Activities & Games

Here are 37 ways to keep your guests busy and entertained.


+ enlarge image Traditional games like croquet provide a fun ice breaker.

Three cheers for taking turns and teaming up! Party and picnic games make it easy for long-lost relatives and shy cousins to relax and get to know each other. Be sure to include traditional games, which have simple rules and are proven fun. Add interest to the tried-and-true by customizing a game. Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey becomes Pin-the-hat-on-Aunt-Lucille. Everyone can be a winner if you play games that require a willing spirit, teamwork, and very little skill!

We've reinterpreted some classic games to maximize your reunion fun. For larger groups, focus on playing in teams; individual competitions are better suited for smaller crowds. The object is to have fun trying, so be sure to reward every effort with big smiles and enthusiastic applause. Some inexpensive "prizes" (candy, pencils, etc.) may even add incentive to participate!

Plan-Ahead Tips

  • Send out sign-up sheets for people to choose the games they would like to play or supervise. Include a description of the game because games can vary regionally. You can use the sign-up sheets to organize teams, too.
  • When you have assembled all the supplies for a game, put them in a box and label it with the name of the game. Include a contents list to be checked off as you clean up and, if necessary, also add instructions.
  • If you intend to give prizes to the winners, purchase small novelties by the gross (which typically totals 144 pieces) or by the dozen from party goods stores, or at the catalog retailer Oriental Trading.

Oriental Trading

  • For a large reunion, you can give every player a card. When players play a game, their card will be stamped. Cards can be redeemed for prizes at a prize booth.
  • To mark starting and finish lines for games on a lawn, use cornstarch or baking soda.

Pin a Branch on the Family Tree

The whole family, from preschoolers to seniors, will enjoy this spin on the popular Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Give an extra twirl to the biggest kids and see who can restore the missing branch to a friendly family tree.

Ages: All

  • Draw a picture of a large, leafy tree, leaving one branch unfinished. If you are photocopying a picture, copy the tree, cut out a branch, and copy the tree again.
  • You can make a cheerful face on the tree or add photocopies of family members in the branches.
  • Draw or copy a branch, cut it out, and make copies for playing pieces. Use double-sided tape on the end of the branches instead of pins. A bandana or scarf can serve as a blindfold.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Draw your tree picture and branches.
  • Cut out the branches.
  • Buy double-sided tape.
  • Find a bandana or scarf for a blindfold.
  • Provide a pen.

Share-A-Pair Race

Here's a togetherness-promoting variation on a three-legged race. Instead of tying your leg to your teammate's, a team of two "shares" a pair of pantyhose or sweatpants. Ideally, partners should be about the same height, but mismatched pairs make the race more challenging.

Ages: 6 and up

  • Every team is given a pair of pantyhose or sweatpants (cut off the toes of the pantyhose).
  • Each player places one leg into a leg of the hose or sweatpants so that the team is "sharing" the garment.
  • Team members put their arms around each other's shoulders to race.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy pantyhose and cut off the toes.
  • To use sweatpants, you can start collecting early or go to Goodwill.

Humpty-Dumpty Race

All the king's horses, all the king's men, and all of your family will want to play this spoon race game. Place a plastic egg filled with water (or a water balloon) on a spoon and see who can make it to the finish without dumping Humpty.

Ages: 4 and up

  • Give players a spoon and a plastic egg filled with water, or a small water balloon.
  • The player who reaches the finish line without dropping their egg wins.

Plan-Ahead Tip:

  • Buy plastic spoons, and plastic eggs or water balloons.

Jingle Sack Races

For folks who would rather hop than stand still, this is a sack race that rings true. Fidgety kids and grown-ups can pop into a burlap sack, put on a wrist bell, and jingle-jangle their way to the finish line.

