Update Your Family
Written by: Sarah Day
A very important part of getting together at family reunions is catching up with everyone. You might be seeing relatives that you haven’t seen in a few weeks or relatives you haven’t seen in a few decades and everything in between. Getting together and making connections by sharing memories and photos and what you have been up to is a great idea. There are many different ways you could do this.
The different Ways
One By One
The first option for this is to have each person stand up and introduce themselves and their family. They can say how they are related to the ancestor and then introduce themself and any other immediate family members like their children or spouse. Have them say how old they are, what they do for a living, anything important in their family life, where they are from, and as a fun tip include at least one fun question for them to answer. You may want to know what everyone’s favorite fruit is. Or maybe what colored toothbrush they have. Or some other random fact. This will help everyone lighten up and laugh a little. It may also help find small connections with others. Even though we live on different sides of the country and live vastly different lifestyles our toothbrushes may both be neon green.
Partner/ Group Up
Have everyone come and draw a random name or a few out of a hat and those people can all go off and talk to one another and get to know each other. Every few hours you could do the same thing so everyone gets the chance to randomly speak with many different family members. You could do this as partners in a smaller family or as groups of 3-8 people in larger families. Do what feels right to you.
As It Goes
Your next option is to not have a formal way of catching up or a standard list of questions but instead just let everyone mingle naturally. If you haven’t seen your childhood closest cousin in 20 years you are probably going to get talking anyway and catch up with each other’s lives, careers and families. Just let the talking and catching up run its natural course.
This one can be slightly more work but a ton of fun. Before the reunion begins, reach out to everyone and collect answers to fun trivia questions, catching up questions and photographs. Then make catching up a game. You can do this in a few ways.
The first is with the pictures. As you collect the photos, collect one photo of the person from now and one of the person from when they were younger. For grandparents this could be anything from a baby picture to a wedding photo. For kids just choose a photo of them when they were younger than they are now. For example, the seven year old chose a picture from when they were two. Then here comes the fun part.Either lay out the pictures on a big board in person or on a screen virtually and have everyone writedown/type which photos they think should go together. Which baby picture goes with great aunt Alice and which one goes with Grandma Smith? For an extra challenge throw in some older family photos such as your great great grandparents or add a few random ones that don’t match anyone elses.
The next way you could do this is a live question and answer. From all of the questions you already collect, ask them off the list and have everyone write down their answer. For example, say who went to college at the University of Texas? Or Who has Five children? Or whose dream job is a New York Times reporter? Or whose favorite food is Chocolate donuts? Then have everyone answer. If you have a small group you could have everyone taking turns giving answers or instead have everyone stand in a line and go down the line until someone gets it right. For a competitive family, it may be fun to keep score and see who the family know it all is.
The other way you could do it as a game is to have a long sheet of questions. Maybe 10-45 and then have everyone put in their guesses on their own sheets of questions. Then check the sheets and see who got the most right. The most right could win a fun prize. Such as a certificate with Family Know it All and their name or something more fun like an amazon gift card.
Paper or Email
Another option to catch everyone up is to have a long email, text message, newsletter or hand written paper with the different family members and what they are up to on it. You could send out the whole thing at once, hand a copy out at the reunion, or my personal favorite do weekly instalments. Just send out all the information and whoever wants to catch up or connect can and anyone who wants to stay in their comfort zone or just catch up by talking at the reunion can.
For most of the ideas above they could easily be adapted to go digital rather than in person activities. Here is one last idea that might work better digitally. It is creating a slideshow and then having everyone take a slide or two and add photos and updates for each of their family members. Then you can share the link for a FB style reunion for everyone to look at. Or if you are going the Zoom route you can share your screen with the slide show at the reunion and have everyone take a few minutes to talk about their slides.
Wrapping it up
No matter which way you choose to update your family it will work great. Just choose the option that works best for you and yours and then go for it. Maybe you think using more than one of these activities would work best or maybe none of them are jiving with you. That is totally okay. Choose the best way to get that family update and then connect and experience the amazing benefits of connection!