Does every kid at your family reunion give obligatory hugs and then find a corner where they can Snapchat? Do adults mingle with their immediate family members and not branch to greet third cousins?
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If this describes your family reunions, it’s time to up the ante. Here are some family reunion themes that may help you increase attendance. Fun activities at your family reunion just might strengthen your family bonds.
Family Reunion Theme Ideas
Picking family reunion themes can be tricky. The theme needs to appeal to a wide variety of age groups, from great-grandparents to toddlers.
Make sure the theme meets your family members’ personalities. For example, family members who don’t enjoy sports or outdoor activities probably don’t want to complete an obstacle course outside in the sun.
You’ll also need several key family leaders to “sell” the event. These individuals should be the first ones to volunteer to do silly activities — they’re the ones everyone gravitates to and who can coax smiles from grumpy Aunt Marge. Get buy-in from these family members or your reunion could be a dud.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Family circus
Invite your extended family members to a circus-themed event.
Send out “Come One! Come All!” invitations. Decorate with bright-colored flag banners and balloons. Buy clown noses, large bow ties, and silly wigs. (Think about the great photos you’ll be able to take of Grandpa wearing a big red nose.)
Plan circus carnival games:
- Knock down stacked tin cans.
- Toss ping pong balls in containers.
- Have a duck pond for the youngest kids.
- Research Minute to Win It games.
Serve hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, lemonade, and other simple foods.
2. Card game tournament
Does your family enjoy card games? Pick a game and organize a card tournament for your next family reunion.
Game tournaments are excellent entertainment for cold-weather months. As family members progress through the competition, they may have a chance to interact with a lot of different family members. Choose games that grade-school kids and grandparents could both enjoy.
Set up a series of tournament tables — from low tables to high tables. Give every player a punch card. Winners receive a punch on their cards and progress to the next-highest table. Losers stay at the same table, except for those who originally sit at the top-ranked tables. Those losers go to the lowest-ranked tables.
Play for a set amount of time. Once the tournament is over, give prizes to the players with the most punches on their cards. Give “booby prizes” to those with the fewest punches.
Serve snack items that players can munch on while they play — popcorn, Chex mix, or baked sweets.
3. Family cook-off
Why not have a cook-off at your next family event? Pick a type of food, such as chili, barbecue brisket, soups, or baked goods. Purchase a small piggy bank for each entry for voting.
Give each family member three pennies. Instruct participants to divide their votes up among three entries by putting one in each corresponding piggy bank. Or voters who feel strongly about one particular dish can place all three pennies in one entry’s voting receptacle.
Create a trophy that passes to the winner each year. You could also use rub-on letters to mark the winner’s name on a wooden spoon that he or she can take home and proudly display.
One benefit of having a cook-off at your family reunion is that you don’t have to think of a menu for the event. Ask those not participating in the competition to provide sides, drinks, and desserts.
4. Family field day
Did you participate in field days when you were a kid? Why not recreate that fun during your next family reunion?
Before your event, divide your extended family members up into evenly-matched teams. Share the teams with the family members and assign each person a color to wear.
Gather supplies and organize field day activities. Have a variety of events that could appeal to all age groups and athletic abilities, like:
- Water balloon tosses
- Sack races
- Hula hoop ring tosses
- Fifty-yard dashes
Keep the competition light-hearted and fun and have plenty of drinks available, especially if you planned the event on a hot day. Serve picnic-style foods after the competitions.
5. Celebrate your heritage
Have you researched your family tree? Why not use your family’s cultural heritage as a theme for your next reunion?
Decorate your event space with flags from your country (or countries) of origin. Display memory boards that include photos of your ancestors. Encourage those attending to remember family members who have passed on by sharing stories. Teach phrases from your ancestors’ original languages to the rest of the family.
Serve dishes that came from your family’s country of origin.
6. “When mom and dad Were my age”
Plan the party’s theme around a special couple — particularly if the grandparents in the family are celebrating a special birthday or anniversary. Ask family members of different age groups to do a little research and plan a short presentation of what those individuals were like at their age.
This reunion theme will take research. You may have to interview family members or look through old family photos and yearbooks to get ideas.
For example, help a 10-year-old boy in the family wear clothes like Grandpa would have worn when he was 10. Play music that was popular during that time. Discuss items that would have been part of pop culture during that era.
Repeat this process by recruiting family members (of various ages) to help.
It may amaze the teenagers in the group when they realize that by the time their grandpa was 19, he had already fought in World War II and been married. The young people in the family may look at Grandma differently when they realize that she attended Woodstock and drove a VW Bug.
Family Reunion Slogan Ideas
If you don’t have a T-shirt printed for your family reunion, did it really happen? Share your family reunion with others by creating a fun slogan to put on a T-shirt.
Make sure your slogan coincides with your event’s theme, like one that helps celebrate your family circus event.
Your slogan could celebrate your family’s heritage. You could even write the phrase in your ancestor’s original language.
You can use the shirts to help identify your group within a crowd, especially if you don’t know each other very well. The shirts can also be used to help others distinguish among branches of the family tree.
7. “This is my circus. These are my monkeys. Enjoy the show.”
Are you looking for a circus-themed slogan to go with your circus-themed family reunion? You may not even have to purchase customized shirts for the event. Search the web for circus T-shirts and buy some in a variety of colors and sizes.
Highlight the order that each relative entered the family! Look at each person’s birth date or when spouses married into the family to assign the numbers. (For example, Grandma is probably the oldest person in attendance. Her T-shirt would read #1.)
Plan family activities based on the numbers.
Instead of assigning every family member a number, you could create T-shirts for each grandchild or great-grandchild. Take photos of the brood in number order.
9. ”Reunited and it feels so good” or “We are family”
Why not steal titles from classic songs to celebrate your family reunion? (You may need to explain to younger family members that the phrases come from a song.)
10. “I shook my family tree and a bunch of nuts fell out”
You can be as dignified or comedic as you want to use the “family tree” imagery to create a slogan. Instead, you could still use the tree idea and your family reunion logo could be “Rooted in Love.”
11. “You can’t choose your family”
Have fun with the idea that you are “stuck” with your family members. (Just make sure you won’t offend anyone.)
Keeping Your Family Close
As you look at your own immediate family, think about what you need to do to keep your family close. Create traditions. Host fun family events full of activities and good food. Most importantly, create a culture in your home where the family is a priority.
Don’t let your family dwindle into a group of people only connected by social media. Plan a reunion each year, or better yet, multiple times a year. Keep those connections. It’s a lot of work to keep a family together, but you may regret it later in life if you don’t make an effort now.