Rainy Family Reunion?

Three Day Family Reunion
Two days of severe thunderstorms-
Are you kidding me!!!!

camp 030

Be Prepared for Bad Weather

The Stewart family has held their family reunion on Labor Day weekend for almost 30 years and in all those years we have only had rain three times- we’re either “lucky” or “blessed”.  When I do family reunion presentations I talk about the “Three Keys to a Successful Family Reunion” but after our last reunion I think I will add a fourth key- be prepared for bad weather!

The challenge was not keeping dry in our tents but keeping dry as we did our many fun activities and how to keep 80 people out of the rain while doing them. 

I would always prefer to have our family reunion in sunny weather but every outdoor reunion or party should have an alternative plan, in case the weather becomes uncooperative. It isn’t always reasonable to cancel the reunion or reschedule, instead you need to have a “plan B”.

Surviving a Family Reunion in Bad Weather

Plan Ahead

When I checked the weather forecast the day before we left for our campsite I realized that we could have some rainy weather so sent off a quick email to family members asking them to bring tarps and ropes and to prepare for stormy weather.  Our guys are so resourceful they were able to cover all of the tables and cooking area.  I learned that no matter what the forecast pack a large tarp and rope when packing for our reunion.

camp 200

Alternate Activities

Luckily we had planned some activities that we could do under the tarps as it rained and we adjusted our schedule to fit whatever the rain was doing. We played BINGO during one downpour which provided good entertainment for everyone. From now on I will always include BINGO supplies when packing for our reunion- just in case.

We planned the Not So Newlywed game as one of our activities and played the first half of the game in the sunshine and for the last half moved in under the tarps when the rain began to fall.

BUNKO is a great group game that mixes everyone up and gets them working together. It takes very few supplies (dice, pencils and score sheets) and can easily be a permanent addition to your reunion supplies.

You can also throw in a few board games, puzzles and a deck of cards.

camp 192

Reserve an Alternate Indoor Location

I wish I had thought of this before our reunion.  About 2 miles from our reunion campsite was a church.  We could have reserved it for a nominal fee and then when it started raining it would have been a great place to play some fun group games and perhaps eat a meal.

If you’re close to a town, take everyone bowling, to an indoor pool or a movie. Hopefully, a few hours later, the weather will be more cooperative. If not, stop at a restaurant or fast food place for an ice cream treat or a full meal.

camp pt2 063

Our reunion theme this year was “Cruisin’” and it appeared the “captain” of our ship was not very experienced as he kept steering our cruise ship into major tropical storms.  However, his “passengers” were amazingly positive in spite of the weather.  A couple of times I thought about suggesting we “dock the ship” and go home but with everyone working together and helping each other it turned out to be one of our best family reunions ever.  Oh, and we did get ONE day without rain.

You can read more about planning for stormy weather at Planning for Stormy Weather.  And remember-

Family Reunion in an Afternoon

wells party 041

You want to have a family reunion but…

You don’t have a 3 day weekend for your family reunion.

You don’t think you can stand listening to Uncle George’s lame jokes  for an entire weekend.

You can’t stand the thought of feeding all those hungry people.

Planning all those games and activities is just too overwhelming.

In my family reunion presentations I tell people that ANYTIME you get together with your family can be a family reunion.  There are no rules that say you have to spend a certain amount of time with your extended family to make it an “official” reunion.

A typical family reunion will assemble grandparents, aunts and uncles and tons of kids that share the same surname for a meal, some games and activities and maybe even some genealogy discussion and if all you have is a Saturday afternoon in the park then start planning!

Air show 116

Let’s look at a possible schedule for a possible family reunion in an afternoon.

Things to do in advance

Be sure to reserve your location if holding your reunion at a park or hall.  Ask family members to bring a sack lunch for the noon meal and make food assignments or ask everyone to bring a potluck dish for the evening meal.

Send out invitations

Include food assignments and items such as swim suits or softball equipment.  If you are planning to go swimming, golfing, bowling etc. include how much these activities will cost.

Choose a theme.  A family reunion doesn’t have to have a theme to be successful but creating a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend. A reunion invitation that invites you to a “Prehistoric” reunion for Brontosaurs burgers is more interesting than an invitation that invites you  to a family reunion at “the park”. It also makes things more fun when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion. 

