How Sweet It Is- Candy Bar Games

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

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

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

How Sweet It Is! Answer Key-1

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

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Answer Key

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

So Now What? Corona Virus and Your Family Reunion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handprint Quilt

An Idea  to be Treasured

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I had never heard of a handprint quilt until one of my piano students asked me to add my handprint to her quilt.  I love this idea and feel some regret for not creating a quilt for my own children when they were growing up.

My student’s quilt will include handprints from  people that have made a difference in her life.  I considered being asked to add my handprint an honor and it meant so much to me.

To collect my handprint, Kit and her Mom  brought a large ink pad to my house which we used to make my print.

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My print was added to my student’s book of handprints and will eventually  be part of her quilt of memories. 

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For many of you, the thought of creating a handprint quilt may seem overwhelming and way out  of  reach, but I  found  a resource that can help  with  that.  The quit  pictured below is from an Etsy shop called PrettyCraftybyLinda.  After collecting all of your handprints, Linda will create your quilt for around $300.00, depending  on the size of course.

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Making a handprint quilt could be a really wonderful part of your family reunion.  You could collect the handprints at one reunion and auction  the quilt off at the next reunion.  A quilt full of grandchildren’s handprints would be a wonderful anniversary gift for grandma and grandpa.  There are so  many options, but what it really comes down to is a quilt full of memories to be treasured.

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

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

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

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

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

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

AquaPod Bottle Launcher

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

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Rocket creative award

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Plastic Egg Moon Rock Hunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Space Camp Family Reunion

Name Badge Designing

My favorite part of planning a family reunion is designing the name badges, invitations, water bottle labels and anything else that gives me a chance to be creative.  I decided to create my name badge first and hopefully, in the  process, come up with some sort of logo for the entire reunion theme.

The challenge with  this name  badge is that I can’t use copywrited images. At some point I’ll add a Space Camp reunion theme to my store and  I can’t  do that if I use copywrited materials.  That means I can’t use anything NASA and  that really makes this space camp theme difficult.

I’ve been playing around with some ideas but haven’t settled on a favorite. Take a look at my rough drafts.

I like the simplicity of this name badge but  I’m not  sure it would  be  that exciting for  the  kids in  our family.  I don’t know if I like  the “Space Camp” logo on the top or the bottom of the  badge.

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Here’s an example of the logo at the  top with “space camp” on  the  planet- I really like that.

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This is my  attempt at adding an  astronaut to the  badge- since we’ll be “astronauts in training”. Just not sure I have the “right” astronaut.

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I don’t think I’ve nailed down the right  name badge yet.  If you have  a  comment or a suggestion, let me know. 

Where, Oh, Where?

Choosing a family reunion location

One of  the most difficult things about finding a family reunion is finding a location.  If your family holds reunions at a hotel or on a cruise ship the process is pretty easy- just do an  online search, but if you’re looking for someplace different, and perhaps cheaper, the task gets a little more daunting. The BIG challenge is finding a place large enough when you have a BIG family.

On one side of our family, we need to accommodate about 35 family members.  We love holding our reunions in Bear Lake, Utah.  It’s pretty easy to find a cabin that will accommodate 35, but as our family grows it will get more difficult.

Reunion locations for large family groups

My daughter has married into a family that plans for reunions of about 200  people. Many of them come from all across the country, many flying to the reunion.  There are locations that cater to these large groups but the cost gets pretty high.  This family has a lot of experience planning for these large reunions and they have a couple of great ideas for keeping costs as low as possible.  Their reunion is held every other year and they schedule their reunion during the middle of the week when rates are cheapest.  My daughter has been surprised at all the people that show up for these reunions considering that most have to take off work to be there.

This is Blacks Fork River Lodge in  Wyoming.  It’s a beautiful location that can accommodate large family groups.

 

Blacks Fork River Lodge

 

Blacks Fork River Lodge is ideal for Family Reunions, Corporate Retreats, or any large group use, situated on 51-plus acres including a ½ mile of the beautiful Blacks Fork River. The lodge is located in Bridger Valley, Wyoming, less than 2 hours drive from Salt Lake City, Utah. The main lodge is a three-story 5,400-plus square foot lodge with 9 bedrooms, 8 baths, large kitchen, living, and dining rooms, oversized back deck, all with beautiful river views. The Lodge rental sleeps 50 with cabin and ranch house included. There is also a 3 bedroom ranch house and a 2 bedroom cabin.

https://blacksforkriverlodge.com/

The May Family Ranch in Idaho is an ideal location for your family reunion, retreat, camping, hunting or fishing trip. They can easily accommodate from 1 to 200 persons. We are in one of the premier recreational and hunting/fishing areas in Idaho. The mountains surrounding us have numerous hiking, biking, &ATV trails.