Ages: 4 and up

  • Give each player one or two wrist bells (these are bells attached to a bracelet) and a burlap sack.
  • Players stand in the sack and, holding onto the sides of the sack, try to hop to the finish line, jingling all the way.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy sacks and bells.
  • Keep the sacks away from small children.
  • Burlap sacks are available at sporting goods stores and the online retailer eSportsOnline. (They call them potato sacks.)

eSportsOnline.com

  • Wrist bells can be found at educational supply stores and the online retailer Oriental Trading.

Oriental Trading

Wheelbarrow Switch Race

Find a favorite cousin or grab a willing sibling to team up for hands-on fun. Just as in a classic wheelbarrow race, one player is the wheelbarrow and "walks" on her hands. Her partner holds her feet and "pushes" the wheelbarrow as they careen to the finish. In this version, partners race to a line, switch positions, and race back.

Ages: 6 and up

Chin-to-Chin Pass

Look, Ma, no hands! In this game, the chin is the thing. Fruit, rubber balls, or water balloons are passed from chin to chin, down the line to the last player. The first team to pass the fruit without dropping it wins.

Ages: 6 and up

  • Teams consist of 5 to 10 players.
  • Each team forms a line and is given a piece of fruit, like an apple or an orange.
  • The first player places the fruit under his chin and bends his head to keep the fruit in place.
  • The second player must use her chin (no hands allowed!) to take the fruit from the first player.
  • Players pass the fruit from chin to chin until it reaches the last player, who holds the fruit in the air to signal the team is done.
  • You can use a basket of fruit per team to make the game more challenging.

Plan-Ahead Tip:

  • Buy fruit, balls, or water balloons to pass.

Look-Over-Your-Shoulder Obstacle Course

Sometimes the best way to get ahead is to put your best foot backwards. Giggles are guaranteed as players walk backwards from obstacle to obstacle while stopping to climb over, under, or around objects or pausing to recite the alphabet from Z to A.

Ages: 6 and up

  • Players go through an obstacle course walking backwards.
  • Obstacles can be assembled from old tires, children's play tunnels, chairs, mattresses, swing sets, boxes, and whatever is handy.
  • Have spotters at each obstacle for safety.
  • Make a basic course more challenging by mixing in activities like reciting tongue twisters or putting on and off layers of hats and coats.
  • You can create an obstacle course of less physically demanding activities if space is scarce.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Design your course. Determine how much space you have and decide which mix of obstacles will fit the area. Try to alternate physical obstacles with tasks. Set up a sample course and run through it once to be sure it will work.
  • Assemble the necessary obstacles and set up the course.

Hit Parade Charades

Sounds like ... a little family heritage and a lot of fun. Players try to guess the titles to hit songs as a team member acts them out in charades. If Mom and Dad met at the disco, greatest hits of the '70s would be a perfect category for clues.

Ages: 8 and up

  • Played like traditional charades using favorite song titles for clues. Share a little family history and choose tunes from the decade that Grandma and Grandpa were born in or the year Mom and Dad married.
  • Write the titles on craft sticks.
  • Place the sticks in an empty coffee can.
  • Review the classic charades signals so clues will be understood.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • You can ask family members to send in song titles or choose them yourself.
  • Buy craft sticks.
  • Write the titles on the craft sticks.
  • Set aside an empty coffee can for the clues.

Smiley Face Beanbag Toss

You'll be grinning from ear to ear as you toss beanbags at the ever-smiling faces on the cardboard target. Each player has five chances to toss a beanbag through the semicircular smiles.

Ages: All

  • A discarded refrigerator box is ideal for creating a target, but any large cardboard box will do.
  • On one side of the box, draw or paint five yellow circles with black outlines.
  • Draw a smile and two eyes in each circle; the smiles should look like semicircles.
  • Cut out the semicircles, making sure that they are larger than the beanbags. Make openings of varying sizes and at various heights.
  • Players try to toss beanbags through the smiles. Each player receives five beanbags.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Ask an appliance store near you for refrigerator boxes or check with a local moving company.
  • Make your target by painting the box or drawing on it with markers.
  • Buy or make beanbags. Party goods stores, toy stores, and the online retailer U.S. Toy are places to look for beanbags.

