The Family That Eats Together Stays Together

 

Or Forcing Your Family to Mingle

One difficult part of a family reunion or party can be getting your family to mingle during meal time.  We usually have each family group sitting together- the Maddox family, the Wynnes and the Stewarts all sitting in their own little group.  It’s not that we don’t like each other or don’t get along-we just gravitate to our  own family group.

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Here’s a fun way to mix things up.  Put a pieces of colored tape or ribbon on each chair or seating space (if you’re dealing with picnic benches)  When everyone has begun eating announce that everyone sitting on a yellow space must switch places with another yellow.  A few minutes later have pinks switch and so on.

DO NOT make it too complicated!  If you have green switch with pink and yellow with red, nothing will happen- everyone will remain in their original seat.  If you’re family is compliant and seems to enjoy the mixing up you could try switching two colors at a time but for the most part it’s best  to focus on one color at a time.  You don’t have to mix people up all in one meal- keep the colors on during your entire reunion and only do a couple of swaps per meal.

Towards the end of the meal you can announce “Rainbow Mixup” and everyone has to switch places.

HINT:  Choose a meal that doesn’t have a lot of plates and silverware etc. to be moved.

Party Games 411

  • Party Games 411

  • What Game Should We Play?

If you’re looking for a game to play you should check out this new game site- Party Games 411.  It’s a very simple site to use and a marvelous resource  for party planners.

I plan a lot of  parties and family reunions and I am always looking  for a new game or activity.  I search the web trying to find ideas but this site is the easiest way I’ve found.

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Search for a Game

There are several ways to search for a game at Party Games 411. You can:

1. Enter the number of players and the location (inside or outside) that the game will be played.  For instance, I searched for an indoor or outdoor game for  80 people and it gave me 40 possible games we could  play.

2. You can also search for games alphabetically.

3. You can search for particular game by entering the name of it. 

Each game gives you recommended ages and game requirements and easy to understand rules and instructions.

Games, Games, Games

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You will find ideas for card games, team building games, tag games, mind games,  party games, large group games and so much more.  So next time you ask, “What game should we  play?” check out Party Games 411.

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.

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. 
Caveman Reunion

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.

Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts

Puzzle Treasure Hunt

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Take a picture of where the treasure will be hidden.  Cut up the picture of the location into several pieces. (The older the participants the more pieces)

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Hide the pieces in a designated area. Players search for the pieces then try to assemble the puzzle to get the prize or treasure.

Sandbox Treasure Hunt

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Sandbox treasure hunts are tried and true hunts.  Hide pennies, nickels and quarters in sand or saw dust.  Be sure and keep the sawdust and sand contained in a #10 tub, children’s pool or on a sheet of plastic. 

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Who’s Got the Key? Treasure Hunt

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Gather as many spare keys that you can find. You will need a lot of keys so ask family members to bring their keys also. (You can purchase large lots of key blanks on eBay for under $10.00) Buy a lock and key. Put the lock on a treasure chest or box of some sort with hidden treasure in it. Hide all of the keys including the key that will open the lock. Everyone searches for a key, when they find a key they try it in the lock- if it doesn’t work they search for another key until someone finds the correct key and opens the treasure.

Digital Camera Treasure Hunt

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This is such a fun idea for a family reunion. You’ll need one digital camera for each team. Give each team a list of things to take pictures of.  If you want to put a family history spin on this hunt, challenge teams to find:

Someone who served in a war
Oldest relative at the reunion
Youngest relative at the reunion
Relative that  has won a trophy
Someone that had a rotary dial phone
Relative who came the farthest distance to the reunion
Someone who has lived out  of the country
The couple that has been married the longest

You get the idea- it’s fun to really make teams talk to their older relatives to find out the information.  Be sure and take a team picture with each relative.

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Cousin Bobbie planned a digital camera hunt as part of our Thanksgiving fun a few years ago.  We had to find as many things on our list as possible, take a picture of them and return back to the meeting area and determine the winner.  We had to find things like a scarecrow, pumpkin, cat, turkey and Christmas lights.

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Look for part 2 or this article next week and in the meantime- happy hunting!

