Making a Family Parade Float

parade blog

Small Town Parades

My favorite parades are those in small communities.  The parade in our town is only two blocks long and lasts about 20 minutes, but we always arrive early so we can get a front row seat.  We don’t want to miss those great family floats!

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When I was growing up we always had a Hooton family float.  My Mom and her sister would design and make a float for all of my Grandparents’ grandkids to ride on.  I don’t remember a lot of the details about creating the float but I do remember having lots of fun with my cousins. I also liked getting a free ticket to the local movie theater and 25 cents to buy a treat which was the prize for having an award winning float.

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Highlight Your Family

Having a family float in a local parade can be a fun activity for your family reunion.  It’s also a great way for Grandma and Grandpa to show off their posterity.  The Brown family counted all their posterity and celebrated by building the family float pictured below.

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Here’s some tips to having a great family reunion float:

Register Your Float or Parade Entry

#1.  Be sure to register your float with the parade  committee in advance.  Find out the specifics about entering before you begin building your parade float. Some parades have restrictions about throwing candy or passing out flyers so find out the rules and safety requirements.

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#2. Once you know the size requirements and approved vehicles for floats, you will need to find either a truck and trailer or flatbed that you can use as a base for your float.  If you don’t have access to a truck and trailer let your family ride their bikes or walk in the parade.  Children in the family can dress in their team uniforms, dance costumes or school shirts and ride decorated bikes  in the parade.

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Another option is to put everyone in matching family reunion shirts and make a banner with your family name on it. Give everyone a helium balloon and wah la- you have a “walking” family reunion float.  Like they say, sometimes- “less is more”.

#3.  Make sure  you have plenty of help when assembling your float.  You will have to build your float in a few hours so you will need to be organized. Be sure you have all supplies on hand.

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#4. Money is probably going to be an issue for your family reunion float but floats don’t have to cost a lot of money to be fun.  There are inexpensive supplies that you can use to make a fun float. Colored butcher paper, paint, cardboard, straw bales and balloons can create a very nice float. Cut out props from the cardboard boxes. Try making props more three dimensional by using folds or tape and glue. Make them big, the bigger the better, because your float will be viewed from a distance. Paint these props colorfully and be sure to adequately secure them to the vehicle or trailer.  Balloons are a great filler as are colorful crepe paper streamers. Make skirting to cover the sides and wheels by wrapping and securing colored butcher paper with tape and a staple gun.

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#5.  Last of all, be sure you have a safe driver for your float.  Grandpa is a good option if he doesn’t already have an assignment.  After you have put your family reunion float together with crepe paper, balloons and staples, all that’s left is to add your family.

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And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.

Hobo or Tin Foil Dinners With Variations

tin foil dinner blog

One of our favorite family reunion and campfire meals is Hobo dinners or Tinfoil dinners.

We love tin foil dinners so much we sometimes make them in our oven  at home.  Our favorite recipe for tin foil dinners is as follows:

Traditional Tin Foil Dinner Recipe

Place the following items on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Ingredients:

1 hamburger patty per dinner- 1 pound ground beef will make 4 patties
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 potato, peeled and sliced thinly or diced 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
Onion slices 
2 Tablespoons cream of chicken condensed soup

Place patty in the center of each piece of foil. Put vegetables on top of meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cream of chicken soup in two dollops on top of dinner and fold foil up tightly around the entire meal.

Cook on a grill on medium-high heat or in a campfire for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables and meat are cooked through.  You can also cook dinners in the oven (350 degrees for an hour) by placing meals on a cookie sheet before baking. 

Be careful when opening the foil- it is very hot! 

Tin Foil Dinner Secrets to Success

Identify your foil dinner by writing your name or an identifying mark with permanent marker or by folding the foil in an unusual  way.

You may substitute the soup with a few sprinkles of Worcestershire sauce.

When cooking on a fire (when its easy to burn dinners) make an extra meal.  If a meal gets too crispy you’ll have an extra meal and no one goes hungry.

Add a tablespoon or two of water before sealing dinner up to steam your meal.

Turn packets half way through cooking process, using oven mitts or leather gloves.

Tin Foil Dinner Variations

On a family and friends camping trip one of our friends made their tin foil dinner with chicken and rice.  I thought that was a little odd but it got me thinking about variations to our basic recipe.

Tin Foil Dinner Seasoning Variations

Try one or more of the following in your dinner: garlic salt, season salt, lemon pepper, Italian seasoning, BBQ sauce, Ranch salad dressing (delicious on chicken) chili powder, or steak sauce.

Breakfast Tin Foil Dinner

Prepare one thin sausage patty made from lean country sausage, place on foil; add 3/4 to 1 cup frozen hash browns creating a nest in center of your potatoes; add one egg to the nest; wrap. Sprinkle with grated cheese just before serving.