US Toy

Pop Bottle Ring Toss

Eat, drink, recycle, and play; fling rings around an empty pop bottle filled with sand or water. Let players choose a comfortable distance to throw from.

Ages: All

  • Fill empty soda bottles with sand or water. Place the soda bottles far enough apart so that the rings will fit over the bottles when flung. For a pretty effect, use layers of colored sand.
  • You can buy rings or make them from paper plates by cutting a circle out of the middle of the plate and leaving the rim.
  • Players stand behind a line and try to toss the rings onto the bottles. Each player is given five rings, and the player who gets the most rings around the bottles wins.
  • You can make the game more challenging with different sizes of bottles.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Collect empty soda bottles.
  • Fill with water or sand.
  • Buy rings or paper plates to make rings. Look in toy stores and at the online retailer US Toy for tossing rings.
  • Find colored sand in craft stores

Musical Hats and Wigs

Keep your head covered to win this goofy variation on musical chairs. March around an odd assortment of hats and wigs until the music stops, then grab some headgear and put it on. No wacky wig or hat? You're out!

Ages: 4 and up

  • Supply an assortment of silly hats and wigs. Arrange a group of chairs in a circle and place a hat or wig on each chair.
  • You will need one less wig or hat than the number of players. Provide a tape of children's music and a tape player.
  • Players march around the chairs as the song plays. When the game master stops the tape, players should each grab a wig or hat and put it on.
  • The person who is left bareheaded is out of the game. Remove one wig or hat and begin the tape again. Continue until one player is left.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Collect old wigs or hats or buy inexpensive silly ones from costume shops or the online retailer US Toy.
  • Assemble enough chairs to make a circle -- about one chair per person to start.
  • Supply a children's music tape and a tape player.

Dress-Up Relay

Dress for success, then take it all off in this zany relay race. Teams compete to see who can take turns putting on old clothes, racing to their teammate, and removing layers while the next player piles them on. Take lots of funny photos as players dress and run.

Ages: 6 and up

  • At the starting line, place two large boxes with old clothes.
  • The first player puts on all the clothes in the box and races to the next player.
  • The first player then removes the clothes and the second player puts them on and races to the third player.
  • The last player has to run back to the start, remove the clothes and put them in the box.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Gather up old clothes; you can ask your family for donations.
  • Find two boxes.

Uncle Bob Says

Touch your toes -- but only when Uncle Bob says or you'll be out. Find the fastest talker in the family and put that motormouth to good use. Let Uncle Bob (or any volunteer) lead the clan in this personalized version of Simon Says.

Ages: 6 and up

  • Appoint fast-talking Uncle Bob (or whoever volunteers) as emcee.
  • Have Uncle Bob issue simple instructions, prefacing each instruction with "Uncle Bob says ...," such as, "Uncle Bob says to touch your nose."
  • Every so often Uncle Bob omits the opening phrase (he might say "Touch your toes").
  • Players are only supposed to respond to commands that begin with "Uncle Bob says ..."
  • Those who obey the other commands are out.
  • The last player left wins the game.
  • The faster Uncle Bob talks, the more challenging the game.

Plan-Ahead Tip:

  • Ask for volunteers to be the emcee or select the fastest talker.

Scavenger Hunt

There won't be any skeletons in the closet, but you may learn a little family history as you search for the items on your list. Hunt for objects, answer family trivia questions, and win the game by crossing the most tasks off your list. Half the fun is redefining the clues; a blue shoe can be Cousin Jill's sneaker, a doll shoe, or an ad from a magazine.

