A few months before your reunion, take a large sheet of poster board and cut out enough puzzle pieces to send to each family prior to your event. Instruct each family to glue a photo of their family to their puzzle piece and bring it to the reunion. Once the puzzle is assembled, you can glue it together for safe keeping. Hint: a wedding photo of the family matriarch and patriarch makes a nice center for your puzzle. Create this puzzle piece a little larger than the rest and center it perfectly in your family puzzle.
Each family comes to a reunion with a common bond but also with individual characteristics. Using felt or poster board, have each individual family create their own "family flag" that will illustrate the individuality of each family. At the reunion, allow each family to display their flags in a communal area and set aside some time for show and tell. The act of sharing the symbolism behind their flags is a great way to learn more about each other and bond as a larger family. For example, a family from Hawaii may create a flag that contains palm trees, sea shells and beach sand. A surf board may represent one family members passion for surfing, some flowers and flower seeds may represent one family members passion for gardening, an old bicycle tire tube may represent another family members passion for road cycling.
In the case of a family reunion that extends several branches of the family tree, it is often a challenge to remember the connection each attendee has with the family tree. A mini family tree on each name tag will help with this process. Start with each person's name at the bottom of the tag then go two or three branches up the tree to illustrate how that individual fits in to the family. For example, Susan's mother and father are named John and Grace and Graces parents were named Robert and Sarah. Susan's name tag may look like this:
SUSAN -> John + Grace -> Robert + Sarah
Some families use color-coded T-shirts to identify which branch of the extended family they come from. Taking it a step further by adding photos to the shirts will not only further the connection, it will also honor the patriarch or matriarch of that particular branch. You can scan a photo of the individual in to your computer and print out iron-on transfers that include the relationship the t-shirt wearer holds to the family head.
Using the motto: "Make it, bake it, or fake it!", instruct your attendees to bring something along for family auction. Every family has one particularly out-going member who will serve as a good auctioneer, ideally someone who will be able to subtly guilt everyone in to spending even more money. The funds raised can help bring down the cost of the reunion for everyone whether they go to pay for meals or lodging.
With any family reunion, there can be a generation gap. By creating a book for each of the children that require them to interact with the elders of the family, family history can be learned and generation gaps over come. You can get creative with family trivia by asking questions such as "What was Great Uncle / Grandpa Joe's last memory before he immigrated to America from Denmark?" or "Who was born in South Africa?" or "Who was born in a barn without electricity?" These questions and more will create an interactive atmosphere for children and adults alike.
A family photo exchange offers a chance to swap stories, memories and photos. You may frequently see that photo of your grand parents on their wedding day hanging in your hallway, but it doesn't mean your cousins or even siblings have seen this photo before. Each family member brings one of these types of photos along with memories of the family members in the photograph. As everybody walks around enjoying the photos they may or may not have seen before, supply them with a piece of paper to take orders from fellow family members who wish to have a copy of the photograph mailed to them after the event.
Who doesn't watch reality TV these days!? Why not allow your family to become their own Reality TV star at the next family reunion? Ask each attendee to record a typical day in their life including shots of their home, town and work life. Assign someone in the family to edit the videos, add music and create a full episode of the lives of everyone in attendance. Hint: give their creative submissions a time limit!!
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Ideas were adapted from tips provided by "Family Fun Magazine". For more great ideas, please visit: http://familyfun.go.com