July 9, 2014

Simple Tips to Make a Family Reunion More Fun

Summer is family reunion season. In fact, more than 65% of all family reunions take place during the warmer months. Whether you're planning a family reunion this year or just looking for ways to re-connect with your loved ones during the summer, here are some simple tips to make it more fun for everyone.

1) DIY Creative Family Tree Art

One of the biggest reasons some folks are hesitant to attend family reunions is that they feel like they won't know anybody or they won't know what to talk about. With families spread around the globe, it's not uncommon to have relatives you've never met.

A way to break the ice at your next family reunion is to create DIY Family Tree art. Not only does it allow everyone to get their creative juices flowing, but it also provides a way to start talking about who's who and how you each fit into the family tree.

All you need is some poster board or cardstock. Your family tree art can be large or small, simple or elaborate. If you're very artistic, you might want to draw portraits of each family member. Or maybe you can represent them with stickers (like my example above), photos, or just text.

Making a family tree is also a good way to teach kids about the members of their family and how everyone is connected. Even if you aren't headed to a reunion this summer, this project is something for your family to do together. Then, as new members of the family are born or marry into your clan, you can add them to the tree.

2) Genealogy Guessing Game 

Another way to break the ice and learn more about each other at a family reunion is with a genealogy guessing game. I found a simple template on Microsoft Publisher and printed it off at home, but you can also just use index cards. Put names and photos of members of your family on one side of each card and fun facts about them on the other.

You can use these in several different ways. First, you can play a game where you try to identify which family member is being described based on the facts, then flip the card over to check and see if you were right.

They can also function as flash cards prior to the reunion so you can get a better idea of who will be there and what you might want to talk to them about.

You could even make the cards with photos on one side before the reunion and then have everyone who is there write some fun facts about themselves on the back of their card. Possibilities are only limited by what you can think up!

3) Create a Totally Cool Family Time Capsule 

This is another idea that would be fun to try whether you are attending a family reunion or not. Creating a family time capsule is a great way to capture a slice of your family's life right now.

Think about what types of objects (or photos of them) you'd like to include. A family time capsule might be filled with things such as:
  • medals or awards recently won
  • favorite family recipes
  • graduation mementos
  • something from a favorite collection
  • lost teeth
  • small items with sentimental value
  • coins
  • a letter to your future self
  • souvenirs from a special vacation or trip 
  • post cards
  • beloved family photos 
  • flash drive with photo/video files
When you have all your time capsule items gathered up, you'll need some sort of container that can be sealed for at least a year, but maybe more. If your entire family is participating in the time capsule, limit each person to a couple of items. Then pack it away and don't open it back up until the next family reunion. 

Then, you'll have something to look forward to as well as something to talk about when you look back at how much everyone has changed since you sealed the time capsule.

4) Host a Family Photo Swap 

The thing about family photos is often there is only an original copy. To ensure that nobody has to fight over the awesome picture of great aunt Priscilla, I propose a photo swap.

For $10 or less, you can make black and white copies of lots of your beloved family photos at a local print shop. I took mine to Kinko's and did them this way, but you could even scan photos on a home scanner and print them off at a photo studio.

Gather up your photos and make some copies! Then you can divide up the prints so each person at the reunion (who wants one) can get a batch. Ask everyone to do this so you end up leaving with some great photos too.

If you just want digital copies, you could also have everyone scan the photos in and share them via an online file sharing service such as Dropbox.

Some of these ideas might be a little bit cheesy, but isn't that what family reunions are all about?

The bottom line is that a family reunion gives you a chance to reconnect with all the people who share your heritage. Some people go all out with themed family reunions, exotic beach getaways or mountain retreats. My family had a fun reunion years ago at Norris State Park. I don't think we did any activities, but we enjoyed ourselves all the same. Whether your reunion is uber fancy or oh so simple, I hope you enjoy connecting with the folks in your family!