Going Away Party For Your College Bound Student

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If you have a high school  graduate that is looking forward to graduating and heading off to college you might want to plan a going away party.  As part of the “Aloha” fun plan a fun  “ Day in  the Life” relay race.

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Use your imagination and personalize challenges to your student’s situation.  For instance,  you might want  to use the  following challenges:

Doing  Laundry Challenge
Have a couple of dish towels and clothespins that must be hung on the line before moving to the  next challenge.

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Garbage Challenge
Make several newspaper “balls” by squishing newspaper together.  Place a garbage can several feet away.  Before moving  to the next challenge you must toss 3 newspaper balls  into the garbage.

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Gym Time Challenge
Pick up a couple of 5 lb. weights and run from point A to point B.

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Grocery Carry Challenge

Put a few canned goods in  a grocery bag- carry the bag from point A and point B.

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Hot Tub Challenge 
Use a low bucket with warm water- time  ends when BOTH  feet are in the “hot tub”.

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The person with the fastest time receives a gift bag of apartment cleaning  supplies.

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Aquaman Super Hero Training

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Who is  Aquaman and why should he  be a featured  hero  at your superhero reunion or party?

Aquaman is the king of all things aqua. He can breathe underwater, swim at tremendous speeds, and telepathically communicate with sea life. Being able to withstand ocean depths, he gets bonus points on land with his superhuman strength, enhanced senses, and nearly impenetrable skin.

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I never knew there was a superhero named Aquaman but I’ve got to tell you- if you’re around a pool  or lake or some other water  source, Aquaman gives endless opportunities for water competitions and  games.  Try some of our favorite Aquaman  training activities:

Aquaman Treasure Hunt

Collect a bunch of pennies, nickels and other coins and throw them into the pool.  Be sure to throw coins in different depths of the pool to accommodate all swim skill levels.  Line kids up on the side of the pool and  on the word go they jump into the pol and  collect as many coins as possible. When all the coins are found, count them and add up the value.  The one with  the most money is the winner.

Aquaman Underwater Training

Participants line up on one side of the pool,  On the word “go” they jump into the pool and swim as far as they  can under water. Depending on the size of the pool and the abilities of the  swimmers,  they may be able  to swim more than  one  lap.

Aquaman Enhanced Senses Training

Use a pint water bottle with a white cap and filled it with water from the pool. Line the swimmers up on one side of the pool facing away from it. When they hear the bottle hit the water they can jump  in and begin hunting for it. The swimmer that finds the bottle is the winner.  You can play this game over and over.

Of course swimming races are fun and since Aquaman can swim at  tremendous speeds, a real natural for your superhero training.

The Ultimate Guide For Choosing a Family Reunion Theme

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Excite family members by using a reunion theme!

Are you looking for a way to excite family members and stir up interest about your next family reunion? Choosing a reunion theme is a great way to build excitement for upcoming and make it more likely family members will want to attend. clip_image004

A reunion invitation that invites you to a “Prehistoric” reunion for Brontosaurs burgers and a dinosaur egg hunt is more interesting than an invitation that invites you to a family reunion at “the park” for hamburgers.

A reunion theme helps to drive your reunion and with a little imagination food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion becomes a memorable event.

 

clip_image006Themes are inexpensive to implement and can inspire the creative side of many members in your family. Ask for their theme ideas, brainstorm and see what they come up with. Our best family reunion themes have come from brainstorming about themes. When a “Caveman”, Mafia and Oz theme were suggested in one of our brainstorming sessions I was kind of worried about what we would do but those themes are some of our favorites and have left us with some amazing reunion memories. Below are just a few family reunion themes that you may want to consider for your next family event.

All- Sport or Olympic Themed Reunion

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Get away from a boring sit around and just visit family reunion and jump into some action-packed fun with an All-sport or Olympic themed family reunion.

Activities- Soccer, volleyball, “whiffle” ball, Whacky miniature golf. Hold a cheerleader camp for the girls in your family and a sports camp for the boys. Go bowling or hold a family 5K. Give a family reunion MVP award.  For fun variations of these favorite sports- whiffle ball, soccer, bowling, swimming and volleyball plus lots of great ideas for your sports themed reunion.

