
- Can you tell us about a typical school experience?
- What national crisis did you live through and how did it affect you and your family?
- What did your courtship look like with Grandpa/Grandma?
- Did you ever get in really big trouble? What did you do?
- What important lessons did you learn from your parents?
- What do you want us to know about your childhood?
- What do you remember about your children when they were ____ years old? (according to the age of their grandchildren)
- Have you ever lived through a war? What was that like?
- What modern invention are you most grateful for today that you wished you had growing up?
11. Family Reunion Jokes
Every planned family reunion needs to include conversation building skills – or someone telling jokes! See who picks the best jokes. Share a few of these funny ones to get the jokes going!! (idea from Gathered Again)
12. Centerpiece Conversation Starters
Um… Hi… Who are you related to? Sometimes those family bonding conversations need a little kickstart! Here is one super fun way to get the conversation – and laugher – rolling at your next family reunion! (idea and free printable questions at The Dating Divas) Questions include:
- If a genie appeared and gave your three wishes, what would you wish for?
- What is your favorite family tradition?
- How did you help someone this week?
- If you could be someone famous for a week, who would it be?
- What would you do with $1,000?
- If you could choose only one thing to eat for an entire year, what would it be?
13. Who’s Who of your relatives
Ready to cut and paste? Do a little digging ahead of time to acquire 24 recent photos of the people attending your reunion and make your own Guess Who? game. After just one round, you’ll be able to look around and greet people by name! Pinterest is full of ideas and links for templates to slip into your existing Guess Who? game boards or how to create your own. Search “DIY Guess Who game”. You can get as fancy (create your own hinged wooden board) or as simple (flaps cut out of posterboard) as you want. Just remember two things:
- Make two game boards with the same pictures, but with the pictures in different order.
- Put the names on top of the photos.
I’ve got a Pinterest board all set up for planning a fun family reunion – complete with planning guides (for the long-term planner OR the procrastinating planner), meal ideas, activity ideas, and more! Find it at Fun Family Reunions.
- Posted by hellobabs
- On June 21, 2018
- 0 Comment