10:30 Registration

Set up a registration table for attendees to receive a name tag and schedule of activities.  This is a great time to get family member’s phone numbers, email and home addresses.  Provide an activity  that family members can participate in while waiting for everyone to arrive.  Try a huge game of badminton or volleyball for the teenagers, sugar cookie decorating or a coloring page for the youngsters and printable Older Than Dirt Game for the older generation.

11:00  Ice Breaker getting to know you games.

  My favorite ice breaker game is DO YOU LOVE YOUR RELATIVE?

The group sits in a circle with room in the center.  The person that is “IT” does not have a chair and stands in the center of the circle. “IT” walks up to one of the people in the circle, points to someone and asks, “_________, do you love your relative?” The individual pointed to can say one of two things:

“Yes I love my relatives (everyone sitting in the circle must move to a new chair)

“No, I don’t love my relatives but I love everyone _____________________.” Fill in the blank with things like- everyone that is wearing green, everyone that likes chocolate, everyone that has a dog or everyone that wears glasses. (Only the people that meet the requirements move to a different chair.)

In both situations, the person that asks the question runs to sit on a chair. The person left standing, without a chair to sit on, is the new “IT”.

Family Reunion Helper has lots of fun Ice Breaker Games.  You will need to plan on playing two to three games.

12:00  Sack lunches and family photo

After lunch you will want to take a picture of your family.  It doesn’t need to be professional, just a record of who attended the reunion.

DSC_2413

1:00  Extra Curricular Activity

Arrange in advance for your family to go swimming, bowling, roller skating, hiking or a road rally scavenger hunt. Some families like to split up during this time so people can participate in several activities- some may go golfing while others shop or make a craft. This will be your major activity.  For some activities such as boating or visiting an amusement park you may need to schedule more time.

Family Reunion Pictures 312

3:00 Theme Activities Craft or Fund Raiser

If you have chosen a theme for your reunion now is the time to do some of those activities.  This is also the time to do any fund raising such as an auction or raffle.

4:30 Genealogy Spotlight and Business Meeting

Ask someone that is a good story teller to share an interesting story from your family history.  It is very important that this presentation appeal to all family members and includes pictures and props.  You may also want to take a few minutes to discuss any family business such as when and where to hold you next reunion.

5:00 Dinner

You may do a potluck dinner, a meal that reflects your reunion theme (dinosaur theme- Brontosaurus Burgers, western theme- chuck wagon beans etc.) Other simple meal ideas are a baked potato or taco bar, grilled burgers or have your favorite pizza place deliver a variety of pizzas.  Do not serve dessert at this time.

Cute hors3e [pictures PC condo 397

6:00 Talent Show Free Time

This is the time to let family members share their talents.  Play Let’s Make A Deal to keep everyone interested between acts.

7:00  Wrap it Up

Serve dessert and thank everyone for attending your reunion.  You will be tired and ready to clean up and go home but some family members will want to hang around and visit.  Put them to work helping you clean up. 

The  Branson Family Reunion web site list five reasons to have a family reunion.  One reason it lists is “Tradition”. “Tradition should be a big part of your family.  Taking the time to come together and teach (in a fun way) the tradition of your family will keep it alive and strong.”  Although planning a reunion can be a lot of work bringing your family together, if only for an afternoon, can be a rewarding way to keep traditions alive.

 

Aunt MO

Family Reunion Theme Ideas

A family reunion doesn’t have to have a theme to be successful but creating a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend. A reunion invitation that invites you to a “Prehistoric” reunion for Brontosaurs burgers is more interesting than an invitation that invites you  to a family reunion at “the park”. It also makes things more fun when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion. 

In addition, a good themed reunion will help to break the ice, especially for those family members who have not met before or who do not know each other really well.

Ask family members for their theme ideas.  Our best family reunion themes have come from Aunt Lynn and her family.  When they suggested a “Caveman” theme I was kind of worried about what we would do but our reunion planning committee brainstormed and incorporated dinosaur and prehistoric ideas for a super fun reunion. 

clip_image002[1]

The location that you choose to have your reunion might influence the theme you choose for your reunion. A campground with lots of trees and foliage makes for a great “jungle” theme and a lake or swimming pool is a wonderful “beach” reunion theme. 

