Reunion in a Pandemic

No space for our Space family reunion

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Labor Day weekend is traditionally the holiday the Stewart family gathers for their annual family reunion. We’ve been gathering without interruption for 37 years but what do you do during a pandemic?  Well, in our case, we cancelled our family reunion.  I’m not even going to get into the whys and why nots we hashed  over to make our decision, but one huge reason we cancelled is that the campground we usually hold our reunion at put a limit of 50 campers at the site.  The Stewart family is over a 100 people strong now so instead of trying to find a new location and dealing with masks and social distancing… we cancelled.

But our Space Reunion was planned and ready to go.  So hey, we’re ready for next year and who knows how many great ideas we may come up with and extra 12 months to plan.

Fun Breakfast for Your Family Reunion

Fruit in a waffle cone!

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My sister in law made these fun waffle cone fruit bowls for breakfast at our family reunion.  They were a light and delicious way to start a hot summer day.  They were simple and easy to put together for our reunion crowd. There really isn’t a recipe, just add an even amount to strawberry yogurt to each waffle bowl, fill each bowl with seasonal fruit and serve immediately.

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Fruit suggestions are sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, pineapple, mandarin oranges, kiwi and grapes.  We used Kroger brand waffle bowls. Waffle bowls can be very fragile and even though they are packed quite well it is likely you will have a couple that are broken.  I recommend buying an extra box of waffle bowls to replace the broken bowls you might have.

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Marbles and Your Space Themed Family Reunion

Marbles Make Great Planets

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These are not marbles, they are planets.  Each marble represents a planet (yes, we included Pluto) and will be given to older children at our space reunion as they complete planet oriented challenges and activities.

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At one time, you could purchase marbles that represented each planet but I could only find Earth marbles and Jupiter marbles. For the other planets, I had to search for marbles that in some way highlighted a distinguishing feature of each  planet. I choose red Rooster marbles to represent the “red  planet” Mars and because Neptune is the coldest planet due to its proximity to the sun, I choose Ice Queen marbles. 

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I purchased my marbles from a local toy store and paid $3.25 a bag (24 marbles and 1 shooter).  When I searched online, I found marbles for $3.50 a bag plus shipping.

Shooter marbles are the large ones used for “shooting’’ when  playing marbles.  There is one in  each bag, so I’m currently looking for a good resource and price for 1 inch  shooters.  I’ll let you know  when I find them.

I loved playing marbles as a kid and so we plan to teach and play marbles with our kids at the end of our planet fun. 

Marble planets are going to be great for the older children at your family reunion but for the toddlers you might want to consider these Universe Stress balls.  They’re $9.99 at Oriental Trading for all 9 balls.

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Pick Your Present!

My New Favorite Way to Give Gifts

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I have 2 sons and a son in law and this year I tried something new for their Fathers Day gifts- I let them pick their own gifts.  Well, not totally, I put together 3 boxes and after the boxes were  filled with surprises and wrapped, then they got to pick their gift.

Each box was different- I had a technology box, builder box and a snack box. Each box contained a gift card and then a couple of things to go along with it.  Value of each box was about $30.00.

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I wrapped all three gifts in plain old newspaper- nothing fancy about it and with no clue to what was inside.

Crafty Holiday Gift Wrap - Craft Critique

We had a little competition to see who got to choose their  present first but you could do it oldest to youngest or by roll of the dice etc.

The $20.00 Bill

Just as the guys were about to pick their  present, my husband put a $20.00 bill on the table and gave them the option to chose the cash instead of a box.  There were no takers- everyone went for the boxes.

This is also a fun way to give out  prizes at family reunions. Just wrap a variety of prizes and let the winner  pick the prize they want from the pile- they get a prize but it’s a little more exciting and  extends the fun a little longer. 

Nature Scavenger Hunts for Your Family Reunion.

How to Plan a Scavenger Hunt | A Healthier Michigan

I love scavenger hunts! I remember the first scavenger hunt we did at a family reunion.  The kids in our family were little then so Uncle Brad had a big rope and made all the kids hold on to it as they hunted together.  Times change and now those once little kids are all grown up and they enjoy more challenging activities.

