Family Reunions, Family Travel and Reunions, Uncategorized

Ideas on How to Stay in Touch Between Family Reunions and Vacations

If you’re like me, you start to miss that time you’ve spent with family the minute you climb in the car to drive home after that family vacation or reunion. Everything is cleaned up and the open space looks kind of empty. Everyone is headed their separate ways. My hubby calls this the “walk of sadness” as we give those last few hugs goodbye. It’s about this time I know that I need to stay in touch and keep those connections I’ve made with my family.

In my head, as while we are still driving home, I am already beginning to plan not just for the next time we get together, but also how we can stay connected until then.

Why is it Important to Stay in Touch with Family?

An article by WebMD provides the following information on how staying in touch with family benefits us:

“This idea of feeling connected becomes very reinforcing, to all of us, and contributes to happiness, it contributes to mental health and it does contribute also to physical health.”

John northman, psychologist
Stay in Touch with Family Through Social Media
Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

The article discusses how keeping in touch with family benefits us:

  • Emotional Support: It makes us feel better when we are able to share happy moments and memories together.
  • Esteem support: We can feel good about ourselves. Our family can validate that we’re doing well and help us out when we aren’t doing so well.
  • Informational support: We can teach other things by passing on our knowledge…like hobbies and family recipes…hints and tips on how “Grandma always did it.”
  • Network support: It gives us a sense that we belong. It’s really important to have a place where you feel like you’re accepted and you belong.
  • Tangible support: What college kid doesn’t enjoy getting birthday money in a card or a care package from home?

Ideas to Stay in Touch with Family Online

I’ll be the first to admit that although I may not always be the most adept at using technology, I love all of the fun ways available to connect online. It’s never been easier to come up with new ideas to stay in touch with the family.

Below are a few ideas on how to stay connected online between vacations, reunions…and even during a pandemic. Pick and choose and create an online family reunion. Want more information on how to hold an online family reunion? Grab the free downloadable guide to coordinating an online family reunion on the sign-up at the bottom of the page.

Baking or Cooking Together

Send out an invite with a recipe, let everyone gather their ingredients, and spend a Sunday afternoon making Grandma’s pot roast via video call together.

It’s a great opportunity to share helpful hints or the “secret” ingredient Grandma left off her recipe card. My mom used to leave ingredients off of recipes she’d hand out so no one’s tasted just like hers. Over the years, we’ve compared her recipes and finally been able to figure out her real recipe. Sorry, Mom, but we loved yours so much we just had to play detective to be sure we got it right.

Or spend an evening baking or decorating cookies. Traditionally, the cousins (now grown) have gathered to decorate Christmas cookies together. This year, during the pandemic, they can gather via video and still decorate cookies. They can share their funny creations…just at their own homes through video.

Stay in Touch with Family by Decorating Cookies Together Virtually.
Photo Credit: Bluebird Bakes

Bluebird Bakes offers seasonal “decorate yourself kits” if you’re running short on time to do your own baking and frosting making.

Chocolate (or wine or soda or cookie or anything) Tasting

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic had many businesses needing to quickly pivot their business models. Here in Washington, we saw wineries that offered virtual wine tastings. You could simply have your wines shipped or pick-up them up for your virtual wine tasting.

I have seen friends and family take this a step further offering virtual chocolate tastings and virtual soda tastings together. Order everyone a bag of assorted Ghirardelli minis. Jones Soda offers some great variety packs of soda that can be ordered online.

Simply connect virtually with your goodies and compare your tastings with your family. Use your creativity and and find something that is perfect for your family!

Play Games Together Online

Our family has been enjoying virtual game nights every month for the last nine months and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t matter where in the world family members are, as long as they have internet, they can participate.

We’ve had trivia nights, as well as played games like Family Feud and Never Have I Ever. Next on our agenda is a game of Harry Potter-themed Hollywood Squares. Zoom is perfect to hold these as it allows you to share your screen if you’ve got a game board.

Social Media Challenges

In the past, we’ve seen big social media challenges like the “ice bucket challenge.” You can create your own social media challenge for just your family. Maybe it reflects something that has meaning to your family…like taking a picture with a spoon hanging from your nose.

Stream a Movie

While you may miss those in-person movie nights, there is a way around that. Make a video call, choose a movie, and have everyone start it at the same time. Better yet, there are apps like Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) that let you view movies or TV shows simultaneously.

