How to Get Your Family Together


The number ONE RULE to get people to come is ADVERTISE!

  • LOTS ADVERTISING and REMINDERS which requires
  • EARLY PLANNING and and an
  • ITINERARY. You can’t advertise if you don’t know what you are doing.

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B-FOCUS ON THE YOUNG for activities!  

  • Plan for the Majority:  You want to focus on the young–Young adults, teenagers, older kids to young parents. Parents will more easily be persuaded to come if their children will enjoy it.We always tried to get something that most people would want to do and could do.
  • Older People: are usually content staying put and visiting with others.  So if you have a Comfortable “Home Base” there is usually a group who wants to stay behind. (You never want to leave people just waiting for you to come back.) Or have another plan for those who don’t participate in the major activity.
  •  Babies and Toddlers: Often the older grandparents will keep the little ones who can’t participate, or there are some moms that want to stay back with the babies. Plan something that they can do like a craft, or a museum, or a tour–it totally depends on where your reunion is located.

C-Other Tips We’ve Learned About Getting People To Come Long Distances:

1.  Fun Destinations–are a big draw. When people hear the family is getting together at some fun place, they don’t want to be left out. For destinations that have been fun for our family see Destinations.

 2.  “Big Ideas–Plan something out-of-the-ordinary. Suggestions:

        2-A-Rentals:  Sometimes, to do something out of the ordinary, we have had to rent equipment. You can rent just about anything.

  • Big Blow Up Toys--I know people who have rented the big blow up toys like slides, bounce houses, etc. We have never done  that, so I have no information on them,  but kids love those.
  • Bikes–We once rented bikes for everyone in the family–even the grandma and grandpa and babies. We rented trailers for people with babies. Everyone paid for their own bikes or trailers. See Destination: Seattle
  • Horses-- We have rented horses and borrowed horses. This usually works best if you have a variety of activities to choose from, and some ride horses while others may choose swimming, or golfing or whatever works for your group. See Destinations: Blanding, Huntington Lake State Park, Little Creek Cabin.
  • Jet Skis--We only rented a couple and everyone who wanted to ride them took turns. We had a schedule that you could sign up for the time. This was one of those times we had a variety. Some people went on a tour through a coal mine, others went horseback riding. See Destination: Huntington Lake State Park
  • ATVs –We have rented these for everyone, so every four wheeler had two people on it. When you rent these, they come with a helmet, and usually a trailer so you can haul them to the place you need them. You could also rent a few, if you have a base camp, and take turns on these. See Destination: Joe’s Valley, Paiute Trail.
  • Kayaks--We rented some kayaks for one of our family reunions–of the immediate family. Only  9 people wanted to go (we rented 4- two man and 1- one man), and the rest stayed on the beach and played. Kayaks only hold one or two people, so these aren’t necessarily the best for a big group, but tons of fun in with a smaller group and the right area. See Destination: Seattle
  • Rafts and TubesWe rented rafts and took a guided raft trip down the Green River. Most people went, even 90 year old grandma. Babies couldn’t come. But later we rented rafts and tubes–self guided down the Provo River. See Destination: Provo River.

 2-B-- Honor Someone: Celebrate the life of an  Ancestor.

  • Birthdays or other eventsFor instance, we had a family reunion on the 50th anniversary of my dad’s death. It was all about him. People were asked to bring pictures, and/or other items they had that had belonged to my dad. We honored and gave prizes to each person who had the name of Parker (his name). There were two with the first name of Parker–different generations, and one great-granddaughter who had married a man with the middle name of Parker.  People were asked to share memories, and also to tell about the heirloom or photograph they had. Some people that lived hours away had told us they couldn’t make it, but when they found out it was about Grandpa Parker, they came.

    Photo Booth picture of Parker and Sammy--newly weds

    My mom and dad–Sammy and Parker Hawkins. Newly Weds

  • A Grandparent that is still living–Make a big deal about Grandma’s 90th birthday or grandparents’ 60 wedding anniversary, or just make it “All About Grandpa.”
  • People will usually try harder to come for the grandparent’s sake. We planned an 80th birthday party for Grandpa one year, and people came from Georgia, California, and other states. If planned far enough ahead, people can get days off and cheaper airline tickets.
  • Grandma Nina’s Quilt Show–It was all about Grandma, and we asked people to bring quilts she had made. Most family members know the importance of honoring a grandparent and make more of an effort. See Grandma Nina’s Quilt Show


    Grandma Nina’s Quilt Show. She was 94 years old.

