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Our Favorite Family Reunions By The Genealogy Kids

After a few summers in a row of epic family reunions, we thought we’d share some of the highlights. Maybe these ideas will come in handy as you plan your next reunion.

What makes a good reunion?

1. People

2. Location

3. Activities

1. Let’s talk about the people. Family reunions are all about FAMILY, obviously. So in our experience, the best family reunions require a significant amount of planning (ahead of time) so that all possible family members can attend. For our extended Hardman family reunions (includes somewhere around 100 people), we schedule at least a year in advance! Plan at least a few days worth of activities to make the trip worth it for everyone. Reunions should be planned for the ENTIRE family, ages 0 – 110. And while reunions usually require one main coordinator/instigator, it’s best if the whole family is given assignments to help.

2. Choose a location that is central to as many family members as possible. Travel is tricky. However, choosing a really awesome location can also boost attendance. We absolutely LOVED the following locations for our last few reunions (obviously most of our family are in Utah, Arizona, and the west coast.

  • Condos in St. George, Utah (each individual family rented their own place in an apartment complex). We enjoyed a beautiful property with swimming pools and playgrounds, held our activities in the grassy common areas, but had the privacy and independence of our own “home” to relax in, too. We were all close together, so babies could nap in quiet apartments while other activities continued outside.
  • Funks Lake, Utah (aka. Palisade State Park). This park was actually created by one of our ancestors, so having a family reunion meant more. We camped (makes the event dirtier, but more affordable), canoed, swam, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
  • A ranch near Prescott, Arizona. Our extended family rented the variety of cabins on the ranch and enjoyed peace and quiet (except for our 4-wheelers and the farm animals) and zero cell-service. That’s actually a perk. It keeps everyone’s attention on the family!
  • A beach house on the Oregon coast. We stayed in rental homes in a quiet beach town near Tillamook (where we literally ate ice cream EVERY night of the reunion). Tide pools, seashells, lighthouses, kite-flying, endless exploring, amazing views, crabbing, clamming, and plenty of relaxing.

3. Activities make reunions memorable, and as you might guess, we make sure family history activities are a part of every reunion. Our Funks Lake reunion took place shortly before our Great Grandpa Greenhalgh passed away. Watching the whole family gather around him to hear him tell stories was a treasured experience. At our St. George reunion, we held “family history time” for an hour or two (which turned into three) which involved everyone bringing laptops and devices to explore our online family tree together. We’ve turned on the audio recorder to capture oral interviews. We’ve created posters with ancestor photos, played ancestor jeopardy, and reminisced about the good old days. We’ve had movie parties using old home videos (really, really old home videos). We created a massive family tree using everyone’s traced hand-print (check out our blog post about that project).

Great Grandpa Greenhalgh at Funks Lake Reunion

There are so many other activity ideas that can make reunions memorable. In our family, we launch rockets. We play “Minute-2-Win-It” games. We play cards. We hike. We eat delicious food. We go on scavenger hunts. We wear matching T-shirts (call us cheesy, but nothing creates unity better than matching family reunion T-shirts!!)

Best of luck at your next reunion!

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