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Gift Ideas for Special Occasions
Family Reunion


TablesThis gift is neither quick, easy or inexpensive, but it is a treasure to those who receive it. Several years ago our family decided to have a Christmas reunion. We notified everyone two years in advance so plans could be made for Christmas 1998. As children we spent Christmas at our grandparentsí home with great aunts and uncles and great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all crowding into the house. Through the years the older ones have died and the rest of us are middle-aged, or just past it, and have all gone our separate ways and are in different parts of a vast country. We had grandchildren our cousins had never seen, and we just hated for them to lose the connections with their roots. So, we planned a traditional Old Photo Display Christmas dinner for 62 (only two of the great-grandchildren couldnít attend because of work obligations) people at the fellowship hall of my cousinís church back in our hometown. This was in a gymnasium and we left one end open so the men and children could shoot baskets, and there were side rooms where the children could play or sleep, as well as the large kitchen where we could cook.

Cookbook CoverSeveral months ahead of time, we asked everyone to contribute favorite recipes for a cookbook. Some had recipes from our grandmother and some from our great-grandmothers also. We included our memories of the person whose recipe we were using or told how we got our recipes. I typed the recipes in with the computer page set to 8 1/2 X 5 1/2-inch size; we had nearly 200 recipes. I took a picture of blue and white china on shelves with pictures of our grandparents on the shelves and a picture of a picnic outdoors with our tartan showing from the wicker basket then copied and laminated these for front and back covers. I printed a set then my aunt took the original to a printer and had them bound. We sold them for $5 at the reunion. One cousin worked on a family calendar, collecting pictures from each family group to use on each page, and putting in birthdays and anniversaries of all of us and of those who had gone before us. She also put together an address book with pictures of our homes and churches included. We bought special tablecloths, had napkins printed with the occasion and the date, and had lovely centerpieces of roses made by one cousin. I made napkin rings out of small grapevine wreaths to which I glued a spray of silk holly and berries. Each family member was asked to put a picture of himself/herself in a small picture frame which could be tied to the Christmas tree as an ornament, and there were photos of our ancestors on there too. Another cousin made special Victorian Cookbook Page ornaments for the tree. I made special ornaments with each personís name on them. Another cousin had a cassette tape of some of those, who are no longer living, talking about their ancestry, so she made copies to put in a gift bag for each family group present. One person had some old Christmas ornaments that had belonged to our grandmother so brought them that we each might choose one to keep. Others made small gifts for each gift bag. One cousin had done the research on the family ancestry and made copies of that for each gift bag.

I seemed to be the person who had all of the old family pictures, so I began copying pictures on a color copier to get the tones of the old tintypes and brown tones just right. I also had our great-grandmotherís Bible in which she had pressed a flower and had a special poem. I took pictures of the Bible and made copies of the pressed flowers and poem. I had pictures also of the tombstones of many of our ancestors. The first page of the album listed all the family surnames and told where they originated. I used paper that had a large tree on it and put a quote about a family at the bottom of the page. I began putting together the album beginning with a picture of our great-grandparents in their store then working forward using pictures from my grandfatherís family and then went to my grandmotherís family which included a picture of our great-great-grandparents, used Tree with Family Photos our grandparentsí wedding picture then had pictures of them with their four sons from whom the rest of us came. I did sections on each son and his family, pictures of the sons as children then up to the present, some with wedding pictures and invitations, and used the most recent pictures of the three sons who are now deceased to end their section. The pictures continued on to include the great-grandchildren of those four sons. Then there were pictures of past Christmases and other family activities, which included all or some of us. The album was done in the scrapbook style with borders around pictures, quotes, decorative stickers, a picture of the last quilt our great-grandmother pieced and a picture of a cup and saucer from her china set. One cousin and I took the original pages to a printer and had copies made which we could slide down into plastic protector sheets in a three-ring binder. We included some extra pages so family members could insert the pictures they took at the reunion. Each family group received one of these albums in their gift bag. One cousin read the Christmas story and gave the prayer before we ate. The wife of another cousin sang before the meal. We took pictures of each family group and generational pictures. After the dinner, our one remaining uncle played his ukelele and sang then told us the things he remembers about his parents and grandparents.

Picture CornerThe next morning one cousin took whoever was interested down to another county to the cemetery where many of our ancestors are buried. That afternoon we had a tea for the women and little girls at the home of an aunt. We dressed up and wore our hats, even the smallest little girls. Each woman got a velvet bag with a gold teaspoon inside and the little girls got tea party cookbooks and a gold spoon. That night we had a family bowl-a-thon at a bowling alley in town. Everyone went home with a bag full of goodies and memories to last the rest of his/her life. And, we all had such a wonderful time that we are planning to do it again soon, perhaps not at Christmas next time, but Iím sure we will have all of the little extras to make it special whatever the season. This is a great family gift each can give to everyone else, but it must be planned well ahead as it isnít the most inexpensive thing to travel a great distance and stay in a hotel for several days.

One cousin had shopped for months on eBay and bought a number of teapots. Each adult guest at the ladiesí tea was allowed to choose a teapot to take home as a memento, and each child was given a miniature teapot. The aunts were each given a tea set purchased on eBay.

Family History AlbumThe Grandparents.jpg (91312 bytes)Tea Party books for the little ones

Our generation and familiesCalendar, Address Book, Napkin Ring, and OrnamentTea for the Ladies

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