We still might have record levels of snow in the mountains, but summer is right around the corner. And that means barbeques, parades, pool time, and—oh yes—family reunions.
The Importance of Family Reunions
It’s no surprise that a global pandemic wrecked our sense of community and togetherness—even within families. For so long, we couldn’t connect, even in simple settings, with those we love the most. But family relationships matter. According to a study reported in the National Library of Medicine, “Family relationships provide resources that can help an individual cope with stress, engage in healthier behaviors, and enhance self-esteem, leading to higher well-being.”
That’s where family reunions come in.
Family reunions connect extended family members, allowing cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to have a positive influence in your kids’ lives. And they help you strengthen those relationships too.
If you’ve been tasked with putting together your family reunion this year (or want to pass some ideas along to this year’s lucky organizer), here are some ideas for planning family reunions to get you started.
Ideas for Planning Family Reunions
When planning a family reunion, a good formula is one third of the time structured and two thirds of the time open. This allows for valuable togetherness while avoiding overstimulation. It also allows plenty of time for relaxed conversation, occasional naps (kids can get worn out with so many fun things to do, and what parent doesn’t appreciate the occasional power nap?), or just down time—especially if the reunion spans a couple days.
Here are some activities you could try:
Human Bingo Blackout: Before the reunion, fill bingo cards with various personal characteristics. These might include things like “sings in the shower,” “has been to Europe,” “has never gotten a speeding ticket,” “speaks three languages,” etc. Each player has to mingle and collect signatures of family members who have those characteristics. The first person to get a blackout (all squares signed) wins.
“This was my life in …”: This is a fun way to introduce younger family members to previous generations. Break older and younger family members into smaller groups. Give each member of the group a penny. Ask them to tell the group what their life was like in the year on the penny. Make sure the dates match the participants, some older, some younger.
String Hunt (child game): Before the game, tie one long, different colored skein of yarn to a block or book for each child. Unwind the yarn over, under, around, and through different obstacles in the area of play (this can be done indoors or outdoors). At the end of each color of yarn, attach a party favor. Invite the kids to wind up their yarn to find their prize. You may need to set up several courses depending on the number of kids.
Hula Hoop Relay: Divide up into equal teams, and have the two teams face each other to form two lines. Each teammate stands side to side, a couple feet apart, holding hands. Each teammate then has to pass a hula hoop from the front of the line to the back by stepping through the hoop without breaking hand grips. The first team to get the hula hoop down and back wins. HINT: the teammate at the end of the line can help the others as long as they don’t let go of their grip.
Water Baseball: Play regular baseball rules but use small swimming pools for bases. Great for a hot, summer day.
Water Balloon Volleyball: Teamwork is the name of this game. Three to four pairs of players hold a towel taut between them. The “serving” pair puts a water balloon in their towel and tosses it over the net. A pair on the other side of the net catches the water balloon in their towel. They then send the balloon back over the net. Regular volleyball rules apply.
Olympics: Activities for this family reunion game are endless, but here are a few suggestions: Plastic boomerang throw, egg toss, bubble gum blowing contest, water balloon toss, sack race, apple bobbing, hula hoop contest, three-legged race, root beer chugging contest, wheelbarrow race, backwards crab walk, blindfolded leapfrog race, obstacle course, and disc golf. You can also do silly games like playing baseball with brooms or golfing with your feet. Award prizes to the winners.
Horseshoe Tournament: Find the rules here if you need a refresher.
Tug of War: All you need is a long, sturdy rope and strong participants.
Food Eating Contests: Pies and hot dogs are always a hit, but let your imagination run wild.
Capture the Flag: Find the rules here.
Old Clothes Relay: Divide the group into two teams. For each team, have a box containing a large shirt, shorts, boots, hat, etc. In turn, each player must start behind a line, run to the box, put on the clothes, perform some type of activity (like 10 jumping jacks or sing a song), take the clothing items off and return them to the box, and run back to the team to tag the next player. The first team to have every member complete the task wins.
Family Dance: Play music for all the generations and show off your mad dancing skills.
Family Talent Show: Invite family members to share their talents with the group.
Family Karaoke Night: Singing is always a hit!
Family Feud: Before the reunion, survey family members on various topics and play once you’re together.
Board Game Table(s): Have a designated area with various board games set up for family members to play.
Silhouettes: Trace each family member on rolls of butcher paper and have family members guess who they are.
White Elephant/Baked Goods/Service Auction: This is a fun way to allow family members to contribute to the cost of the family reunion. Invite each family member to bring one or more items and then auction them off to the highest bidder.
If you need more ideas, here are 35 screen-free activities for kids that might be converted into great reunion ideas. And if you need some help connecting with extended family members between reunions, give some of these tips a try.
Make It Fun
Whatever you do at your next family reunion, just make sure to have fun. That’s the best way to connect with those that matter most.
Family time is crucial, and in this tech age, it can be tricky to make sure you get enough of it. If tech is getting in the way of your family’s time together, Troomi can help! With Troomi’s smartphones, your kiddos can start to develop that tech-life balance, giving your family the time they need together.