“Building Unity in Family Reunions,” Ensign, Sept. 1996, 72–73
“Hey, look who’s here!” Such words of greeting warm hearts at a family reunion. One of the purposes of a family reunion is to build a sense of belonging among family members. The following ideas will help create family unity at a reunion.
Make everyone feel needed. Everyone, young or old, who attends the family reunion can be given an assignment. In some families all teenage cousins are assigned to head important committees. In one family a 16-year-old daughter completed her Laurel project by helping to plan and organize a three-day reunion. Such leadership opportunities send strong messages to youth that they are needed and valued. Even very young children can be given important assignments such as serving in the kitchen along with a parent to help prepare, run errands, or clean.
Create family spirit. One of the best ways to build family unity is to play together. One family may choose team sports while another may hold checkers, chess, or other board-game competitions. One family recruited everyone in attendance to join teams that competed in a series of fun, if silly, relays. Because everyone participated, even grandparents and toddlers, the activity suddenly took on increased importance and everyone delighted in the high-spirited interaction.
Another way to increase unity is by creating a family banner. Some families claim a family crest; others make their own and display it proudly. Ordering matching T-shirts or caps, having pencils printed up with the family slogan, placing the family crest on a pillowcase or some other object as a craft project can also serve as ongoing reminders long after the reunion that we are part of a great family.
Reach out in love. Design activities that help people become friends with family members they don’t know very well. Ask someone to draw the family ancestral tree or make a chart and place it in a prominent place where everyone can refer to it as they sort out relatives. Plan at least one activity involving introductions. Tell how each family fits into the picture and something about family members, especially noteworthy accomplishments or talents. One fun game is to have everyone write down something they’ve done that they think no one else has ever done. These notes are collected and then selected at random so that all can guess who did what.
Watch for opportunities to help youth and children feel comfortable, included, and loved. One cousin can invite another for a walk or game, the family patriarch might chat privately with a grandson, a caring aunt can listen to and encourage a troubled niece. Perhaps youth can be teamed up with adults from another family to interview each other or participate in activities together. Such moments can have far-reaching benefits for every member of the family.
Family reunions are wonderful opportunities to strengthen and support one another, build bridges of love, and create a sense of family unity.
Put Teens in Charge of:
Planning and preparing a meal.
Teaching craft projects to small children.
Organizing a photo, craft, or art display.
Photographing key events.
Arranging for musical numbers.
Ask Children to:
Bless the food.
Recite a scripture.
Give a thought.
Sing in groups.