  • Highlight an ancestor Make it extraordinary– weaving an ancestor’s homeland, occupation, hobbies, characteristics into the theme. Use your imagination. Use Pinterest. Don’t be afraid of Excess.
  • One of our ancestors was from England–So here are some ideas that we have done for more than one ancestor, combined in this suggestion–brainstorm with these and come up with your own ideas: See Pioneer Trek, Family History Focused Reunions.
  • 1-Find recipes that are authentic to England and assign them out to people for a dinner.
  • 2-Set the table with English teapots and teacups (You can serve any drink from them.) or see #3.
  • 3-Decorate!! Grandpa ran a tin shop in Salt Lake City after immigrating to there. We found an historic photograph of it from the Utah State Archives/Historical Society. Have a copy place print it large and use it for wall decor, along with anything else that fits with that such as tin plates to eat on; tin buckets with prizes in them. (These would be basics, add excess to these ideas.)scale
  • 4-Family History fan chart on the wall. Family History pedigree charts laminated for place mats/souvenirs.
  • 5-Grandpa was sued in court by his first wife. That account was found in a newspaper, and presented as a reader’s theater. Any story could be acted out in a skit. OR Have someone with an English accent tell his story in first person and costume or some other drama.
  • 6-Horseback riding and/or horse and wagon rides to emphasize his mode of travel.
  • 7- I assigned one of my nieces to make little booklets with his story in them that and pass them out so they can be read to children over so they remember that ancestor.
  • 8-Copy photos of him and any histories–check out or search state archives for photos and histories, then make copies and pass them out at the reunion.
  • 9–Ask people to dress in period costume for the era that he lived.

3--Choose a Place that has Family Connections--Reunion in a town or place that has family meaning, often draws people from all over, such as:

  •  A Home Town Tour–My husband’s family is from Georgia. We planned two years ahead. Everyone wanted to see Georgia.
  • We also set a reunion in our old hometown, Tooele. Destinations that involve ancestor pioneers will often draw people out, as well.  Family members have usually heard some stories about these places and want to see them.
  • We planned a camping trip to the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail–my great-grandfather had been part of that mission, so we wanted to explore where he had gone, and study what the group had experienced.
  • We re-enacted a mini Pioneer Trek. See Destinations: Blanding, Georgia, Tooele. See Pioneer Trek, Hole in the Rock Trail.


    Hole-in-the-Rock Trail

4—-Have a Reunion with a Fun Theme--such as Circus, Animals, Time Period, Pirates, etc. Planning ahead is important for this idea. With enough time, people can get costumes for the theme. (We have a costume rental place near where I live called “Doll’s Costumes.” She has everything and rents them cheap. Check your local places or come to Emery County!

  • My mom rented an Old Mansion in the Avenues in Salt Lake City for an evening. We had dinner there, and she wanted us to dress in late 1800s costumes. She wanted a cultured musical program, such a classic piano music, clarinet duet, classical songs sung by the trained voices in our family. We ate on china and crystal (the adults. I think the kids had paper and ate at a different table). It was a very elegant experience. Even the little kids loved it.
  • It would be  fun to do it in an Austenland– Jane Austen time period.
  • We had a Medieval Times reunion last year. That was the theme of Grandma Dottie’s Camp, and everyone participated. See Medieval Times Camp. Also see Pioneer Camp.
  • We have had two family “Murder Mystery Dinners.” They can include up to 20 people. We held them as dinner parties, but they could be a fun evening activity during a reunion, after little ones are in bed. You can buy these games or find them online. We did one that was a 50′s High School Reunion and one on a train in France. You receive an invitation which tells you who your character is and describes what she/he would wear. Everyone shows up dressed up as their character. Pieces of the story are handed out, and what each person’s role is in that part, and it is all ad-lib from there. There are some local trains-in many areas–that feature these. Reservations are made ahead, and they send out the invitations, etc. There is also a bed and breakfast in Manti that does these, so I’m sure there are many other places that could be found online.

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