Ages: 8 and up

  • Teams receive lists and check off as many items on the list as they can find. You can make lists of objects to collect and/or lists of questions to answer.
  • The team that checks off the most items wins.
  • There is a reasonable amount of interpretation allowed so if the list says "find a green leaf," that could mean a literal leaf, a leaf of a book, or a picture of a leaf on a box or can.
  • Lists of questions are great ways for families to learn more about each other. Sample questions: Who is the youngest person at the reunion? Who fought in France and was awarded a silver medal in WWII? How many relatives are named Charlie?
  • When teams are seeking objects, they must remember to ask before borrowing and to return all borrowed items.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Make lists of objects or questions.
  • Divide the group into teams.

Treasure Hunt

You don't have to be a pirate to appreciate a good treasure hunt. Deciphering clues and following a treasure map are almost as much fun as finding the loot. Fill a "chest" with chocolate coins or tiny toys for all to share.

Ages: 8 and up

  • Teams follow a map and/or clues to find the treasure.
  • The host maps out the route and devises the clues.
  • To design a hunt, begin by deciding where the loot will be hidden and plan your path from there to the starting point.
  • Decide where to plant clues and use clear clues that everyone will understand. Clues can be in rebus form, inside plastic eggs, or in code.
  • The treasure should be something that the victors can share, like treats, or gag prizes, like silly hats.
  • Start your hunt by reading the first clue aloud so that everyone begins hunting at the same time.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Purchase the treasure (online retailer U.S. Toy has a few kinds of treasure chests and novelties to fill them with).
  • Map out the hunt and make up the clues.
  • Hide the treasure and plant clues.

US Toy

An enjoyable way to get to know your family is to sit around a table and do crafts together. The quilting bee is a classic example of family members getting together. However, you do not need any special skills (like quilting) to have fun -- just interesting supplies and good company. Here are some suggestions for simple craft projects with minimal instructions. These easy activities can be completed quickly and appeal to a variety of ages. You can also purchase craft kits or assemble your own, if you prefer. Craft stores sell kits and supplies, and the catalog retailer Oriental Trading has more than 600 kits and supplies to choose from.

Oriental Trading

Plan-Ahead Tips:

Regardless of the activity you choose, make a few samples of the finished item after you assemble your supplies. Not only do samples show off the final results and provide guests with inspiring ideas, they also allow you to practice and see exactly what you need, as well as how long the project takes to make.

Placemats

Create a family portrait fit to feast on. Children (and adults) will love setting any table with the personalized place mats they created. Artists can draw individual family members, a group portrait, or a self-portrait.

  • Set out construction paper, scissors, glue, stickers, markers, glitter, and crayons.
  • Take a sheet of construction paper and decorate.
  • Place mats will last longer if they are laminated.

Ages: 4 and up

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy construction paper, scissors, glue, stickers, markers, glitter, and crayons.
  • Look for cold-seal laminators for under $30 at office supply stores and the online retailer Amazon.com.

Amazon.com

Puppets

All you need to make a puppet is a craft stick and a picture. You can use photos of family members, cut pictures from a magazine, or draw your own. Glue the picture to one end of the craft stick and you have a puppet. Children love making and playing with puppets. Organize a puppet show or use the puppets for place cards if you have a banquet.

Ages: 4 and up

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy craft sticks, oak tag, scissors, glue, and whatever you want to use to decorate your puppets, like stickers, markers, and buttons.
  • Collect old magazines for pictures to cut out.
  • Supply photos or ask people to bring their own.

Paper Sculptures

Bring out the beast in yourself -- design a family mascot or make a new friend in 3-D. Create "stuffed" creatures from construction paper and shredded newspaper.

Ages: 6 and up

  • Draw a large shape of an animal or object on a sheet of construction paper.
  • Place two sheets together and cut them out so that you have two identical shapes.
  • Staple around most of the edge of your shape.
  • Stuff with shredded newspaper, staple closed, and decorate.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy construction paper, staplers, staples, markers, crayons, glue, and anything you want to use for decoration ("wiggly" eyes are great fun).
  • Shred newspaper with a shredding machine or scissors and store in plastic garbage bags.