Glazed Ham Tin Foil Dinner

Place one carrot thinly sliced on foil, salt and pepper to taste; place a slice of ham on top carrots, about 1/2-inch thick; place a ring of pineapple on ham; drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey, wrap.

Ranch Chicken Tin Foil Dinner

Combine 1 packet dry Ranch dressing mixed with 3/4 cup corn flake crumbs and 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Dip one boneless, skinless chicken breast in melted butter, Ranch dressing mix and place on foil.  Add potatoes and carrots.

This will make 4 to 6 chicken breasts.

M & M or Skittle Ice Breaker Game

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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.

A slight variation to the game is have participates tell things that make them, happy, sad, angry, excited or afraid.

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Quench Thirsts At Your Next Reunion

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Keeping your family hydrated during your family reunion is important and can be a challenge if you are having your reunion outdoors and if you will be encouraging playing sports and other physical activities. You can create a budget and fund for communal beverages, ask everyone to bring their own drinks or try one of ideas below.

Water Bottles For Family Reunions

Water bottles give you a great opportunity to personalize your water bottles by making labels that support your reunion theme or your family name. Most of our family reunion theme packages include water bottle labels you can easily print and use on your water bottles.

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A package of sticker paper can easily be printed on then cut and apply to the water bottles.  Get a good quality sticker paper, some of the budget paper aren’t as sticky and may pull away from the water bottle. Sticker paper is great if you won’t keep water bottles in ice but if the water bottles will be stored where they will get wet you should select a sticker paper that is water resistant.  You can find water bottle sticker paper in the familyreunionhelper store.

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Water bottle labels compliment your reunion or party theme well and they can help save reunion funds and keep your reunion “green” if everyone writes their name on the bottle and reuses the same bottle during the reunion.

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Insulated cups from the Dollar Store

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A fun idea our family discovered recently are insulated cups from the dollar store.  They cost a dollar (surprise) and come in a variety of colors.  If you need a lot of cups you will probably want to order them from the store’s online site.  They will ship for free to your local store where you can pick them up.  Although cups cost more than a water bottle they do make a great souvenir that your family can continue to use when the reunion is over. 

My daughter has a vinyl machine and she made a fun  logo that we put on all of our cups. They were a hit with the family and with so many cup colors family members were able to easily keep track of their own cups.

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Water Coolers

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An  economical way to keep everyone hydrated is to use water coolers.  You can purchase a 5 gallon water cooler for around $25.00.  Buy several and keep one full of water and ice and one of punch or lemonade.  Drink coolers are also great for making homemade root beer. With coolers you can provide paper cups or can use them to refill water bottles or plastic drink  cups.

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Last but not least, ask everyone to provide their own beverages for the reunion. Asking everyone to provide their own drinks gives some relief to the budget and assures that everyone has their favorite beverage on hand.

The Ultimate Guide to Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts can be a fun addition to any family reunion or party.  We’ve included several fun scavenger ideas in this blog that can easily be personalized to your own situation. Scavenger hunts aren’t just for kids though- teenagers and young adults love scavenger hunts too.

 

Video Scavenger Hunt

Divide everyone into 2 or more teams. Give each team a list of video-taping scenarios such as those in the list below. Be sure each team has a way to take videos and that phones or cameras are completely charged.  Most importantly, set a time limit, so that you don’t have dead time waiting for everyone to return.

Once you’ve gathered your teams, your clues and your video equipment, each team takes off in their cars or on foot and attempts to complete all of the tasks on their list. The first team to  complete all tasks on  the list is the winner.

Provide popcorn or other treats as you watch the videos.  Consider giving prizes for the most creative videos and best actors.

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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. Hardware stores that make keys usually keep a bucket of reject keys that they are often happy to get rid. Buy a lock and key. Put the lock on a treasure chest or box of some sort with a 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.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

This is a great idea for the younger children in your family. Gather 12 random things from your yard, reunion  site or party location. Take pictures of the items and print on cardstock.  Glue to the top of an egg carton  and send them out to find the items.  The egg carton provides the perfect place to store the items they find.

A more complicated version of a nature scavenger hunt is pictured below.  The drawing next to each item make the hunt a little easier.  This type of hunt could be used for an  entire day can be a way to entertain kids when they aren’t excited about other activities that might be planned.

Digital Camera Treasure Hunt- idea 1

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This is such a fun idea for a family reunion. You’ll need one digital camera or phone with 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.

Digital Camera Treasure Hunt- idea 2

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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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“I Spy” Scavenger Hunt for Weddings and Receptions

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Provide a list of “I Spy” photo opportunities and a disposable camera on each table.  As guest eat their refreshments they can look for the list and snap a picture.  These photos will give the bride and groom a different perspective of the wedding festivities.  A printable list such as the one below is available on Etsy.

