May 16, 2016 by FHElessons
With summer right around the corner, you know what time it is, right? It’s time to plan your next family reunion! It is so fun to have a chance to gather as an extended family, and once you get together, you want to have something extra special and memorable to do. Worry not – I’ve got you covered! Here are ten things we have most enjoyed at our family gatherings over the years.
1. Play a Murder Mystery Game
One year we played THIS game at one of our family gatherings, and it was seriously so, so fun! Everyone got a role to play, and each person had information about himself or herself that he or she should share with others and information he or she was supposed to keep secret. You went around talking to the other players and trying to learn their secrets and then piece clues together to figure out who the murderer might be. We had a total blast!
One reason murder mystery games are great for family reunions is that the game requires you to talk to EVERYONE who is playing, so it really helps family members interact with one another. And it is just fun to do something new and different, which makes your time together even more memorable.
Choose a game, and you can either assign parts ahead of time and allow everyone to come in costume or just pass out parts at the spur of the moment and go for it. The nice thing about the game we chose was that it is written for a large group (anywhere from 23-150 people), and it was also flexible, so no matter how many people show up and want to play, this game will work. Another place you can find it is HERE.
For our last family reunion, my sister made everyone one of these fun marshmallow guns out of PVC pipe. She brought them plain white, and we could all use sharpies to decorate our guns if desired. Then, the war began! Insert a mini marshmallow into your gun and blow it at someone else! If someone aims their marshmallow at you, you better run! Play this game outside as it gets pretty messy with squashed marshmallows all over the place.
3. Make Matching T-shirts
A Family Reunion T-Shirt gives everyone a feeling of solidarity and also makes a nice memento of your time together. One year each family bought a different colored shirt and my sister made iron-on transfers with her die cut machine. This was especially nice for the family photo as everyone looked good together, and it also made each smaller family unit clearly visible.
Of course, you can also just have matching T-shirts made or bought ahead of time. But it is also fun to make the T-shirts as one of your activities at the reunion. We have done tie-dye shirts before:
And also “urban tie dye” shirts where you twist the shirts up and use spray paint on them instead of dipping them in dye. HERE is a quick tutorial on how to do it.
Alternatively, you can create a stencil and just use spray paint to put the same image on each shirt. This could relate to a theme you are doing for your reunion or a family symbol. Here are some shirts my husband made for a “firefly” themed campout one year. He did this with actual tie dye, but spraying it on with a stencil would be even easier.
4. Give Secret Gifts
Usually we draw names so that everyone at the reunion has a “secret buddy” to give little gifts to throughout the weekend. You can draw names ahead of time and pick up some trinkets at the dollar store as your gifts or even a really good gift that you know your secret buddy would love. Thinking about your secret buddy and what he or she might like helps to develop loving feelings and bring family members closer together.
One year we did something that was even more fun that secret buddies. My super creative sister made these adorable pockets for everyone in the family and hung them all up on the porch. Each pocket had a family member’s name on it, and you could give gifts (or write a love note) to anyone in the family that you wanted at any time. You never knew when you might check your pocket and find your favorite chocolate bar, a jar of yummy smelling lotion, some flowers picked on a hike, or a new book to read or game to play. Part of the fun was in sneaking gifts into the pockets for others and part of it was in discovering that some nice person had been thinking of you and left you something great.
5. Do a Group Art Project
An art project that can be left out for anyone to work on at any time makes for a perfect family reunion activity. As family members work together on the project they visit and spend time together in a casual way. There is no stress about having the project turn out perfectly – just fun times coloring together or quilting or whatever.
One easy thing to do is to cover a table with a large piece of butcher paper so that family members can draw on it whenever they want to.
Another time I created a “graffiti wall” by covering a wall with sheets of foam core board that I got from the dollar store. The foam core board created a hard surface that was easy to write on and easy to attach to the wall with tape.
But the main thing that we do every year at our family reunion is to make a quilt. My mom has found over the years that the easiest way to do this is to take a plain white sheet and fold it into the same number of squares as there are people at the reunion (or as close as she can get). It’s all right if there are a few extra squares. After folding it, iron the sheet so that when you unfold it, the squares are visible because of the pressed-in creases. Here is a quilt that is just starting to be designed. You can see the pressed-in creases that designate the squares.
Leave the quilt out on a table for the whole reunion so that people can design their square whenever they have time. Leave fabric markers out with the quilt, and people can color the square however they want. This project also allows family members to visit with one another as they work.
The best thing about the quilt is that it is a little piece of your family history in the making. Your family can keep this quilt forever, and every time you use it, you will look back at previous years and remember things. You might notice the child-like artwork of someone who is now grown, or a family member might have written his favorite saying or scripture of the time on his square. A past quilt might have the signature or artwork of your great grandmother who has now passed on. The quilts are truly heirlooms.
