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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.