Video Call

As people get older, sometimes they tend to talk less. A video call is a great idea to stay in touch family…and pretty easy. The number of apps and programs available are pretty numerous. Some of our favorites are Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook.

Virtual Book Club

I have always wanted to be a part of a book club. So pick an evening, set a time, gather some snacks for an hour or two of sharing what you’re reading and whether or not you’d recommend it. Alternatively, you can have everyone read the same book and discuss it.

And for those with younger kiddos in the group, maybe Grandma and Grandpa could do a book reading. Can’t get together for the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas”? Set up a call where it gets read virtually or record a video and share it with family.

Ideas to Stay in Touch with Family Offline (aka the Old-Fashioned Way)

Care Packages

There is nothing like getting a care package. It shows that the sender…well…cares about you! You know someone is thinking of you. If you’ve got an upcoming family reunion or vacation planned, it can contain things to help build excitement…like a countdown calendar or packing list or suntan lotion.

A care package can also be themed to a holiday. Think outside the box. Is Global Handwashing Day coming up? How about a box filled with nicely scented hand soap and lotions? Be creative and try to make it fit your family.

Newsletter

A family newsletter is the perfect way to let everyone know what’s going on throughout the extended family. A newsletter can be sent as an attachment via email…and if Great Aunt Edna doesn’t “do” email, you can send her a copy via snail mail.

Phone Call

In today’s world of text messaging, it’s easy to forget how simple it is to just dial a family member and give them a quick call to check in on them. Ask them how they’re doing. You’re probably not the only one struggling with being separated from family. It’s such a small act that can mean the world to someone.

Send Cards and Letters

Stay in Touch with Family Through Sending Cards
Photo by Claire Morgan on Pexels.com

My grandma never missed a birthday. She always signed them “Loads of love, Grandma.” This was no easy feat considering she had 6 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren and numerous friends and extended family she kept in touch with. Going through her things after she passed, we realized what a large part of her days were probably spent letting people know that she was thinking of them.

I still love to send (and receive) real, physical birthday and Christmas cards. We send them to our nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews, siblings, etc. If you’re 18 or under, you still get $10 from us. I love to hear how the kiddos use that money. The most recent purchase by a great-nephew was for a stuffed baby Yoda. Oh, that makes my Star Wars-loving heart melt.

Stay in Touch with Family Through a Virtual Reunion

The perfect way to stay in touch with family between those in-person reunions and vacations is to connect virtually. Our family has had so much fun the past few years playing games online, sharing recipes, and so much more through our family Facebook group.

In addition, many families can’t manage to coordinate a family reunion or vacation every year. Holding an virtual reunion can be the perfect way to substitute an in-person reunion with a virtual one. We’ve put together some great articles and a free quick guide for holding an online reunion. Sign up below and leave your ideas in the comments below on how you stay connected with your family when you can’t be together in-person.

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    Family Reunions, Family Travel and Reunions

    Deciding How Often to Hold an Online Reunion

    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.

    Past Reunions

    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.

    Virtual wedding meant enjoying a piece of cake virtually.

    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?

    personal organizer and pink flowers on desk
    Photo by Kaboompics/Pexels.com

    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.

    Hawaiian Online Reunion 2020.  Is annually often enough for an online reunion?

    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.

    Get the Guide and Start Having Fun

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      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.

      Family Reunions, Family Travel and Reunions

      Planning the Time and Location of Your Virtual Family Reunion

      Planning for anything in life, including a virtual family reunion, can be extremely valuable.

      A few weeks ago my hubby came across a recipe he wanted to try for dinner. We share the duty of making dinners, and it was my turn to cook dinner. He told me the recipe said it only took 10 minutes to prepare. Had I taken the time to read the recipe and plan ahead, we might have eaten dinner at a normal dinner time.

      My first clue should have been the pure number of vegetables he purchased for the dinner. When it came time to prepare dinner, I noticed the “Preparation Time” had assumed that you had cut up all the veges and pre-cooked the pasta to al dente and a number of other steps. Wait a minute! It took me a l…o…n…g… time just to get to the point where the 10-minute preparation began.

      Fortunately for me, my hubby was understanding and even a little apologetic when he realized why dinner was so late. And me, lesson learned (again) to always read a recipe fully ahead of time to make sure you have all the ingredients and take into consideration any prep work that needs to be done.

