Making Family Memories: 5 ways to stay connected and keep your relatives coming to the reunion

Guest Article by Ryan Smith

Making family memories is a great reason to plan and hold a family reunion. There is nothing quite like strengthening old connections and forging new ones.  However, 

son, father and grandfather, showing 3 generations of family

with families that are large or that live far apart, it can be difficult to maintain these relationships in between reunions, and it can be difficult to get to the reunions in the first place!  Fortunately, there are a few fun and easy ways that may help everyone stay connected and coming back to reunions.  Here are five of them.

Family Reunion Website

1. Send a Family Newsletter

One of the simplest ways for everyone to stay connected is to make a family newsletter.  It can be sent out weekly, monthly, quarterly, or however often you want.  This can be a great way to keep everyone updated about events in the family and as an easy way to communicate plans for the next reunion. 

One fun way to help make the newsletter regular and always full of fresh material is to assign it to a different nuclear family each time.  They can update everyone on what is happening with their family, any relatives they have met up with, and of course, send a family photo.

Making family memories is easy when you do something silly - like have all of the children dress up in kids Batman pajamas (check out the fun options for toddlers and babies at www.funkidspajamas.com) and then take the picture.

Photos are great because they not only can you use them for making family memories, they can also help everyone keep track of new spouses, babies, and growing kids.

2. Start a Family Directory

Even though everyone at a family reunion is related in some way, it can be difficult to keep track of relatives you don’t see often. Building a family directory can help identify who is who and how to contact them. 

At your next family reunion, create a list where relatives list their name, email address, birthday, along with that of all the kids in their family, and other information.  You may want to create a field for birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, and even for their parents names so you can quickly figure out how everyone is connected. Consider a visual family tree image.

While this may take a while to get filled out, it only needs to be done once.  Then, at following reunions people can quickly and easily update their directory profile with any changes of address, new family members, or any other information fields you have in the directory.

3. Build a Time Capsule

A time capsule is more than just a fun way to reflect on how things once were and how they have changed.  It is also a commitment to come back and revisit something – in this case, a commitment to come back to a family reunion. 

To fill the time capsule, you can ask family members fun questions, like -

  • Who is your favorite current pop song or movie star?
  • Who do you think will be president in {year}?
  • What will the price of gas be in {year}?

Then you just need to choose a date for the family reunion when the time capsule will be opened.  Because the people who helped build the time capsule left a part of them in it, it can be great motivation to come back to the reunion where it is opened. 

When the big day comes, you might be surprised by how much everything has changed!

4. Keep a Reunion on the Calendar

Set the date of the next family reunion before you leave the current one!

Let's face it. Even when family reunions are fun and full of making family memories, it can still be hard to budget the time and money for them, especially if scheduled on short notice. 

By making it clear when the next family reunion will be while everyone is pumped up from the current one, you may be able to encourage everyone to put in an extra effort to attend.   Some families find it easiest to schedule the reunion for the same day of the year each time.  This way they always know when it is and everyone may be able to avoid scheduling other engagements.

5. Create a Family Website or Blog

Family Reunion Website

There are hundreds of free and easy resources you can use to create a family website or blog, and most don’t require any knowledge of coding.  Best of all, any family member with an internet connection can reach it to stay informed about what is going on.  If you want a website that is only visible for family members, many website and blog platforms allow you to make your site invite only or password restricted, helping to ensure that no one will see it unless you want them to.

By setting up a family website or blog, you can make a central location to post all news and updates about your whole family.  You can also use it to share photos, post updates about births, marriages, graduations, etc., and even as a place to help share information and plan the next family reunion.  You could even make a page for your family tree!

Continually making family memories with your extended family - and then creating an opportunity to REMEMBER them - can be tricky. But it is definitely possible! By using these 5 reunion tips - send a family newsletter, create a family directory, build a time capsule, set the next date before the current one ends, and create a family website - you'll find that your family is fully engaged with each other and ready to come back to the next reunion!

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