20+ Cheap or DIY Family Reunion Gift Ideas


Every family reunion gathering is an opportunity to visit the annals of your personal story. Whether you build on the story with homemade movies, archival history, or personal art, you’re also nurturing that family thesis. So, why not get a family reunion gift that people will cherish forever?

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Listed below, we came up with affordable ideas that will keep the family stories going. Remember, you’re also living the family history right this very moment. How will you contribute to the epic tale?

DIY Family Reunion Gift Ideas

Everyone appreciates a gift that resonates throughout the years. By showcasing your culinary skills or craftsmanship, you’ll hit the mark every time.

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1. Wood burned family tree

Wood burning is a unique way to showcase both family history and your personal art skills. After you check out a few tutorials online for templates or family tree design ideas, then you can hunt around for the right all-in-one kit.

If you're savvy, you'll spend well under $50 on both the equipment and about a dozen wood blanks. 

Like the idea of a family tree? Read our guide on family tree ideas for more.

2. Keepsake story box

Think of this idea as the family holiday letter, only with less fluff and more fun. Every family reunion, each family elects a bard to tell the best funny story from the year. Read them aloud or pass them around so the conversations keep going.

You'll have enough stories within a few years to make a family history book. Or, a one-act play.

3. Ancestral poetry in calligraphy

Do you have copies of some ancestral poetry? Using your fantastic handwriting skills, transfer a few verses to some pretty cardstock.

Then clean up or paint some wooden frames found at a local donation store. You'll have inexpensive gifts for your immediate family and beyond.

4. Homemade preserves

Everyone loves food from the heart, especially sweet, fruity preserves. If you have some spares from last year's harvest, tie a ptrretty ribbon around the lid, add a few reusable decorations from a craft store, and voilà. You've already done the work before you’re hard-pressed for time.

5. Homemade pickles with a recipe

Building on that last idea is pickles. I remember I could eat an entire jar of Aunt Elvira's sugar pickles all by myself.

So, if you have one of those coveted "pickle" recipes like my aunt did, hole-punch a copy and tie it to the jar. That way, your family has your secret recipe and a memory from you wrapped all in one.

6. Copies of the family history

If you have one of those coveted bits of history, the easiest way to share is to make a copy of it. Did your grandfather build his own home? Was there an aerial photograph of the family farm? Do you have the deed to your grandmother’s home? Was your great-uncle a minister who kept all of his sermons?

Don’t keep it all to yourself. Make some copies!

Inexpensive Family Reunion Gift Ideas

Inexpensive gifts take both invention and plotting. To save the most money, do your homework online and with local retailers.

7. Family movies on .zip drives

Nearly every computer or smartphone has an option to make homemade movies. And, if you haven't scanned your old family photos by now, this is the perfect opportunity to safeguard them. It only takes a few minutes to learn how to click and drag.

Add some appropriate songs about the memories and then copy to some .zip drives. Plug one into a smart tv on a loop at the reunion so everyone can enjoy it.

8. The family story on .zip drives

In my family, we visit the old family farms and homesteads of our ancestors across Minnesota once a year. If this isn't something you can do, but you're up on your genealogy work, then you already have this information on hand—and then some.

Just create a file, copy, and save to some .zip drives to share what you know. Invite everyone to make additions and share the following year.

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9. Famous family quotes or events on key chains

Keychains aren't going to wind up at the next garage sale. Plus, sometimes a simple gift is the best idea. I have found many online sources that offer great pricing, too.

Take an hour or two to scan through some ideas and then order in bulk. And don't be afraid to ask for a discount—or hear no if they can't provide one.

10. Family name on holiday ornaments

If your family celebrates a particular holiday, you can find any number of sources that will engrave or personalize an ornament fit for your celebration.

You can find some small business websites that offer, for example, etched glass ornaments as low at $4 each. Like the keychains listed above, don't be afraid to ask for a discount if you're buying in bulk.

11. Flower seed packets

E-commerce websites list small businesses for almost everything. One that I have used a few times is personalized seed packets.