      Importance of Virtual Family Reunion Planning

      It is easy to fall into the trap that thinking just because a family reunion is virtual, or online, that it won’t take much planning. And, honestly, it won’t take nearly as much planning as an in-person family reunion. But there are a few things you can do to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.

      Planning a date and where to meet up online is essential for your virtual family reunion.   Planner with flowers.
      Kaboompics.com /Pexels.com

      There are many reasons to hold a family reunion online. For example, maybe there is a world pandemic and no one can travel. Sometimes we just want to connect and celebrate a special occasion like an anniversary or the expected birth of a child. We may also want to just get together to enjoy an online family game night. Knowing your why can help you in your planning.

      Not doing some simple planning can cause a lot of confusion. The three most important things that need to be planned are the who to invite, when the reunion will be held, and where you will hold your online family reunion.

      Planning Who to Invite to Your Virtual Family Reunion

      Hint for figuring out who to invite: Make your list of invitees based on the reason that you are having the reunion. Having a reason and/or a theme makes the reunion more entertaining because everyone experiences something special.

      Maybe you may want to have an all-girls’ teddy bear themed baby shower. Or, just maybe, you want to play a Harry Potter-themed trivia night for fun for the Harry Potter fans in the family. For our family’s 2020 Hawaiian-themed virtual reunion, everyone was invited. When planning how many people to invite, my personal opinion is: the more the merrier.

      Know the limits of the technology you will be using. On the date I am writing this post, the free Zoom account limits you to 100 participant log-ins. For most people, that may be plenty of log-ins, but if you need more you need to plan accordingly.

      Planning Where to Hold Your Online Family Reunion

      At a traditional family reunion you need to find a physical location…like a campground, a hotel conference center, or even someone’s back yard. But with a virtual family reunion, planning a location means finding somewhere online to hold your reunion.

      Mother and child at computer joining in the virtual family reunion.
      AnastasiaShuraeva/Pexels.com

      There are lots of virtual places to gather online. Some are more user-friendly than others. The following are the two our family uses most often:

      Here are some additional places I have heard of people gathering. While I have tried a few of these, some offer limitations or were not really built for family use but more for business use:

      Make Sure Everyone Know How to Use the Technology

      Make sure everyone knows ahead of time what technology you have chosen. If possible give them some basic instructions on how to use the technology. Alternatively, you can send them the link to the site’s instructions on how to use the technology. Not everyone is comfortable using new technology, so maybe have a volunteer ready to walk them through it ahead of time.

      Planning When to Hold Your Virtual Family Reunion

      As mentioned before, knowing your “why” or your purpose can help you in planning a date. Celebrating grandma’s and grandpa’s 50th anniversary? It is best to hold it some time near or around the date of their anniversary not six months later.

      But if you aren’t celebrating anything in particular (except your family!), the dates are a lot easier to plan for a virtual family reunion. My family’s online reunion took place for one full week during the month of July. Other than our live trivia night kick-off, all other aspects of the event took place within our family’s Facebook group. People simply logged on when it was convenient and participated in the daily activities. Each day had its own thread which helped keep things organized.

      If not planning your virtual family reunion around a special date, I highly recommend adding a theme to your reunion. Themes allow each reunion to be special and different than the other ones.

      Coordinating the Big Event

      A traditional family reunion is a big event and often takes several people, or even several committees, to organize. While an online family reunion doesn’t take quite the same amount of planning, you may wish to ask for help. Sometimes, it’s just fun to have an extra ear or two to bounce ideas off of.

      If you decide to ask for help, there is no need to meet in person. Often, you can do most of the planning through calling, texting, or emailing. Although if you need an excuse to enjoy Taco Tuesday, this just might provide you the right excuse to hang out with your fellow planners. Listen to your planning crew…especially if they have any concerns you might not have thought of.

      In addition to the pre-planning phase, I asked for feedback several times throughout our family’s online event. The observations were noted, adjustments were made, and I have several ways I will be changing things up for our next event.

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        Include Something for Everyone

        I have a very unique family. (But isn’t every family unique?) One of the things I wanted to be mindful of was that there would be something for everyone. To get as much participation as possible, I needed to be sure there was a variety of activities so everyone felt there included.

