Keeping in touch with your distant relatives is central to maintaining the family unit. But in modern times, not all families live two streets away from one another, so it’s very easy stay wrapped up in your own business and forget to reach out to these people regularly enough.

But how do you avoid potential embarrassment at the family reunion when you find out something like the man your cousin married is actually called John and you’ve been referring to him as Joe for years?!

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Image by Family Art Studio

This article will give tips on how to strengthen those family ties (and avoid awkwardness at family parties) with your distant relatives.

Social media

Thanks to social media, there are tonnes of ways of reconnecting with your extended family. Almost everyone has Facebook or Twitter, and you never know that great aunt with whom you’ve never spoke might simply be a click away.

If you think these two websites are a bit too modern for certain members of your family. You can always try LinkedIn, though it is used for professional purposes, you might still be able to find some family members on there. Never underestimate the power of social media, or simply googling your family’s name is likely to yield some sort of successful search results. Give it a try!

Skype

An absolute god-send for anyone attempting tor reconnect with distant friends and loved ones. Skype has revolutionised the ways in which we can video message each other. As long as the other person also has Skype, you can pretty much call and converse with anyone you like. This ensures that you get to see the person you’re talking to, so you can freshen up your memory of their appearance from the last time you saw them (if it’s been over a decade or so).

Skype chats can be done weekly or monthly depending on your preference. It’s free, easy to use and the next best thing to having your relatives physically right next to you!

Family calendar

Most of us use calendars to note down our appointments and the errands we have to run. But have you ever thought of using one to keep track of all the new things that are going on in your relatives’ lives? Keeping a separate ‘family calendar’ gives you a place to note down birthdays, parties, dinners and other get- togethers occurring over the year. This will not only give you a chance to ring up or email your family to wish them a happy birthday, but it also shows that you care.

It displays that you’ve gone through the trouble of actually remembering their special occasion and that you are thinking of them and I’m sure that when your birthday comes up, your efforts will see that you are remembered too.

Newsletters

These can be sent out annually on New Year if you like. Compile a list of all the new things that have happened to your family over the years and your future prospects for the year ahead and add it to a newsletter. This can easily be done on Word or Publisher and certainly doesn’t have to be amazingly designed and well-written. This is just a little piece of something that can inform your relatives of what’s been going on with you.

Each family can do one and send it around or get one family to compile all of the different newsletters together and post a summarised letter out to everyone. If you’re having trouble finding the addresses of your relatives, then you can always resort to a postcode finder which can solve all your worries with just their surname and initial as requirements.

Writing letters

People still write handwritten letters to each other, believe it or not! For those elder relatives who loathe modern technology from emails to Skype-ing, then good old fashioned letters is the way to go. It’s cheap and easy to do and it hardly takes up that much time anyway, you can write one in half an hour, tops! This will allow that great uncle who loves to write letters to do so without him having to figure out if the email he typed up has sent or not.

You can leave the video messaging and social media sites to the younger relatives who you know won’t have trouble using it.

Have you been recently attempting to reconnect with some distant relatives? Can you think of any more ideas?

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License: Creative Commons

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Louise Blake is a social media addict and expert when it comes to finding people.