Planning to incorporate games into your reunion may seem like a lot of unnecessary work. After all, you’re a group of reuniting friends, family or classmates; you’re already linked by genes, interests and background – or maybe all three. Surely people will have a good time talking, laughing and reminiscing without the hassle of planning crowd-friendly and age-appropriate games. Right?
Three Reasons Why Reunions Need Reunion Games
Getting the socializing going on at a reunion sometimes means giving things a bit of a head start. And that’s where games come in.
- Games get people interacting. In the corporate world, these types of activities are known as icebreakers. While reunion guests may certainly share interests or even a substantial chunk of history, they may not have seen each other for several years. There is often some initial awkwardness. Games help you get over this “shy period” quickly.
- Games get people mixing. Like attracts like, and it’s not a problem when guests start to form their own conversational groups. But it’s also nice to mix things up and get people interacting with others outside their own comfort zone.
- Games are fun! If you’ve got kids coming, you need to give them fun things to do. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a lot less fun for the adults. By setting up games for different ages and abilities – as well as a few games that appeal to all – you’ll make sure everyone has a good time. Plus, this will make your future reunions more of a draw.
To help reunion planners out, we’ve come up with a list of games that will get your attendees having fun in no time. We’ve organized them roughly by reunion type, but you can always pull games from different categories together to create the right mix for your crew.
Family Reunion Games
These games can be enjoyed by people from 8 to 98, and they are easily modified to suit your family.
Family Bingo. Make up boards with family members’ names (or pictures) on the squares. Have a caller call out fun facts about each person rather than letter-number combos, and have players place a token on the appropriate person. Whatever player scores a traditional five-in-a-row wins.
- Treasure Hunt. An old favorite. Consider dividing players into teams with a variety of ages and giving each participant a special age-appropriate gift. This game is awesome for kids, but adults love it, too.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Race. Have a selection of jigsaw puzzles set out on card tables, and let players choose the level of puzzle difficulty they’re comfortable with. Whoever completes their puzzle first wins. You can also play this as an elimination-style tournament.
- UNO. This card game is a family favorite because it’s so easy to play, yet so much fun. It’s great for groups of all ages to play together, or you can organize an UNO tournament.
- Obstacle Course Relay. Combining two classic group games — the obstacle course and the relay race — this game allows parents, kids and grandparents to work together as a team. Use a variety of challenges to make sure every person’s fitness level and physical conditioning are safely accommodated. Include memory or knowledge “obstacles” along with the rough-and-tumble stuff for a nice change of pace.
- This Italian card game is similar to Euchre and other trick-taking card games, but it’s played with an exotic-looking Italian card deck. Even better, at points in the game, signaling your opponent or even straight-up table talking is part of the play. Hilarity ensues as teams try to outdo the other with elaborate plans and hand signals.
Reunion Games Just for Kids
While the adults are catching up, give the kids something to do. Naturally, a few responsible adults will need to be on hand to supervise and take Facebook-worthy photos.
Dance Party. Steal an idea from Wii and host a dance party. Crank up kid-preferred tunes and let them dance their hearts out. Award prizes for various dance types at the end, making sure each dancer gets something. Close with ice cream, and kids will be looking forward to the next reunion!
- Water Balloon Toss. An old favorite, with loads of variations. For instance, a Hot Potato version could require whoever is left holding the water balloon to pop it. The Stomp version has players making a valiant attempt to locate and stomp on the other team’s hidden balloons. Your imagination is your best friend in coming up with an awesome activity here.
- Watermelon Eating Contest. While not technically limited to kids, this is a rather more health-friendly version of a pie-eating contest. Give kids a slice of seedless watermelon, and whoever finishes theirs first gets a prize. For added difficulty, have participants keep their hands behind their backs or on the table.
- Gone Digging. Fill up a kiddie pool with straw, sand or another kid-friendly material and hide (wrapped) small toys and other items in it. Allow kids to excavate their own treasures.
- Dress Up. Have a box full of old costume-y clothes, hats and accessories. Give kids a set time to come up with their best look, and then hand out prizes. If you like, you can even host a fashion show with these reunion-ready designs.
- Cleanup Hunt. Shhh, don’t tell them it’s actually cleaning. Create prizes for the most cans collected, the most wrappers picked up, the quickest to fill a shopping bag with trash, etc. You get help tidying up, they get an award. Win-win.
Class Reunion Games
These games hark back to the ones we all used to play in the classroom and on the playground.
Memory Contest. Which teacher was known as The Terminator? What was the most popular song in your graduating class? What’s the square root of 144? Relive your school days with this insider quiz.