You'll have to go shopping for the seeds, of course, but the retailer is more than happy to customize any size order you'll need. Months after the family reunion, all of your family gets to enjoy some pick-me-up flowers and think of you.

12. Personalized candle tins

Does your “someday” hobby list include learning how to make candles? If so, now is the time to put that creativity to work.

Start with the necessities, use essential oils, then print the labels out at home. Buy local and in bulk as much as possible to save some cash. Once you have the hang of it, all you'll need for the holiday gift-giving season is some refill wax and more wicks.

Last-Minute Family Reunion Gift Ideas

Having something to keep the kids busy is just as important as being able to fit in all of your conversations with Great-Uncle Louie. Perhaps one of these ideas will get the gears spinning.

13. Pre-gifting

Pre-gifting, not regifting. If all of your recent downsizing and decluttering has got you ready to purge some family heirlooms, then a reunion is the perfect time to lighten the load.

Not only can you provide the answers to all of your family’s questions, but you can also walk away feeling good that your possessions don’t wind up at an auction. 

14. Whiskey stones

Let's not beat around the bush. Not everyone enjoys a family reunion. And that's okay! So, for those few who are reluctant supporters, why not stash something in the picnic basket just for them? By using whiskey stones, you'll keep their adult beverage cold, and it'll be a nice little thank you gift in the process.

15. Duplicate recipe cards

There's something about the handwriting and graphic artistry of old recipe cards that is irreplaceable.

For this gift idea, invite everyone to bring a recipe card they no longer need (or want), and then have an exchange or a draw. You may never make lutefisk or eat head cheese, but if you treat it like a white elephant game, you'll all get in a few good laughs.

16. Bring something for the kids

Kids bore easily. On your way to the family reunion, make a quick stop to a box store for some bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Once the kids are busy soothing their imaginations, the adults will have time to catch up.

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17. Bring something for the big kids, too

Lawn games give everybody something to do. If you're in a hurry, you could make a pitstop for an all-in-one set. Try to find the collection with cornhole or badminton. Someone is bound to know how to play the games or can at least tell you how the rules work.

Personalized Family Reunion Gift Ideas

Finding a local business to print up a few items is quick and easy. All you have to do is come up with the idea and place the order.

18. Family artist t-shirts

Convince a budding family artist to draw something up, and then head to the local print shop with their art.

Send family members a link to the print shop so they can make their own size and color choices. If it goes over well, you can have a contest for next year's t-shirt design, keeping the tradition moving with each new generation

Looking for more family traditions to start? Read our guide on family traditions from around the world.

19. Personalized gift bags

Everyone loves a gift bag. Make this one as eclectic as possible and skip the themes. Include some family photos, old-time candy (flavors that no one remembers), handcrafted soap, hand-embroidered handkerchiefs, and anything else that is a fun mismatch. Choose inexpensive items and buy local as much as possible! 

20. Personalized drink tumbler

When everyone else is buying flats of water at the local bulk store, you’ll have already thought ahead and found a way to personalize some drink tumblers and use good old tap water.

They won't think twice about choosing the plastic water bottle over a personalized take-home tumbler. Plus, you can find bulk pricing at a local print shop or online.

21. Personalized wooden or bamboo spoon

Family reunions are synonymous with food. If your family does a potluck like mine, you could offer to bring the serving spoons. That way, when the day is done, anyone who brought food gets to take home a kitchen item. It's that little extra thank you for their hard work and a job well done.

22. Personalized shopping tote

Being eco-friendly is so important now. You can either make your own shopping bags or buy them from a local retailer. If you include some washable produce bags, then you're helping to eliminate single-use plastic bags. Positive change is a pyramid-effect.

23. Personalized bottle opener

Does your family pour one out for lost family members? This year, you could have that person's name engraved on a bottle opener for the moment. Save some money by picking a simple design, and then toast to their memory.

Keep the Conversation Alive

Whatever gift idea you choose doesn’t have to be time consuming or pricey. Heartfelt gifts are always enough. 

Give some thought to some of the ideas on this list and you’ll be appreciated at this year’s family reunion.

Want more inspiration for your next family get together? Head over to our article on family reunion ideas for more.

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