Many families are spread around the world and family reunions are the one time of year when they can get together. July is Family Reunion month. With the warm weather and no school for the children, this is the perfect time to gather and enjoy one another’s company.
But unfortunately, many family reunions start out as an awkward social experience. When you haven’t seen an individual for a long period of time or if you don’t know one of your relatives very well, it can be hard to strike up a conversation. Below are five ways that you can connect at your family reunions.
Name tags are a simple and easy way to get to know your extended family. This is also an excellent way for each generation to learn about one another. Teenagers may hear the name of Aunt Sue but don’t know who she actually is, and Aunt Sue may see a child running around and have no idea who's child it is. Name tags are a visual way of piecing together the family. They don’t take much planning and preparation and they make it easier to talk to someone, especially since you will already know the person's name.
Create a book full of stories, photos, genealogy and more about your family. You can share photos of when family members were young and past family reunions. You can have individuals share stories about their life or about family members who have passed on. The stories and photos stored in the book are excellent conversation starters and can trigger fond memories.
Designate someone in your family to update the genealogy and history in the book. Each year, update important events such as marriages, births and deaths. By updating this information when all of the family is around, you will have resources available to you to answer questions you may have and to help you fill in any gaps you may find in your history.
A challenge for many large family reunions is how to engage the younger generations. Teens and young adults often know few people and a family reunion can become a long and dreaded event. To help them feel connected, create a Facebook group of your family. Be diligent at posting information regarding your family on the page and even post pictures and stories about the older family members so they feel they know something about each individual. By adding information via social networks, the younger family members will regularly view the information and they will feel more involved during the reunion.
You can really bring a group of people together with a game. Find a few family-friendly games that individuals of all ages can play. Separate the family into teams and do your best to separate immediate family members. By splitting up immediate family members, they will be forced to talk to one another and get to know each other. Just make sure that when you choose games to play, that you choose an activity that isn't overly competitive. The last thing you need is a large family fight.
Help family members feel involved by giving them assignments. Let different individuals plan the games and activities for the reunion. Give other members food assignments and preparation tasks. By delegating tasks to other individuals, you will not have as much to worry about and you will receive a much larger turnout.
Family reunions don’t have to be a dreaded event each summer. By making a few extra preparations, family members can feel connected even if they don’t know many extended family members there. By applying the above suggestions into your reunion, you will have a successful reunion that everyone will love.
Courtnie is an editor for FamilyShare.com and has a degree in journalism. She has a slight obsession with running, newspapers and large fuzzy blankets. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons.