How To Preserve Your Family Vacation Memories
Summer is officially over, and so are summer vacations. But that doesn’t mean you can’t relive those carefree summer days!
Each year, families flock to the shore to spend time together. Some, like our family, have been vacationing together for decades—multiple families crammed into the same shore house (or same shore block) year after year, making new memories with each new year that comes. In the time that my family has vacationed together down the shore, we’ve added two marriages, 50th, 30th and 25th wedding anniversaries, multiple pets, five children and as many significant others. Over the years, we’ve switched out our jogging strollers and beach wagons for backpack chairs and rolling coolers. Beach toys have been replaced by cornhole and juice boxes by White Claws. Summer nights once spent on amusement rides are now spent on the deck, talking and enjoying adult beverages with our grown kids. While times change, family memories shouldn’t. Here are a few ways you can preserve your summer vacation memories and make them last all year long.
1. Organize a photo exchange
One family we know began vacationing together at the shore over 20 years ago. Each year, they plan a post-vacation event to share their vacation photos. In the beginning, they’d do it the old school way—they’d develop their photos to pass around and share with others. Family members who wanted copies would write their names on the back of the photos, and copies would be made. Today, most of us don’t get our photos developed because we can share them electronically using a flash drive, SD card, or online service like Google photos. However you do it, make sure you do, because everyone sees their vacations differently through the lens of their cameras, and someone may have snapped the perfect picture of you, your significant other or child that you may otherwise never see.
2. Host a vacation reunion
If your family members are still talking after your group vacation, one way to rekindle your togetherness is to host a reunion. You can make it as elaborate as a beach-themed meal with seafood or other delicacies, or a simple pizza night. Prior to the event, designate one of your budding photographers, videographers or a creative family member to put together a slide show, video or poster board display—or have a contest for the most creative display. One family we know does this on a yearly basis. They gather during the holidays to watch a video put together by their family videographer. The twist—the videos are from five years earlier, which gives the family an opportunity to reminisce as they look back on their family vacation half a decade ago and see how much each of them has changed in those years.
3. Give a shore gift
With holidays just around the corner, another way to preserve your vacation memories is to give gifts themed around your shore vacation. One family draws names at the beginning of their vacation and each person purchases an ornament for the person whose name they drew. Ornaments are based upon what the person did or enjoyed that year at the shore. Another family purchases beach-themed frames for their family members and includes a group picture or a flattering photo taken of that person during the vacation. Speaking of which—if you’ve ever been on a beach at sunset, you’ve most likely witnessed groups of people in khaki pants and matching shirts or jeans and white tee shirts having their photos taken. The annual family beach photo is an excellent gift idea for matriarchs, patriarchs, or anyone in the family. Another idea is to put together a gift basket featuring your gift recipient’s favorite shore foods. Think James’ Fudge, Ocean City Coffee, Hank’s Hot Sauce or many of the other delicacies people enjoy on their vacations. Last year, I gave my family members gift buckets labeled “Sea Isle City Bucket List” including our ten top favorite things to do on vacation together, filled with their favorite Sea Isle products and gift certificates to their favorite eateries.
4. Post on social media
With everyone on social media these days, one way to relive your shore vacation memories is to create a page, or even just post a picture on an existing page with a touching caption where you can tag family members. Recall a favorite experience or give a shout-out to a family member on their birthday, anniversary or other special event, and post a picture of them doing something they loved during the vacation.
5. Plan a day trip
Who says family vacations have to be taken in the summer? Fall is often busy with back-to-school, sporting and other events. But if you’re lucky enough to live within a few hours’ drive of the shore, consider planning a day to get everyone together. Fall is festival season down the shore, so consider gathering for an event. You can meet up on the boardwalks or in your favorite towns and spend the day together biking, playing mini golf, enjoying discounted shopping, dining or simply gathering on the beach in sweatpants and jackets to watch the waves before the polar vortex is upon us again.
However you choose to remember your vacation together, make sure you do. Before you know it, the kids will be grown and off to college, living far away or taking vacations of their own. Jobs, summers abroad, significant others – all those things can lure your children away from these family times together, so enjoy the moments and be grateful for the times you shared together this year!