Family History Activity for Your Next Family Reunion

This family history storytelling activity at an 80th birthday party shared old memories—and made new ones. Try it at your next family reunion or gathering!

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DNA testing for family history is about family: finding family answers and creating family connections. So I was happy to hear that something I said at the Seattle Genealogical Society in May inspired Bruce Finlayson to create a heritage birthday celebration he’ll never forget.

Family history storytelling activity

“While listening [to your talk], I had this idea,” he wrote to me. “For my 80th birthday this summer, why don’t I have each kid and grandkid make a short skit about one of our ancestors? I [wrote] down some interesting episodes that my ancestors had [and] let them choose the one they were interested in.”

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“It was great fun,” he reports. “Some of the grandkids made cards of the items that my grandfather sold, some played (on their computer) a Scottish song he had sung that I had saved, first on tape then on the computer, some talked about the poorhouse my great-grandmother lived in, some showed pictures I had collected, etc. I wanted to be sure that they recognized the emigrants, too, and we talked about that. Within all the presentations it was clear that life was hard, and their ancestors had to work so that they (the kids and grandkids) could be here. Then we ended with a big family meal.”

A poster made by one of the presenters for this family history storytelling activity.

A poster made by one of the presenters for this family history storytelling activity.

“I don’t think the event inspired anyone to take up genealogy, and the younger ones did make some mistakes (not mentioned!), but it was a great time,” wrote Bruce. “My wife loves telling people about my ‘genealogical birthday’ and it is quite the subject of conversation. I will remember it for the rest of my life.”


Inspired family reunion heritage activities

I love this! I’ve always been into theater (especially with kids) and this is just one more interactive way to share heritage with your loved ones while creating new memories at family reunions and other gatherings.


Try these easy ideas for sharing your family history: memes and a “Mad Lib” style worksheet!