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Plan Activities

There are many types of activities you can plan for your family reunion. Here are some to consider. Choose the ones that are most appropriate.

The activities at a family reunion are part of what make it memorable. If you have a goal you want the reunion to accomplish, the activities are what you use to achieve it.

Exactly what activities you plan will depend on the size and type of your reunion, the time of year you hold it, its location and how well funded the reunion is. Be sure to take into account the interests of family members and the needs of different age groups.

Begin by thinking about what activities your family reunion should offer. Here's a list of possibilities.

  • Lectures. Have a family member tell about an ancestor or invite an expert on local history to tell about the location you're in, especially if some of your ancestors are from there.
  • Classes. Classes let people break up into small groups to pursue their interests. They are especially appropriate for large family reunions. You can offer classes about nearly any topic such as scrapbooking or writing an autobiography. If you have a theme, build a curriculum of several classes around it. Choose topics that interest several family members. Depending on your family, you can offer classes about fishing, money management, house plant care or even how to build a space ship?
  • Talent show. Invite family members to sing, dance, play, recite, tell a story or do something else to entertain other family members. You can ask everyone to prepare something for very small reunions or invite them to volunteer.
  • Work groups. Suppose a number of family members are likely to want to work on genealogy at the reunion. Schedule one or more work groups to do just that. Give them a room, a period of time to work in, and some tools such as a copy machine or an Internet connection, and they'll be happy. You can schedule work groups to tackle any family project, such as building a picnic area on a piece of family-owned land or planning next year's reunion.
  • Shopping. Is there a shopping mall nearby? Offer an excursion for anyone interested. Some family members will consider it the high point of the entire reunion!
  • Tours. No matter where you hold your family reunion there are bound to be features of interest. They may be historical, architectural, or artistic. You may find a national park or a museum. Schedule tours of these features for family members to enjoy. One tour that can be especially interesting, if family members are buried there, is to the local cemetery. Let people do gravestone rubbings or take photographs.
  • Sports. Swimming and snorkeling, lying on the beach, playing softball or volleyball, skiing or running relay races can all make the time at a family reunion pleasant. You can attend a professional, college or high school sporting event. Be sure to consider the age groups and physical condition of family members as you plan.
  • Singing. Some families love to sing together. If yours is one of them, be sure to choose a singing activity such as karaoke or a sing-along.
  • Concerts, theater or movies. Most cities have concert halls and theaters. You can plan an evening of high culture or see a new hit movie together.
  • Service projects. One of the most memorable activities is giving service to others. It also teaches younger family members an important value. Taking a couple of hours to help others is truly rewarding and you can convince most family members to dedicate a portion of their time to such a project. You can find service projects by asking a family member who lives in the area to arrange one, by contacting local churches or by asking the concierge at your hotel.
  • Fundraisers. Hold a car wash, bake sale, or other activity to raise money to pay for the reunion.
  • Games. The younger set will stay busy for hours if you provide them with plenty of games. There are outdoor games and indoor games, old-fashioned ones and the latest video games, quiet board games and raucous athletic ones. Some games are better for young children, some for older children and some for adults.
  • Worship. If you'll hold your family reunion on a day of the week when family members usually attend worship services, make it a family affair.
  • Eating. Food belongs in almost every family reunion. It goes without saying that you'll have meals together. Make them special with old family recipes or ethnic foods.
  • Free time. Most of the people who come to a family reunion want to spend time renewing their acquaintance with other family members. They may also have needs that have nothing to do with the reunion: buying diapers for the baby, refilling a prescription, catching up on sleep and so on. So, while it's important to have other activities, you need to balance them with adequate free time. You can either assign free time periods explicitly or just expect that people won't show up to all the other activities. Both approaches work, but for smaller reunions you may want to explicitly assign free times; otherwise, there may not be adequate attendance at other planned events.

Where to Get More Ideas

As you plan your family reunion activities, you may decide you want to plan certain ones--a tour or shopping, for example--but you don't know what will be available at the location you've chosen. How do you find out? Here are some ways.
  • Ask a family member who lives there.
  • Use the World Wide Web. Type the location of your family reunion in Google or another search engine of your choice and add words such as "things to do." For example, if you want to know what to do in Ontario, Canada, type: "Things to do in Ontario Canada" in your Google search box. You could also type "shopping in Ontario Canada" or "Ontario Canada tours."
  • Phone the local chamber of commerce. Explain your needs. Someone there will be happy to help. You can find the local chamber by searching online for the location with the words "chamber of commerce."
  • Ask your travel agency. They will know about the place you're going or they'll know how to get information for you.