Beading

People love to make something they can wear or give to someone special, like Grandma. It's easy for little fingers to use a shoelace to string beads. Teens might enjoy using clear thread for a floating effect, and elastic thread is perfect for bracelets. Surprise a great aunt with a great necklace or exchange friendship rings with a second cousin. Add a strand of beads to a key ring or use one for a bookmark. Remember, this is not a safe activity for very small children unless the beads are too big to swallow.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy beads and string or thread.
  • Use plastic food containers to keep your beads sorted (they make cleanup easy, too).

Balloon Critters

Turn a simple balloon into a dog, a cat, or an imaginary creature. Inflate balloons and decorate with stickers and markers. You can tape on ears, arms, and tails. Get fancy and make feet or shoes for your balloons with a hole to stick the knot through (kids love these).

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy balloons, stickers, markers, tape, cardboard, or construction paper (for the feet or shoes) and a hole punch.
  • Inflate your balloons the night before and store them in plastic garbage bags.

From gospel to show tunes, music sets the mood for any special event. If you're having a reunion barbecue, country tunes can have the whole clan line-dancing. Express your family pride with ethnic music or set the tone for a formal banquet with timeless classical performances. Whether you raise your voices in song or gather 'round to listen, music should be shared. Dazzle the family with your DJ skills and swap CDs to broaden your musical horizons. Invent a family song, perform in a lip-synch contest, or march in the family band; there's a fun-filled music activity here for everyone.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Find out what types of music the family likes to play and listen to. Ask guests to send in top 10 lists, have a family anthem contest, or invite family members to submit favorite pieces they would like to play or sing together.
  • Purchase music to establish a mood or express a theme. Look in record stores or at online retailer CDNow or music retailer Tower Records for all kinds of music.

CDNow

Tower Records

Family Song

Sing a song of the Smith family. Compose an original family song or write your own lyrics to a popular tune. Glorify an ancestor, tell of a grand family romance, or celebrate your ethnic heritage in song. Could there be a Cole Porter or Paul McCartney in your family? Find out -- have a family song-writing contest. If the muse doesn't strike, go to the online company Keepsake Family Moments, which will write a song for you (including lyric sheet and tape or CD). Budding directors and pop stars might enjoy making family music videos to be shown at the reunion.

Keepsake Family Moments

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • If you write a family song (or have one written), make a tape and send out copies so that everyone can learn the song before the big event.
  • For a songwriting contest, send out rules, such as how long the song should be, and suggestions for subject matter.
  • People can either sing their song at the reunion or send in tapes to be played. Let the rest of the family vote for their favorite.
  • Ask people to bring their family music videos, too.

Sing-Alongs

Make a joyful noise by having a sing-along. Sing folk songs, ethnic songs, pop songs -- any kind of songs, as long as you sing together. Share your heritage with music; teach everyone songs in the mother tongue. Think globally; include international folk songs and have a multicultural sing-along. Appoint a family choirmaster to lead you in song, or hire someone from a local college or music school. Choose a program and send out the music for people to learn before the reunion. For a less formal sing-along, distribute lyric sheets to popular songs like "Yankee Doodle" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." You can assemble your favorites in a family songbook.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Appoint a choirmaster or hire one.
  • Decide on a program.
  • Buy tapes or CDs of ethnic music. Look for ethnic music in music stores and at music retailer Tower Records.
  • Transliterate lyrics to ethnic music so that guests can sing along.
  • Send out lyrics and tapes.
  • Make copies of popular song lyrics for an informal sing-along.
  • Look for songs in music stores and at online retailer CD Now.