        Participants enjoyed planning and creating these vegetable sculptures for our online family reunion.
        Photography & Food Carving Talent: Whales Swimming in Hawaiian Waters

        For the cooks and bakers of the family, we had a cooking activity. I gave out a list of “secret” ingredients and we got quite the variety of dishes that people came up with. In addition, people were able to submit photos or videos of various talents being showcased…all around the theme of “Hawaii.” We had videos of dogs doing the hula, a reading of “Walter the Farting Dog Banned from the Beach”. And several people showcased crafting talents like memory book pages and quilts and photography.

        Review Your Plans Before the Big Day

        When I chose to make a new dish for dinner a few weeks ago, I made a huge mistake. I failed to review the recipe (the plan) before it was actually time to make the dinner. While the dish was still tasty (I will be making it again), I failed in execution. Dinner was quite late that night. Other things we has planned to do that evening had to wait for another time.

        Review your plans before the big date to be sure you’ve got everything in place and ready to go. It can save you so much headache and make the reunion a lot more memorable for everyone.

        As always, remember: The family that plays together, stays together.

        If you or anyone you know is thinking of holding an online family reunion, please feel free to share this article.

        I would love to hear any experiences you have had with planning an online family reunion. Leave a comment below and let me know how it went.

        Related Articles

        Family Reunions, Family Travel and Reunions

        Six Reasons to Have an Online Family Reunion This Year

        For many people, attending a family reunion has been a part of their summer traditions. As a travel advisor, I have helped families plan destination reunions on a cruise ship, at a destination like Hawaii, and visiting Disney World. Each reunion is just as unique as each family. When gathering physically isn’t possible, hosting an online family reunion can be just the cure.

        Has Your Family Reunion Been Cancelled Due to COVID-19?

        Let’s face it. The year 2020 has been one for the books due to COVID-19. So many family activities have been cancelled due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions. But let me tell you a secret…it doesn’t have to spoil the fun! Even if we can’t be together physically, we can still have plenty of fun together as a family.

        Our family recently finished a week-long family reunion online with a Hawaiian theme. It was complete with cooking, trivia game, photo scavenger hunt, other activities, and lots of humor.

        Reasons to enjoy a Hawaiian-themed virtual family reunion.  Connect online and enjoy island time.

        Everyone enjoyed their time and the feedback was so positive that we are already planning another Harry Potter-themed one for October.

        I believe there are a number of reasons why our virtual family gathering was so successful…and yours can be too.

        Reason #1 – Online Family Reunions are Fun

        I have to admit that when I began planning our online reunion that I wasn’t sure how it would go over. My family agreed to be my guinea pigs. I wanted to give my clients who couldn’t travel with their families this year a way to still enjoy time with their loved ones. Would it work? I had no idea.

        The week began with a Hawaiian-themed live trivia game. People came to the Zoom event dressed with their Hawaiian shirts, leis, and with sunglasses on. That was a good sign that they had decided to embrace the virtual nature of this reunion.

        I organized our reunion through a private Facebook group, and the result exceeded my greatest expectations tenfold. There were dozens of SPAM-filled recipes with pictures of all the great creations–and a SPAM carving or two. My sister-in-law reported that when she went to the grocery store towards the end of the week that the store manager reported a “shortage of SPAM.” I am pretty sure that wasn’t our fault…

        When I made a final post to the group on Friday announcing the “official” ending to the reunion, here is one many of the comments I received back:

        “Thanks, Andrea! So much fun, awesome bonding, and I bought SPAM (before the sellout of 2020)…and macadamia nuts for the first time in my life!”

        Reason #2 – Connect With Family Far Away

        With a traditional family reunion, people sometimes have to travel from distances. Sometimes one of the things we enjoy about a reunion is the adventure of leaving home to go someplace new.

        In the past, it has been difficult for our entire family to get everyone together for a reunion. People’s can’t get vacation time during the date chosen. Or a health issue comes up and someone can’t travel.

        But with our virtual family reunion, everyone who wanted to participate could. You didn’t need vacation time to join in the fun. If you had a broken leg or undergoing treatment for an illness, as long as you could turn on your computer (or tablet or smartphone) and log on to Facebook, you were good to go. And even if you lived on the opposite side of the U.S., no problem. They have Facebook there, too!

