When you’re planning a reunion, a lot of time goes into the Big Four: date, place, people, food. Activities are easy, right? We can leave them for further down the list, along with photos and reunion mementos.
Yes. And also no. Yes, deciding the date and place is important, or else people can’t come. And you had better have food to feed everyone. But no, you can’t let activities spring spontaneously from the bored minds of your guests. Trust us, these activities are never the bringers of good memories.
So, after all the talking and ice-breaking is done, don’t condemn reunion attendees to uncomfortable silences and another repeat of “Did I Ever Tell You Kids About the Time I …” Plan in some fun!
Reunion Activities For …
Below, we’ve divided up activities based on age-appropriateness and suitability for different levels of physical fitness. It’s important to plan activities that match your guests’ preferences and tastes; since very few groups are composed of a single type of guest, it’s best to have a selection of activities.
That said, there are some games and other activities that all the guests might want to join in. Besides, even the most ardent thrill-seeker might harbor a soft spot for quieter activities. When you plan each day’s activities, don’t constantly schedule them for the same time (i.e. 1 p.m. — hour-long trip to the zipline park, 1:15 p.m. — visit to art museum). Instead, consider scheduling some activities in the morning, others in the afternoons and minimizing overlap. This way, guests who want to participate in multiple outings can. Those who are only interested in one or the other can use the free time in their own way.
Let’s start with activities that work for all age groups, interests, and activity levels. Some of these will be old favorites. For example, if your group isn’t too large you can do round-robin icebreakers, where everyone introduces themselves and shares something interesting or simply tells about what has been happening to them since the last reunion. If your group is meeting in a place with meaning to them, like the old family homestead, arrange for a tour or have some guests present an oral history. And don’t forget about the group talent show — people of all ages and skills can participate, and everything is good for a smile or a laugh. Similarly, consider staging a play that re-enacts a pivotal moment in your group’s shared history.
Some other ideas that the whole group can enjoy:
- Worship or memorial services
- Group scrapbooking — Have a scrapbooking station with photos, decorations, and other supplies. Let guests create pages for themselves or for a communal book.
- Guest speakers, performers, or musicians
- Storytelling — Have members of the group tell stores or answer questions
- Team scavenger hunts
- Group videos or video biographies
- Lessons — Arrange for experts (in-group or hired) to teach guests how to dance, craft, cook, or do some other activity
- Achievement celebrations — Honor anniversaries, graduations, or special milestones
- Group Charades — Pick a theme that will resonate with your group
- Raffles, auctions, and other sales
Certain activities will be fun for adults and boring for kids. I’m especially thinking of the more formal group events like dinner-dances, theater nights, and dinner-shows. While you certainly could do family-themed versions of these, it’s also nice to have some child-free time. Here are some ideas that can are especially suited to adults:
- Cocktail party — No kids allowed, for obvious reasons. Plus, it gives the adults the chance to dress up and have a bit of social chatter without worrying about what the younger ones are doing.
- Movie night — This could go either way; maybe the kids won’t be interested in the classic movies that mark the era your group is celebrating. On the other hand, it could work for the entire group.
- Team Trivia — Youngsters might get bored with the family trivia, so give them their own quiz show.
- Mystery night — Host an interactive murder mystery or spy story. This might be too scary for younger kids.
Maybe there are times when the adults will be involved in their own activities, such as the ones listed above. Or maybe the kids need some structured time so that adults can swap stories in peace. Either way, have plenty of kid-friendly activities planned. Remember, kids are almost always the most energetic group of attendees.
Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far for fun reunion activities that kids will enjoy. Have older guests teach kids to play popular schoolyard games from their generation, like Red Rover or Dodgeball (with proper supervision and kid-safe foam balls). If you have older kids who are willing, have them set up prize games (like fishing ponds, hay digs, or other games that have small items for kids to find). Organize age-appropriate treasure hunts, board games, and field day games. Or try some of these suggestions:
- Water balloon toss
- Costume/Fashion Show with prizes — Have a dress-up box and let kids go to town
- Kids’ Quiz Show
- Daddy-Daughter/Mother-Son Dance
- Kids’ Movie Night
- Kid’s Own Party – Offer kid-approved food and music choices, make it a costume party, or give it a reunion theme
- Visit a water park, skate park, zoo, or theme park
- Kids TV — Have kids produce their own TV show with news, guest interviews, and whatever else they can imagine
- Puppet show — Let kids build their own puppets and write their own skit
- Races — Sack race, egg race, three-legged race, etc.
- Tag — Flashlight tag, freeze tag, animal tag, etc.
The Loud and Active
Let’s move on to another kind of dividing line: those guests who love to do strenuous physical activity and those who do not.
Once again, there are a lot of shades on this spectrum. Even the lowest-key guest may enjoy a rousing game of volleyball or at least a quiet stroll along the shore. On the other hand, some guests may like to go bungee jumping one day and then opt to be couch potatoes for the rest of the trip. So, it’s up to the reunion planner to make sure that opposite activities don’t overlap too much and force guests to miss out on something.
When it comes to higher-energy guests, think big fun, big groups, and big energy expenditures. All kinds of sports work for these folks (both as participants and as cheering fans), as do group visits to theme parks, casinos, and other places. Here are some other ideas that are boisterous good fun:
- Eating contests (pie, hot dog, spicy chicken, etc.)
- Water sports: volleyball, polo, football, etc.
- Balloon launching – Like balloon tossing, but with slingshots. Award points for accuracy and distance
- Laser Tag
- Carnival Games (or visiting a local carnival or fair)
- Obstacle course
The Quiet and Calm
Some guests will move at a slower pace, and that is perfectly okay. Try to have plenty of soothing, low-fuss options for these people. Perhaps you could organize a woodland stroll or a morning stretching session on the beach. Here are some ideas for lower-key fun:
- Nature photo hunt: Have guests walk along a nature trail and take pictures of specific birds, animals, and plants
- Book nook: Set aside a quiet room or a shady spot for reading
- Craft or art lessons
- Museum or historic home tours
- Canoe or pontoon boat rides
- Scenic drives
- Resting or napping zones: Especially important if you have guests with poor health, or for families with small children who need regular downtime
Why Backup Activities Are Essential
Let’s wrap up our article with a word of caution: Always plan backup activities. The operative word is always. While this is a no-brainer if we’re talking about a springtime softball game, it applies equally to indoor activities, at least in the planning stage.
There will be some “mandatory” group activities that all guests should attend, like dinners and special ceremonies. Other than these, though, the goal of a reunion is to have fun, not be an event boot camp. So, keep these points in mind when you are planning any activity:
- Weather could force you to cancel an outdoor game at the last minute
- If you’re having equipment brought in from offsite, it may arrive late or not arrive at all
- Participation for an activity may be sparse
Most of this can be addressed in the planning stage. For example, suppose you’re planning to have a volleyball tournament at your reunion. You can plan a few indoor games for those who don’t want to participate; if the weather turns nasty, simply add a few more game tables and you’re good to go (Of course, you’ve provided a variety of card and board games, like the clever reunion planner you are). Even if the net and volleyballs themselves don’t make it to the party, you can be sure your guests will have a good time. Many of them won’t even notice the blip.
In short, a reunion planner shares a motto with the Boy Scouts: Be Prepared. As long as you keep in mind the different needs, temperaments, and activity levels of your guests, no one will go home unhappy or bored. Keep a few backup activities up your sleeve for emergencies, and you’ll be able to relax and join in the fun.