The Jumping, Running, Throwing Fun of an Obstacle Course

I’m not writing this blog for you, I’m writing it for me.  Every time I need to create an obstacle course I have to rethink every type of course we’ve done in the past.  Next time I have to make an obstacle course I’m just going to search for this blog,hopefully you’ll get some good ideas too.

Kids love obstacle courses and they’re pretty easy to create just using the things you have around your house or party area. 

The easiest way to create a course is to assign each person one obstacle or if it is for a family reunion, assign several families to each bring an obstacle.  You  can do this with little or no advance notice using just the things you have in the course area.

If you have a committee that is putting the course together spend some time brainstorming ideas for your course layout. If you will be at a campground you may be able to take advantage of a water hazard, large rocks and logs.

Eight to ten challenges is a good number for most people.  Here’s some tried and true obstacles that have proved to be fun  over the years.

Jumping Obstacles

Bales of straw or hay make a fun obstacle.  Other jumping obstacles can be logs, laundry baskets or rolled up sleeping bags.  Instead of jumping you can crawl under or over a row of chairs.

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Running Obstacles

Lay a ladder on the ground and children run through the ladder making sure they step in the hole between each rung on the ladder.

Every obstacle course needs a tire challenge of some sort.  When runners reach the tires, they have to run through them, placing one foot in each of the tires. The more tires you have the harder it becomes.

Swinging Obstacles

Everybody likes a good old rope swing and it’s a fun addition to any obstacle course. If you aren’t near a natural water hazard fill up a kiddy wading pool to provide an extra challenge. Several big knots tied in the rope’s end makes it easier to grab.

Balancing Obstacles

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Using logs, 2x4s or wooden planks makes for a fun balancing portion of your course.

Throwing Obstacles

Throw beanbags into a bucket or basket.  If you have access to a basketball hoop, require participants to make a basket before moving to the next challenge.  If football is your sport of choice throw a ball through a goal post made of PVC pipe.

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Silly Obstacles

Purchase some old couch cushions from the thrift store, mattress or foam pad and set out for participants to run through. This challenge will really slow runners down- just be sure to tell them there is no jumping allowed.

And don’t forget cones (good for zig zagging) and hula hoops (good substitute for tires).

A stopwatch (or the stopwatch on your cellphone) is essential for keeping track of their course times.  You can keep times individually or run your obstacle course as a team relay event.

Setting up an obstacle course is a wonderful way for adults and children to get some fun physical activity. Kids will do it as  part of an organized activity but when the “official” activity is over they’ll continue to play and be entertained making their own kind of fun.

Famous Aunts & Uncles Family Reunion Game

How well do you know the aunts and uncles in your family?  Well,here’s a test to find out how well you know “famous” aunts and uncles that you’ve come to love through TV, books and in the movies.  Pass copies of the test out to older family members when they arrive at your reunion or during down time. Give prizes for the best(WHOPPERS, SMARTIES,100 GRAND) and worst (Milk DUDS) scores.

Famous Aunts & Uncles

www.familyreunionhelper.com

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1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt

2. Mr. Television

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”

6. Uncle housekeeper on “My Three Sons”

7. Common sense aunt on “Fresh Prince of "Bel-Air”

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup

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10. Luke Skywalker’s uncle from “Star Wars”

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt

12. Cissy, Buffy & Jody’s uncle on “Family Affair”

13. Whitney Houston’s famous singing Aunt

14. Motorcycle riding uncle on “Full house”

15. George Clooney’s favorite singing aunt

16. The richest duck in the world

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17. Aunt that Amy stays with in “Little Women” 