        Reason #3: Virtual Family Reunions Cost a Lot Less Money

        As someone who has worked on past family reunions…or attended reunions…or helped families plan destination reunions…I know one thing is true: Reunions can cost a whole lot of money to put together or attend.

        The nice thing about a virtual family reunion, is that it costs relatively little to plan. There are no venues to rent or caterers to pay or hotel rooms to reserve or gas to put in the car. A Facebook group is free to set up and get to.

        We did use Zoom to host our Family trivia night. Zoom offers free accounts (with some restrictions). But if needed, Zoom also has plans ranging from $14.99 to $19.99 a month (as of day of writing). Simply cancel your Zoom before the end of the month you hold your reunion…$14.99 is the cheapest venue rental I have seen. (It’s free for family members to participate in a hosted Zoom event.)

        Fortunately for our group, several members already had Zoom accounts and set it up for us. So no extra cost for our family.

        While activities did not require anyone to spend money, we did have a number of people who spent their own money to purchase a few supplies for cooking or to create a piece of art. But it was a choice and no one felt any pressure. Many people worked with what they already had around the house. And we had some fun-tastic submissions to our reunion.

        Reason #4 – Families Can Gather at a Time That is Convenient for Them

        As I’ve mentioned before, we held one live event for our online family reunion. This was sort of the kick-off to the big event that was held all week. We tried to find a time that wasn’t too early for the folks on the west coast but not too late for the folks on the east coast. We settled on 5:30 p.m.

        Have a Hawaiian-themed online family reunion complete with a photo scavenger hunt.

        The rest of the week we had daily activities in a dedicated thread on Facebook. For example, one day was a Hawaiian-themed scavenger hunt. People had all day to find and upload pictures of the items on the dedicated Facebook thread.

        We had one activity that ran all week. I released a list of Hawaiian-themed secret ingredients. People posted pictures of their finished dishes and posted the recipes. There was some real creativity going on there.

        #5 – Memories of Your Online Family Reunion are Automatically Preserved

        This was one of the reasons that really stuck out to me at the end of our family reunion. The pictures and stories and videos and food were all automatically preserved on Facebook. Anyone can go back at any time and look at them.

        At the 2016 RootsTech conference, presenter Joseph Richardson said:

        One of the powerful advantages of a virtual family reunion, or this kind of virtual event, is that you can re-experience it over time. When I have a normal on-the-ground, traditional reunion, we experience it. We’re done. If we’re lucky, somebody remembered to take a picture or two, and we can share the picture. But it’s over, and we can only remember.

        Joseph Richardson, RootsTech 2016 conference

        And since I promised to put together a recipe book book for my family, I’ve got all the pictures and recipes right there. Voila! Easy-peasy to put the recipe book together. SPAM fries anyone?

        Online family reunions allow for creativity and fun.  Macadamia nut & coconut crusted SPAM fries.

        Reason #6 – Celebrate a Special Occasion

        A lot of what my family did during our online reunion was meant to substitute for a traditional family reunion. But it would be just as easy to adapt what we did to a lot of family celebrations.

        Grandma and Grandma celebrating their 50th anniversary? Why not put together an online celebration. Where did they go on their honeymoon? This could be used as a theme for the virtual family gathering.

        Someone getting married? Drive-by shower or reception? How about an week of online activities where people can share recipes, stories, hints and tips. It’s all there for the bride and groom to look at whenever they want. Much better than the book of signatures that will probably only get looked at a couple of times after the wedding.

        Final Thoughts: We are Already Planning Another Online Family Gathering

        Our family had such a fun time! There were many who expressed disappointment when the week was over.

        The feedback I heard was that in many ways the interactions we had were much more genuine, upbeat, and supportive of each other. Everyone who wanted to participate was able to irregardless of where they lived, what time zone they were in, and whatever other limitations might have made it difficult for them to travel.

        I chose the Hawaiian theme for our reunion because several of the families attending have had to cancel or postpone family trips to Hawaii this year. It seemed natural for me as a travel advisor to try to provide them with some sort of Hawaiian virtual vacation alternative.

        While a Hawaiian-themed reunion may need to be all online, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy island time.

        Have you or your family done a fun online get-together lately? Please feel free to share in the comments below. I’d love to hear all about it.