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Food- Smoothies, “Breakfast of Champions” or “Long Jump” lunch hoagies.

Wear– Favorite team jerseys and t-shirt. Make a family t-shirt fashioned after a sports jersey.

Decorations: Pom, poms, pennants, sports balls, sports posters and plastic tablecloths.

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Olympic Reunion
Family History or Family Heritage Reunion

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If your family reunion is held near where the family originated, then schedule a trip to the old family homestead, church or cemetery. You can use this as an opportunity to share family memories, or go a step further and recruit the clan to clean up the ancestral cemetery plots or research the family in old church records. Hold your reunion at the family home if available or in the town where one of your ancestors were born, raised, married or buried. You can find more Family History ideas for your family reunion at wwwfamilyreunionhelper.com.

Food – Use an ancestor’s home country as theme for your meals. Use recipes from that county and set tables with a centerpiece of memorabilia and a picture of your ancestor. If your people come from Italy, serve a spaghetti dinner, from Mexico, serve tacos, enchiladas or tamales. Box lunches are a fun idea to share an old-time tradition.

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At our Family Heritage reunion, the girls in the family designed and decorated shoe boxes at home. We provided sandwich fixin’s, individual chip packages, fruit snacks and drink boxes along with cookies for dessert. The girls made lunches for two and put them in their box. We gave each box a number and the guys in the family each drew a number out of hat to determine which lunch they got to eat and which girl they ate lunch with. In a few instances, we had more girls than guys and so doubled up.

Activities – Play “classic” games at your reunion such as “3-legged race, gunny sack race, Annie I Over. Create a huge wall chart of your family so everyone can see how they are related. Take “old-time” photos and have everyone dress up. Make a family “time capsule”.

Dress – In the ethnic costume of your ancestors.

Ancestor Coloring Book- Making a heritage-coloring book about one of your ancestors is clip_image022a monumental task but it’s a wonderful way to make family history come alive for the little ones in your family. If you have an artist in the family, then designing a coloring book will be much easier for you. If you don’t have a talented artist in the family a great resource is http://store.doverpublications.com/by- subject-coloring-books.html.

 Family Heritage Reunion

Sun, Sand and Surf Reunion Theme

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If your reunion is in the summertime then it’s the perfect time for a Sun, Sand & Surf family reunion theme. Merge your beach reunion ideas with your Hawaiian reunion ideas for double the fun.

Invitations: Consider sending “Message in a Bottle” invitations to encourage family members to attend your family reunion or write out your reunion invitation on a beach ball with a permanent marker.

Activities: Sand candles and castles, sand art, volleyball variations and swimming pool games.

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Aquatic Obstacle Course: Use sprinklers, Slip-N-Slides, baby pools, limbo sticks and hula hoops to create an obstacle course for wet and wild reunion fun!

Food: Sub sandwiches, fruit trays, shish kabobs, fruit kabobs, gold fish crackers.

Decorations are easy for a beach themed family reunion. Use beach umbrellas, Beach towels, Beach balls, Paper party lanterns, Paper Palm trees and party lights on a string. travel posters, flowers, straw skirt table. Don’t forget to use pink flamingos in your decorating and be sure to include music from the Beach Boys to round out your reunion theme.

Beach Reunion

Wedding Anniversary or Significant Birthday Family Reunion Theme

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Planning a family reunion around an important wedding anniversary or milestone birthday makes for an easy but memorable family reunion.

Invitation – Put two photos of the honored couple on the invitation: their original wedding photo and a current photo.

Food – Finger foods and a “wedding” cake.

Activities- “When You Were My Age” A Celebration of Life’s Memorable Moments. This is such a fun program, fashioned after a Bill Cosby Show episode and was called, “When Mom Was my Age.” We have done variations of the program for 70th and 80th birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries. Each time we do “When You Were My Age” everyone is a good sport and excited to be a part of the celebration. Everyone has a part on the program and an opportunity to highlight world events and significant family happenings throughout the life of your loved one. Download the “When You Were My Age” from Family Reunion Helper or write a “This Is Your Life” program for your reunion celebration.

