Family reunions are a great way to spend time with loved ones or reconnect with extended family from around the world. Every family is different and every family reunion will be equally special and unique, especially when you consider family reunion games and other activities.
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Depending on your family’s interests, there are all kinds of games and activities you can organize. Plus, no family reunion is complete without customized T-shirts.
Here are some ways you can help elevate your family reunion to legendary status.
You may also be interested in doing something special to honor a loved one who passed away. For something unique, you can consider a memorial candle, a custom urn from a store like Foreverence, or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.
Family Reunion Activity Ideas
Family reunions are typically comprised of people of all ages, so it’s important to have an array of activities that will appeal to kids and even great-grandparents.
Here’s a whole assortment of activity ideas that should appeal to at least one demographic at your reunion.
1. Get crafty
People of all ages feel the need to get artistic. Set up a large room or an outdoor area with a variety of crafts for people of various ages and skill levels. Stations can include:
- Coloring sheets and crayons for kids
- A knitting corner for your hippie aunts
- Saucy cross-stitch patterns for the millennial hipster cousins
- Whittling or woodworking for people with fidgety hands
The thought behind this is similar to the principle of parallel play. In parallel play, kids play adjacent to one another. In this case, family members still spend time together without doing the exact same activity. The family that crafts together has a blast together.
2. Create a family tree
It’s easy to lose track of your roots. A family reunion is a perfect time to rediscover them. Take advantage of having older relatives and more distant relations present.
You can interview them about the family history they remember and map out a family tree. You can even digitize it online to share it with other family members when the reunion ends.
3. Put on a family talent show
One great way to connect people is to let them share their skills. Stage a family talent show and ask family members to participate. People can juggle, do a dance routine, or even sing a song.
Musically talented people can perform songs about memories and help people form new memories in the process.
4. Set up a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun for people of all ages. If your family reunion is outdoors, you can get people to collect things like fallen leaves or rocks. An alphabetical scavenger hunt is also fun.
Have people find 26 items. Each one should begin with a different letter of the alphabet. They can snap photos of the items, and then everyone can compare and contrast items at the end of the hunt.
5. Set up a photo backdrop
A great way to preserve memories is to capture images of your reunion. One fun way to do this is to set up a fun backdrop and some silly costume pieces and props.
Encourage family members to dress up and take pictures in various groups throughout the day. People can snap photos with cell phones or you can set up a digital camera on a tripod. Photos from the photo wall can be uploaded to a private family group on Facebook. People can also share their own candid photos from the reunion.
6. Hula hoop competition
Hula hoops are inexpensive and fun for the whole family. See who can keep hula hooping the longest. Just make sure Grandma doesn’t break her hip.
Family Reunion Game Ideas
Nothing brings people together like a little friendly competition. Games are a great way to get people of all generations working together. They can also serve as excellent ice breakers for family members who don’t get to spend much time together.
7. Family trivia
Have a few people well-versed in family lore put together a family trivia game. Split people into teams and allow them to answer questions about fun family details.
This could include things like the origins of people’s names, questions about careers and hobbies, and details of long-standing family stories. It’s a great way to help younger generations learn about things they might not know and can help bring people closer together.
8. Jigsaw puzzles
Puzzles are available for all ages and skill levels. You can break up the family into groups. Kids or older people with poor eyesight or motor skills can work on puzzles with fewer pieces and less intricate patterns.
Expert puzzle builders can tackle something more challenging. Just like the craft activity, this allows family members to share in an activity at a level they are comfortable with.
9. Have a relay race
It’s always good to let everyone blow off a little steam. Friendly physical competition is a great way to do that. Keep things fair and evenly distribute demographics across several teams.
Each team should have an equal number of kids, teens, adults, and elderly people. People will race against other family members from their age group. Pick classic relay race games like the:
- Three-legged race
- Human wheelbarrow
- Egg and spoon race
- Water relay
- Balloon relay
Charades is a classic family game. It fosters teamwork, it’s physical and gets people up and moving around. It offers lots of potential for humor.
Finally, it’s something that people of all ages can enjoy. It’s a cooperative game that can keep everyone engaged and having a good time.
Pictionary is very similar to charades. Instead of acting out clues, people draw pictures on paper while their teammates try to guess what’s being drawn.
Like charades, you can split people into fairly equal teams and have everyone participate together.
12. Board games
You’ve heard of family game night. Get ready for family reunion game night! Because family reunions are often big, it’s not always possible for everyone to play the same board game.
Splitting people into groups to play different board games will allow people to spend time together even as they do their own thing.
Family Reunion Shirt Ideas
No family reunion is complete without a T-shirt souvenir. Here are some ideas to make sure your shirts capture the spirit of your family.
13. Photo shirts
If you host an annual family reunion, be sure to get a group photo each year. Then have that group photo printed on T-shirts for the following year’s reunion. You’ll get to see the kids grow up over time.
When you revisit older T-shirts, you can recall specifics of that year’s reunion. It’s a really nice tradition.
14. Family tree t-shirts
A family tree is also a great design for a family reunion T-shirt. You don’t have to print an intricately detailed family tree on your shirt. In fact, something like that will probably be too cluttered. But a tree is still a strong graphic outline to use for the front of the shirt.
On the back, you can list the last names found on various branches of the tree, along with the year of the reunion. If you want to be consistent, you can use the same design each year, and just change the date and the colors of the shirts. If someone else marries into the family too, you can add any new surnames each year.
15. Coat of arms t-shirt
A coat of arms is a visual design representing a family or group. They are usually completely unique to a particular group. Coats of arms have been used, in one form or another, since the 12th century. They originated with nobility.
But you don’t have to have royal lineage to participate in this tradition. Have someone artistic in your family design a coat of arms for your family. It can use iconography that’s meaningful to your family. You can use that as a recurring T-shirt design and change up the colors each year for something new.
16. Family motto shirt
Some families have mottos or phrases that mean something to them. These could include famous quotations about families. Some examples of this are:
- “The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.” — George Santayana
- “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” — Michael J. Fox.
- “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind.” — Lilo, from Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch”
Each year, you can pick a special quote that is meaningful to the family and wear it on your T-shirt.
17. Inside jokes
At some summer camps, counselors collect silly inside jokes and get them printed on T-shirts for campers at the end of the term.
You can do a similar roundup of memorable family inside jokes on T-shirts each year.
18. Shirts that honor your cultural heritage
Most families have some common bond that ties them together. Maybe it’s your religion. Maybe it’s your family’s country of origin.
You can incorporate these into your shirt. Include a rendition of your country’s flag, or even just use the colors to inspire your design. Even an abstract inclusion will hold meaning for your family.
Make Your Family Reunion the Best One Ever
Family reunions can be small, intimate holiday gatherings. They can also be massive summertime celebrations with dozens of people. There’s no real blueprint for what a family reunion should look like. The most important goal should be providing your family with fun times so you can create great new memories together.
Follow these tips and make sure your family reunion is an affair to remember.
If you're looking for more on family reunions, read our guides on the best family reunion gift ideas and family traditions to start.