Easy Ideas for Assembling Family Reunion Welcome Bags

It's a cinch to make reunion attendees feel special. Welcome them with bags filled with fun, festive, and affordable treats.

The best parties come with favors, and family reunions are no exception! Make a great first impression at your family reunion by handing your guests welcome packets as they arrive. Bags can be filled with both helpful information and fun treats. If your reunion has a theme, the contents of your welcome packet are like an introduction; they set the tone for the event. Here’s a helpful breakdown of what to include in your family reunion welcome gifts.

Start With The Bag

We suggest looking online for inexpensive sources for plain canvas tote bags. You can usually find ones large enough to house all your welcome info and more for between $.75 and $2.00 each depending on how many you buy. (We found some affordable options at Totebag Factory.) Use iron-on transfers or fabric paint markers and stencils to customize the bags with your event name and date to turn your bag into another memento. You can also look for a local shop or online retailer that can custom print on canvas bags to save yourself some time.

If your welcome bag materials are smaller, pick up some paper gift bags or even some brown paper sacks (typically used for school lunches). Dress them up with printed labels or tags tied on with ribbon or colorful baker’s twine.

Add Some Basic Must-Haves

You’ll definitely want to tailor the contents of your reunion welcome bag to meet your needs, but there are some basic ingredients that should almost always be included.

  • A reunion schedule or program of events. Create a simple rundown of the reunion activities on your computer and print out copies to include in each bag.
  • A copy of the house rules. If guests are staying with you, make the stay more comfortable for all by making up a quick list of household policies and helpful tips. If shoes in the house are a no-go or you have complicated directions for turning on the TV, it’s easier to relay the info with written directions that can be referenced at any time.
  • Maps and brochures for out-of-town guests. Place a big map near the sign-in table with everyone's locale marked on it, and enclose smaller maps, similarly marked, with a list of attendees. If you use Google Maps you can add pins to all the locations and then easily print out for everyone. You can even get a large version blown up to poster size at an office-supply store.
  • Master guest list. Make sure everyone has access to a full list of attendees, including where guests are staying and their phone numbers while they are in town.
  • Pens or pencils. For an inexpensive and useful memento, consider ordering personalized pens and pencils, available online as well as at office-supply stores.
  • Name tags. Make your own out of card stock or blank label stickers (small children should only receive stick-on nametags). Look in office supply stores for label stickers and name badges you can customize.
  • A folder for papers. Pick up some inexpensive folders to keep important papers organized. Customize with a simple computer-printed label sticker.

Amp It Up With Extras

There are lots of fun things you can add to your family reunion welcome bags to make the event even more memorable. Depending on your budget, consider adding one or more of the following items.

  • Family reunion T-shirts. Make your own, with white T-shirts, stencils, and fabric markers or paint. For a professional look, create iron-on designs on your computer. Office supply stores carry iron-on material that can be run through a home ink jet printer. If you’re not into doing it yourself, you can usually find a local shop that offers customized T-shirts, with or without photos, and some provide same-day or next-day service. If you’re looking online, check out a site like Broken Arrow Wear inexpensive tees that can be customized with online graphics and text styles. You can also customize baseball caps or sweatshirts for more personalized fun.
  • Single-use (disposable) cameras. Granted, most people will use their smart phones to snap shots of festivities, but disposable cameras can be a fun addition for young kids who don’t yet have phones. Kids capture perspectives adults rarely see. Have them turn in the cameras at the end of the even and process the film; request a digital copy of the images from your photo processor. That way you can easily share them with reunion attendees after the event.
  • Refillable water bottles. Rather than giving everyone disposable water bottles that will end up in landfills, we recommend helping your guests stay hydrated with a water bottle they can reuse. You can buy bottles in bulk online and even get them customized with your event name and date for a family reunion souvenir that is actually useful!
  • Themed or regional gifts. Include an item or two that expresses your family reunion theme. For instance, if you’re doing a luau theme, a plastic lei would be perfect. Consider including regional gifts like sourdough rolls (if you're having the reunion in San Francisco) or maple sugar candy (if your clan is gathering in Vermont).
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Something For Young Kids

Chances are you’re going to have young children attending your family reunion, so consider adding some things to your welcome bags to keep them entertained and busy. Here are a few suggestions:

  • An autograph book or T-shirt. Trying to get everyone to sign an autograph book or T-shirt can be a great way to keep kids entertained as adults mingle. Pick up some inexpensive notebooks in the discount aisle at Target or Walmart or grab some white men’s undershirts and some fabric markers and let kids become walking mementos of the day’s events!
  • Family member flash cards. Make or order trading cards with photos of family members on one side and personal statistics and information on the other. To make your own, glue a photo to card stock and write your information on the back. You can laminate the cards for durability. Kids will have fun learning facts about family members they’ve never even met!
  • Kid-friendly trinkets. You can pick up all sorts of inexpensive doodads that keep kids occupied and entertained. Bubbles in a bottle, glow sticks, yo-yos and more can be found in the bargain aisles of retailers like Target and Walmart or hit up your local dollar store for some inexpensive goodies.
  • Custom temporary tattoos. Kids love decorating themselves with temporary tattoos and you can take it up a notch by creating your very own tattoo design. There are lots of online places that can take you through the process and make ordering easy.

As you’re gathering items for your bags, always ask about a volume discount when you order more than a half dozen of items sold singly or look for wholesalers who offer discounts based on how many of an item you purchase.

Freebies can stretch a tight budget, so hit up local businesses that may have promotional items (like pens, pads, and magnets) for large groups. Even though you may get a bunch of pens that say "Steve's Ice Cream, Newport, Rhode Island," you're getting free pens that offer some local flavor, and out-of-town guests will enjoy the free souvenir. For more complimentary treats or regional brochures, contact the local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau and tell them you are having a reunion.

Ultimately, you can make your family reunion welcome bags as simple or as robust as you like. Everyone will appreciate the effort you put into making the event a memorable one for all!

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