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Decorations –Photos and other various memorabilia of the couple’s life together.

When You Were My Age

Three Ring Circus and Carnival Reunion Theme

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Begin your reunion with a circus parade and invite everyone to dress in fun costumes and march around your reunion site.

Food –Circus food- corn dogs, cotton candy and popcorn.

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Activities – As your family arrives, have then guess how many circus animal cookies or peanuts are in a jar. The person who guesses closest to the actual number wins the jar full of treats. Have a carnival. Assign 6- 10 family members a carnival booth. Children earn prizes at each booth. Face painting, fishing booth, fortune teller, Plinko, Dart Throw etc. Consider renting a bounce house for the little ones in your family. For more ideas check out the family reunion “circus” theme at www.familyreunionhelpercom/

Decorations – Balloons, tents and circus animal cutouts.

Circus Reunion

There’s no place like home- Wizard of Oz Theme inspired theme

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Oz Themed Activities

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Design an obstacle course depicting famous scenes from the movie. Run through a tissue paper poppy field, jump over bale of straw etc. Make bottle tornados and make a yellow brick road out of scrap lumber. Plan an activity that represents each Oz character such as paper plate lions, red glitter shoes and

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Decorations- Make flying monkeys from black poster board and hang around your reunion location. Use rainbow colored tablecloths (one color per table).

Food- “Ding Dong” the witch is dead Ding Dong cakes, rainbow lollypops, Lions, Tigers and Bears animal crackers and melted witch treats.

 

There's No Place Like Home

Western Themed Reunion


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Western Reunion Themed Activities

Make ponies from dollar store pool noodles and have a pool noodle rodeo. Shoot at targets with rubber band guns or pvc pipe bow and arrows. Make a family totem pole or try some line dance.

clip_image056Food- Call the food you serve” vittles”. Have a chili cook off., have a Texas Straw Hat food bar or serve barbeque, spareribs or grilled hamburgers. Use tin pie plates, mason jars with handles and lots of bandanas.

clip_image058Decorations- Put up a large ranch sign at the party entrance. Print off some wanted posters. To make it more fun, get hold of some photos of the guests and put them on the posters. Place some paper or real horseshoes on the path leading to the party entrance. Create a teepee out of a large sheet and some wooden dowels. Create a large cactus out of a cardboard box or even buy some inflatable ones. Cover the party food table in a red and white checkered cloth and hang up a sign saying “SALOON”.

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Western Family Reunion

How to Plan a Caroling Party

Tips for a Successful Christmas Caroling Party

Gathering your family or friends together for Christmas caroling or a family sing-a-long can make your family party fun and fairly fuss free. Consider these helpful tips when planning your family caroling party.

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Choosing the Music

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The most important element of your musical caroling  party is the music and you can download a free copy of caroling lyrics at www.familyreunionhelper.com. Caroling will be successful if everyone has the same list of carols.  Provide one song sheet for every 2 carolers. Specify how many verses you will sing of each song.  One verse is usually enough especially if caroling with children.

To build your song list you can type and print your own caroling sheets or make copies of the family reunion helper caroling book by clicking here- caroling song book.  The book is designed so that you only have to print off the music that you will use for your caroling such as- Santa songs, snow songs or spiritual songs etc.

Choose songs that are short, easy to sing, and fun. It’s also best to sing upbeat songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “Up On the Housetop”.You should plan on singing 1 or 2 songs per house and end with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

Choose your caroling route.

My family went caroling on Christmas Eve.  Mom would choose 3 or 4 families that she knew would enjoy a caroling visit and she always made a few goodies to give them.  (Perhaps as payment for listening to us sing off key) We would complete our caroling at a local nursing home.  Many of the children were reluctant to sing at the nursing home but as the years have gone by caroling at the nursing home has become one of their most talked about memories of the season.  HINT: If you visit a hospital or a nursing home, ask for permission ahead of time to make sure your visit comes at a good time and that they can accommodate a large group.

