Plan a memorable family reunion, with food, games and fun for all ages.
Planning a gathering of the clan? Consider these ideas from Country Woman magazine readers on sharing food, fun and memories at family reunions.
Organization is key says family reunion consultant Paula Sheagley of Canon City, Colorado.
• Appoint a planning committee and “team captains” representing different branches of the family to handle mailings, lodging, food, games, budget and such.
• Send or email invitations announcing the family reunion date and location six months to a year in advance. Follow up with a reminder closer to the date with an RSVP deadline. Include a map of the area plus details about accommodations and meals.
• If lodging is needed, tentatively book a block of rooms early.
Readers report their family reunion gatherings have taken place at campgrounds, fairgrounds, national parks, halls, school campuses and, of course, the family farm.
• For years, our family’s been gathering for a weeklong family reunion on my grandfather’s farm. Most people bring a trailer, motor home or tent and camp behind the barn. The area is rigged with water and electric hookups, plus a portable shower complete with hot water and a skylight. —Holly Michael, Farmersville, Ohio
It takes food for thought to feed a crowd. You can make dishes ahead and freeze them. Or bring meat to barbecue plus a dish to share. If you’re near a city, you can also count on a caterer or eat meals out. On the final day, plan meals of leftovers.
• Dish up a beautiful spread of recommended reunion recipes from Country Woman readers (pictured in photo gallery above), including Seasoned Turkey Sandwiches, Grandma’s Potato Salad and Peanut Butter Brownie Bars.
• We make up work sheets assigning duties for preparing meals and clean up. And we put people who don’t know one another on the same shift so they can get acquainted. —Jenny Mae Tweedy, Lougheed, Alberta
• Each person picks two chores from the job jar, including cooking, setting up and serving the meal and doing dishes. No one complains…and everything gets done. –Laura Brodbin, Edmonton, Alberta
• Planning a buffet? Calculate how much food (meat, dairy, condiments) to provide, based on a head count, using this table.
Kids of all ages love to play, so plan plenty of recreation for each generation.
• Our favorite family reunion game is Watermelon Roll. We set up 2-liter plastic pop bottles bowling-pin style about 20 feet out and weight them down with a little water. The first person on each team gets down on hands and knees, rolls a watermelon forward with his or her head to knock over the bottles, then rolls it back to the next member of the team, who continues the game. First to finish are the winners. —Barbara Butler, Oakland, Maryland
• We built a miniature golf course on our family farm. It had nine holes with obstacles including a mini windmill, barn, scarecrow and shed. We used ax handles as the clubs. —Angie Bork, Fountain City, Wisconsin
• Scavenger hunts are fun for all. Teams of old-timers and younger folks are given clues dealing with our family’s history. The clues lead us to ancestors’ gravesites, old schoolhouses, churches and other places important to our heritage. —Rikki Deal, Beggs, Oklahoma
• Our family loves competition—like our traditional pie-eating contest and tug-of-war. Kids enjoy face painting, teens go for games like volleyball, and everybody looks forward to our family talent show and time just to chat. —Beth Brunson, Ellensburg, Washington
A ready family reunion fund to dip into is nice to have around.
• One fun money-maker is a family reunion-day white elephant sale. We have a blast outbidding each other for family castoffs—end tables, lamps, linens and appliances. Our newlywed couples especially welcome it. —Jeanne Leinen, Poplar, Montana
• Why not try an heirloom auction? All of us were asked to bring something related to the family—a picture of an ancestor, letters and keepsakes. We shared laughter, learning…plus paid for a catered dinner! —Janebell Crowe, Plano, Texas
All roads lead to Memory Lane at family reunions.
• A popular spot is the history tent where there are photo boards documenting our family’s past back to the late 1800s. We also run videos of past reunions. —Beth Brunson, Ellensburg, Washington
• Prior to the event, we put together a heritage cookbook with recipes and family photos submitted by the attendees. We held an autograph party at the reunion, and everyone signed “their” page. –Ruth Eikenberry, Edna, Kansas