Tower Records

CDNow

Family Songbook

You'll always have a song in your heart with a family songbook. Ask everyone to send in favorite songs. Put lyrics and sheet music in a binder or folder with a tape or CD. Write down who chose which song and include family pictures. Songbooks can be used for sing-alongs and party favors.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Have guests send in a tape or CD of their favorite song, with lyrics and sheet music.
  • Assemble a tape of all the songs and make copies.
  • Copy the lyrics and sheet music, and put them in decorated or personalized binders or folders (Marnex Products has customized binders and folders).

Marnex Products

Family Band/Orchestra

When musical talent is in the genes, organize a family band or orchestra. A family member can volunteer to be the conductor, or you can go to a local college or music school to hire one. Send out sign-up sheets to see who will be playing what instruments and choose a program. For those with great enthusiasm and little training, have plenty of kazoos and rhythm instruments. Send out the music in plenty of time for players to learn their parts. Organize a practice or two and perform for the family. Record your concert and make copies for all.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Send out sign-up sheets.
  • Find a family member to be the conductor or hire one.
  • Purchase kazoos and rhythm instruments. Find kazoos and rhythm instruments at music stores and at online retailer Kazoo Toys.
  • Choose a program and send out the music.
  • Arrange to make a recording and copies of the performance.

Kazoo Toys

Lip-Synch Contests

You don't need to carry a tune to participate in a lip-synch contest. All you have to do is look and act the part. Guests can bring a tape or CD to perform their favorite hits. You provide the player. Send out sign-up sheets and prepare a program for the contest. Appoint a panel of judges and give points for originality and costumes. Award prizes of gift certificates to a national music retailer like Tower Records.

Tower Records

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Send out sign-up sheets.
  • Write up the program.
  • Designate judges.
  • Order gift certificates.
  • Supply tape player and/or CD player.

Karaoke Contest

Guests will express themselves vocally at a family karaoke contest. A karaoke machine (a type of CD player) provides the musical accompaniment to guests' vocals and connects to a television or video monitor so the singer can see the lyrics. Hire a karaoke jockey or supply your own machine and CDGs (CDs with graphics). Let the crowd vote with their applause. Gift certificates to an e-commerce CD store, like CDNow, would make perfect prizes.

CDNow

Karaoke.com

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Find a karaoke jockey in your local phone book.
  • Purchase a karaoke machine and CDGs at electronics stores and online retailer Karaoke.com.
  • Invite guests to bring their own CDGs to be played.
  • Order gift certificates for prizes.

Disc Jockey

Whether you go for square dance or swing dance, a good DJ draws the crowd together with music. Look in your local phone book under Disc Jockeys or ask for volunteers. Deejaying may be very attractive to teens; stage a DJ contest, if you have enough interest. You can limit the program to certain styles of music or open your ears and see what happens. For a really large crowd, hire two DJs -- one for the kids and teens, the other for the adults.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Hire a DJ (or two).
  • Ask for volunteers to DJ.
  • Approve of the music or choose a style.
  • Organize a DJ contest.

CD Swap

Communicate through music -- swap CDs and find out what gets Granddad's toes a-tappin'. Teens, in particular, may be motivated to participate. Arrange a time for the swap, and let folks circulate and see what they find. You can also ask all guests to send or bring a copy of their favorite CD, and then set up a table with portable CD players for easy listening. Or have a great big CD grab bag. As guests pull out a CD, they can read the title and identify who brought it. Instruct music contributors to label their CDs so the other participants will know who contributed it.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Ask guests to bring CDs for the swap and a copy of their favorite CD for the grab bag (identify the donor with a label).
  • Provide blankets, folding tables, or boxes for the swap.
  • Supply a bag or box for the grab bag.
  • Find a table and portable CD players.

A reunion is the perfect place to gather the family wit and wisdom, sharing recipes, songs, stories, and photos. Group projects, like assembling slide shows and scrapbooks or compiling family history, bring different perspectives and personalities together. Watching home movies and posing for a group photo offer the kind of intimate family fun that creates lasting memories. Pool your talents and interests to enjoy and preserve what makes your family special to you.

