Hi. I’m Allison Laypath and I am delighted to be a new contributor to Or So She Says… I write the family travel blog Tips for Family Trips, where I share my favorite destinations and my best tips for successful family travel. My family is passionate about travel and we believe that travel makes families stronger, smarter and happier.
I am married to my best friend (it’s cheesy, but true) and we have two children – a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. We live near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our daughter on her first road trip when she was just four-weeks-old and we took a “celebration vacation” the day after my son was declared cancer-free last March.
Family reunion season is rapidly approaching, and like many families, we will travel to a reunion this July. My most recent post at TipsforFamilyTrips.com is a review of a great reunion destination near Zion National Park in Southern Utah, the Zion Ponderosa Ranch and Resort. This first post for Or She Says is also dedicated to family reunions and those who take on the tremendous task of planning them.
Family reunions, like families, come in all shapes and sizes. Perhaps the only thing all families have in common is that nobody wants to attend a “boring” reunion.
Do you need some fresh family reunion ideas for your next get-together? Here are five family-tested ideas.
1. Book Club
Does anyone in your family like to read? With a little advance planning, your family can hold your own Reunion Book Club. Everyone reads the book before the reunion so they will be prepared to discuss the book during a scheduled Book Club activity.
Contact family members at least a few weeks before the reunion to see who is interested and collect book suggestions. Once you have a list of nominees, take a vote.
Consider the length and difficulty of each nominated book. Shorter books may encourage more members of the family to participate. Some books lend themselves to interesting discussions more than others. A young adult novel may be a good choice, as there are many that are well-written, but don’t require a huge time commitment.
2. Game Shows
If your family is competitive and outgoing, consider adapting your favorite reality game show for your family reunion.
Minute-to-Win-It games are increasingly popular at family reunions because all you need is a stop watch and a few simple props to bring on the laughs. Click here for a list of goofy games.
My brother-in-law’s family held their own Amazing Race during a reunion in Sun Valley, Idaho. His parents set up clues and activities all over town and then set their seven adult children and their spouses loose. They were required to use public transportation and my sister describes a crazy foot race against several other couples to the finish line.
Don’t forget the prizes! If your family can afford it, spring for some worthwhile prizes such as gift cards to motivate the competition.
3. Cooking Activities
Add flavor to your next reunion with one of these culinary activities.
Iron Chef – If you don’t have the kitchen space for a head-to-head cooking competition, this is an activity that could be prepared in advance. Assign a “secret ingredient” a few weeks before the reunion, sample all the creations, and vote on a winner sometime during the first day.
International Night – Invite everyone to prepare or bring a dish from a place they have visited. Don’t think that you need to have traveled internationally to participate. I once lived in Oregon where blackberries grow wild. My blackberry cobbler is a hit at events like this.
Family Cookbook – Have everyone prepare a favorite dish to share. Collect the recipes, take photos of the food, and include some other photos from the reunion. Put it all together and publish your own family cookbook. It will be a great reunion souvenir. If you have any old family recipes, be sure to include those too!
4. Pinewood Derby
You have a few of those wooden cars in the family, do you not? Wouldn’t you like to find out which is the fastest? Rent a derby track near your reunion site, or build your own.
5. Create a scrapbook or DVD
Online programs such as Shutterfly or Apple’s iPhoto make it easier than ever for anyone to compile a beautiful hardbound photo book full of reunion photos. They also make it easy for other family members to view the album online and order their own copies. Books on these sites start at around $10, plus shipping
A similar, but less expensive option is a DVD slide show. You can collect reunion photos and videos in iPhoto or Premiere Elements, add your own music, use cool built-in effects, and voila!, you have a slide show. Share it online for free or burn copies to DVD.
Family reunions are a great way for families to connect and create shared memories. Whatever activities your family chooses, the most important thing is to enjoy your time together.