Jugball

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Jugball is a game that the Stewart family “invented” about 20 years ago and has become a family favorite at our annual family reunions. It doesn’t matter what else we do or what our reunion theme is, we always play Jugball.

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Jugball Milk Jugs

The most difficult part of Jugball is getting enough jugs for everyone to use. We ask family members to bring their own jugs and then an extra jug for someone who forgets theirs.  We just cut the bottom out of old milk jugs.  If you wanted to be  creative you could decorate them with duct tape  and  markers but we play with our jugs just the way they are.  A note about the ball- bring several types and sizes of balls to see what works for you.  You don’t want a ball that is too bouncy or it will be difficult to keep in your jug.

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Jugball Rules- sort of

I’ve never played Jugball but those that do assure me that it is  an easy game to learn.  It’s pretty much like football with goal being to get the jugball into the end zone in a teammate’s jug.

First mark off a large field, with boundaries and two end zones.

The game begins with a(throw off), and the receiving team may either catch the jugball, and move it from there, or drop it, or let it hit the ground upon reception. Then, the receiving team works the jugball forward, toward the other team’s end zone. The ball may move only through the air.

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Upon catching a pass, a player must stop running (you are allowed to be carried two steps by the act of the catch), and try to find a teammate who is trying to get open. This game continues until a point is scored, at which point the scoring team throws off.

If, at any point, the jugball hits the ground (not during a throw off), the team who was not in possession before the fault assumes control.

A score happens when a player catches the jugball in the other team’s end zone. If an out of bounds pass happens, the other team throws in from that spot on the boundary.

The defense may cover the player with possession of the ball, like defenders in basketball (but the jugball may not be knocked out of a players jug, it must be allowed to be thrown). Also, if the other team is on offense, it is worth simply knocking down the jugball if catching it is difficult, as this will also result in a change of possession.

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My favorite thing about Jugball is that our family just made it up at  family reunion.  It doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment or extensive planning- you just do it.  If you’re family tries Jugball it might become a family tradition at your reunions or maybe… you’ll make up your own game.

Tips for Hosting a Successful Party

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks. Sarah is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger.

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Tips for Hosting a Successful Party

Playing host or hostess is an extremely rewarding experience; especially when bringing loved ones together to celebrate family ties. But it can also be a daunting proposal for party planners faced with coordinating the wide variety of details involved in carrying-off successful parties.

You are out to have a good time too, so getting a firm handle on your party plans allows you to relax and go with the flow. Use these proven tips to take the stress out of the equation, launching trouble-free fun for your entire family.

Plan Ahead for Success

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Start your party planning effort with a wide angle view; roughly deciding when you’d like to host a gathering. Certain times each year, like holiday seasons and summer months; when kids are out of school, are heavily scheduled for many families, so choosing prime-time dates may limit your guest list. On the other hand, advance notice gives friends and family plenty of time to mark the date for your special event.

At the very least, craft your timetable much as you would for a wedding or other occasion, supplying at least a month’s notice for your guests. As you firm-up plans, consider other things that might be happening in people’s lives. Graduation season, for example, furnishes built-in commitments for families, who may not be able to attend your party during this busy period. Major, isolated events can also hinder attendance – don’t try to compete with sporting events or religious holidays for your guests’ attention.

Keep it Simple

Hosting festive gatherings immediately pushes your own expectations higher. After all, you want to put your best foot forward, staging a memorable event. For successful parties, resist the urge to take on more than you can reasonably handle – despite your desire to impress your guests.

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Ambitious menus, for example, quickly spiral beyond manageability, taking all the fun out of host and hostess duties. Instead of trying new dishes and calling-on exotic ingredients, stick to simpler fare, using proven recipes and sure-thing crowd-pleasing dishes. And don’t forget to project your menu selections to the scale of your party. While elaborate canapés with detailed presentations are manageable by the dozen, you may find it unreasonable to produce hundreds of them for large parties.

Though variety is the spice of life, you needn’t prove it with sprawling menu selections. Instead, focus on a few well-prepared offerings with mass appeal. And whenever possible, include items you can prepare ahead of time, reducing your commitment on the big day.

