At our last family reunion, there were 37 of us. My little 9-year-old niece was the emcee for our talent show, and we saw everything from Grandpa juggling fruit to one of the other kids reading her favorite class paper on Anne of Green Gables. We get together every year, and every year seems to be more memorable than the last. It helps that we choose a theme for each gathering because, that way, everyone gets excited about it way ahead of time and brings their own special spark to add to our enduring family flame.
This year, we’re planning a weekend-long event at an all-inclusive venue in the Bay Area, so we can all settle in and worry only about catching up and being in the moment with each other. Our 2017 family reunion theme will be “Sterling Family Olympics.” In case you’re looking for theme ideas for your next family reunion, I’ve detailed our family olympics plans and some other event possibilities here.
Family Reunion Theme Ideas and Activities for Your Bay Area Event
Family Olympics Theme
Split the family up into two or more teams. Be sure to scatter the ages throughout all teams, so they’re as balanced as possible. You can assign each team a color scheme and ask that people prepare their uniforms to bring to the event. At our reunion, we’re actually going to turn uniform and flag design into the first competition as an early activity in the weekend. We’ll be the San Francisco Giants against the Oakland A’s. You could even get extra creative with the team themes and do superheroes vs. pirates, or assign each smaller family a country in the true spirit of global Olympics. Then, break up for training and wild competitions.
- Equestrian Race: Choose larger family members to be horses on hands and knees and smaller ones to ride on their backs as jockeys.
- Hula-Hoop Contest: Give everyone some time to practice with the hula-hoops first, and then see which team can keep their hoops spinning the longest.
- Fingertip Hoop Race: Keep those hula-hoops close by and give one to each team. Have everyone gather around the team hoop and stick out two fingers, one from each hand. Everyone has to keep contact with the hoop as you navigate from one end of the field or room to the other, racing the other teams to get to the finish line first.
- Obstacle Course: Set up a course with cones, rope, tires or even those same hula-hoops, boards, garbage cans, and chairs. Make up basic rules or totally silly rules, and time each team as they make their way through the course.
- Paper Discus Toss: Take turns throwing a paper plate, discus style, and measure the distance each person achieves.
- Lawn Bowling: Fill old bottles partially with water, and set them up in a triangle pattern with a corner facing the group. Use a basketball or other heavy ball, and take turns bowling to knock down the most pins at once.
Some families return each year for a Family Olympics Reunion, honing their competitive skills and spirit. You can plan opening and closing ceremonies to help get everyone excited about being together and then to award medals or a trophy to the winning family team. Of course, it isn’t the competition that knits the family together, but it is a great way to enjoy each other and yourselves.
Golden Gate Bridge Theme
Whether the Bay Area is home or you’re planning a destination reunion, a local theme can help you all connect to the San Francisco vibes. Scope out some special local wines to share; the Santa Cruz Mountains are home to some standout wineries. Enjoy some local seafood or other farm-fresh dishes. The truth is that the Bay Area is famous for so many authentic and fusion cuisines that you can really follow your taste buds to an event menu full of iconic favorites. Then, for the kids and everyone to make memories, plan some fun themed activities.
- Air Guitar Playoff: Grab some blow up guitars and maybe some disconnected microphones or even paper towel rolls, so the family can rock out and lip sync to songs from some of San Francisco’s classic musical artists: the Grateful Dead, Journey, Tower of Power, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stevie Nicks, Metallica, Green Day, and Counting Crows.
- Baguette Fencing: San Francisco is known for its authentic sourdough breads. It’s not yet known for the activity of sourdough baguette fencing, but your family could help to further its popularity. Make sure you have a good supply of well-done and crispy baguettes, then separate people into groups of two to see who can get a hit with their loaf on the opponent’s torso.
- Build a Bridge: This is one activity the family won’t forget for years to come, and everyone can be involved at the same time, making the most of their individual strengths to build an actual bridge that the whole family can cross together. Check out more information here about how your family can build the golden gate to cooperative team spirit.
- Fly Kites: You’ll need to hope for a windy day, but those aren’t hard to come by in many parts of the Bay Area. In the weeks leading up to your family reunion, ask everyone to dig out their kites and bring them to the gathering. Imagine how it will look with all of those colors up in the sky—much like the hot air balloons that float over the valleys and vineyards in the North Bay.
This theme leaves a lot of room for creativity and your family’s particular interests. In fact, it would be great to plan activities in different Bay Area points of interest like hikes in regional and national parks or a trip to the Cable Car Museum in SF or the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Your next family reunion is the bridge to so many possibilities.
Summer Camp Theme
A summer camp family reunion will always be one of our favorite themed events. It’s the perfect way to send the whole family back to the fun and freedom of childhood. Plus, the planning gets really easy and promising when you book your event at a cozy mountain venue where everyone can stay and enjoy each other’s company for the whole weekend—in traditional summer camp cabins tucked away from everything in the Bay Area redwoods.
- Classic S’Mores: Gather around a blazing campfire in the dark woods; sing classic summer camp songs (“Camp Grenada” was always my grandpa’s favorite); roast marshmallows for s’mores. Let the kids get as sticky and messy as they want because you’re all letting it loose in the wild—and you can just hose them down before tucking into the cabins for the night.
- Ropes Course Adventures: Ropes courses are such a unique and memorable way to enjoy the family time. Your kids shouldn’t be the only ones who get to climb high into the trees in this way at summer camp; all the generations can try out these challenging but well-supported team activities.
- Scavenger Hunt: Plan a scavenger hunt that takes you all around the camp property. The challenges can test people’s knowledge of your family’s history. And they can help everyone to get better acquainted with your reunion venue and all of its special nooks.
Remember back to your summer camp days for more activity ideas. Or, ask your kids about what they love most at summer camp for inspiration. Just as true summer camp memories tend to stick with us, so will your summer camp reunion stick with the family for generations to come. After all, camp is all about traditions, so it blends right in with what family is all about too.
We’ve got a lot more ideas for your family reunion event. Get in touch with us today, and we can brainstorm together, planning a reunion that reflects what is special about your family.