Planning the perfect Family Reunion

Elaine Flake author of “Your Family Reunion: Getting Together Your Get
Together” gives tips on where to start and how to make the event
Her tips will help you navigate the maze associated with planning a
successful family reunion, regardless of the size of the gathering.

Considerations for the Location

1. Cost—is it affordable for all families involved?

2. Proximity—how far will everyone have to travel? Is car-pooling or caravanning a possibility?

3. Accessibility—roads, parking, walking, hauling?

4. Adequacy of accommodations—what about families with small children, older members, handicapped people, etc.?

5. Availability of food storage facilities and water?

6. Safety hazards—are there dangerous roads, streams, cliffs? Are children visible while playing?

7. Attractions—is there something of interest to attend such as a theme park, sightseeing, or scheduled community event?

8. Weather—too hot, too cold, too rainy? Do you have a back up plan for bad weather?

9. Facilities—baseball diamond, volley ball court, basketball court, central meeting area, possibility of holding concurrent activities such as dividing into age groups?

10.Potential for being memorable—possibility of historical,
cultural and especially spiritual significance?

List of Activities

Miscellaneous Activities

Talent show

Family dance (limbo, rumba, etc.)


Comedy show

Solve brainteasers

Scavenger hunt

Treasure hunt

Gift exchange (esp. Christmas)


Stupid human tricks

Make your own spook alley

Scary midnight walk (or run)



Play or pageant

Group birthday party

Crafts—paint rocks, beadwork, etc.

Puzzle (community effort)

Fashion show (funny fashions or imitate family members)

Dunking pool

Make a movie

Paint a mural

Band or chamber orchestra

Jug band

Teddy bear picnic or doll tea party

Personifications (of family members or celebrities)

Barbie doll fest (for little girls, of course)

Blanket toss

Costume party

Makeovers (teens love it)

Work or service projects

Clapping games (such as Peas Porridge Hot)

Visiting rotation (each family has 10 minutes with every other family)

Outside entertainment

Hot air balloon






Phony dictionary definitions (called balderdash)


Tag (various kinds)


Board games

Kids card games (Rook, etc.)

Spin the bottle (with acceptable forfeits)

Traditional kids playground games Mother May I, Red Rover, Hide and Seek, etc.)


Miniature golf




Arm wrestling

Chin ups

Push ups, etc.

Cousin look-alikes

Eating contests—watermelon, etc.

Trivia—family and regular


Beanbag toss

Mix up families—let someone try to straighten them out

Spelling bee

Human knots

Hide money in a sawdust pile and let kids scramble for it

Catch a greased pig or something else that runs away

Tape money on something that runs

Do something the longest—hold breath, put hand in ice water, etc.

Ten people standing on a blanket—they have to turn it over without stepping off

Partner has to feed you blindfolded (first team done wins)

Song, poem, or limerick writing contest

Relays (egg toss, egg in spoon, run and dress up—run back, transfer water, etc.)

High jump

Broad jump


Three-legged race

Sack race

Crab race

Wheelbarrow race

5 K


Tour of BYU or other campus

Theme park

Water park


Factory, bakery, etc.

Fish hatchery

Botanical garden, atrium, etc.


Outdoor concert

Tourist sites in the area

Beach, lake, park, campground, etc.

Spook alley, haunted house or maize

Get-acquainted Activities


Skits from each family

Baby or child photo contest

Scrapbook pages from each family

Poster from each family

Write down one thing you’ve done—other guess who did it

List items and find someone who fits into that blank

Pair up and tell about each other to the group

Sports Activities

Basketball (can be a 3 on 3 tournament, etc.)

Football—use family rules

Golf tournament (may not be practical—but a lot of families I surveyed have one)









Outdoor Activities


Four wheeling


White water rafting



Sand castle building

Cliff jumping (into water)

Wake boarding

Surf boarding

Knee boarding

Water skiing

Jet skiing

Wave running



Ice block sledding

Snow sledding




Water fight (balloons?)