        Read more about virtual family reunions in the articles below:

        Family Reunions, Family Travel and Reunions

        Online Family Reunions are Relative-ly Simple and Loads of Fun

        When you are in the midst of a pandemic, it can seem that family gatherings are no longer practical or wise. I do miss hanging out with my family. Thankfully, we don’t live in an all-or-nothing society. With technology being so advanced, having an online family reunion can be simple to put together and offer loads of fun.

        Large family vacations and reunions have been a huge part of my life. I have so many fun memories. The bonds that I have been able to make during those times together continues to drive my motivation to do what I do both personally and professionally.

        My hubby is the one who actually encouraged me to quite my old job and take up helping other families plan trips and reunions with their families. I have been planning trips and family gatherings for so many years for my family that it seemed like a natural transition for me.

        Get Fired Up About Spending Time With Your Family

        I get pretty fired up when I think about hanging out with my family. Maybe I am just lucky, but I have a pretty fantastic group of siblings, nieces, nephew, great-nieces, etc., that I L…O…V…E to spend time with. Whether we are a group of 2 or 200, we rock when we are together! That’s why my motto is:

        The family that plays together, stays together.

        Often, the thought of organizing a family reunion can seem overwhelming. And right now, in the midst of a pandemic, it doesn’t seem very practical either. I mean, the best part of a family reunion is the endless, mouthwatering food; the goofy games; and the crazy antics that go on.

        Playing an online game of family trivia is just one way to gather and have fun with your family through a virtual family reunion.
        Skitterphoto/Pexels.com

        Through the years, family reunions and family vacations have brought me lots of fantastic memories…as well as pounds to my waistline that I need to work off once I get home.

        Most Compelling Reason People Love Getting Together With Family

        There are so many reasons we love to get together. But in the end, the most compelling reason people want to gather is the people we love.

        Sharing pictures and video of your family is all part of an online family reunion.
        Alexander Dummer/Pexels.com

        Life is short. Kids grow up way too fast…and then have their own kids who grow up way too fast. It is difficult to keep up with them. Before you know it, people leave us way too soon.

        Every year, on December 31st, I ask myself, “Where did the year go?” Each year seems to go by more quickly than the last.

        Now is always the best time to reconnect with your family. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

        There are many reasons we enjoy coming back together time after time with our families. And just because we are having a pandemic doesn’t mean we can’t gather together…we just gather in a different way.

        What is a Simple Online Family Reunion?

        The internet has made virtual family reunions extremely easy to connect.
        Anastasia Shuraeva/Pexels.com

        A virtual family reunion for all intents and purposes is an online family gathering. Family reunions have always come in different shapes, sizes, and themes. A virtual family reunion…or school reunion…or reunion of friends…can be as big or as little as you desire.

        With an online reunion, you can invite as many (or as few) people as you want. You never have to worry about running out of space. And no matter where they may be living around the world, family members or friends can join in.

        A virtual family reunion can be as simple as a threaded FB post…or as elaborate as a week-long Hawaiian-themed series of online activities.

        As I write this, I am in the middle of this exact type of online family reunion. We have a live trivia night via Zoom planned. One day we have a photo scavenger hunt. We sent out a list of Hawaiian-themed ingredients for people to use, and they have been sharing their pictures and recipes all week long. How many things can you make from SPAM?

        And what’s the best secret ingredient of all? Love!

        Deciding What Type of Virtual Gathering to Have

        The first thing you want to take into consideration what type of reunion you want to have. Think about:

        • How tech-savvy are my family?
        • How many people do I want to invite?
        • What activities do I want to include?
        • How can I adapt games we’ve traditionally played in the past at our reunions and make them part of our new online reunion?
        • What about a theme? Do we want one? If so, what should it be?

        For example: We usually have a talent show or skit night. How do we adapt?

        My answer for a Hawaiian-themed reunion: Ask people to submit and upload videos of their family doing the hula…or ask Uncle Ned to play his ukelele and sing “Tiny Bubbles”…or ask Aunt Frida to perform a reading of Walter the Farting Dog: Banned from the Beach. Have fun with it and be creative!

        Getting Started with Your Online Family Reunion

        Over the next few weeks (and blog posts), I am going to be sharing some basic tips and ideas to help you get planning your online family reunion. I’ll let you know how we organized our Hawaiian-themed reunion.

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          Your mission, should you wish to accept it, have some fun and plan your own virtual family gathering!

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