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 Scavenger Hunt

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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 such as collecting:

  • A restaurant napkin
  • A get a take-out menu from a Chinese restaurant
  • A disposable toilet seat cover
  • A stranger’s autograph
  • A coupon
  • A copy of the front page of the local newspaper
  • A change of address card from the post-office

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

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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.

Happy Hunting- Aunt MO

Free Party Game Resource

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Friday night is pizza and game night at my house.  We have our favorite games and we have our favorite pizza but some nights we’re in the mood to try something new.  I  know where to find new pizza combinations and now I know where to find new game ideas.

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.

Plastic Wrap Ball Party Game

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What could be more fun than a huge ball of plastic wrap with lots of prizes layered throughout the ball? My sister in law has done this for her kids for years, but it wasn’t until just recently, when we played this game at a family Christmas party that I remembered how much fun it was.

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Here is how it works!

The first person with the ball starts unwrapping it while the person on their right rolls a pair of dice, trying to roll doubles.

Once doubles are rolled, the ball is passed to the next player and the sequence begins again.

The person with the ball doesn’t stop unwrapping it until the person to their right rolls doubles. This makes for some fun suspense in the game!

As the player unwrap the prizes they put them in their own pile- everyone keeps the prizes they unwrap.

How To Make a Plastic Wrap Ball

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To make the ball gather 50- 100 prizes.  Small packages of candy work well, especially M&M’s and Skittles.  You can also use erasers, hair barrettes and ribbons, Hot Wheel cars and other small prizes. At our Christmas party we had two plastic wrap balls, a girl ball and a boy ball and the prizes in it were items our boys and girls typically enjoy.

To start the ball, use a 2- 3 inch rubber ball such as a bouncy ball.  You can also use a good sized bell or rattle that will make noise as kids get closer to the center of the ball.20151219_140852

Place a piece of candy or prize on the ball and wrap it up with the plastic.

Every few layers, use tape to seal up the recently wrapped layer as this will make the game a little more challenging.

Continued this process (adding prizes and wrapping with plastic wrap until it is the size of a soccer ball (minimum) or basketball (maximum).

I’ve heard this game  called the saranwrap-ball game, the tape ball game and money ball (this version uses only money).  But whatever you call it it all comes down to a fun party game that everyone can participate in.

Secrets for Hosting a Successful Family Reunion

3 keys to a successful reunion

3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion

Planning a family reunion can be a nightmare. But the good news is that you are not alone, we can do this together. I don’t know your specific situation but I can tell you that if you will follow these 3 important keys you will be on your way to having a successful family reunion. So let’s get to work- first key is…

Choose a permanent reunion date

This is the most important aspect of reunion planning- it’s not much of a reunion if no one can attend.

When we began planning the “Stewart” family reunion we were only working around about 20 people and it was fairly easy to find a date that was good for everyone, but now that we are more than 100 family members strong we would never be able to find a date that met everyone’s needs. Lucky for us, about 20 years ago we set Labor Day weekend as the permanent date for our family reunion.

We have found that holding the reunion at the same time every year helps family members plan their busy lives around that weekend. They always know when the Stewart reunion will be and although the location may change the date never does. Unbelievable but true- we usually have all but about 3 family members attend our reunion each year.

Plan a Reunion Date BEFORE You End Your Family Reunion

If you can’t choose a permanent date, plan your next reunion date before you end the reunion you are currently attending. Planning in advance will increase the odds that more people will be able to attend the reunion, which translates into more fun for everyone. If you book early, you can most likely get better rates and/or reserve your preferred hotel or retreat site, flights and other travel arrangements. Most campgrounds and parks can be booked a year in advance.

Last of all, stick to your decision. Changing dates in the middle of planning can create a huge amount of anxiety and additional work.

Key #2- Delegate Responsibilities!

People always wonder why we have such good attendance at our reunions and I tell them, “Because everyone has a job!” There is always someway that everyone can contribute to your reunion no matter what their age or their ability. You can assign a couple of pre-teen girls to do a story time or games for the younger children at your reunion, ask a 5 year old to bring a can of olives or assign someone that loves music to lead a sing- a- long.

It’s impossible to organize a reunion by yourself, I know, because I’ve tried it. Not only that, but it is good to have the input of different family members’ points of views. Family members that have a responsibility feel greater ownership in the reunion.


Make Assignments According to Abilities

Delegate tasks according to those with special talents, skills and connections. Our Uncle Ben owns a restaurant whose specialty is turkey steaks and quite often we have turkey steaks at our reunions or family parties. We have great Dutch oven cooks in our family and of course, we give them the opportunity to practice their skills. Use the resources that you have.

There are certain jobs at our reunions that have become tradition- for instance cousin R.D. and Uncle Richard always make the homemade root beer, Aunt Lynn is always in charge of Bunko and Uncle Steven always makes his Dutch oven potatoes.

