“This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided samples free of charge from Oriental Trading Company to facilitate this review. No other compensation was given.”
I am the baby of the family. Youngest of 8 children. I think that makes me the one designated to make sure everyone gets together and no one is left out. Which is probably why I actually love throwing family parties and more importantly, Family Reunions.
I’ve been in charge of a few family reunions, and so today I’m going to share with you my ideas on how to make it really successful and special, especially when there are a lot of small children who will be attending.
1. Location, location, location. Where you hold your family reunion is very important. Try to choose a destination where the majority of the family lives. Make it as easy to attend as possible. If your family lives all over the place, choose different city every year and have the person that lives there plan the reunion that year. That’s a great way to delegate.
2. Venue. We are a really laid back family. We don’t need a fancy place to have our family reunions. Especially since there will be many children attending, we try to choose really fun spots. This year we went to a private park behind my sisters house and it was so perfect. The kids had plenty of room to run around in and the adults sat in the shade and visited with each other.
3. Day Time Activities. I think it’s important for many activities to be planned throughout the day. This year we met everyone at a local pond at 10 AM and brought our own sack lunches. The kids had fun swimming and playing on the kayaks and paddle boards. They had a great time getting to know their cousins better. And the adults loved sitting on the beach and having some great conversations, along with playing in the water with the kids. After the pond everyone went home to clean up and got ready for the Family Reunion Party.
4. Food, Drinks, and Treats. Obviously this is a very important part of the family reunion. Everyone loves food, and everyone needs to eat dinner. This year we had everyone help out by signing up to bring what they could. I created a Google Doc and gave everyone the link to they could edit the document and write their names beside what they could bring. It was the best thing ever! That way I didn’t have to text everyone and ask what they could bring. I just sent the link out to everyone and they did it themselves. Our menu is found here if you want to see the yummy stuff we ate this year!
We also had a fun Gourmet Lemonade Stand with fruit purees to mix into the lemonade. The kids and adults loved it!
We also had a cotton candy machine to go along with our carnival theme.
This was so much fun! We had a contest on who would make the perfect cotton candy pouf! I think I won, by the way!
We didn’t do it this year but we have done it before, making ice cream in zip top bags is so much fun! Get the HOW TO HERE. Homemade ice cream is the best! You can choose a bunch of different mix in’s too! How fun!
I also have some great grilled chicken ideas here and 20 of the best potluck desserts here.
5. Decorations. I don’t think decorations are a necessity, but I do thing that they really make the party special. It brings it up a level and adds so much to the ambiance of the reunion. I love to get my decorations at Oriental Trading Center online and have them shipped right to me. Oriental Trading helped me out this year by sending me these cute striped table cloths, banners, and tissue paper balls.
6. Kids Activities. It’s definitely important to have activities for the kids to do at the reunion so they aren’t bored to death. We always make sure there is something fun for all ages. We choose a venue that has a basketball court, volleyball court, tennis court, or other fields to play sports in for the teenagers and adults. And for the kids we try to make it a bit more organized. This year we had a “Cousin Carnival” for the kids. It was so much fun! The kids got tickets to use at each station in a little cute bag with their name written on it. This is where they kept their prizes from each Carnival Game.
We had 4 different games for them to rotate through. And at each station the teenagers were in charge of running it and passing out the treats and prizes to the kids. This was a great way to get the teens involved with something fun at the reunion.
The four carnival games we had were:
We also had a slip ‘n slide and a baby pool for the kids to cool off in. They had a blast!
7. Adult Activities. Usually the adults are busy keeping track of their kids and visiting with the other adults, but it’s always fun to have something special planned for them. Minute to Win It Games are always a hit! My friend Katie has some great Family Reunion Games on her blog. And when it get’s dark it’s always fun to use a projector to show a slideshow of old photos from when it all began. Sharing those pictures with the kids helps keep those hilarious stories alive! A talent show or a karaoke contest is always fun for the adults. Have the kids judge everyone like they do on “Americas Got Talent”. How fun would that be?
8. Gifts. We combined our family reunion with celebrating our parents 60th wedding anniversary and my dad’s 80th birthday. So we had a special gift to give them. We bought a gallery canvas and had our very talented nephew in law draw a great big oak tree on it with bare branches.
Then we had every family put their fingerprints on a branch of the tree with green ink. Each family had their own branch and the bottom branches are bare for our quickly growing family.
I love the detail he put into this ink drawing, don’t you just love the swing and my parents heart thumbprints in the middle the tree? My mother also wanted to talk to the family about having faith, so I took a quote from her and made a printable for the family to take home and put on their fridges. We passed them out after she talked to everyone. Tender moments.
9. T-Shirts. T-Shirts are always a fun idea but sometimes it can be hard to collect all the money and sizes needed from family members. That’s where CustomInk.com comes in. You can choose a design or design your own. Choose what kind of t-shirt you want to use, and then you just send your family the link and they order their own! All the shirts can be shipped directly to them or you can choose for them all to come to you so you can pass them out at the reunion. Easy peasy!
10. Get everyone helping. While I was making the food list for everyone to fill out, I decided that I wasn’t going to do all of the decorating and games myself. So I also created a Google Doc so that everyone could sign up to help with specific things. You can see my sign up sheet here for inspiration. You need to vow to not do it all yourself because you will not enjoy yourself if you do.
So there you have it, a great and laid back family reunion that is fun for everyone!