The long, warm days of summer often inspire barbecue dinners, outdoor fun in the sun, and creative ways to stay cool. The summer is also a time when many families gather for reunions, holidays, or special family events. These gatherings are a great opportunity to create memories that can last a lifetime.
Here are some suggestions for adding more meaning to your family get-togethers while helping everyone feel more united as family, both during and after the event.
Choose a location of significance to your family.
Childhood homes or the homes of parents or grandparents can evoke strong memories and lead to conversations. If an ancestral home is no longer in the family, you could meet at a nearby park or recreational facility to share memories.
Another approach is to gather in the town or neighborhood where your ancestors lived and take a tour of the landmarks where significant historical events occurred for your family.
Provide activities for all ages.
Family gatherings should be fun for everyone. Consider gathering at a park or recreational facility and allowing time for children and teenagers to play and get to know each other better. Ball games, playground activities, races, and even old-time parlor games give children a chance to interact and strengthen their family bonds.
Include plenty of fun and games for everyone.
Everyone needs to feel included at family gatherings. Consider some catalysts to get people interacting and having fun. Here are a few ideas:
- Pair people up and see which team can successfully play catch with a water balloon at progressively greater distances.
- Play a game of charades based on well-known family stories and experiences.
- Invite family members to reveal two truths and a lie about things they have done, and see who can detect the lie.
- Hold a family talent showcase to better appreciate your collective talents and abilities.
Provide T-shirts or mementos to help identify participants as family.
What is your family’s visual identity? A custom T-shirt can help identify you as a member of your clan, especially if you meet in crowded venues. Does Grandpa have a fun or inspiring saying that everyone loves? Maybe you could send everyone home with a framed copy. Maybe you could invite people to bring a favorite family recipe and then create a recipe book from the submissions, which you can distribute after the event. These physical items can remind people of your time together and what it means to be a member of your family.
Show and discuss family photos or videos.
Nothing evokes memories like great photos or home video footage. Invite family members to bring current pictures and baby pictures of each member of the family, and create a matching game. Or display fun or interesting family photos, and invite family members to provide captions. When watching old family videos, the audience gives a running commentary that is often as entertaining as the videos themselves.