Consider Using a Variety of Instruments

Jingle bells, cymbals and drum sticks are an easy way to make your caroling fun.  Carolers that are too shy or just don’t want to sing can participate by keeping the beat with drum sticks or shaking the bells to the beat.

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If caroling outside dress for the weather.  When sending out invitations for your caroling party be sure and let your guests know that you’ll be caroling outdoors so they can bring their hats, gloves and scarves.  A fun party favor for your party could be hand and toe warmers.

You can dress things up by asking everyone to wear a fun Santa hat or reindeer antlers.

Plan Refreshments for Your Carolers

At the end of your caroling party meet back at your house or rec hall and provide your carolers with bowls of chili and mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows or cider.  You can keep your refreshments warm in slow cookers while you’re caroling.

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Fun Reindeer Party Ideas

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Magic Reindeer Food

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When you sprinkle magic reindeer food on your lawn on Christmas Eve, it leaves a glittering path–and a sweet treat–for Rudolph and Blitzon and their  friends.

Make a bag of Magic Reindeer food for each family that attends your party or as an inexpensive stocking stuffer for each child.

Package this simple recipe in zipper food storage bags, and add a free printable gift tag containing the Magic Reindeer Food poem to make Magic Reindeer Food easy to make–and to give.

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Magic Reindeer Food Recipe

In a large bowl or container, mix:

1/4- 1/2 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals
Small sealable bag
Magic Reindeer Food poem (You can find a free printable of the poem at Magic Reindeer Food Poem)

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Package Magic Reindeer food in small food storage bags or holiday gift bags.

HINT: You can use craft glitter in your magic reindeer food but colored sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating)are safer for other animals or birds that may ingest it.

Reindeer Noses

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Another fun reindeer games party favor is a bag of reindeer noses.

I wanted the perfect gift for you-
But couldn’t decide just what to do.
I almost sent you a dozen roses-
Instead here’s a bag of…
reindeer noses

Reindeer noses are simply seven brown candies such as “Whoppers” and one red candy (to represent Rudolf). I used sour cherry candies for my red nose.  You may find a free printable of the reindeer nose poem below. Just copy and paste into your document.

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Log Reindeer Centerpieces

Log reindeer are the perfect project for your centerpieces. Simply reuse scraps of wood and timber from your woodpile, drill a few holes, and glue it all together. You’ll need a few thicker logs for the body and head; long, thin sticks for the legs, and pronged branches for your reindeer’s antlers. Add bow, bells or tinsel to complete your project.  After the party you can give away part of your herd as prizes or save them to give as neighbor gifts.

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Reindeer Cupcakes

Bake cupcakes according to package directions and frost generously with chocolate frosting.  Top with pretzels for the antlers, a Nilla Wafer for the face, white frosting dots for the eyes, back pearl sprinkles or black icing for the eyeballs, and brown and red candies for the nose.

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Santa Pancakes

HINT:  We made the pancake base of our Santa pancakes before arriving at the party.  Because they are a little time consuming we began decorating them in advance.  We noticed that the whipped cream started getting soft and didn’t look as cute.  Solution- get more help with the decorating so that you can make them on the spot.

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Reindeer Games Minute To Win It

We used the “Minute to Win It” format for our “reindeer games”.  We divided into four teams- team Rudolf, team Blitzen, team Dasher and team Donner and competed in 8 different challenges. We projected a countdown clock on the wall so that everyone could join in the drama as the seconds counted down.  For more information on Minute the Win It games check out the following link.

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2011/10/minute-to-win-it-party-2/

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Thanksgiving Gumdrop Turkeys

Thanksgiving gumdrop turkeys for your Thanksgiving table.

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I’ve searched all over the internet for gum drop turkeys as cool as the ones my brothers and I made when we were growing up, but it appears those turkeys were one of a kind creations from my Mom.

