This blog post is written by Lisa Louise Cooke, producer and host of the Genealogy Gems podcast.

Ice cold watermelon, 3 legged-races with a cousin you haven’t seen in years, sleeping babies, and rocking great grandmas…these are what family reunions are all about.

As joyous as a reunion can be, they require careful planning and innovative ideas to lure relatives from across the country to join in on the fun. Once they’ve arrived, you’ll need to keep the folks happy and chatty. And after the sun has set and the last mini-van has pulled out of the parking lot, it will be time to think about planning for the next shindig, and enticing the whole family to come back next time.

Here are 3 ways you can use Animoto videos to accomplish all of those goals.

1. Excitement and Anticipation Builder

Generate excitement for your next family reunion by using short, enticing videos to fire people up.

Will this be your first family reunion? Quickly create a bond and desire to reconnect by tossing together a quick video featuring photos of shared ancestors.If your reunion is an annual event, a short and snappy video of the previous gathering will help your kin visualize the fun that awaits and will help bring them out in large numbers.

Here’s an example of how the McClellan family, who’s been gathering at family reunions since the 1940s, entices their folks to get together again.

Slideshow Video Style: The Winding Vine
Song: “Brown’s Little Jug” by Dave Pell

Here’s another idea: Remove anxieties about accommodations and amenities with a video highlighting the nearby hotel or the reunion site.

2. Reunion Entertainment

Getting your clan to show up is just the beginning. Once they’ve gathered it is time for some entertainment. Designate a time for all to come together to screen a video featuring family history as well as highlights of current family events. Everyone enjoys funny home movies, discovering something new about where they came from, and seeing their own smiling face on the screen.

Your venue will dictate how you serve up your videos. Chances are someone in your family has a pop up movie screen while someone else might have an LCD projector. Or if you’re at a hotel, talk to their audio/visual department about renting equipment. Plug in your laptop, and you’re ready to go. Another option if you’re driving to the reunion is to pack up a large TV monitor. You can connect your laptop to new models via cables or wireless apps.

3. Follow up Fanfare

After you arrive back home it’s time to capitalize on the happy glow of a successful family reunion. Whip up a video featuring the good times had by all, and encouraging guests to follow your family’s Facebook page in anticipation of your next get together. (If you don’t have one yet, click here to learn how to set one up.) Start by emailing the video link out to everyone who attended, and then push it out to all those who couldn’t make it this time around. Chances are good your video will spark even greater attendance next year.