If you will be spending a day at an  amusement park you might what to choose your reunion theme around one or the popular rides.  Plan your reunion around a “color”, a decade such as the Roaring twenties, 50′s Sock Hop, 70′s Disco, 80′s New wave, 90′s Grunge, or even “The Future” theme.

The size of your family may also influence your  reunion theme.  For an “All-sport” reunion you may need a lot of people for softball, Human Foosball and football games. 

Don’t be afraid to repeat  a family reunion theme that was successful in the past. All you have to do is update the old ideas and refine the details.  Our western reunion is so popular we’ve done it several times and it just keeps getting better and better.

Below are just a few family reunion themes that you may want to consider for your next family event.

All- Sport or Olympic Themed Reunion      

Get away from a boring sit around and just visit family reunion and jump into some action packed fun with an All-sport or Olympic themed family reunion.

clip_image002[4]

Activities- Soccer, volleyball, “whiffle” ball, Whacky miniature golf. Hold a cheerleader camp for the girls in your family and a sports camp for the boys. Go bowling or hold a family 5K. Give a family reunion MVP award.  For fun variations of these favorite sports- whiffle ball, soccer, bowling, swimming and volleyball plus lots of great ideas for your sports themed reunion check out www.familyreunionhelper.com.

Food- Smoothies, “Breakfast of Champions” or “Long Jump” lunch hoagies.

Wear- favorite team jerseys and t-shirt. Make a family t-shirt fashioned after a sports jersey.

Decorations: Pom, poms, pennants, sports balls, sports posters.

Family History or Family Heritage Reunion

If your family reunion is held near where the family originated, then schedule a trip to the old family homestead, church or cemetery. You can use this as an opportunity to share family memories, or go a step further and recruit the clan to clean up the ancestral cemetery plots or research the family in old church records. Hold your reunion at the family home if available or in the town where one of your ancestors were born, raised, married or buried. You can find more Family History ideas for your family reunion at www.familyreunionhelper.com.

clip_image002[6]

Food – Use an ancestor’s home country as theme for your meals. Use recipes from that county and set tables with a centerpiece of memorabilia and a picture of your ancestor. If your people come from Italy, serve a spaghetti dinner, from Mexico, serve tacos, enchiladas or tamales.

Activities – Play “classic” games at your reunion such as “3-legged race, gunny sack race, Annie I Over. Create a huge wall chart of your family so everyone can see how they are related. Take “old-time” photos and have everyone dress up. Make a family “time capsule”.

Dress – In the ethnic costume of your ancestors.

Decorations – Display historical memorabilia from your family and ancestors.

Hawaiian Luau

Grandma will love passing out multi-colored leis (along with a kiss on the cheek) as people arrive at this family reunion.

clip_image002[8]

Food – Pig roast, anything pineapple

Activities – Tinikling- Tinikling means "bamboo dance" in English. Hula hoops, bubbles and Frisbees, volleyball, swimming, Limbo and of course, hula dancing. Make Hawaiian leis from paper flowers and don’t forget to spend some time in the pool at your Hawaiian reunion.

Dress – Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts and grass skirts.

Decorations – Hawaiian travel posters, flowers, straw skirt table.

Sun, Sand and Surf Reunion Theme

It’s summertime and the perfect time for a Sun, Sand & Surf family reunion. Merge your beach reunion ideas with your Hawaiian reunion ideas for double the fun.

clip_image002[10]

Invitations: Consider sending “Message in a Bottle” invitations to encourage family members to attend your family reunion or write out your reunion invitation on a beach ball with a permanent marker.

Activities: Sand candles and castles, sand art, volleyball variations and swimming pool games. Aquatic Obstacle Course: Use sprinklers, Slip-N-Slides, baby pools, limbo sticks and hula hoops to create an obstacle course for wet and wild reunion fun!

Food: Sub sandwiches, fruit trays, shish kabobs, fruit kabobs, gold fish crackers.