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So how do you put all these people and their great ideas together? Let me tell you how we do it. There are six original children in the Stewart family; we call them the “Big 6”. We schedule a planning meeting and ask that there be a representative from each Big 6 family at the meeting. These people become your liaison from each branch of the family.

At the meeting we discuss our plans and make assignments, that way every family has a representative and if they have concerns they can be addressed at that meeting and each families’ fun ideas can be implemented. We ask for volunteers to be in charge of each major aspect of the reunion – food, family history, invitations, photography, games and activities, finances and facilities. The chairman of the committee, that’s me, takes the ideas and suggestions home and makes a master plan or schedule which is emailed to the committee members for their approval.

Reunion Committee

A reunion committee is essential to planning a smooth, successful family reunion. Be sure your chairman (if you’re reading this than the chairman is probably YOU) is creative, energetic and willing to put in the time and effort required to organize a reunion.

Planning a family reunion is a too big a job for one person, so make a checklist, get some help, put your entire family to work and let everyone share in the satisfaction of a job well done!

Choose a Theme For Your Family Reunion!

A theme gives your family get-together an added twist that can build excitement. Choosing a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend your reunion. Who wouldn’t want to attend a “Caveman” reunion where they can feed on “Brontosaurus” Burgers?

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Or Conjure up a Wild West atmosphere for your next family reunion or party by using the decorating ideas, wild and wooly western games, activities and recipes available at familyreunionhelper.com You’re sure to have a rootin’ tootin’ good time!

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If your family has ever dreamed of sailing the seven seas in search of excitement and adventure plan a pirate reunion where you feast on barbequed parrots, search for treasure and walk the plank.

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A theme also makes it more fun to plan when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion.

If you have a wedding anniversary or a significant birthday coming up in your family you could choose to celebrate around those special events. If your grandparents were married in the 50?s, plan a fifties reunion complete with poodle skirts and sodas. If Aunt Addie will be turning 70, celebrate with her by having a seventies party- make tie-dyed shirts and decorate with peace and flower power signs.

When You Were My Age

Just because it is a family reunion doesn?t mean the theme has to be centered on the family itself. Plenty of other party themes are perfect for a reunion. Plan a western, caveman, boot camp or other similar theme.

A few years ago my sister-in-law suggested that we have a caveman reunion and I was pretty nervous about it- caveman? How do we do a caveman reunion? But we all shared ideas at our planning meeting and guess what- our caveman reunion turned out to be one of our best family reunions ever.

Whatever theme you choose, design your decorations, food, activities and games around that theme. Your caveman theme might feature Brontosaurus burgers and a dinosaur egg hunt or a pirate theme might include Barbecued Parrot and a treasure hunt.

Planning a family reunion requires serious effort and thoughtful strategic planning but if will follow these 3 important keys you will be well on your way to a memorable and successful family reunion. And who knows- maybe they?ll want you to be in charge next year too.

Aunt MO

Whether the Weather

Predicting the weather for your next family reunion- yes, there is a tool to help!

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A couple of months ago I was directed to a website that promised to provide free long range weather forecasts to help with planning outdoor activities.  I was excited to think there was a website like this, because, if you’ve ever been in charge of an outdoor family reunion or gathering of some sort, you know the most difficult thing  to predict is the WEATHER! 

The http://www.weathertab.com/ website doesn’t guarantee that their information is 100 percent accurate but their research and science does give you a bit of an advantage when trying to choose a date for your family reunion and they do say that their forecasts “start where others stop”.

The weathertab site can show you the predicted weather for 1 day to 18 months in advance, it is always free and requires no subscription or registration.

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I put the weathertab site to the test when planning my husband’s 60th birthday party.  I choose to have his celebration a day earlier because there was only a 13% chance of rain on that day instead of his actual birthday when there was a 39% chance of rain.

I felt lucky when we had a wonderfully sunny,  no rain party on his special day.  I’m excited to use the site when planning next years family reunion. Check out http://www.weathertab.com/ when planning your reunion too and see if WeatherTAB’s  long range weather forecast can help you find a reunion day with a lower chance of rain too.

Mingle- a Hilarious Game for Large Groups

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This is perhaps the best large group game we’ve ever played.  It’s a great game for young and old and requires no advance preparation or props. 

To play “Mingle” have the  participants walk around in a predetermined large area.  When you yell “Mingle Mingle” and then a number from 2 to 10. The participants must get into groups of that size.  Anyone that doesn’t fit into a group is out and must stand on the sidelines until the game ends.  For instance if you yell out the number “10” everyone gets into groups of 10.  If you’re playing with 44 people that will leave 4 people without a group and they will be out of the game. 

Continue mingling and calling out numbers until only two remain.  Regroup and play again.

 

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