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25 Tips for a Relatively Relaxed Family Reunion

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by Mary Steinke

Two memories from childhood stand out in my mind from our annual reunions on the family farm.

First, I remember being locked in an outhouse in the middle of August in 95-degree weather. My second cousin and I had thrown rotten tomatoes at the boys. They retaliated by picking us up, pushing us into the outhouse, blocking the door, and leaving us for "dead."

Second, I remember my Great Aunt Eleanor's mouthwatering, made-from-scratch pies. She was so proud of those pies that she died without giving anyone the recipes.

Obviously, the second memory of the incredible taste of the pies continues to be my favorite reunion memory.

However, the memory of needing to leave the reunion early because I was unfit to sniff lingers still--so to speak.

Overall, family reunions can be a wonderful experience--even when the unexpected happens. The tale of the "Outhouse Outlaws" became legendary in the family.

One summer, God blessed our immediate family with three family reunions. Three different sides of our extended families felt the need to gather together for fun instead of just gathering at family funerals. We wanted to celebrate the awesome gift of family, to laugh together, to share our lives, to relive memories, and to create new ones.

In all three cases, we made our different family reunions as user friendly as possible for everyone. The simpler the better became our battle cry.

If it's been too long since your extended family gathered to enjoy each other's company, you still have time to create an impromptu celebration this summer or begin planning for next year.

The following are 25 tips we found invaluable in planning our family reunions:

1. When choosing a date, avoid summer holiday weekends since parks are harder to reserve, crowds are larger, and traffic tends to increase.

2. Make sure the date does not conflict with an area festival. Otherwise, motel rooms will be hard to find for out-of-towners.

3. Consider including the date of the reunion in your Christmas card. Families often begin planning their summer activities in early January.

4. If the reunion is in the summer, reserve a park shelter early in the spring.

5. Explore the possibility of choosing a date during another season of the year. My sister-in-law's family holds their gathering on Columbus Day weekend.

6. If relatives are scattered throughout the country, consider picking a great vacation destination like a national park, exciting city, or amusement park. Use the Internet to locate motels and places to visit.
7. Wherever you decide to hold the reunion, plan for the physical needs of relatives using walkers or wheelchairs.


8. E-mail continues to be a great way to communicate information for those relatives who are on-line.

9. Encourage relatives with desktop publishing skills to create a reunion newsletter just prior to the reunion and a recap edition after the reunion.

10. Invite a relative to create a family tree with a computer program and then share it in the newsletter or at the reunion.

11. Rotate reunion coordinators every year or hold the reunion every 2-4 years.

12. Keep the menu simple. Allow the best cooks to bring their best creations. Allow the non-cooks to bring the drinks.

13. Nametags are a must for a group larger than 25.

14. Specially made reunion T-shirts are great, but permit them to be optional. Remember your Great-Aunt Sarah never wore trousers in her life, let alone a T-shirt.

15. Take a few group photos and include them in the reunion newsletter recap edition.

16. Candid snapshots taken by the preteens or teens with either disposable, instant, or digital cameras give them a chance to become involved without cramping their style.

17. Try an old-fashioned game of kickball. Even preschoolers can kick a ball and run the bases with the help of an adult.

18. Blowing bubbles, watermelon seed spitting contests, and water balloon tosses prove to be easy, improvised games for all ages.

19. Bring old photos for those who prefer to sit and watch the games.

20. Do plan for the possibility of rain. Playing board games under the park shelter may not be ideal, but can prove to be fun with the right attitude.

21. Put out a donation basket for the rental of the shelter, postage for the newsletter and development of the pictures.

22. Everyone has a relative who may rub you the wrong way. Just smile and be polite.

23. Choose another time to talk through family issues. Reunions should be enjoyable and fun--not a time to pick at old wounds.

24. Plan a family worship service thanking God for all the blessings bestowed on the family.

25. If a family member has died since the last reunion or a new baby has been born, thank God for the gift of their life during the blessing of the food or at the worship service.

The ebook by Marilyn Moll, FAST AND HEALTHY RECIPES FOR BUSY WOMEN -Reliable Recipes for Busy Families, includes my best and most requested bread recipes. My earnest desire is that you will find the my tips, information, and recipes to be a reliable resource of healthy, family-favorite recipes, as well as streamlined preparation methods which fit in with busy lifestyles.

Permission is granted for reprinting online articles if the author is identified and the following byline is included:

Copyright Hearts at Home 2005, used with permission. For more information about Hearts at Home: 309-888-MOMS or www.hearts-at-home.org




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