Are you planning a family reunion this summer? It’s the perfect place to share your family history! Here are the top 10 ways to avoid the eye rolls and make genealogy fun and exciting for all ages at your next family gathering.
Summertime is the prime time for family reunions! Warm, sunny weather is the perfect backdrop for picnics, cookouts, games, and fun with family members of all ages. These top 10 family reunion ideas can sprinkle a healthy–and tasty– dose of heritage into your next family gathering.
Top 10 Family Reunion Ideas for Sharing Family History
1. Family Tree Hopscotch
This life-sized bean bag toss/hopscotch game quizzes family members on the names of ancestors. It’s aimed at kids, but adults enjoy it, too!
2. Table Talk
If you’ll be seated at tables, provide an icebreaker that can double as a family history gathering opportunity. Place a form at each place setting for guests to fill out. Include questions like: “What’s your earliest childhood memory?” “Who’s the earliest ancestor you have a photograph of?” “What are three things you remember about great-grandmother?”
Pinterest is a great place for collecting family reunion ideas. I searched for “family reunion history” and found this Martha Stewart place card that would make a great template!
If you have a videographer at your event, you could have them go table to table and film people providing their responses. Those would be great to compile into a shareable family video afterward! Click here to learn how to create family history videos.
3. Ancestor Centerpieces
Centerpieces or displays that celebrate your heritage will attract curious relatives and may prompt memories and comments. One of our Premium eLearning members was kind enough to send us a description of her conversation-starting centerpiece. Click here to read about it.
If guests won’t be seated at tables, set up a family history display table next to the refreshments table (where they’re most likely to walk by!). Let them know that this is their gift to you. You could even have some sort of treat or little sticker they can wear that says, “I shared our family history: Have you?”
4. Sweet Memories
Create “Sweet Memories Candy Bars” that feature family history. They are great conversation starters–and the candy is a definite incentive to get people talking. Click here for the full instructions on how to make your own!
5. Heritage Scrapbook
A mini, accordion-style scrapbook craft project makes a fun, meaningful activity for all ages. Relatives can work on these alone or in little groups. It’s the kind of project that would be easy to adapt to any family’s background.
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Family History
Make a holiday craft that celebrates your heritage. My DIY heritage Christmas stocking is a hand-made heirloom that your family members are sure to treasure. Click here for a free PDF download of step-by-step directions, and watch my how-to video featured here.
Or make a family history-themed wreath! My 4-part instructional video series is available on the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel. Click here to start with Part 1.
Try a heritage twist on the classic wedding or baby shower games. Create a crossword puzzle or word search with family surnames, hometowns, favorites, and more. (Here’s a link to one website that creates a puzzle for you for free.) Or invite guests to bring their own baby pictures. Post them for all to see and let your guests guess who each baby is.
8. Cook up Some Conversation
When I was looking for family reunion ideas a while back it occurred to me that my family’s love of food was a great angle to tap into. Heritage cookbooks are a time-honored way to share family recipes, and they can double as a reunion fund-raiser if you like. Ask family members to submit recipes. Add recipes from ancestors. Share them with each family or guest who attends.
This is a surprisingly easy and budget-friendly project. Just Google it! Run a Google search on creating a recipe book, ebook, or customizable recipe cards. You’ll easily find free templates, professional programs to create print or ebooks books, more. Head to YouTube and run your search to find how-to videos.
9. The Amazing Family History Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of questions that will require some scavenger-hunt type searching among your relatives. Questions might include finding someone who has at least 10 grandchildren, was born in California, is about to start kindergarten, likes the Beatles, etc. Research ahead of time so that questions all apply. This activity gets people talking!
10. DNA Day
If you have the budget, purchase a few DNA kits for genealogy. Have them on hand in case family members want or are willing to have their DNA tested. This is especially great if older generation relatives are coming! (MyHeritage DNA and Family Tree DNA use the swab method for collection, which is often easier for children and older folks than the spit tubes.) Click here to learn more about the different DNA test types and testing companies available.
Bonus Family Reunion Tip
Did you know you can organize a great family reunion on Facebook–even if not everyone is ON Facebook? Click here to read a post with great tips about using Facebook to keep everyone in the loop and share the good times with those who can’t attend.
More Family History Ideas on Pinterest
Head to our Pinterest page for even more family history and genealogy ideas! We share easy DIY heritage crafts, inspiring stories and ideas, and out latest how-to genealogy articles and news. Be sure to share this article on family reunion ideas with the family reunion planners you know! It can be so helpful to get a fresh burst of ideas when planning big family gatherings.
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This article was originally published on August 15, 2015 and updated on April 15, 2019.