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My Mom always put her four children in charge of making the 30- 50 gum drop turkey favors for our Thanksgiving family gathering.  The turkeys were so simple to make that we required no supervision and popping a few raisins or candy corns in our mouth as we were creating them took the edge off our Thanksgiving hunger.  In fact, making gum drop turkeys soon became a tradition at my house when I had children of my own.

Over the years I exchanged the raisins we used to use for Craisens and brown toothpicks for brightly colored ones.  Hint- always use Braches candy corns- they are softer and don’t crumble as easily when you stick a toothpick in them.  Large gum drops can be difficult to find, but after extensive searching, I was able to find some on the bottom shelf, hidden behind a garbage can, (no kidding) on the Wal-mart candy isle.

As I was writing this blog, my 32 year old son walked into the kitchen where I was taking pictures and said, “Gum drop turkeys,  I remember making those!”  Just proves that something doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or elaborate to make a lasting family memory.

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Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

Aunt MO

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

– Author unknown

Black Friday Shopping a Family Tradition

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Check out the application to go black Friday shopping at the end of this article

For our family, Black Friday shopping is a Thanksgiving tradition as rich as turkey stuffing or pumpkin pie.  We wake before the crack of dawn the morning after turkey day and start hunting down Black Friday bargains.

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I know that many of you are shaking your head in disgust right now- for many  people staying up late or getting up in the wee hours of morning seems ridiculous to you.  I’ll be the first to admit that you have to be a little (maybe a lot) crazy to get up early and be standing in a long line by 5 a.m.- in the cold, and the psycho crowds…and quite honestly I have never seen the crazy crowds that the media reports picture. For me, it’s not about the bargains out there or the money I might save- it’s about the silly family memories we make. 

Black Friday Memories

In our family we enjoy remembering the time Uncle Lee almost got trampled (Well, not really but it makes a better story) by a mob of frenzied shoppers fighting over Furby pets.

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We loved the year Sears gave out free $10.00 gift cards to the first person in line and we all came out with our purchases and hadn’t spent a dime of our own money.  My daughter still has the slippers she bought that day and wears them proudly.

Then there was the year we stood in a freezing cold Staples line and they brought everyone hot chocolate.  The hot Styrofoam cup kept our hands warm while we stood in line and talked and laughed about how stupid it was to be standing outside in the freezing cold at five in the morning.

One year our main priority was to hit the huge sock sale at Fred Meyers but when we entered the store we found it overflowing with bargain sock shoppers that we left without purchasing even one pair of socks.

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For the Wells family, Black Friday is an event and a rite of passage for pre-teens as they hope to be included in the early morning shopping spree.

My brother Lee, Uncle Steven and I are the instigators of the craziness and a few years ago we took Black Friday Shopping to a whole new level with an “Application to Go Black Friday Shopping With Aunt Mo & Uncle Lee” form.  This was a tongue-in-cheek application that those who wanted to go shopping had to fill out.  (A copy of this form can be  found at the end of this blog.)

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My brother, Scott, added some “over the top” fun to the event by organizing all of the ads for Black Friday sales in a crate with hanging file folders.  He was adamant that we return all ads to their specific file location so that everything stayed organized.  (Of course, all his organizing was only a ploy to be accepted as a member of our Black Friday shopping team.)

Black Friday Shopping Tips

Here’s some things we’ve learned to help us have a successful shopping trip:

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Make a plan.  Decide in advance which stores have the best bargains for the most shoppers in your group.

Leave your coat in the car and anything else that makes it difficult to maneuver through the store.

Beat the system by shopping in teams. We always separate into teams and go after items that we want.  One person (usually Uncle Steve) always heads for the check-out line so we don’t have to waste so much time waiting in line to check out.

One final note to store and shop owners- please don’t ruin Black Friday shopping by opening your doors a week early and calling it a “pre Black Friday” sale.  It seems that stores are opening earlier than ever and some have door busters slated for the day before Black Friday, letting you shop after Thanksgiving dinner.   I guess you’d say I am a purest- I like Black Friday where it’s supposed to be- the day after Thanksgiving, very early in the morning and surrounded by my family- at least those that filled out a Black Friday shopping application.

