How To Host a Remarkable Family Reunion


This is a guest post by Janet Hovorka, author of Zap the Grandma Gap and workbooks about engaging youth with family history. Janet writes The Chart Chick and the Zap The Grandma Gap blogs and has written widely and lectured about family history. She is a past president of the Utah Genealogical Society (UGA) and teaches genealogy and library science at SLCC. Together with her husband, she owns Family ChartMasters, a genealogy chart printing service and official printing service for Legacy Charting.

With just a little planning and behind the scenes preparation, you can have an amazing family reunion that creates new memories and celebrates the family history that you share.

At a family reunion you may have a musician, a sports enthusiast, a techie, and others with different interests, but you all have one thing in common — your family history. Learning about your family history together will strengthen your bonds and create great unity in your family because it is the one thing you share that no one else can share with you.

As you talk about your ancestors, you will find things you have in common with them and things you have in common with each other. You’ll learn about what makes you a family.

Here are a few ideas you can put into action at your next family gathering that will really help you enjoy the time you have with your family.

Share family recipes

Use food to teach your family about their history by eating what your ancestors used to eat. You could ask each person to bring a family recipe to share and let them introduce what they brought. While presenting, they can speak about the relative who used to make it. Gather the recipes to create a family cookbook, or just make sure they are distributed afterward so that everyone can continue passing down the recipes in your family.

Learn a family skill

Ask someone in your family to teach the group about how to do something your ancestors once did. It might be playing the harmonica, learning needlepoint, pruning fruit trees, plucking a chicken, singing a song, etc.

If you don’t have a family member who knows how to do it, hire someone outside of the family who can teach you. Do some hands-on practicing and give the participants something they can take home to work on. Be sure to talk about the ancestor who used to do those things.

Start a DNA project

With MyHeritage DNA, you can learn more about your ethnicity and connect with other family members. Gather DNA samples from members of your family and you will be able to confirm the genealogy research you have collected. A family reunion is the perfect time to start collecting your family’s genetic history.

Have a storytelling contest

Ask older members to tell engaging stories about the older generation they remember, who the youngest family members never knew. Award prizes for the funniest, most inspiring, mysterious, or outrageous stories. You can also ask one family member to tell a false story and have a contest to see who can guess which stories are true and which ones are false.

Display a family chart

A great chart creates lots of family history discussion, makes everyone feel included and creates a space to gather more information. MyHeritage offers many different kinds of charts. Descendants Charts and Sun Charts are usually the most popular for a family reunion.

With a simple click of a button, MyHeritage figures out what size the chart will be, offers decorative options and shows you the prices for printing your information. When the chart is ordered, in just a couple of days it will show up on your doorstep rolled up in a tube and ready to be displayed. Your family will all be eager to gather around and figure out how they are related to each other.

Engaging activities about your family history can be the most important piece of any family gathering.  When you get together at the holidays or over the summer, be sure to celebrate your heritage to make it an event that everyone will remember.

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