Frugal Family Reunions
Handling an Over-Priced Family Reunion
Our family is planning a family reunion and we need some ideas beyond a potluck and softball/volleyball games. About 100 would attend and it would be in a rural area and would take place in June or July. It would be most likely a one day event. Any ideas?
The most fun I ever had at a big outdoor party was when my sister staged a combination scavenger-hunt/road-rally. She divided the participants into teams of two or three, making sure that members of the same immediate family were on different teams. The list of tasks/questions didn't involve begging strangers for weird items; instead, it required each team to collect information. You can be pretty clever and creative in how you word the questions. Some of the ones my sister used were:
What's the zipcode of [some nearby small town]? (You had to drive to the town and find the post office; by the time we got there, a group of local teenagers had assembled on the post-office steps and were holding up a sign with the answer!)
What brand of pump is in the derrick at [intersection]? (You had to park the car and walk about 100 yards into a field to read the name; she got the farmer's permission first!)
How many miles between two landmarks? (You either had to drive it, or the smart ones found the highway sign that gave the mileage.)
What was the date of death of [name of someone buried in a country church's cemetery]?
What time is the Sunday service at [different country church]?
Who has [rural mailbox number]? (You had to follow box numbers down a particularly desolate road until you found the correct box, which had the name displayed on the mailbox.)
How many anhydrous ammonia tanks are at [local farm or intersection]? (A "trick question", as there were 8 tanks there, but only 4 were ammonia tanks.)
On one side of my family we have a reunion each year. On the other side, the event takes place every other year. Each time a different family takes a turn hosting the event. It is interesting to see all the entertainment ideas they come up with. Here are a few. Have a candy contest. Get various sizes of jars and fill them with candy. You need to be sure you count every piece (that's the hardest part). Number each jar and place them on a table with a piece of paper by each one. The people are to write their names and try to guess how many pieces in each jar. In the end the one who comes closest wins the jar of candy.
Another idea is to have a Tall Tale contest. See who can tell the tallest tale. You can either make it a contest with judges or let the audience vote, or just make it a fun story hour. The 'old-timers' love this and so do the youngsters. Speaking of stories, how about having some of the older family members tell something about their parents or ancestors. This is always fun and very interesting.
Pick a simple (preferably no cost or little cost) craft to assemble for those who would like to.
Go to your wholesale store like Costco or Sam's Club, if you have one, and purchase some cases of pop and some different candies, then have a "store." It will more than likely be a hot day, and little ones love to 'buy' things. Only raise the prices just enough to cover your cost.
If you are having the reunion at someone's home, fill an old bathtub or something similar with sawdust and bury some pennies, nickels, dimes and maybe a few quarters in it. Little ones love searching for money and spend hours there. You will want to put an age limit, maybe have two for different ages, or the older ones will crowd out the younger ones.
If it is an especially warm day, get a big peice of plastic and lay it out on the lawn, room permitting. Place a hose that is running at the top and let the kids run and slide in their swimsuits. This is a lot wider and less expensive than the "Crocodile Mile" ones you can buy in the store. The grownups have just as much fun slipping and sliding as the youngsters do.
Hope these ideas help. Our reunions are always fun and don't give the kids time to get bored. A reunion is a lot of work and stress on the hosting family, so don't be afraid to assign out different responsibilities. Tell one family they are in charge of cleanup, someone is in charge of one game or activity, and someone else another. That alleviates all the undue stress on your part and lets them really feel included.
Linette in Idaho
We have a reunion every four years with about 55 decendants of my parents, on the family farm, the first weekend in August.
In the past, We had our own olympics with a plastic boomerang throw, an egg toss, a bubble gum blowing contest, a water balloon toss, and driving a garden tractor pulling a garden trailer through a maze blindfolded! The person or persons in the trailer are verbally steering the driver.
We had a talent show. That was fun to see all the different things people came up with. You will probably want access to electricity and a sheet of plywood to lay on the ground might be helpful if you don't have a slab of cement to stand on.
One year we had our own Wheel of Fortune. It was complete with the host and hostess dressed way out. Puzzles pertained to our family, of course. We even had a couple of comercials.
We drew silhouettes and had everyone try to guess who they were. Most of all we just had fun being together.
I have planned 3 biennial family reunions for 100 + people and here are some activities we have done. Ours are for two days and we had a picnic the first day and a potluck dinner the second. Then last year we rented a church youth camp for the week-end and had aciivities all week-end.
We had a weiner roast the first night and kid's "olympic style" games such as sack race, apple bobbing, hula hoop contest, 3-legged races, bubble blowing, Mello Yello chug-a-lug contest, water balloon bust and then awarded ribbons made of red-white-blue ribbon with homemade medallions with family name printed on it. (Naturally all participants received a ribbon).
In the evening, we had "adult" games, like two relay teams walking with a half dollar between the knees and depositing in a coffee can and tagging next contestant, etc. Prizes were awarded to all winners (suckers, candy bars, etc.). And for the older members, we also play bingo.
We hold a white elephant auction each reunion to pay expenses for the next one. Family members are asked to contribute anything they wish from unused gifts to crafts to purchased objects. At the one last year we roasted a pig outside. Other times we have barbecued burgers and hot dogs and asked people to donate any garden produce they have available. We did all our cooking with signup sheets for KP duty. We usually award door prizes (done at random by marking a certain chair, etc.) and prizes to the oldest, youngest, etc.
This year will be our 20th reunion. Each has been at least 3 days and all have been camping events. Our most popular activity is always the Friday night talent show. Everyone takes part and some of the acts display true talent. Others display a lot of "good sport " fun. We expect our 20th to be great. I hope yours is too.
Have everyone submit a quilt square l2 x l2. Personalize it however they wish by painting, sewing, embrodery, applique, etc. Each person that submits a square gets their name in the hopper to win the finished quilt. Or you can sell chances for it at the event. Money can go in the pot to help with expenses for next years reunion. The only catch is one person has to be responisble in putting it together. Another idea is to have Bingo for small $l items or any one can bring treasures they are through with for the prize table. Karaoke is fun to do at reunions as well as horseshoes.
We have a very large family also, so we always do a camping week-end (every other year). People use tents, travel trailers, and nearby motels and come from all over the country.
DO have "dutch oven potatoes" cooked in the camp fire.
DO have at least one guitar to go along with plenty of good singing voices.
DO have one planned meal (select the volunteers early) and one potluck meal per day. Let them fend for themselves the rest of the time.
To raise money for the camp site, people bring things for our AUCTION. Auctioned items might be art from Aunt Rhean, potholders contributed by 10-year-olds, photos of old ancestors, anything interesting or funny. When we run out of stuff, we start bidding on the auctioneer's suspenders or hat.
We hike, fish, and ride bikes. Some go find horses to rent. Some go into town to sample local restaurants. We frequently have crafts for the many children. We've made painted/decorated walking sticks. One year I brought my bead bins which was a real hit for young and old because you could be calm and visit at the same time.
The mix you need is about 1/3 of the time is structured with 2/3 free-time. We usually do this for 3-days allowing everyone time to get there. At each reunion, we select which "family" will be responsible for planning the next reunion.
Have your guests pick an envelope which contains a name of one in a pair. The envelope is sealed and you have to talk to people and give hints and ask questions to try to find your other half. For example, Romeo and Juliet, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Hansel and Gretel, etc. can be used. By going around and talking to each other, the idea is to find who has the other half of your name. This is a great way to get people talking to each other and have a lot of fun trying to guess who you are.
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