Aunt MO

Black Friday Application

Application to Go Black Friday Shopping With Aunt Mo & Uncle Lee

Black Friday shopping is a very serious business. It is a great honor to be part of Aunt Mo and Uncle Lee’s Black Friday shopping team. If you would like to be considered for a spot on the our Black Friday shopping team please fill out the following questioner and give it to Aunt Mo or Uncle Lee by 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day. We have very strict guidelines and take our Black Friday shopping very seriously. We will notify all successful candidates by 9:00 PM that same day. Good luck!

NAME ____________________ AGE ______

1. How many times have you been Black Friday shopping? ___________________________________

2. Are you an experienced Black Friday shopper YES or NO

3. What time will you go to bed Thanksgiving night? ________________________________________

4. Do you push the “snooze” button when your alarm goes off? YES or NO (We don’t want to wait for you)

5. What will you be shopping for? ________________________________________________________

6. Name three stores you would like to shop at? List in order of importance.

1.__________

2. __________

3. __________

7. How much cash will you bring with you? _______________________________________________

8. Do you have a credit or debit card? YES or NO (We do not allow those who use checks as they slow us down)

9. What do you feel is a good price to pay for a Hot Wheel car on Black Friday? __________________

10. Are you willing to stand in line while others shop? YES or NO

11. How fast do you run the mile? _________________________________________________________

12. How many pounds can you bench press? _______________________________________________

Please attach one letter of reference to this form.

Thank you for applying to be part of our Black Friday team. We will contact you by 9:00 PM Thanksgiving night.

Our Favorite Halloween Treat

Peanut butter Eyeballs!

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We love peanut butter eyeballs.  My daughter found  the recipe several years ago  and it has  since been a Halloween family favorite.  The saying, “bet you can’t eat just one!” certainly applies to these delicious treats. 

What you will need:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 pound white candy coating (in small pieces) or white chocolate chips
24 milk chocolate M&M’s
1 tablespoon water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

Directions

  1. Mix together 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and butter. Roll into 1-in. balls; place on a waxed paper-lined pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. In a microwave, melt white candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper. Immediately top of each eyeball with an M and  M to make the pupil.
  3. Make squiggly lines to make the eyeballs look look “bloodshot”. 

    Makes about 2 dozen eyeballs.

Have a Trail Mix Buffet

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A trail mix buffet is a fun option for your western or rustic themed reunion or party.  If your occasion is more formal you can dress up your buffet with glass apothecary jars for a fancier look which lends itself to fancier parties such as wedding receptions or anniversary celebrations. A trail mix buffet is also a fun treat idea for a movie themed or kid themed party.

For our family reunion of 100 guests we used large tin foil pans to put the many treat options in but using  a variety of glass jars, tin buckets, and baskets are great for holding all the delicious goodies  your guests can choose from. .

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Serving guests is a breeze and everyone fills their own containers (paper sacks, sandwich bags, party treat bags,  boxes or paper ice cream cups) with their favorite treats.

You can use healthy ingredients for your buffet featuring raisins, nuts and seeds or a kids favorite buffet using cereals, M & M’s and gummy bears.  Use your imagination when selecting treats for your buffet.

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Here’s a list of possible options for your buffet:
nuts- almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews etc.
pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
cereal such as Cheerios, Trix, Chex, Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch etc.
chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, vanilla or peanut butter chips etc.
candy-  M&M’s, candy corn, gummy worms, milk duds, sour patch kids etc.
granola
marshmallows
coconut, banana chips
pretzels, goldfish crackers
raisins, Craisins, chopped dates, yogurt raisins
Popcorn makes a great filler.

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Make signs for ingredients your guests may not recognize. Custom labels, mini chalkboards and cardboard tents designed to  support your theme will do the job. Print off the following food tents for your trail mix buffet. western food tent

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Provide serving scoops such as ice cream scoops, oversized spoons or measuring cups- you’ll need one for each treat in your buffet.  Smallish scoops help control serving size to assure that there is enough if each treat for all your guests.