5 Things You Can Do To Make This Year’s Family Reunion the Best Yet
Posted on June 15, 2017 by Kacey Roby
Little ones running and chasing their cousins. Babies being held in the arms of wise great-grandparents. Family reunions are full of simple pleasures like these, yet they take a lot of planning. The when, where and who of a family reunion can be so time consuming that we sometimes forget why we’re getting together in the first place – to deepen our connection with the people we love, bridge generations and share the most precious gift we have to give – time.
No need to tackle it all yourself. Tap into the strengths of those nearest and dearest and delegate. Here are five suggestions to make the most of your time together. Try a couple or all of them.
Exchange Memories Over Photos
In the “old days,” someone in the family was the designated shutterbug and snapped tons of photos. They developed the film and if you were lucky, they sprung for double prints. When it comes to old photos, ask family members to bring them to the reunion. Write details on the back of the photo – who is in it, where they are and the date – so that younger family members can identify everyone.
Today, everyone has a camera on their phone. Photos can be uploaded to a site such as Flickr or Shutterfly for others to view, or you can create a closed Facebook group for your family to share photos. And, if Aunt Rena prefers prints, she can order them from the site whenever she likes.
Capture Family Stories
Storytelling is the sharing of wisdom in its purest form. It isn’t only entertaining and beneficial for others, it’s a deeply satisfying opportunity for the storyteller. Reminiscing allows them to reflect on years past, creating a sense of accomplishment, and provide younger generations a chance to hear about real-world experiences they can apply to their own lives.
A reunion is the ideal time to capture family stories on audio or video. Nothing compares to getting the story straight from the horse’s mouth, such as hearing Uncle Bob recount the time he “borrowed” Grandpa’s car for a late-night joyride or when Aunt Joan shoveled a path through 48 inches of snow to get to the grocery.
There are plenty of resources available that offer apps to record stories for archiving or sharing with others. Draw inspiration for interview questions from your family. Have them submit their questions for a “live” Q&A with Grandpa.
Create a Visual Timeline
A study by Emory University found that children who knew their family history had higher self-esteem and were better able to deal with stress.
Empower your young generations by creating a family timeline. Roll out a long length of craft paper and draw a horizontal line through the middle. Start at the far left with the earliest significant family date you know, such as the birth of a great-great-grandparent. Have everyone write in special dates – births, marriages, graduations, return from war, career accomplishments – all the way to present time. Tell the little ones about these events and engage their imagination by having them illustrate your family stories.
Designate someone to be the keeper of the timeline and bring it to future reunions. Add paper and continue filling in dates as the family grows and changes.
Gather Around the Table
Few things are more highly coveted and revered than family recipes. Discuss food and menu planning in your family’s Facebook group prior to your event and post requests for recipes you’ve been wanting for your family cookbook. Making the dishes together is a way to involve everyone and pass them down to others.
Personalize a Playlist
Songs bring back memories and make you want to boogie. Create a custom family soundtrack by collecting favorite songs in advance. Play them during your time together and watch for Grandma Dorothy to smile and bop her head when she hears Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” – and think of how everyone will talk at the next reunion when Cousin Lisa teaches Uncle Levi the “Cupid Shuffle.” Make a playlist so your family can cherish memories on their drive home and for years to come.
Make the most of your reunion. Focus on why you are together – to connect, create new memories and have fun. These are priceless gifts that will shape your family for generations to come.