Plan Ahead Tip:

  • If you choose several projects -- like a family cookbook, a family songbook, and a family album -- stagger your requests for recipes, songs, and photos to build anticipation.

Storytelling

Preserve your oral history; record family stories and compile them in an anthology. Guests can write or tape their stories and send them in. You can set up a video camera or tape recorder and invite people to record their stories at the reunion, too. Children can be encouraged to illustrate the family stories, and you could include their work in the anthology. Reading ethnic folktales to the children (and adults!) is another fun way for everyone to learn more about your heritage and other cultures. Send out copies of the anthology, including tapes, as reunion mementos, or sell them for fundraising. Family members can take turns reading the stories aloud to make the tape.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Collect stories on paper or tape.
  • Compile the anthology and make copies.
  • Buy binders or folders or have the anthology bound at a copy center.
  • Make a tape of family members reading the stories and make copies.
  • Provide a video camera or tape player to record stories at the reunion.
  • Supply paper and drawing materials for children's illustrations.
  • Find ethnic folktales to read aloud.
  • Enclose the anthology and tape in welcome packets or party favor bags.

Family Geography

Trace your family's journey from the motherland or see how far flung you are on world and U.S. maps. Put up big maps and make it a group activity. Call out a family name and a family member can come forward, tell where he or she is from, and put a decorative pin in the map. Use color coordinated pushpins or stickers to show where everyone is from. Maps are wonderful in family museums or beside the sign-in table.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

Buy maps at online bookstores like National Geographic and Rand McNally.

National Geographic

Rand McNally

  • Mount the map on foam board (found in art supply stores) or cardboard, or hang it on a corkboard.
  • Buy pushpins or stickers.
  • Use string or markers to link where you came from and where you are today.

Posing for a group photo is an absolute must at a family reunion. With a wide-angle lens (to fit everyone in the frame), a tripod, and a self-timer, gifted amateurs can take fabulous photos. Panoramic cameras and lenses can also be useful. Everyone in the photo should receive a print. You can also hire professional photographers, and guests can order copies. Set up a primping place for folks to straighten up and brush their teeth and hair before the photo is taken, so they will feel confident that they look their best. After you've posed for the formal group photo, you may want to take a humorous approach with costumes or props. Check with local copy centers; some can print T-shirts or posters in less than a day. Guests could pose for a quick photo on the first day and go home wearing a family photo T-shirt. You can also use the group photo on postcards, on covers of family cookbooks, songbooks, and storybooks, and on invitations to the next reunion. Each family could come wearing their own family portraits on T-shirts, so you know who belongs to whom.

Photo shops and copy centers offer many ways to use your photos, too. Club Photo is a Web site that can put your family picture on canvas, on plates, on cookies (they have a bunch of really wild photo food gifts), paint by number kits, T-shirts, puzzles, mouse pads, mugs, stamps, and more.

Club Photo

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Hire a photographer or choose a volunteer.
  • Set aside an area for guests to freshen up before they pose.
  • Provide costumes and props for a humorous photo.
  • Check with local copy centers for same-day or overnight T-shirt printing.

Family Photo Album

Send a single-use (disposable) camera with every invitation. Ask people to take pictures of themselves and their family and send the camera back to you by a certain deadline before the reunion. Develop the pictures and make a family album or let guests assemble their own. Order personalized binders from retailer Marnex, look for interesting binders at online retailer Scrapbook Superstore, or decorate ones from an office supply store. You can sell copies of the family album to raise money to fund the reunion or enclose them in welcome packets or with party favors. Leave room for the group photo and you can send guests copies later. A fun idea is to ask for baby pictures and make a Family Baby Book. Guests will enjoy matching the faces in the group photo to the corresponding baby pictures.

Marnex

Scrapbook Superstore

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Purchase and send out single-use (disposable) cameras.
  • Collect photos and assemble albums.
  • Make copies of albums.
  • Put albums in welcome packets or party favor bags.
  • Set up a table with photos and binders for guests to create their own albums.
  • Ask for baby pictures.