- Red Rover. Come on, you remember this one, right? Have another go at playing it; we bet you’ll have a huge amount of fun.
- Animal Calls. Have guests pair up and decide on an animal. One of the pair is blindfolded; the other makes their agreed-upon animal noise. Whichever team reunites fastest is the winner.
- Love it or hate it, dodgeball was gym class for a lot of us. Revisit it again, or try a variant known as Medic. One team member is secretly chosen as the medic. When a player is hit, he or she sits or lies down. The medic can “heal” the player by touching him or her, but the medic must be cautious; other teams will be gunning for him or her.
- Class Pictionary. Step up to the board and draw out school- or class-related people, places, things and slogans. A blackboard and chalk will get you additional awesome points, but a whiteboard and colored dry-erase markers will work, too.
Special-Interest Group Reunion Games
Special-interest reunion groups are a bit different. They’re not linked by circumstance, but by a deep and mutual love for a subject, hobby, sport or cause. Many of the following games tap into that love; others are just pure fun.
Apples to Apples. Ever wondered how people think? This simple board game, which has contestants making and justifying comparisons between two items, is a great icebreaker as well as an intriguing look into the human thought process. Bring your sense of humor — some of the comparisons can be pretty outrageous.
- Trivia Contest. Whatever your group’s uniting interest is, make it the theme of a trivia game. You can have guests play individually, in captained teams, or in a tournament or game-show format (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is perennially popular).
- Another old favorite with a twist. Again, use your special interest to inform your choice of charade subject material. When you choose teams, do your best to include a mixture of personalities on each team to maximize the fun.
- This board game has something for everyone — literally. Depending on which color square their token lands on, team members may find themselves humming a song, mimicking a celebrity, using clay to sculpt something, spelling a word or answering a trivia question. In our opinion, this is one of the all-time best party games because every person, regardless of skill or age, can get involved.
- Donut Bobbing. Hang donuts on a string from a tree or some other structure. The goal is to eat your entire donut first. Eyes can be open or closed, but hands must go behind the back.
- Who Am I? A variant of the classic campfire game Psychiatrist, this game requires teams to guess the identity of a person, living or dead, who had an impact on their favorite pursuit. One person can ask (or answer) questions for their team, or team members can take it in turns.
The sports you can play during a reunion are nearly innumerable. But let’s look past the old standbys of golf, softball and basketball to some other ideas.
- A cross between badminton, tennis, and ping pong, pickleball is easy to learn, fairly inexpensive to set up and pretty accommodating to various fitness levels. Check out the USAPA website for more info.
- Disc Golf. Disc golf combines the mechanics of throwing a Frisbee with the precision targeting of golf. You can play at a course or set up your own targets. For more information, try the Disc Golf Association’s website.
- Another old favorite that’s sure to ramp up the excitement in players of all ages. Don’t forget some of the more interesting spins on traditional tag, including flashlight tag, freeze tag, blind man’s bluff, amoeba tag, glow-in-the-dark tag (with glow sticks) and lots, lots more. For a comprehensive list, see this camp game website.
- This game lends itself to standing around, talking, and having a relaxed good time. Plus, it’s inexpensive and highly portable. Players divide into two teams and take turns trying to throw a ball as close as possible to a smaller ball called a pallina. For extra fun, spring for a glowing or lit bocce ball set and play in the dark.
- Not just for schoolyards, this game is making a serious comeback among adults. That’s probably because it is seriously fun! Combining something of the gameplay of baseball with the satisfaction of giving a huge rubber ball a solid kick, this game is great for kids, parents and active grandparents, too.
Other Great Reunion Game Ideas
We didn’t have room to fit all the reunion game options we found, so here are a few more “honorable mentions.” Most of them need no explanation; a few of them do.
- Hot Potato (Variant: Use a sturdy disposable camera as the “hot potato;” the loser has to take a selfie.)
- Silly Face Competition (Have guests take pictures of themselves making silly faces; award prizes for the best.)
- Red Light, Green Light
- Scavenger Hunt
- Pin the Tail on the Donkey
- Sack Race
- Three-Legged Race
- War (Card Game)
- Board Games
- Card Games
- Life Stories (Have grandparents and older attendees answer questions from an audience.)
- “Minute to Win It”-Style Challenges
- Paper Airplane Competition
- Egg Toss
- Capture the Flag
- Hide and Seek
- Mummy Wrap (Have teams wrap one person in toilet paper. The first team to completely wrap their mummy wins.)
When you plan reunion games and activities, you’re actually building even more fun and memories into the occasion. This list should get you started, but feel free to add your own twists on these tried and true reunion games.