Icebreakers 101 is a podcast with more ideas to help reunion members mix and be enjoying themselves in no time.
As the planner, you sometimes forget that everyone at your reunion may not know one another as well as you do. If you are a very small three-generation reunion—parents, kids and grandkids—you may skip this step, but if there are any newcomers or members who have not seen one another for a while, these are suggestions to begin the integration and mixing of your group on their way to a memorable reunion.
When the Stewart Family Reunion celebrates a birthday or other special occasion they like to play a “Twenty Questions” game. Maroilyn Stewart, Bear River City, Utah, says her big problem with the game is making up new questions every time so she decided to make a permanent record of questions to use.
She included three sets of questions to target three different age groups- the “over the hill”, “prime of life” and a version for kids. These are questions for testing your knowledge of the person whose life you are celebrating. Here are the questions.
What other reunions are doing!
Bettie Gillyard Griggs, Compton, California, writes that the Gillyard-Johnson-Mahoney Family Reunion selects games they know everyone loves: Dominoes, Family Bingo, Hula Hoop and the Twist. “We offer exciting gift cards for participants and/or winners. We display a collection of memorabilia, such as old clothing catalogs, small replicas of kitchen appliances and cars, and that is sure to spark that you-remember-when conversation.”
For their reunion this year, they will add a day of community service and other acts of kindness in the memory of their ancestors and to pay it forward. “We believe it is a small price for us to pay as the beneficiaries of the labor and generosity of those who walked before us.”
Sarah Smith, Rochester, New York, starts their Smith Family Reunions by asking each family member to tell how they are related.
At the Johnson Hubboard Descendants Reunion, instead of name tags, each person was given a card with the name of another person to interview. This was the Meet & Greet highlight, as everyone got to know a family member they did not previously know.
Mildred Dudley, Flint, Michigan, reports that at the Lockett Family Reunion a representative from each family introduces their family members, the state and city where they live and who they are kin to.
Shantwuan Mines, Atlanta, Georgia, writes about the Petty Family Reunion. For ice breakers they have Guess the Baby pictures and they assign seating at some events so people are interacting with those they do not know.
Mary Mahood, Carson, Mississippi, wrote about an egg hunt her family loves at the Fulton/Brock Family Reunion. “Throughout the year we gather gift items and plastic Easter eggs on clearance after Easter.” Before the reunion they write trivia questions on strips of paper and insert them in the eggs.
They also use family, baby or teen pictures in a contest to name who the person is, in order to get a prize. They include a golden egg with a big prize like a gift card. Someone hides eggs before the family arrives. They do this at the beginning of each family reunion.
“Pretty much like an Easter egg hunt. We put dollar bills in about five eggs. We buy $5 to $10 prizes and put a strip of paper in those eggs that reads, ‘You won a prize!’ We also hide five big eggs with the grand prize in it. But the catch is that the person has to answer a question on the paper to get the prizes.
“I put a baby picture of my sister in one egg. My grandson found the egg and he was looking at everybody trying to figure out who she was. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t when other family members are helping. We wait until everyone arrives, then have everyone stand and count to three.”
Ask family members to help by donating items. As you receive the prize items, create paper strips that read “Winner”; also create strips that read “No Winner” to put in some of the eggs.
Start the Party
These suggestions will have members talking and often laughing in no time.
- Always start by having everyone state their names and how they are related to the family. Or have name tags that read, for example, “Hello! my name is Christopher. I am Trudy’s son and Carol’s grandson.”
- Make a list of all kinds of things that happen to people. Slowly read the list, ask everyone to whom a statement applies to stand and look around. When you finish, everyone in the room will know others who have had the same experience, have the same interest or share something with others. These cover ALL ages. Examples: bought a new car, moved to a new city, lost a tooth, love to play softball/tennis/golf, has same job, promoted to a new grade, traveled out of the country, graduated, married, retired, etc. These questions cross generations, too: Packer fan (boo Bears!), sings in the choir, and so on. For the kids: like whoever-the-current-hero-is.
- Arrange members by birth month. Once in that group, find out how many share birthdays.
- Pin names of fictional characters or famous people on everyone’s backs. Everyone must walk around asking others questions to identify who they are. “Am I male or female? Am I dead or alive? If alive, how old? American or not?”
- Create trivia questions about family members, then, guess who it is. Who graduated from Mount Mary University? Who is a Vietnam veteran? Who just became a Cub Scout? Who is learning to swim?
What are you doing?
Players get in a circle. First player mimes an action—for example, vacuuming. Second player asks first player, “What are you doing?” First player responds with any answer that is NOT “Vacuuming”; for example, “Dyeing my hair.” Then second player mimes dying her hair. Third player asks “What are you doing?” Second player responds with any answer that is NOT related to the action she is actually miming, and so on around the circle
- Players may NOT choose to answer the question “What are you doing?” with an answer that is close to the action they are miming. For example, if you are miming vacuuming, you may not verbally answer the “What are you doing?” question with “Mowing the lawn,” because that is too much like vacuuming. If they do, play begins over.
- Players may not take too long to think about their answer. If they do, play begins over again.
Trudy Barch, Homewood, Illinois, reports about her Miriam Cousins Club Reunion.
Trudy suggests a game called “Who am I?” Questions are general enough so other cousins will recognize the person and be able to guess who it is. Questions are adjusted for males/females and older/younger relatives. Say the descriptive facts from each of the following categories until the person is identified:
(If no guesses, continue… grandparents’ names, parents’ names, spouse’s name, currently lives.)
By this time everyone should know who this person is. If not, Trudy will tell them.
For more family game ideas, visit our Games Page dedicated to it!