The Ranch is open year-round and they offer a variety of accommodations. The Lodge sleeps 28 and the Miners’ Cabin sleeps 14. Both are both self-contained units. They have 8-person family cabins, private loft rooms, a bunkhouse that sleeps 26, private rooms with baths, as well as many tent spaces and RV hookups. http://www.mayfamilyranch.com/

Roughing it is fun!

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The Stewart side of our family has grown to over 100 members.  We ALWAYS spend our reunions at a campground. This year we will be camping in Mantua, Utah.  For our large family we reserve two group area and may soon need to increase that to three. For our reunions we need a location for both RVs and tents.

Our Favorite Family Reunion Location- Elwood Utah

We have the greatest little reunion site It’s called Hansen Park in Elwood Utah.  It has a huge covered bowery with a kitchen, a fire pit, restrooms and even a baseball diamond and small basketball court.

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Someone must have told the good people of Elwood what a treasure they have because they have now made it as difficult as possible to reserve the park and our family has just given up trying to get it- but if you can find a friend that lives in Elwood they may just be able to help you out.

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RV Camping

If your family loves RV’ing, there’s a new online resource for finding your perfect campground.  As an avid RV’er, Mark McKinney, used to get quite frustrated with how slow and laggy many of the existing RV & campsite websites were, so he decided to create the website that he wished existed. His website is https://www.findrvparks.com.  The site is great for finding a family reunion campground.  I searched for the Mantua, Utah campground we’ll be staying in this summer and sure enough, there it was. 

If you have an RV, this site is perfect for you.  You can use the filters on the site to search for electric, water, waste and whether or not pets are allowed. You can also search for RV campgrounds that have Wi-Fi and laundry. 

Mark even wants you to contribute to his collection of reviews and photos for your favorite RV Parks by submitting photos and experiences of your favorite campgrounds.

Space Camping

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I’m glad we’ve locked down the reunion site for our Space themed reunion this year- now I just have to turn it into the “moon”  or perhaps “NASA”.  That’s one of many decisions I haven’t made yet.

Out of This World Family Reunion

Coming in 2020

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My family is in  charge of our Stewart family reunion this year.  It’s been 5 years since my family has had this responsibility.  (The Stewarts rotate each year and now it’s rotated back to us!) I’m excited to take our turn again but already a little tired and yes, I’ve started planning.

I had an idea… how would you like to  follow us along as  we plan this new reunion.  Check out our progress and maybe find a few good ideas for your reunion too.

The very first thing we did was choose a theme and the theme for this reunion is TA DA- Our Family is Out of This World, a space theme.  We felt that a space theme would go along with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Also; three family members worked on the Space Shuttle, when there was a Space Shuttle program, including the patriarch of our family. Besides the picture below, we also have a photo of Grandpa with an astronaut that  we  will enlarge  for display at the reunion.

A DeLoy Stewart Machinist Thiokol (2)

We already have the date for our reunion, Labor Day, and the  location, a campground and we’ve told everyone to “save the date” so now it’s time to start gathering ideas. 

I like to keep a  file of all my ideas and a great way to do that is on  Pinterest.  I  created a Space board and add every good idea I find to that board. I like to get as many quality ideas as I can for the next couple of months and then we’ll choose our favorite ideas and start putting together  a schedule.

Take a look at these fun ideas:

This solar system necklace is so cool.  It  would be a great idea for an ice breaker activity as family members arrive or for some down time on a hot afternoon.  The idea comes from https://www.handmadecharlotte.com/make-a-stellar-solar-system-necklace/

Make a Stellar Solar System Necklace

We also need to turn our name badges into “astronaut in training” badges.

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I thought these signs would look cool on the bathroom doors. They’re from catchmyparty.com.

Family members have asked if we can do a murder mystery (I’ve written several for our reunions and they’re lots of fun) and a talent show, two activities I need to get to work on so I don’t have that last minute cram the month before our reunion. (I really don’t like that)

I hope you’ll check back often and see how the planning is going.  I’ll keep posting our planning and progress and hey, if you have a fun “space” idea, let me know!

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.

NOTE: 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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5 Things Reunion Planners Should Stop Doing-Now!

Stop Sending Invitations Through  Snail  Mail

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For more than a century, the mailbox and the rotary dial phone were how we communicated.  But times have changed, we no longer have eight track tapes, floppy disks,  typewriters and . no one is using shorthand.  Family reunion planners should embrace the advances in technology when sending invitations and keeping  in  touch with family members.