I was recently made aware of a website with some great nature hikes and scavenger hunts and I thought I should share it with you.  If your family reunion is outside you’ll want to read some of their wonderful ideas for nature scavenger hunts for kids with free  printables.  The site is called My Open Country and can be found by clicking on the this link-

 My Open Country

The folks at My Open Country will take you through the nuts and bolts of an outdoor scavenger hunt for kids, from the initial prep and planning right down to the itty bitties of ‘treasure’ selection. They want to help you find a fun, safe and healthy way for you and your kids to get out and enjoy your time together.  The “search” feature on their site is great!

Nature scavenger hunt

You can find lots of fun scavenger hunt ideas at familyreunionhelper.com by clicking on the following links.

https://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2016/04/the-ultimate-guide-to-treasure-hunts-and-scavenger-hunts/

https://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2013/08/treasure-hunts-and-scavanger-hunts/

How Sweet It Is- Candy Bar Games

Two pretty sweet printable gams- and they’re free!

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If you’ve decide you can’t just eat chocolate while quarantined, maybe you’d like to play a couple of chocolaty games.

Whenever I plan a  party or a family reunion I like  to have an activity  or game that people can play when they first arrive. The goal is to get family members, or friends, laughing and talking  with each  other.  The “How Sweet It Is” free printable fits the bill and coming up with prizes for the winners is  a snap- candy bars!  I suggest the snack size because you’ll probably have several winners.  This ice breaker game is great for large or small group games and for family members of most ages. You can download the free printable by clicking below.  Don’t forget to download the answer key.

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Do you think you’d recognize your favorite candy bar without the wrapper?  Try this game and see if you’re right.  I got the Almond Joy bar right off but there were a few bars that proved quite challenging.  Now, don’t  peek at the answers until you’ve made you’re guesses.  You can find your free printable here-

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Answer Key

  1. Snickers
  2. Butterfinger
  3. Baby Ruth
  4. Milky Way
  5. PayDay
  6. Whatchamacallit
  7. 3 Musketeers
  8. 5th Avenue
  9. Almond Joy
  10. 100 Grand

So Now What? Corona Virus and Your Family Reunion

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First of all, let me say that this- I’m  writing this blog in April 2020. The things I write in this blog today could possibly be a lot different than what I will write in July of this year.

At the very beginning, before we all began  staying home so that we can stay safe, I believed  that in a couple of weeks life  would get back to normal and come Memorial Day family reunion season would be moving full steam ahead but now what….?

Family gatherings are difficult right now.  For example, how was your Easter?  All of our children and grandkids live within 20 minutes of us and we invited them out for a Easter  visit with these rules:

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Everyone scheduled a one hour block of time to visit and they had to leave before the next group arrived. We practiced social distancing with Grandpa and Gramie staying to the side. We had Easter cupcakes for all to enjoy.  They jumped on our trampoline and played in our horse pasture and worked on a simple 100 piece puzzle… and we sanitized.  It was good to see them all but they all left with no hugs or kisses from Gramie.

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Our first family reunion is in  July.  At first I thought we would be safe  to go ahead with those  plans but I  received an  email from the  reunion  planner asking for ideas on how to do an  online family reunion. Since that email I’ve learned that the big air show in our area, scheduled for the end of June, has been  canceled and then, two of the huge “Pioneer” day celebrations in our state canceled.  The possibility of a family reunion in July “is getting more and more remote.

Our last family reunion is scheduled for Labor Day weekend.  That’s the one I’m in charge of.  It’s a space reunion and I’ve got tons of fun ideas that I can’t wait to do  with  my family.  Will it be safe to  bring 100 plus people together for a reunion the  end of August? 

I don’t know, you don’t know and nobody can say for sure and that’s the problem.  How can you hold a family reunion that excludes family members because they don’t feel safe?  How do you plan  a family reunion that puts so many people that you love at risk- AND- will they be at risk in August?  It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. 

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So now what? The “what” in “now what” is that I’m moving forward with my space reunion planning.  I have my doubts  about a reunion during the three day Labor Day weekend but if we do, I’ll be prepared.  If we don’t then just think how prepared I’ll be for our 2021 reunion- it will  be the  greatest family reunion ever! 

St Patrick’s Day Party Games

GAME IDEAS FOR YOUR IRISH PARTY

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Whether celebrating St Patrick’s Day or considering your Irish roots at your next family reunion here are a couple of fun Irish game ideas.