Snapshots: Single-Use Cameras

Aside from gathering photos for a family album, you can enclose single-use cameras with the invitations and use the photos for a myriad of purposes. All the guests can take pictures of themselves and send them back as an RSVP. Develop the pictures, make copies, and make a photomontage. Use the photos for family biographies, trading cards, nametags, and scrapbooks. You can customize games, make place cards and create a photo gallery. Put single-use cameras in welcome packets for people to take pictures with at the reunion. Set aside a basket and guests can drop them off as they leave. Process the films and make reunion albums as mementos.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Buy single-use (disposable) cameras.
  • Send cameras with invitations or enclose in welcome packets.
  • Process the film and use the photos.
  • Provide a basket to collect cameras as guests leave.

Scrapbooks & Memory Boxes

Family memorabilia and photos can be handsomely displayed in a scrapbook or memory box. Learn about scrapbooking from our handy guides. You can set up a scrapbook table and let guests preserve their own memories. Provide copies of family photos, documents, time lines, and family trees, as well as scrapbooking supplies. Assign a volunteer or two to take pictures at the reunion. Take the films to a one-hour photo place to be developed, and make copies for the scrapbook or scrapbook table. Give folks single-use (disposable) cameras in their welcome packets and let them process the film themselves for scrapbook photos.

Memory boxes are another way to store and display your family treasures. Elegant wooden boxes and cardboard boxes covered with decorative paper can be found at stationery and gift stores. Children might enjoy making memory boxes by decorating shoe boxes with paper, markers, stickers, and glitter.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Learn more about scrapbooking with BHG.com's free special scrapbooking guide.
  • Buy scrapbooks and supplies. Look in stationery stores and at the online retailers Scrapbook Superstore and Scrapbook Creations.
  • Buy single-use (disposable) cameras and include in welcome packets.
  • Collect shoe boxes and art supplies for children's memory boxes.

BHG.com Scrapbooking Guide

Scrapbook Superstore

Scrapbook Creations

Multimedia Slide Show

Stage a multifamily extravaganza; combine music, narration, performance, and slides for a multimedia family slide show. Recruit teens and young adults to assemble the piece, and give every family a chance to share an exciting event or accomplishment. Ask guests to send in copies of slides with brief descriptions. Take care to identify slides and credit the photographer. You can supply additional material like family history and memorabilia and sell tickets to the show to fund the reunion.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Collect slides.
  • Find young people to put together the show.
  • Provide a projector, tape or CD player, and lighting.
  • Gather memorabilia and family history for the show.

Family Film Festival

Send out a call for home movies; ask guests to send or bring video copies of their favorite home movies. Set up a TV and VCR for an evening of family entertainment. Let the filmmakers introduce themselves and their films. You can also ask everyone bring a favorite video. Make a video library to watch on rainy days and quiet evenings. Have plenty of popcorn on hand to munch.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Ask for home videos and favorite videos. People can send them in or bring them.
  • Provide at least one TV and VCR.
  • Make popcorn.

No matter how much they may want to be there, some people will not be able to make it to the reunion. Illness, infirmity, and work obligations can prevent some family members from joining in the fun. Assemble and send care packages to the folks who can't make it. Include a welcome packet, party favors, reunion programs, videos, photos, cookbooks, scrapbooks, and cards from the kids. Set up a table for card making, complete with art supplies and the names of the absent relatives. Send special greetings in your reunion video or on tape. Submitting recipes, family stories, songs, and pictures is a way for people to participate who can't be there in person. Imagine the pleasure of receiving a reunion care package when you are in the hospital or a nursing home.

Plan-Ahead Tips:

  • Collect all the names and addresses of those who can't attend.
  • Provide a table and art supplies so children can make cards.
  • Assemble care packages and send.
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