Family reunions can be a little nerve-wracking.You haven’t seen Aunt Joan in… forever, and your new cousins, who live on the other side of the country, are a bit shy. Whether you’re planning the event or simply attending one, it will no doubt conjure up a mixture of excitement and worry. In order to make the most of the gathering, you’ll definitely want a few of these unique ideas that will make the occasion memorable for all who attend.
Part of the trouble with a family reunion is that at least a few of the attendees will be complete strangers to one another. So once the introductions are out of the way, how do you keep the conversation going? Here are 10 different ideas to help break the ice, keep everyone engaged, well-fed, and having fun!
1. Play family reunion bingo! This is a simple game meant to get your family members mingling. You can print your own bingo cards but instead of numbers and letters, make it more like a scavenger hunt. In each square, write something like, “Has a dog,” or “Likes to watch football.” Make sure that you also include a blank in each square so that family members can write down the names of the people who match what you’ve written in each square. Then, your family members can circulate and get to talking while they find relatives to fill out their bingo cards.
2. Make up a simple trivia game. The rules can vary, but the point is to gather everyone around and ask them simple trivia questions about things like the oldest family member in attendance, the youngest, how many generations are present and so forth. Tally points for each question answered so that you can award prizes to the relatives with the most points at the end.
3. Guess Who? Before the reunion, ask everyone who RSVPs to bring along copies of their baby pictures. Then, at the reunion, you can gather around for a fun guessing game of Who is This Baby? As with trivia, award prizes to the people who identify the most pictures correctly.
4. Call for a family recipe potluck. Each family that attends your reunion will probably have favorite recipes of their own, maybe even recipes passed down through generations. Ask family members to bring a time-honored food, if they can, and perhaps the recipe to share with everyone.
5. Make a bar — but not the kind with drinks! Salad bars are simple to prepare and delicious, or you could choose a different type of bar, like a pasta bar, a baked potato bar, or taco bar.
6. Opt for finger foods. Ask family members to bring appetizers or make your own. Either way, finger foods are great because they make it easier for family members to move around and mingle as they eat.
7. Go thrift shopping for a few large picture frames. These are great props to have on hand when picture time rolls around. Make sure the empty frames are large enough that families can hold them up and “frame” themselves while you take their picture.
8. Create a photo wall. This is simply a backdrop for family members to take photos against. Decorate a wall with streamers, construction paper or some other fun and colorful material.
9. Go digital with family reunion thumb drives! Simply gather up all of the digital material you have for your family — photos, documents, family trees and anything else you’ve collected — and put these files on inexpensive thumb drives to give away as gifts.
10. Hold a “Show and Tell” session. Tell family members ahead of time, then, at the reunion, they can show off family artifacts they have, souvenirs they’ve collected or simply tell a story about a favorite family memory. You can let each family choose a spokesperson to show or tell, or you can simply ask the older members of your family to share things that the younger members may not know about. Make sure to take plenty of pictures and record the stories (or take notes) so that you can add this to your written family history for future newsletters, thumb drives or scrapbooks.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself! Don’t get so caught up in plans and details that you can’t appreciate this time with your family. Once the food is in served, and the ice breakers are in play, the rest will happen naturally. Let the memories begin!