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Musical Shamrock Game

Make very large green shamrock shapes about  2 feet square.  They don’t need to be fancy just simple shamrock shapes.  The ideas is similar to “musical chairs” game- you want to have fewer shamrocks than players. Scatter shamrocks over the playing area.  Explain that as the music plays all the players must keep moving but must stay off the shamrocks.   When the music stops players run to a shamrock.  However, each shamrock must have three players on it. Those with only one or two as well as those that have nowhere to stand are eliminated.  Remove a shamrock or two after each round.  (You always want to have fewer shamrocks than players)  Winners of the game  are those who have not been eliminated when only one shamrock remains.  Give out green lollypops, cupcakes or stickers for prizes.

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Irish Scavenger Hunt

Divide into teams, giving each team an identical list of green items.  Tell each team that they must stay together when searching for their green items.

Some ideas to search for:

  • Something that grows green
  • Something you are wearing that is green
  • Green crayon, green colored pencil, green marker
  • Find a plastic item that is green
  • Find something soft that is green
  • Something hard that is green
  • Find something you can build with that is green
  • Green snack
  • 3 leaf clover
  • Fruit that is green
  • Vegetable that is green
  • Pop Can

Irish “Road Bowling” Game

Croquet is supposed to have come from a game called Crookey in Northern Ireland but another fun “real” Irish game is “Road Bowling”.
Road bowling is an unusual version of bowling that is particular to Ireland. It is played with a steal shot, (or use your own idea for a ball of some sort) which is tossed under arm by the player down a twisty road. The player who gets to the finish line with the least amount of throws wins.

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Why should you never iron a 4-leaf clover? You
don’t want to press your luck.

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

Bottle Rockets- an “Out of This World” Reunion Activity

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When I decided on a space theme for our 2020 family reunion, there were two activities I was sure I wanted to do.  The first was moon stilts (I’ll write that bog when  I get some good photos) and the second, was water  bottle rockets.

Our family has a big party every Independence Day and one our traditions is making and launching water bottle rockets.  We invite all of our guests to make a water bottle rocket and bring it to the party but,  for our  reunion, I’ll  bring the supplies, poster  board, duct tape, markers and bottles and let reunion  goers make their rockets on site.

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Basically, to build a bottle rocket, you start by rolling a piece of paper into a cone shape and attach it to the bottom of an empty 1 or 2 liter plastic bottle.  To help your rocket fly, you need to cut out 4 cardboard triangles to make your rocket fins. (There are lots of videos  on YouTube to walk you through  this process.)

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At our Independence Day party, our seasoned rocket builders come up with some pretty creative designs for their rockets .  Most add parachutes  to soften the landing and some even include small,  plastic toys that they send into  space.  No  matter what the design, spectators love to watch the rockets blast off and their landings can be quite exciting.

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For safety reasons, we  only let adults operate the launcher.  We have a homemade launcher and  one  we  purchased from Amazon.  Both work great but, keep in mind when planning your reunion, that you need to have a water source and hose available to fill the rockets with  water.

AquaPod Bottle Launcher

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At our reunion this year, we will give  prizes for best design, most unusual design and most creative design.  We will also give an award to the  rocket that stays in  the air the longest which we will determine by timing with  a stopwatch on our phones.  At our Independence Day parties, that award  has been won by my son in law for the last 4 years.  He’s a very talented engineer and his rocket designs are quite impressive and fun to watch.

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Rocket creative award

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Plastic Egg Moon Rock Hunt

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My husband and I do an Easter Egg hunt on horses every year for family and friends.  As I was doing some online searches in preparation for the hunt I stumbled across this fun idea for my space reunion- a Moon Rocks Treasure Hunt! 

Kids love treasure hunts and it’s a pretty easy activity for a family reunion.  This  is the  perfect time of year to gather supplies for your space rock treasure hunt. 

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Purchase round plastic Easter eggs and fill with space themed candy such as Milky Way, Mars bars and Starbursts.  (If you can’t find round eggs you can use egg shaped eggs but they look more like tin foil eggs then moon rocks.)

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Wrap eggs with tin foil that you have scrunched up so that it looks like a “moon rock”. 

Then the fun begins- hide eggs around your reunion site.  You can do this hunt inside or outside. 

This is a great time to get the tweens in your family involved in the reunion fun.  Put them in charge of filling eggs, wrapping them and hiding the rocks.  They’ll love being in  charge of something and it’s just one less thing you have to worry about. As “payment” for their help, give your helpers a full size version of your space themed candy bars.