7 Ideas to Transform Your Family Reunion

Every family has unique needs, so each family reunion will be different. The goal is to think through the needs of your family and plan what will work best for you. Don’t be afraid to make changes for future events. Here are some ideas from others who have hosted a family reunion. 

Initiating Simple Gatherings

One of the principles that has become apparent as I’ve interviewed other people is that so often it’s the little things that develop into traditions that make for happy memories.

For Abby it’s a tablecloth.

Abby’s grandparents hosted many reunions. Families came and went throughout several days, but one thing remained constant: a blue tablecloth. Each person was encouraged to write something or draw a little picture on the cloth. During the following year, Grandma embroidered those words and drawings in colorful threads. Today the cloth is almost covered, but the family still finds spots to add a new birthday or wedding or memory of some hilarious event.

For Glenis it’s state parks and hilarious skits.

Glenis’s seven aunts and uncles organize a reunion every other year. They alternate locations to make it easier for families to come. They have found state parks with camping and cabins to be great options. Various relatives take turns writing creative skits and hosting unique meals.

For Peggy it’s a service project.

For many years, Peggy’s family reunions centered around the memorable Christmas gatherings at her parents’ home. As her parents grew older, it became harder to host their growing families. The longing for more shared experiences was satisfied when three of her siblings, their spouses, and their teenage children gathered in Wisconsin at a neglected house Peggy’s family had inherited.

Sawing and chopping trees, hauling brush to burn piles, sharing one shower with twelve people, and cooking meals served to bond the reunion. But it wasn’t all work. Having huge bonfires, roasting marshmallows, making homemade ice cream, and playing cards and charades made for a unique reunion. 

For Jerry and Nancy it’s giving their own kids a break.

As parents of four kids, Jerry and Nancy remember how exhausting the early parenting years can be and how hard it can be for a young couple to have time alone. One of their goals is to do all they can to support the marriages of their kids. Recently they took their toddler grandkids for two nights and three days so the parents could have a break and time to focus on one another as a couple.

For Babs it’s a deck of cards.

Babs comes from a large family. It’s hard to know who’s who! Little children can feel overwhelmed even before they arrive. So Babs’s niece created a unique deck of cards. Before the reunion, she got photos of each individual and each family unit. Today’s social media world makes this easy to do. She had the pictures printed in 3 x 5 size, then had an office supply store (their laminators offer superior quality) laminate the cards. The children and adults love playing with the cards and guessing who belonged to each family!

For the Nelsons it’s productions.

John comes from a big family. To build bonds, his parents have hosted a reunion every summer at their home in Maine. If a family misses one summer, they know they have next summer to look forward to.

Each year the cousins create dramas and perform them with costumes and props gathered from around the house or made with cardboard and markers. These productions develop leadership skills, lessen the fear of speaking before an audience, encourage storytelling and writing, and teach cooperation among siblings.

For Sarah it’s honoring a military heritage.

Because Sarah’s large extended family has lots of military connections, she decided to incorporate a military theme into a family reunion. Each person received an invitation to “Mission Impossible: Band of Cousins.” On the cover was a WWII photo of her grandfather with his two brothers (triplets!) on a tank.

Everyone came dressed in camo, and the activities had different battle themes!

Your camp doesn’t need to be fancy, expensive, or filled with big outings. Laughter and memories are found more often in the little things, even the spontaneous, unplanned things that occur!


  1. Is there a simple family gathering you can plan this year to start making more family memories?
  2. What precious family memories from past gatherings do you have? Make sure to thank God for those memories today.

To learn more about hosting meaningful family gatherings, check out Cousin Camp: A Grandparent’s Guide to Creating Fun, Faith, and Memories That Last by Susan Alexander Yates.

Free Camp At Home ebook from Susan Alexander Yates, with 100 activity ideas for your family!

Grab Susan’s free ebook, “Camp at Home,” right here. This valuable resource is based on her book Cousin Camp. It includes 100 things for you to do with your kids of different ages including toddlers, the middle years, teens, and specific things for the whole family. In addition, there are ideas for grandparents to use to stay connected with their grandkids.

Get yours here! →

100 Words of Affirmation Your Son/Daughter Needs to Hear

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