Decorations are easy for a beach themed family reunion. Use beach umbrellas, Beach towels, Beach balls, Paper party lanterns, Paper Palm trees and party lights on a string. Don’t forget to use pink flamingos in your decorating and be sure to include music from the Beach Boys to round out your reunion theme.

Wedding Anniversary or Significant Birthday Reunion Theme
Planning a family reunion around an important wedding anniversary or milestone birthday makes for an easy but important family reunion.

clip_image001

Invitation – Put two photos of the honored couple on the invitation: their original wedding photo and a current photo.

Food – Finger foods and a “wedding” cake.

Activities- “When You Were My Age” A Celebration of Life’s Memorable Moments. This is such a fun program, fashioned after a Bill Cosby Show episode and was called, "When Mom Was my Age." We have done variations of the program for 70th and 80th birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries. Each time we do "When You Were My Age" everyone is a good sport and excited to be a part of the celebration. Everyone has a part on the program and an opportunity to highlight world events and significant family happenings throughout the life of your loved one. Download the “When You Were My Age” from Family Reunion Helper or write a "This Is Your Life" program for your reunion celebration.

Decorations – Photos and other various memorabilia of the couple’s life together.

Three Ring Circus and Carnival

Begin your reunion with a circus parade and invite everyone to dress in fun costumes and march around your reunion site.

clip_image002

Food –Circus food- corn dogs, cotton candy and popcorn

Activities – As your family arrives, have then guess how many circus animal cookies are in a jar. The person who guesses closest to the actual number wins the jar full of circus animal cookies. Have a carnival. Assign 6- 10 family members a carnival booth. Children earn prizes at each booth. Face painting, fishing booth, fortune teller, Plinko, Dart Throw etc. Consider renting a bounce house for the little ones in your family. For more ideas check out the family reunion “circus” theme at www.familyreunionhelpercom/

Decorations – Balloons, tents and circus animal cutouts.

Whatever your family reunion theme you can count on Family Reunion Helper for step by step, proven family reunion help that really works, not just "ideas", but actual planning advice, schedules, activities, games, recipes and templates to make your next reunion memorable.

Ten Ideas for Your Family Reunion- part 2

Family Reunion Idea #6- Right/Left Gameimage

A Right/Left game is an activity everyone at your family reunion can participate in. We always ask each family member to bring a “white elephant” gift (wrapped or unwrapped) to the family reunion or party.  I always bring a few extra gifts in case someone forgets. 

How to Play: Form a circle, each time you hear the word right, pass the candy, prize, grab to the person on your right. When you hear the word left, pass to the person on your left. When you finish this story everyone opens the gift they are LEFT with. HINT: Be sure and read with lots of expression and pauses- the children in your family will have fun anticipating RIGHT or LEFT. Writing a Right/Left story is pretty easy but you can find a fun family reunion Right/Left story here.

Family Reunion Idea #7- Bloomers Game!!

clip_image002

I have to include this game for your family reunion in this list because it makes me laugh.  This is a very scary game for boys ages 10- 14. (There is nothing scarier to a boy of this age than women’s underwear) This game is  good game for any family reunion but is especially fitting for a family “heritage” reunion theme.

Everyone should sit in a circle. Ask if they know what old fashioned bloomers are. Explain that in the olden days they used to call women’s underwear “bloomers”.

Hold up a box that is neatly wrapped. (In advance, you should have wrapped the box in at least ten different layers of wrapping paper.) Tell your family that inside the box are a pair of bloomers.

Everyone will pass the box around the circle while music is being played. When the music stops the person holding the box must open the box and model the bloomers for everyone to see.

clip_image004

Be careful how you word your instructions because inside the box is not a pair of old fashion women’s bloomers but a pair (two) bloomers from the garden. The look of relief on the person’s face when he finds out it’s just “flowers” he is modeling and not “underwear” is a joy to see.

Family Reunion Idea #8- Tell a Scary Story

If you will be camping or sleeping over at your family reunion plan a few scary stories to share.  I have found it best to assign out scary stories in advance of your reunion so that scary story tellers can be well prepared.  There are lots of scary story resources on the web- just give your story tellers advance notice so that they can do the research and find the best ones.

