It's summer, and with most children out of school, it's the perfect time for brothers and sisters and cousins who live far away from each other to get together for a family reunion. If you are wondering what to do at your next reunion, here are 15 suggestions gleaned from families across the United States.
15. Have a ball.
Whether it is a game of softball, basketball, soccer, kickball, volleyball, or good ol' dodgeball, games are a fun activity any day. Seventeen-year-old Katie from Pennsylvania loves playing Knockout, where players line up with the first two players having basketballs. The players shoot the ball until they either score and take their place at the back of the line or the person behind them in line scores, knocking the player in front out of the game.
14. Don't crack the egg.
Terri from Minnesota said her family likes to play Toss It. Those under 12 toss water balloons; those over 12 use raw eggs. Starting close together, the facing teams gradually step farther apart, tossing eggs or balloons back and forth. The last pair to survive without breaking the egg or balloon wins.
13. Make it a race.
You probably remember all kinds of races from your childhood. Make memories for your own children and stage a few of these at your family reunion. Gunny sack races are always fun. Pair up with your favorite cousin for a three-legged race, set up an obstacle course, or race while balancing an egg on a spoon.
12. Connect across the miles.
Are there family members who can't attend your reunion because they live out of state, are serving as missionaries, are members of the armed forces, or are students on a limited budget attending school far away? Strengthen their ties to your extended family with a good old-fashioned snail mail letter. Set up a table furnished with pens, paper, and already-addressed envelopes. During the festivities, encourage people to write a note or draw a picture and put it in the corresponding envelope.
11. Update an old favorite.
Does your reunion location include good hiding places? Sardines is a favorite in Jessica's family. "It's the reverse of Hide and Go Seek," she explained. "Just one person hides. When other players find the person hiding they squeeze into the same spot until only one is left looking. He or she becomes 'it' and hides for the next round." Does your family have an old tradition you could resurrect or put a new twist on? If not, start new traditions by finding simple games everyone can participate in.
10. Relax with some card games or puzzles.
Ready for a rest? Play some popular card games such as Old Maid, Go Fish, Skip-Bo, Uno, or Dutch Blitz. Put on a crossword puzzle or Sudoku race or set up a puzzle everyone can gather around and work on while they chat.
9. Make a human piñata.
Anne and her family in Maryland enjoyed creating a human piñata last year at their family reunion. All of the dads taped pieces of candy on their clothes. Then the children chased them around, pulling off the candy.
8. Visit historical sites.
Wherever you hold your reunion, there are sure to be historical sites nearby. Last summer our family held our reunion in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As part of the activity, family members were challenged to memorize President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. During the reunion, we assembled in a little park in the Gettysburg cemetery. All those who wanted to donned a stovepipe hat and recited as much of the address as they knew, receiving a quarter reward for each paragraph. A quick survey a year later found that several still remember those historic words and the significance of what Lincoln said that day.
Our reunions have ranged from the Utah State Capitol Building to Nauvoo, Illinois: Palmyra, New York; Kirtland, Ohio; and Joseph Smith's birthplace in Vermont. Other places included the Church History Library in Salt Lake City and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Each location gave us unique memories. You don't have to travel far or make the location elaborate to enjoy a little bit of history and time together.
7. Put on a talent show.
Everyone has talents to share. Whether you can play "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" or "Moonlight Sonata," what better audience can you have than your family? And don't forget to display arts and crafts as well. Clark from Virginia builds drones and loves to share them with cousins. This is also a good time to honor recent kindergarten, high school, or college graduates or spotlight other awards or honors given to members of your family.
6. Try your hand at family trivia.
Carrie from California recently sent out this message to her extended family:
"Hello family! The reunion countdown is on and I need your help! I will be putting together a family trivia game. Will each of you think of some unique fact or interesting quality of your family and send it to me in a message? We want everyone represented! Here are some examples!
“Which couple fell in love in a row boat?
“Which couple makes kids toys, even though they have no kids?
“Which family has a husband who worked at a toilet paper factory?"
Even those who can't make it to Carrie's reunion can participate in this activity.
5. Hold a pie (or bug) eating contest.
Deborah from Iowa loves the pie-eating contest at her family reunions. They eat small individual pies filled with cream filling and generously topped with whipped cream to make a bigger mess. The winner in each age category is awarded, what else, a pie.
Tish from Utah changed up her family's pie eating contest and added a bug-eating contest, featuring edible grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts.
Food is a big part of any reunion. It doesn't matter if you choose a Dutch oven cook-off, build your own hoagie, a potluck, or a catered meal, enjoying food together gives everyone time to sit down and visit.
3. Remember your ancestors.
Whether you can visit their gravesite or read from their journals and personal histories, reunions are prime times to tell about great-grandma spilling the pan of biscuit dough onto the ground or when great-grandpa found a quarter in the dust by the road as an answer to his mother's prayer. Think of a few of your favorite stories or pull out your family albums to share at your next family get together.
2. Hold a family meeting or recreate an old family photo.
Before your reunion concludes, get the adults together for a family meeting, make plans and assignments for the next gathering, and then top everything off with a family photo. You could even have some fun and try recreating an old family photo from years ago.
Sam from Missouri expressed everyone's favorite reunion activity: "Visiting and connecting with family and watching children play with cousins." If you feel like you don't have any grand ideas for your next family reunion, don't sweat. The true reason we gather is for each other.
Coming together at a family reunion strengthens ties and gives us a glimpse of the joy we may have as forever families.