Our quilts are kept at our family cabin. But you could also take turns passing them around between families and sharing them. Just snuggling up under a family reunion quilt gives you the warm feeling of family togetherness and love.
Back the quilt with a flannel sheet and either tie it or machine quilt it. Keep it simple.
One last idea for a group project is simply to put together a jigsaw puzzle together. Leave it out on a table so people can work on it whenever they feel so inclined.
6. Create Some Family History
The quilt is one way to create family history – preserve certain qualities and remembrances of your extended family. Another way is with a “Facts About Family” book.
Create a book (can be a simple binder) with questions for everyone in the family to answer. Keep the book to look back at over the years and see how your thoughts and opinions have changed. Some questions you could include are:
- Who do you look up to as an example?
- What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in life so far?
- What is your best family memory?
Find a FREE PRINTABLE of the Facts About Family book we used, including all 50 questions and instructions, HERE.
7. Play Family Trivia
Besides creating some new family history, you might also want to reminisce on some past family history. A fun way to get this going is with a family trivia game. Have each family contribute 25 questions or so. They can write their questions on index cards, including the correct answer. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
Questions can be about anyone in the family, from children to great grandparents or even ancestors. Some questions might help you get to know each other better, such as, “What is Molly’s all time favorite thing to do?” And some questions might help you learn more about your ancestors, such as, “How did Grandma Melissa and Grandpa Sam meet?” or, “What is the name of our ancestor who came over on the Mayflower?”
To play the game, simply divide into teams, shuffle the cards, and have each team take turns reading questions to the other. Establish a time limit for answering questions or a certain number of guesses allowed. Alternatively, you could pick an M.C. and have him call out questions for both teams.
Add more cards every year at your reunion and soon you will have a large data base to draw from! Playing family trivia sparks lots of laughter and reminiscing.
8. Hugs for Missionaries
Got anyone who is unable to attend your reunion this year? Send them a hug! One year we had 2 members of our family gone on missions for our church, so we got a big roll of paper and everyone traced his or her hug onto it. On top of the hug silhouettes, each person wrote a little note for the missionary who wasn’t there. After the reunion, we mailed the rolls of hugs to our missionaries to let them know we loved and missed them.
9. Hunt for Treasure
A treasure hunt is a must-do tradition for our family reunions, going back at least 40 years or more. I remember loving the treasure hunt when I was a kid. The adults would make the clues pretty hard to figure out, so that each clue was really a mystery we kids had to solve together. In my opinion, an easy treasure hunt where kids just run from clue to clue is not much fun. But one where each clue takes a lot of thought and discussion to figure out makes the hunt a real challenge and the treasure that much more rewarding.
You can get an unfinished wooden chest pretty cheap at any craft store and keep it to use for your hunt every year. Each family can bring some items to donate to the treasure. Usually the treasure just includes ring pops and candy necklaces and chocolate coins with some small toys mixed in. But one year, after our grandmother had passed away, we put all her old jewelry into the treasure chest. After finding the treasure, the kids got to take turns picking out a piece of their great grandmother’s jewelry to keep!
We also like to make our clues look kind of “pirate-y” by writing them on brown paper and burning the edges.
Adults could certainly enjoy a treasure hunt as well. Maybe make one for the kids during the day and one for the adults later at night!
10. Amp Up Your Talent Show
I know many families have a talent show as a traditional part of their family reunion, as do we. But are you getting tired of the same old acts every year? Here are a couple of fun ideas that have been the winners at some of our family talent shows.
Saturday Night Live-style skits: My brother-in-law did the funniest act one year. He put on an old leather jacket he found and padded it a little. Then he took the baby jumper down and did an info-mercial for the baby jumper in an Arnold Schwarzenegger style voice. It was hilarious! He would flex his muscles like a body builder and then push and pull on the top part of the baby jumper, saying, “It will pump. you. up.” We could not stop laughing!
Glow Light Dancing: My sister and niece took glow necklaces and bracelets and taped them to their bodies in the shape of stick people. Then they turned off the lights and did a dance. All you could see was the glow light stick people dancing, and it was pretty cool!
Crazy Legs Dance: Two of my sisters did an act where one of them sat on top of the other one, draping blankets so that all we could see was the head, arms, and torso of one person and the legs of the other person. So they basically made a person out of the top half of one of their bodies and the bottom half of the other person’s body. Then they did a lip sync and dance to the music. So, so funny! What makes it hilarious is that the person who is doing the legs can’t see what the other person is doing, so the legs end up doing some crazy moves while the person on top tries to keep up. You’ve gotta see it to believe it. You’ll be laughing your head off!
Aren’t family reunions the greatest? What activities do you have planned for your family reunion this year?