Family reunions are notoriously dreaded, but with proper planning they can be fun yearly events! Many people live far away from their extended relatives and generally only see them once a year or so at the annual family reunion. These events can sometimes be awkward and make a person feel like they are in a room full of strangers rather than blood relatives. There are things you can do to lighten the mood and make your next family reunion relaxed and fun!
Hot Potato Camera
If the reunion is small enough, have the entire party sit in a circle; if there are just too many people, divide them up into groups. Set the timer; participants then pass the camera around until it takes a picture. Whoever is holding the camera has to take a picture of themselves doing a predetermined action (hugging their neighbor, holding a family heirloom). This can be embarrassing or awkward at first, but it is sure to break the ice and get people talking. Be sure to use a digital camera so the photos can be uploaded to a photo sharing site and the entire family can enjoy the pictures when the reunion is over.
Have everyone who wants to participate put their name into a hat. When they draw a name, they have to–at some point that day within a set time limit–find that family member and get them to share something about themselves that no one else knows. When everyone has gotten their secret and everyone has to guess whose secret is being shared with the group. At the end, the person with the most correct guesses wins a prize. This is a great way of getting people to share stories and learning more about different family members. This is an especially fun activity for older groups who will love to tell stories about their life before the modern world.
Water Balloon Tosses
Divide participants into two groups and form lines with each team facing each other. Each team will start with one water balloon. A partner will toss their balloon across to the other team member and once all the balloons have been thrown/caught, each team takes a step backwards. When a balloon bursts, that duo is out and the game continues until only two people are left. Whoever can keep the balloon going back and forth the longest without it breaking wins the game!
Before the reunion starts–so in the invitations–ask guests to bring a photo of themselves as a baby. At the reunion, the photos are collected and hung on a board and numbered. Guests can try to guess whose baby picture is whose. Whoever makes the most correct guesses wins a prize. This is a great ice breaker, especially to ease the divide between the oldest and youngest generations. It’s also fun to see how alike or different different family members look as babies.
Rent a Booth
It can sometimes be awkward to walk around taking pictures of everyone at a family reunion and the pictures don’t always turn out good. One way to encourage people to take pictures and remember the event is to rent a photo booth. Everyone loves a good photo booth and guests will have fun taking pictures in in. The oldest and youngest generations can get together in the booth and create memories that will last a lifetime. You can also collect digital copies of each photo and create an online scrap book of the event for everyone to share.
Before the family reunion, find out information about family members that can be turned into questions (What war did Great Grandpa Earle serve in? What country did Great Aunt Sandra immigrate from?) and divide the questions into appropriate categories, a la Jeopardy. Divide the family into teams and have at it!
Various Team Games
If the family is known for their cooking/baking skills, have a family cake walk! Ask guests who are local or arrive early to bake a family recipe (it doesn’t have to be cake–it can be cookies or a pie even) and include the recipe with it to have a traditional cake walk. Family members get to taste a piece of family history and go home with the recipe.
Family reunions can be a blast; they don’t have to be stuffy, awkward, or boring. A lot of people just stick to playing cards or board games at their reunions. Get Creative! Getting family members in all generations interacting together with games and activities and new, long last family bonds can be forged.
About the Author: Kandace Heller is a freelance writer in Orlando, Florida. She loves to read and share what she learns to help others. If you are looking for a photo booth for your next family reunion, Kandace recommends Picture Blast.