Family Reunions that Work for Your Family
As Seen on NBC's TODAY Show
Posted: 2013-06-13 17:12:32 By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim


Family Reunions: Making them Work for Your Family

Planning a family reunion can be daunting. It sounds fun in theory - but making sure the day is a success requires some advanced planning. Knowing how your family plays well together is also key. Are you like the Kennedy family that enjoys a competitive game of football on the lawn or is a calmer game of bocce more your speed?  Here are some suggestions that will engage a multi-generational crowd with something for everyone.

Step 1: Breaking the Ice. Sometimes being together can be awkward especially for cousins that may not really know each other. Having some fun, silly games to play are a good way to get everyone laughing.



2012 Award
Fibber Game
(Spin Master $19.99 Score: )

A silly time is had by all when you play the game of Fibber. Players wear a pair of glasses with a knobby nose. Players who get caught fibbing about the cards they put down have to add another length to their nose. If a player calls another player a fibber and she is wrong, she has to pick up all the cards discarded and add a length to her nose. The object is to be the first to get rid of all your cards. It might be a stretch to call this an educational game. But maybe there is some learning going on. What do players learn? For future poker players or business dealmaker types, this may have some long term value.   Obviously, we would not be promoting a game that teaches lying as such. Bluffing, maybe. 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on


Step 2: Competitive or Cooperative Play?

Know your family. Some families LOVE an afternoon of competitive games. For other families that would be a recipe for disaster. For Competitive Families, try a puzzle race. Use two 16-30 piece puzzles. You'll need a timer. Mix up teams to involve multi-generations. Fastest time wins.



2013 Award
Janod Gabins Formula 1 Car Puzzles
(Janod $17.99 Score: )

Four cardboard puzzles come in this carry-all cardboard case. Each features a racing scene with multi-ethnic drivers. The four puzzles have 6, 9, 12, or 16 pieces, each in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually. 3-5


Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on


For more team building, cooperative play, try a game like Stack Up!



2013 Award
Peaceable Kingdom Stack Up!
(Peaceable Kingdom $29.99  Score: )

Designed for preschoolers, this really is a cooperative game that can only be played by working together to lift the blocks in a stack. The players are trying to beat the Stack Smasher ( a cardboard playing piece shaped like a hand) as it moves around the board. In one game there are challenge cards that require kids to bark or sing or do other actions on their turn. Again, they do this together. There are three games for preschoolers to play with two lifting rods. In one game they use the skinny end of the rod; in the other game they use a sponged tip to lift the blocks and add to the stack. The maker has also included directions for a two-year old color sorting game that little siblings can play. So many games for preschoolers are hard for beginners deal with, especially the winning and losing part. Here the game is played against the board instead of each other as they learn about taking turns and working together to beat the silly old stack smasher. It can also be fun for multi-generational family fun that can include preschoolers with ease. 3-5


Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on


Step 3: Crafts

Having some crafts available gives kids/teens a focus. It also makes for a nice memento of the day for the entire family.  Of course you can go all out with family t-shirts or baseball caps, but here are two kits that under $30.



2013 Award
X treme Sticker Maker Set
(Creativity for Kids $29.95 Score: )

The "X" design of this new sticker maker makes for a fun modern piece of room decor. And even better, it's very easy to use. The set comes with many sets of premade art for coloring in (including a page of velvet-shaped art), but from our point of view we loved that you can make your own stickers from photographs or things you find in magazines. Comes with markers, a sticker journal, pre-made shapes and one refill. Additional refills are available from the company for $7.95.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Award
Alex Toys Friends 4 Ever Bracelet Making Kit
(Alex $26.99 Score: )

Kids can make 22 friendship bracelets with this clever kit that comes with four different color-coded looms that guide them in making a variety of styles and patterns. Loaded with 22 colors of floss, beads and beading needle all stored in a sturdy carrying case.  Clear directions make this easy and fun to do for kids 8 & up.



Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on


Photobooth - Create your own family signs or use letter/number balloons that family members can pose with while having their pictures taken. This a great activity to put social media savvy teens in charge of whether they post to your family's facebook page and or instagram the images.

Art Show - Encourage everyone (young and old) to create their own masterpieces with an easel you put outside. Hang the pictures up and have your own family art show. You can give out funny awards - e.g., best use of the color yellow.



2013 Award
Guidecraft 4-in-1 Flipping Tabletop Easel
(Guidecraft $55 Score: )

A versatile tabletop easel flips from chalkboard to magnetic dry erase board and holds a paper roll, as well. A good size tray holds chalks, markers or other art supplies, depending on the media they are using. This is basic for creative fun and will be used for years. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on


Step 4: Classic Games

Classic games are all time favorites for a reason. Ideal for groups whether it's a game of bingo with zany prizes or a good old fashion scavenger hunt.



2013 Award
Scavenger Hunt For Kids Board Game
(University Games $10.99-19.99 Score: )

There are two versions of this game. The more elaborate board game version comes with a two-minute timer, a playing board, pawns, and 100 cards. Turn over two cards and race to be the first to find the objects pictured. Players get to move their pawns on the game board for each object found and extra moves are awarded for returning the object to where it belongs. (Say yea, for neatness!) First player to move across finishing line wins. This is a good game for indoor fun for the family or play date. A simpler version of the game, with more than 100 cards, comes without the timer and playing board. Use your own timer and keep score as the game progresses. First person with X number of cards wins the round. 2-4 players.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2013 Award
Franklin Sports Classic Series Volleyball Set
(Franklin $79.99 Score: )

A multi-generational game for family fun. With younger players use a soft beach ball that is easier to hit. Use it at the beach or in the backyard. This is mid-priced volleyball set that includes poles, spikes, net, a hand pump, and a soft spike ball. Stores in a convenient carrying case that is easy to take along. Available at Target. All ages.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on




2006 Award
Egg and Spoon Race
(International Playthings $14.99 Score: )

Four big plastic spoons are loaded with bright eggs to balance as kids race for the finish line. But watch out - if you drop the egg, it cracks and a yoke falls out! A classic game with fabric yokes that are less messy, and no risk of salmonella! They say 3 & up, we'd say more like old 4s and 5-6s. Great for a party! 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on


For a hot day, try a Water Balloon toss. Have family line up facing each other. Everyone has a team mate that they will toss the water balloons to...but now make it harder. With each round, have everyone take a step backwards. You can also make it more challenging by having team players stand on one foot or toss with their less dominant hand. The team that lasts the longest without dropping their water balloon wins.

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