Trampoline rodeo

Ropes course

Rope swing

Zip line



Hay or wagon ride

Mud wrestling


Street bowling

Home run derby

Obstacle course



Alpine slide

Family Heritage Activities
(based on the past)

Oldest relatives share stories

Make up songs about ancestors

Sing old songs

Bring family history projects to share or even sell (compilations, etc.)

Make a pedigree chart or family tree

Tell stories of ancestors

Impersonate an ancestor

Enact family history events

Read excerpts (not too long) from journals, etc.

Tell how some of your ancestors met

Question/answer session with older family members

Interview (private and then report or in front of the whole group)

Visit gravesites

Model costumes of some ancestors’ era

Tour sites where relatives grew up

Family Heritage Activities or Traditions
(based on the present)

Parents’ night out

Family business meeting

No empty chairs (bring photos of people in your family who cannot attend and post them on a chair)

Make a time capsule—current events and family news

Have autograph books

Start a website

Make a video of each reunion

Make a scrapbook of each reunion

Auction—bring homemade articles

Trading post, swap meet, or family garage sale

Write letters to missionaries and servicemen and women
Enact the nativity (Christmas) or other appropriate holiday or commemorative occasion

Write letters to yourselves—predict where you will be in one, five, or ten years from now. Save them and open them then.

Have each family bring a video clip

Get a trumpet to play taps, reveille, call to mess, etc.

Flag raising or lowering ceremony

Spotlights of family members

Cousin parties (according to age)

Family banners or flags

Prepare a memory booklet everyone can take home

Start a family missionary fund

Start a family newsletter

Calendar with family pictures for each month

Start a family organization

Educational Activities

Guest speakers

Education week type lectures by family members

Teach kids to crochet, quilt, carve, etc.

Book reports, movie reviews, etc.

Spiritual Activities

Attend Church together

Have speakers (returned missionaries, etc.)

Split into age groups for special classes

Missionary fireside (or other fireside)

Testimony meeting

Family prayer or devotionals (daily, evening, morning, opening & closing, etc.)

Temple session (baptisms for the kids)

Service project

Relate family miracles, inspiring incidents, etc.

Tell conversion stories

Favorite scriptures

Fasting for family members

Favorite hymns

(Material taken from the book Your Family Reunion: A Complete Guide for Getting Together Your Get-together by Elaine Flake)

Step by Step to a Great Family Reunion


1. Initiate the idea–talk to a few family members about it

2. Send out a questionnaire to family members to determine interest and preferences
3. After receiving the information, decide the time and place (have a committee if possible)

4. Reserve the place or places if you need areas for certain activities, gatherings, etc.

5. Send out an invitation stating what has been decided for dates and place and costs. Find out if there are any serious problems. This mailing should probably not contain a lot of details–just fun, excitement, inspiration, etc. You may want to suggest any projects that need to be done in advance. (Making a family quilt or making items for an auction, etc.)


1. Confirm or add to basic information such as place, date, and times

2. Inform family members of all costs

3. Make assignments for people to be in charge of meals, activities, programs, etc.

4. Include details on T-shirts or other do-ahead projects

5. Devise a way of getting as accurate a count as possible for who plans to attend (SASE or e-mail)

6. Include a family address, telephone number, and e-mail list so they can contact other family members to help them on their individual assignments


1. Send out a NICE program with all of the details including maps, directions, possible caravanning or ride-sharing, housing designations, complete schedule of events

2. Include a fairly detailed list of what to bring (bedding, towels, clothing, items for activities or family programs, food needs, etc.)

3. Give family members the phone number at the location of the reunion so they can give it to those who may need to reach them

4. Make a detailed list of what is assigned to each person–programs, activities, meal assignments, etc.

5. Ask for any money that needs to be paid in advance to reserve rooms, buy groceries, or purchase T-shirts. Include an envelope to make it easy.