I have a favorite scary story that Uncle Steven has shared at many family reunions, girls camps and scout camps.  Family members that have heard the story at previous family reunions are always excited for him to share the story with reunion “newbies”.

I didn’t write the story but like all the best scary stories it has been passed down through generations of story tellers.   The story is called “White Eyes” and  requires some advance preparation. 

Besides practicing the telling of this tale you will need to take a ping-pong ball and cut it in half. Color a small dark dot on each half with a permanent marker. These will be your "white eyes". Keep them concealed in a closed hand. When the time is right, pop them on over each eye.

You can find a free copy of the story here.

I’ve heard a lot of scary stories when I’ve been camping but this is the only story that made me scream- I hope you scream too.

Family Reunion Idea #9- “Are You Older Than Dirt?” Game

image

It’s important to provide a wide variety of games and activities at your family reunion.  You will want to have lots or physical games but will also want to consider “Pencil and Paper” games that are not able to participate in the more active games.  One of my favorite “Pencil and Paper” games is the “Older Than Dirt” game.  In this game participants answer  twenty questions about life styles throughout the years.  For example, question number one says-

1. In the 1940′s, where were automobile headlight high beam switches located?

a. On the floor shift knob

b. On the floor board, to the left of the clutch

c. Next to the horn

You can find the entire free test, “When You Were My Age” at

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2010/06/older-than-dirt-game-for-your-family-reunion/

Family Reunion Idea #10-Pipe Chimes

pipe chimes 2 001

Make a set or two of musical pipe chimes.  Making music with pipe chimes is an easy and inexpensive way to have fun with your family. My Mom saw pipe chimes more than thirty years ago and our family has been making music with conduit pipes ever since.

Pipe chimes are easy to make and don’t require the use of expensive tools. Cut pipes to exact measurements and create your own set of musical pipe chimes. It’s so easy you might want to make two sets for use at your larger family reunions.

As long as you can read numbers, you can play pipe chimes. They are numbered 0 to 20; they also each have their note name on them, so you can play a song that you know the melody to.

You can find easy to follow instructions and thirteen fun chimes songs here.

Do I Have to Invite Everyone To My Family Reunion?

I received a question from someone planning a family reunion in August this year. This reunion planner expressed some concern over who they should invite to their reunion. There was one family in particular that she didn’t feel comfortable inviting to the reunion for various reasons.

imageIf this is your first family reunion then deciding who to invite to the reunion is one of the first questions you have to ask when planning your reunion. There are all types of reunions. You can plan reunion with just your brothers and sisters and their families for a reunion on a smaller scale. Every generation you go back makes your reunion bigger and the more people and food you need to plan for.

If you are concerned about including a family in your reunion you may want to stop short of inviting families from that generation. There are plenty of reunions or “parties” you could have that won’t include that family. For instance have a “Cousins” party or a “descendants of _____” reunion. If you are inviting the descendants of _____ and they are part of that group it is difficult to not include them, but you can invite anyone you want to a party.

image Edith Wagner of Reunions Magazine puts it this way, “A family reunion is not a wedding where you pick and choose who to invite. A family reunion should include everyone or at least you should invite everyone. Occasionally there may be family members you’d rather not encounter. On the other hand, not everyone wants to come, either, which is how it often works out.”

A good rule of thumb when deciding who to invite to your family reunion is to start with your closest relatives and work out. Begin with “Mom and Dad”- not much of a family reunion, then invite brothers and sisters and their families. Ask yourself if you have access to a reunion site that will accommodate this number of people and if you do then start adding branches from your family tree- grandparents, great grandparents etc.

Keep in mind that the further back you go the greater the numbers and keep in mind that families tend to multiply. We began with about 20 people at our first family reunion and now we’re pushing 100.

Hint: Large reunions need to be announced very far in advance to give everyone enough time to plan around it and save up. All family reunions require a significant amount of planning but larger reunions require many more hours of planning and lots of help from reunion committees.

So basically the question we should be asking is “What KIND of a reunion do I want to have?”  Those are the people you should invite.

Thanks, Linda, for a great reunion planning question.

Aunt MO