Getting together with extended family is a good time waiting to happen.  Grilling, eating, sharing travel stories and catching up with one another’s lives will be a big part of the fun.  But in order to make sure that all age groups are engaged at all times, it’s ideal to plan some organized activities.  Check out our unique spins on some common games.  From a bout of musical chairs to a thrilling, but simple, bucket game for the kiddies, you’ll have trouble shooing everyone back to their hotel rooms by day’s end. 

Billy Paul



The Game: Very Musical Chairs
Age Group: Tweens and teens
What You’ll Need: Chairs, a good sound system, a music subscription prize
Make sure the music is pumping hard with the most radio-friendly hits and encourage the tweens and teens to put down those smartphones and get on the dance floor.  Give this time-honored game a little twist by getting whomever is playing deejay to moderate, egging the participants on and encouraging even those on the outskirts to shake what their mamas (and papas) gave them.  The winner should get a prize worthy of their effort, so a certificate for iTunes, a Spotify membership or other musically inclined award will make this more competitive and enjoyable. 

Billy Paul

The Game: Buckets
Age Group: 5 to 10 (can have kids compete in their age groups)
What You’ll Need: Buckets, balls, a prize pack
All you need are five inexpensive plastic buckets and small balls to make this throwback classic a big hit for the little ones.  Line the buckets up, label them from 1 to 5 (with “5” being furthest away) and then have your pint-sized contestants aim to see how far along the line-up they can get.  Whoever can lob the ball into the container furthest from them wins, but no need to reward the young’uns with a big fancy trophy.  A nicely wrapped box filled with fun dollar-store items (playing cards, bubble wands, snacks or small action figures) will make this a worthy bucket battle.

Billy Paul

The Game: Family Reunion Feud
Age Group: Teens and Adults
What You’ll Need: A polling tool, a list of 10 to 15 questions, and a gift certificate
Survey your family before the reunion using a simple-to-use service, such as Surveymonkey.  Ask about 10 to 15 silly family-focused questions emulating the hit show currently hosted by Steve Harvey.  For example: “What is something to serve along with Big Mama’s prize-winning poundcake?” Sample responses: (A) ice cream (B) a cool glass of lemonade (C) or whipped cream. Another example: “Which of these statements is the biggest excuse to miss a family reunion?”  Sample responses: couldn’t get off work, car broke down, missed flight or missed the e-mail about the event. Use the polling tool to figure out which answers were most popular, then ask one of your most outgoing uncles, aunts or cousin to stand in as the host. Families can battle it out as men versus women, young folks versus seasoned citizens, or break it down by shared last names. We’ll soon see which subsets of your clan can guess what the survey said.

Billy Paul

The Game: Heritage Scavenger Hunt
Age Group: All
What You’ll Need: Some scattered family items/tokens, family history knowledge, wide open space
Break your family up into multi-age groups of four or five and send everyone on a wild goose chase that will also help members learn more about each other.  For example, hide one of Big Poppa’s pictures of his days in the service; send folks scrambling to find Aunt Casey’s graduation tassel if she was the first to graduate from college; or prowl for Junior’s football or your cousin Jenny’s track shoe to instill pride in everyone’s accomplishments through clever clues. The winner who can collect a designated number of family tokens can win a fun privilege like first-in-line status for Uncle Dominic’s famous babyback ribs or the longheld secret recipe to Great Aunt Martha’s renowned potato salad.



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