6. Ask for a final count of persons attending.


_______ 1. Decide to be the initiator of the family reunion

_______ 2. Send out a questionnaire

_______ 3. Form a committee

_______ 4. Decide on a place

_______ 5. Decide on a date and make reservations

_______ 6. Make an announcement of the reunion to the family

_______ 7. Send out preliminary plans—delegate responsibilities and order T-shirts

_______ 8. Mail out the detailed schedule

_______ 9. Carry out your plans

______ 10. Send out a post-reunion letter

Here are a few of the different gatherings that might qualify for the label “family reunion”:

1. A day or evening get-together scheduled at a church or other building

2. An afternoon or day at a park, beach, commercial attraction, etc. to which the extended family is invited

3. An overnight or longer gathering at a designated place–anywhere you choose from a simple backyard to a fancy resort (see Chapter 2). Camping is especially popular with families I have surveyed.

4. A trip with family members traveling together. Some of the types of trips you might want to take are a tour of 1) Church history sites or temples; 2) a national monument or park; 3) a particular state or states (how about Hawaii or Alaska?); 4) even another country (Canada and Mexico for starters? Europe or Israel for dream destinations?)



1. Decide how much of the reunion you want structured

2. Have at least one teenage and one children’s activity each day

3. “Schedule” some free time

4. Pass around the responsibility for chairing the family reunion in a systematic way

5. Plan carefully for nonmember relatives

6. Anticipate any possible areas of contention (politics, the will, rest homes)

7. Anticipate safety hazards (cliff, pond, road)

8. Have a curfew and a plan for enforcing it (example: Tell the kids, “You can talk as late as you want, but you have to be in your sleeping bags at 12:00 midnight. If you don’t comply, you will be sent to your parents’ cabin, tent, room, etc.)

9. Have technical support—lights, microphone, piano, etc. (many a child’s cute song or hard-learned recitation has been ruined because the people in the back couldn’t hear. I feel sound equipment should be rented–even at the sacrifice of something else if necessary, like having refreshments!)

10. Make a complete list of addresses, phone numbers; e-mail addresses to give out at the reunion or even better, sent out with the first or second mailing

11. Inform family members of the phone numbers where they can be reached AT the reunion ahead of time

12. Tell people what to bring—bedding, towels, swimming gear, etc.

13. Form a children’s play area—as nice as you can make it. It will “save” the moms (sand box, toys, swing, slide, tricycles, wagon, trampoline, balls, small wading pool, etc.)

14. Get any items needed from absentee families (photographs, letters, even have them make a tape) and then also send them anything you can from the reunion (photos, copies of anything given out, address list, T-shirts, etc.)

15. Make lots of assignments (promotes involvement–attitude of everyone helping)

16. Have a lost and found

17. Discuss the next reunion in a formal or informal meeting

18. Send thank-you notes by mail or email to the people who did assignments

19. Have nametags–families can make their own so you can learn who belongs where. Hanging around neck is good for kids and babies.


1. …expect teenagers to play immature games

2. …leave little kids with teenagers to tend while the adults have an activity (except maybe ONE HOUR)–the adult retreat (chapter 9 of Your Family Reunion: Getting Together Your Get-together) is “made” for the things adults want to do

3. …let people watch TV or more than 1 video–what a waste of bonding time!

4. …take too many posed photos–it really taxes people for some reason and spoils spontaneity

5. …drag family history sessions (or any whole-group activity) on too long–again, one hour is about the maximum for a single group event

6. …get sunburned. Ouch!

7. …make it easy for families who know each other well to pair off to the exclusion of others

8. …embarrass or annoy people–for example asking an entire group a question like “how many have been on full time missions?”–you always end up embarrassing some one! Avoid embarrassing games–like marginal questions on the newlywed game, etc.

9. …have the people who travel long distances be in charge of the last meal

10. …make a big deal of one family not approving of or not wanting to participate in an activity (maybe they don’t “do” that). Let it rest.

11. …foster exclusivity among kids–there may not be much you can do about it if some cousins just won’t “hang out” with other cousins, but try not to let this happen.

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