Call-In Reinforcements

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Family gatherings are all about having fun and reconnecting with loved ones you don’t see as often as you’d like. When working out the details of your party, remember others have walked before you, facing the same host and hostess duties on your plate. To ease your own burden, enlist the help of friends and family willing to contribute to the party-planning effort. Each aspect covered by helpers checks a responsibility off your own list; leading to a well-rounded event and less stress for you.

Mobilize volunteers in ways that help you most. If you need a decorating committee, for instance, tap creative contributors for ideas and input fostering festive ambiance. Or if the party grows beyond numbers you generally accommodate, request spare chairs, tables, and other needed items from helpers, rather than buying or renting them yourself.

Hosting parties can be fun, as long as you don’t become overwhelmed. For sure-fire success, start with a reasonable game plan, using advance coordination to rein in the details. And don’t be afraid to use helpful volunteers to pull-off entertaining, worry-free events.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com

Family Reunion T Shirt

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One of my music students came to class wearing this fun reunion shirt and I just couldn’t help but share it with you.  Such a fun and simple design. Notice the family name at the top and the date and place at the  bottom of the shirt. 

We’ve done a lot of reunion shirts over the years but when this cute little guy wore an old shirt his dad wore I was thrilled.  Keeping old reunion t-shirts year after year means you always have something to wear to the family reunion!

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When You Were My Age Giveaway

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We’re so excited about our new and updated version of “When You Were My Age Party” that we’re giving away a free copy to one of our subscribers.  Just tell us what celebration you might  use this party  for in the comments section of this blog and we will randomly select one person to receive a free copy on December 1st, 2013.

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Our new version of “When You Were My Age” includes a fill in the blank invitation and gives you 37 pages of information for the years 1921- 2010.

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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 thrilled 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.

This is a great way to honor your Grandma or Grandpa on their special birthday or your Dad or Mom on their 50th anniversary. Celebrating a landmark birthday or anniversary is always going to be a lot of work but with this package you’ll be well on your way to saying "We love you" in a very special way.

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M & M or Skittle Ice Breaker Game

Getting to Know You Game

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Take a bag of M&M’s or Skittles candy and tell everyone to grab a handful…or specify a number (I prefer this if you have a large group so it doesn’t take so long- I suggest each family member take 4 or 5 candies) You might also choose to split up in smaller groups such as children under 12, 12 and over, young adults etc. if you have a larger group such as a family reunion.

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Assign a different meaning to each color, blue= family, green=hobbies, yellow=animals, brown= work or school etc. Participants must tell one thing about themselves for how many candies they have in their hands using the colors as their guide. They may also eat them as they share their information.  (“Blue…I have two sisters.”, then eats the candy. “Yellow…I have a dog named Kodi.”, and eats the candy etc.) If you have two or more of the same color you have to tell one thing per candy regardless the color.

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This is a good ice breaker because you can play it as soon as your party is supposed to start and those that come a little late can participate when they arrive.

Dinosaur Party Game

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Carnivores vs. Herbivores Game

This is a fun dinosaur game to play outside. Divide family members into two teams, the Carnivores and the Herbivores.

Give each Carnivore a small sheet of dinosaur stickers. When you say "Go", the Carnivores chase the Herbivores. A Herbivore is "caught" when a Carnivore places a sticker on his or her back. The Herbivore must "freeze" until another Herbivore releases him or her by removing the sticker.

Play until the Carnivores run out of stickers. Distribute stickers to the Herbivores and repeat the game.

NOTE:  This game comes from our Caveman Reunion Theme. 
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Quick and Easy Dutch Oven Cookies

I usually mix up a batch of cookie dough to bake in our Dutch oven when we go camping, but on a whim I threw in a package of cookie mix for our last camping trip and it was a hit!

Case of Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (12 total)

Using the mix the cookies were quick and easy to stir together and I didn’t have to worry about keeping the dough cold.

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If using a 12″ Dutch oven, you can bake about 8 cookies at one time. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown. Use 6 coals on bottom, 22 on top.

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The mixes don’t make a huge batch and as good as fresh baked cookies taste when you’re camping you might want to toss in an extra package of mix.