18. He wants YOU (for the US Army)

19. Spiderman’s uncle and adoptive father

20. Who lived with her aunts at 133 Collins Road?

Famous Aunts & Uncles Answer Key

Answer Key

1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt- Aunt Bee

2. Mr. Television Uncle- Miltie

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt- Auntie Em

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”- Uncle Festus

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”- Aunt Clara

6. Uncle housekeeper on “My Three Sons”- Uncle Charley

7. Common-sense aunt on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Aunt Vivian

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle- Uncle Vernon

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup- Aunt Jemima

10. Luke Skywalker’s uncle from “Star Was” Uncle Owen

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt- Aunt Polly

12. Cissy, Buffy & Jody’s uncle on “Family Affair”- Uncle Bill

13. Whitney Houston’s famous singing Aunt- Dionne Warwick

14. Motorcycle riding uncle on “Full house” – Uncle Jesse

15. George Clooney’s favorite singing aunt- Rosemary Clooney

16. The richest duck in the world- Uncle Scrooge

17. Aunt that Amy stays with in “Little Women”- Aunt March

18. He wants YOU (for the US Army)- Uncle Sam

19. Spiderman’s uncle and adoptive father- Uncle Ben

20. Who lived with her aunts at 133 Collins Road?- Sabrina the Teenage Witch

A “ready for printing” copy of this game as well as other fun “Pencil and Paper” games is included with every family reunion theme package purchased at familyreunionhelper.com/

Looking for another fun game to test your knowledge?  Try the Older Than Dirt game and find out who is older than dirt at your next reunion.

Using Your Super Hero Powers to Wipe Out Dead Air At Your Family Reunion

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How to Destroy Boring Family Reunion
“Dead Air”

Back in my 20’s I worked as a disc jockey at a radio station.  About the worst thing a deejay could do back then and I’m  pretty sure now, is to have “dead air”.  Dead air is an unintended period of silence during a radio broadcast.  I have been unfortunate enough to experience some  periods of dead air when I worked as a disc jockey, usually because I was unprepared, unorganized or because there was an equipment mal-function.  I have also experienced “dead air” at a family reunion.

It is most common to experience reunion or party dead air between the time when family or guests are arriving and the time when the planned activities are scheduled to begin.  I know you’ve experienced it- people just standing around in awkward silence not sure what they’re supposed to be doing and wishing that they had someone to talk to.

There is a solution to doing away with reunion dead air- be prepared, be organized and PLAN an activity that doesn’t have to be supervised.

A few of our favorite dead air busters are:

Sugar Cookie Decorating

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When we arrived at Aunt Karen’s dinosaur reunion twenty or so years ago, we found plastic wrapped dinosaurs shaped sugar cookies tied to trees and fences all around the park where the reunion was held.  After checking in, everyone went on a dinosaur hunt to find the perfect sugar cookie and then on  to the decorating station where we found frosting, sprinkles and candies to decorate our cookies.

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As we frosted and decorated our cookies, other family members arrived and we laughed, talked and ate our dinosaur masterpieces and Bam- dead air destroyed!

DIY Tee Shirts

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The Brown family used a creative idea to not only take care of dead air but to also personalize their reunion t-shirts.

Instead of doing a generic design on their shirts they did stick figures of a family and when family members arrived at the reunion  they painted their own shirt using fabric paints and markers.  Everyone was so busy and excited about their shirts they chatted and shared ideas and Pow- dead air busted!

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Boondoggle

Boondoggle will keep most kids, 10 and over occupied for any dead air during your reunion.  By taking two strings of boondoggle, you can weave, braid, or otherwise knot it to create some fun projects.

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Set out a few spools of boondoggle and a few clips or key chains and before   you know it, young and old will be making new boondoggle creations.

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You will need someone to man the boondoggle station that knows how to start boondoggle.  If someone in your family has been to a girl or boy scout camp they probably already know how to do boondoggle.  A good resource for learning boondoggle basics is Boondoggle Man- and Splash- dead air busted!

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NOTE: If using an activity for the older children, like boondoggle, don’t forget to set out something for the younger ones such as coloring pages, a kiddy pool  filled with sand or a few soft balls.

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Stating the Obvious

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Here’s the obvious boredom busters- set up volleyball, badminton, croquet, horseshoes or any activity that  will get your family interacting with each other. 

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I have a giant Checkers game that I set out at every reunion (it’s tradition) and before too  long one of the cousins will challenge an uncle to a game and a crowd will  gather around to watch. 

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to set these games up but it sure adds to the reunion fun.

When most of your family has arrived at the reunion it’s time to move on to your planned activities, usually ice breaker games, but with some extra planning and effort on your part their won’t be much ice to break- families members will feel right at home because you’ve used your super hero powers to destroy reunion dead air.