Make this summer’s family reunion unforgettable for all ages

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Coming up with family reunion ideas can be a challenge. How do you keep everyone, from great-grandparents to toddlers, entertained? Without a good plan, those awkward hours between meals become far longer than you could ever imagine.

Transform your summer reunion with creative bonding activities everyone will love and remember for a lifetime. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Avoid the stress with these summer family reunion ideas to transform routine meetups into memorable bonding experiences. Build your next family get-together around unique concepts such as outdoor adventures, collaborative crafts and technological activities.

Wild outdoor adventures that everyone can enjoy

In theory, everyone loves the idea of nature, but planning a family reunion outside can be tricky. For example, will uttering the phrase “the great outdoors” make your NYC-dwelling aunt stop returning your calls? If so, providing your family with an array of options will allow everyone to enjoy nature in a way that feels right for them. 

Staying near a large park, lakeside or beach during your next reunion is a family-friendly way to experience the outdoors. You’ll be able to tire the kids out with paddleboarding or challenge your second cousins to a family fishing tournament while your great-grandparents enjoy the sun. 

Even family members who aren’t experienced hikers might still be willing to lace up their boots for a laid-back nature tour with an expert guide. Booking a foraging, birdwatching or stargazing tour are all unique ways to help your family nourish their love of the wilderness. Then, head back to civilization for ice-cold drinks and a hearty dinner.

Glamping, or glamorous camping lets your family get some fresh air without giving up the comforting environment of hotels. Many glamping outfitters offer adventurous options like kayaks or bicycles for more active guests. Those who prefer a relaxed pace can lounge in hammocks and hang out around cozy campfires. 

Elina Leclaire, founder of Adirondacks-based glamping experience Glampful, has seen glamping work its magic first-hand. “Families share laughter around a campfire and stories and wishes under shooting stars — these are the moments families cherish forever.”

Booking a cluster of glampsites will make it feel like you have the space all to yourselves. It’s like having all of the privacy of your own backyard, but if your backyard was a natural oasis. Get ready to play your favorite music, tell terrible jokes and terrify the kids with ghost stories after dark. 

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Cherishing old memories while creating new ones

No matter how different your family members may be from one another, important ties bind you together. There are several ways to celebrate your family history, even without leaving the comfort of Grandma’s home. 

Start a DIY family history book by asking everyone to bring their favorite stories, photos and recipes. Then, compile them into a scrapbook with captions, dates and names. The final book can be a traveling gift that rotates among all family members. Or, make several copies so everyone can have a piece of family history in their own home.

Creating a collaborative art project such as a family mural or a quilt is another impactful way to preserve your family’s history. To make a family mural, choose a blank wall, fence or large sheet of fabric. Then break out the paint. Everyone can contribute a detail or an idea to the larger picture. It’s an especially thoughtful gesture for those who need extra love, like relatives who live far away, senior members of the family or those struggling with health challenges. 

A family quilt works similarly but allows you to use meaningful pieces of fabric, such as outgrown baby blankets or clothing that once belonged to those who have passed away. Together, you can create a comforting quilt that represents your whole family or smaller items like pillows and patchwork coasters.

If your family tree lacks crafty branches, a backyard film festival is the perfect way to celebrate your culture and history together. Set up an outdoor movie night featuring films significant to your roots. Sleeping bags, camping chairs, picnic blankets and rugs will create a cozy atmosphere. Just microwave some popcorn, and you’ve got your very own VIP theatre under the stars.

Competitive ideas for an action-packed reunion

If sportiness runs in the family, a fast-paced day of family reunion games and activities will keep everyone entertained. Host an informal family Olympics, a fun competition with games for all ages, to strengthen bonds and create lasting memories. Why not start the day off with a tournament featuring America’s new craze, pickleball?

“My experience in organizing sports events has taught me that activities like pickleball not only encourage physical fitness but also strengthen family bonds through friendly competition and teamwork,” says Marc Massad of Velocity Paddle

As you embrace new sports like pickleball, don’t forget to cherish classic party games like tug-o-war, egg and spoon races, three-legged races and limbo, too. Those who don’t actively participate can act as referees, cheerleaders or photographers.

You can also up the stakes by adding prizes, medals or funny consequences. “Imagine a family tournament where grandparents and grandchildren can participate on equal footing, creating memorable moments everyone can cherish,” says Massad.

Tone down the intensity with a scavenger hunt that includes family or local history clues. It’s an entertaining activity for guests of all ages. Or, if you’re looking for a low-effort activity, think about booking an escape room for everyone to solve together. You might be surprised by how much kids and grown-ups enjoy the puzzle together.

As Massad notes, the benefits of an active reunion extend beyond the time you have together. “This innovative approach not only adds a unique flavor to family reunions but also introduces family members to a fun, healthy lifestyle activity they can enjoy year-round.”

Let technology bring your family closer together

Can’t be there with each other in person? No matter your family reunion theme, technology can help you take it to the next level.

Invite different family members to contribute to your shared history by creating an interactive family tree online. Your family can upload their favorite photos and share stories electronically. A digital family tree can be accessed from anywhere, making it a great option for families who live all over the country or the globe.

Where will the youngest members of your family be in 5, 10 or 15 years? A digital time capsule lets you capture your family history and reopen it later. Letters to future generations, video messages, photos and predictions about the future are all great items to include in your time capsule. Look out for online services and apps that will send you an email reminder when it’s time to revisit your project.

Shared experiences, stronger bonds

Whether your family reunions happen twice a year or once a decade, there are so many ways to make new memories together. From detailed crafty projects to laid-back fishing expeditions, a little planning will stave off crankiness and boredom while promising that your next family reunion has something for everyone to enjoy.

Jessica Haggard is the creator of the blog Easy Homemade Life. She inspires and supports homemakers with easy recipes, natural home cleaning tips and DIY tutorials for personal care products to promote a happy and healthy home environment.

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