Time Capsule Dig

Family Reunion Time Capsule

Five years later and we finally got to dig up our time capsule!  Five years ago at our Stewart family reunion we had every family member fill out a questionnaire.  We asked questions about the present, their predictions for the future and invited everyone to set some goals that they hoped to accomplish by the time we opened the capsule in 2013.

On the 2nd day of our reunion this year, we went to Grandma’s house where the time capsule was buried to begin our search for the capsule we had buried five years ago.  We followed a very funny set of clues that cousin Tyler made up to find the capsule. 

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The first clue took us to the "”three pronged wooded fork” and then led us to a spot under Grandma’s bathroom window…. but there was no capsule there.

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Retracing our steps we realized that we had misinterpreted the clues and on this attempt found the time capsule buried at the corner of the house.  It took a little digging and we broke the lid off of the capsule but we found all our questionnaires safe and sound.

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Family History Church

We read our questionnaires at  the conclusion of our annual family history “church” we hold at each reunion.  Some of us found that we had remained focused during the five years and completed our goals and some found that their goals had been forgotten.  Some of us predicted what the price of gas would be in 2013 pretty accurately and some found they were living in a fantasy land. We had questioners from old boyfriends that had attended our reunion that year and from a dear Grandpa who had passed away.

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Our family time capsule was a big hit and family members voted to make another time capsule next year.  We’re already working on the questions for our new questionnaire.

Family Reunion Payback Pockets

Payback pockets are a fun way to pay back family members for the difference they have made in your life.  Payback pockets are a fun way to “pay back” your family for the difference they have made in your life-  way of showing appreciation and a way  of saying thanks.

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Our Payback pockets were labeled in fun way using money terms such as Steve’s Sawbucks, Ann’s Ante and Lynn’s Loot.

Writing Station

Set up a writing “station” and stock it with stationary, stickers, markers and colored paper.  Having fun stickers and stationary encourages family members to write notes. 

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You don’t need to set aside any time for note writing during your reunion.  Family members will find their own time  to write  whether it’s during some reunion downtime or during an activity they may not wish to participate in.

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The little ones in our family had fun writing notes, well, actually drawing pictures, and they loved using the markers and stickers.

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The reunion planners used the pockets as a way of delivering special treats and surprises during our reunion.  One day each Big Six received crackers, chocolate and marshmallows for S’mores around the campfire.  Another day  bouquet of lollypops was delivered to each pocket.

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Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts part 2

 

Scavenger Hunt Clues Using Pictures

Take a picture of the location of a hidden clue but only take a portion of the picture. In the example below you can see that just a portion of the word is shown.  You could do part of a clock, drinking fountain, corner of tent, a car wheel with interesting rims etc.  When the hunters figure out what the clue is a picture of they run to that location to get their next picture clue and so on until they find the treasure.  This does take some advance planning but makes for fun hunt for even the very young that may not be good readers.
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Secret Codes Hunt

Writing secret codes is another way to generate clues. Using numbers in place of letters is an easy way to create the code (1=a, 2=b, etc.), but  using a backwards letter code can make things a little extra challenging. Decipher the  clue to find out where to look for their next clue.

Urban Race

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As a Youth Council advisor for our town, I had the fun opportunity to participate in a Great Urban Race at Utah State University.  The teenagers learned a lot about the university by unscrambling clues and completing challenges to complete the race.  The kids loved it and I couldn’t help but think what a fun activity it could be for a family reunion, especially if you held your reunion in a town that your family had ties to. 

Urban Race is the team race that’s part photo hunt and part trivia. Teams must solve clues to find checkpoints throughout the city. To move on they must take photos or perform certain tasks to earn points.

The fun part of an urban race is that the use of cellphones is  okay. Teams may call family members left back at the reunion site to get help with difficult trivia. Everyone gets a chance to participate in the fun.

Riddle Clues

Scavenger Hunt Ideas & Riddles | Treasure Hunting | Riddle Me

The most difficult part of a treasure or scavenger hunt for me is making up the  clues, it’s also time consuming. I found a website that can help with that- it’s called “Riddle Me”. They have over Over 10,000 Riddles on 1,200 objects and can target different age groups and types of gatherings.  Their program also lets you be in control over the time of the activity, because it lets you decide how many clues to print in a scavenger hunt.