The decision of how often to hold your online reunion is probably as unique as each member of your family.
I’ve heard it said that family is like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts! Yep. Our family is no exception. In fact, we embrace the nuttiness in our family.
We love spend time together…even though we are scattered all over the United States from Washington to Idaho to Utah to Texas to Alabama. We haven’t always lived so far apart, but when you have a large family it just kind of happens as the family grows.
In the past, we’ve held some sort of family reunion almost annually. My parents had a summer cabin near the beach on Camano Island in Washington. Every 4th of July we held a barbecue and set off fireworks on the beach. This had become a tradition we all looked forward to…especially the kids who enjoyed getting to light off fireworks with their cousins.
As a matter of fact, this has become so much a part of the family that I had a nephew get married there this past year on the 4th of July. Due to the pandemic, the wedding was held with only a handful of immediate family members to keep things socially distanced. But the joy and and heartfelt well wishes to the bride and groom were sent by those couldn’t be there physically.
I’d be lying if I said some of us weren’t a little heartbroken we couldn’t be at the wedding. But those of us unable to attend were able to join virtually. We were able to celebrate both the 4th of July and the wedding courtesy of today’s technology. It was a way of keeping the tradition alive…even in a pandemic.
There was sure a lot of cupcakes and cake for such a small group thanks to our family’s baker extraordinaire. He also showed off his cooking and baking talent in our online Hawaiian reunion, too.
Approximately every five years, our family has tried to hold a large destination family reunion. Disney World was our destination of choice for many of those reunions. Five years seemed to be a nice amount of time for families to plan and budget for these reunions.
Is an Annual Online Reunion Often Enough?
Did you know that over 50% of family reunions that are held have them every year? A second bit of trivia: 15.8% of all reunion include five generations. How lucky is that to be able to have five generations together?
Many of my family live fairly close together. Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw each other fairly often. While we still do a few things together, it is in small groups and socially distanced. We have missed gathering, so we held our first online family reunion this year.
Our online reunion was a huge success!
It was a week of activities held online. Everyone’s talents (and sense of humor) were on full display. We found out things about each other we never would have known had we held the gathering in person. Note to self: When this pandemic is over, we WILL continue to hold these.
The families who were spread out all over the country didn’t have to worry about the cost of traveling or missing work or school or camp. For these families, the online reunion was allowed them to connect without the cost or hassle of travel and protecting themselves against the spread of illness.
Hold a Small Online Reunion to Try It Out
There is no need to decide early in the game how often to hold an online reunion. Go ahead and give a virtual reunion a try. My technology of choice is a private Facebook group. Simply set up a Facebook group and give it a fun name. My maiden name is Funk, so we have named our reunions FunkBlast.
Think of your one-day online reunion as a testing ground for future reunions. Find a theme and run with it. As part of our online reunion this year, we had a Hawaiian theme.
Choose a themed activity like a photo scavenger hunt. For example, our Hawaiian-themed scavenger hunt included items like a ukulele, a sand dollar, a coconut, and beach ball. People uploaded photos throughout the day as people commented and connected with each other. Creativity (and maybe a little nuttiness) really made this activity fun.
The interesting thing I have found with these online reunions is that the number of family who participate grows each time we gather. Apparently, the word gets around when you’re having fun!
Stay in Touch Between Reunions
Let me tell you one of the huge advantages of having your reunion online. There is no clean-up! No garbage pickup, no dishes to wash, no need to figure out who left their baseball cap behind.
Once our online family reunion was officially over…actually, before it was even over…everyone wanted to know when we would be doing it again.
And staying in touch with each other was easier than ever. We now had this private Facebook group where we could connect any time we wanted…no matter what the time of day was or where in the world we were.
There are lots of other ways to stay connected, too. Some families publish a monthly newsletter. Other families have a family website that they use to coordinate information. And some families hold a weekly phone call. How often you meet is up to you!
Our family is now holding monthly trivia nights via Zoom. It has been a total blast! And we have found out how much people remember about The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island.
Be a Close-Knit Family by Connecting Online
“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”-George Burns
While the above quote offers some humor, the reality is that having family in another city doesn’t mean you can’t be a close-knit family. Because you can! And you can gather as often as you want without worrying about time or money. The more the merrier when it comes to online reunions.
We always say: The family that plays together, stays together. So have an online gathering once a month or once a year. You decide. It is so much easier to plan than a traditional reunion that it makes having them more often a breeze.
If you know someone interested in holding a virtual family reunion, please feel free to share this post.
For more information on the new trend of virtual family reunions, please read the articles below.