I’m all for sending thank you cards, Christmas and birthday cards and wedding announcements by sail mail but when it comes  to family reunion invitations and flyers using email and texts just makes sense.

First off, consider the cost, at almost 50 cents for a stamp, the cost of mailing every family an invitation adds up quickly, especially if you have a large family.  Also factor in the cost of paper and ink to  print it on  or the cost  of taking your  invitations to a print  shop  to have them professionally printed.  You also need to figure in  the labor involved, sorting, stapling ,folding and putting  your  invitations into envelopes.

A reunion  planner can sit at her computer, compose a quick message, or create a beautiful custom invitation and send it off to the entire reunion family in a matter of seconds. No stamp is required, no trip to the  post office,  and no time is taken to physically fold, staple and lick. Just send it out and your whole family can be reading  it in a matter of minutes.

Our family has enjoyed sharing our family news and information on our family Facebook page and I know some families that have created their own family websites.  Both are convenient, instant and inexpensive ways to keep in touch.

However email isn’t perfect, Grandma and Grandpa and great Aunts and Uncles may still need a  physical invitation that arrives in their mailbox but using the latest technology is a great tool for reunion planners. 

Stop trying to do everything yourself

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This one is huge.  As a reunion planner you have enough to do without  worrying about every detail of your reunion.  Form a committee and give out assignments or if working solo, make a list of activities and give out assignments.  A simple way to make assignments is by family group.

There are 6 children in my husband’s family.  They are all over 60 years old now and have adult children of their own.  For most reunions, each family group receives an assignment to do an activity and plan and cook a meal.  When my family is given an assignment my children help with the planning and implementing of that assignment.

The theme of our last reunion was, “Game On”.  Every family group  was in charge of a JUMBO sized family game.  Our game was one of 6 games we played at the reunion and one of 6 activities the reunion planner didn’t have to worry about.

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Many years ago, we planned a “Cruise” themed reunion.  Each of the family groups choose a port of call and planned activities and a meal that represented the culture of that port.  Because there was six families, we sailed to six countries including Mexico, Alaska, Africa and Paris, France.

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 Stop spending your own money

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No matter how much you love each other, it still costs money to hold a family reunion.
You may charge reunion goers a fee for attending their reunion or you may ask them to donate food or other supplies but if you are a reunion planner I guarantee that you are spending your own money (Probably more than you think) to make your reunion  successful. 

For many families, putting someone (or a committee) over managing the money is a huge help.  This person should be  responsible  for all things money including any fund raising that takes  place.

Our family does a family auction to help with reunion expenses.  The responsibility for the auction including encouraging family members to bring donations  to  be auctioned  off  is up to  our reunion financial  guru.  She keeps track of all winning  bids and  collects the money.  She  also deposits the cash in  our family reunion bank account and  pays all the  bills. It’s one last thing the reunion planner needs to worry about.

Every reunion organizer needs a notebook to  record every purchase they make for the reunion. Glue an envelope in the back of your notebook for keeping receipts and at the completion of your reunion, review your purchases and submit your receipts to the money manager. 

Keep in mind that the purchases you make are made with  precious funds and  take care to spend wisely but if there doesn’t seem to be enough funds for one  of your activities unless you pay for it then it’s  time  to cut it from  the list. 

Stop worrying About Those that don’t attend the Reunion

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When you’re the  one  that  has  worked so  hard to plan  and implement  a reunion  it’s pretty hard to not take it  personally when someone tells you they can’t  attend.

Over the last 40 years of family reunions I have heard  some   pretty ridiculous reasons /excuses that someone can’t attend a family reunion but I’ve also learned that if someone doesn’t want  to come to the  reunion they’re just  not  going to come, no matter what you say  or do to change  their mind.  The reason they give you for not attending may have nothing to do with the  real reason  they’re not coming.

Focus instead on all  the wonderful people that come to the  reunion- cousin  Toby that planned his wedding so that his  anniversary would never  fall on the reunion weekend and Aunt Jean and Uncle Mack who save their work vacation every year so that they can attend.  Those are the people that need your attention and perhaps you’ll see some of the non-attenders next year when they hear how much fun everyone had at the reunion  they missed.

To encourage attendance at the next reunion, send out a nice,  personalized email or text to those that didn’t attend letting them know that they were missed.

have very strong memories of being around my extended family while I was growing up. It was so meaningful to the older generation to sit around talking and spending time together. Seeing someone’s child, the extension of your family play and run with other family members was a joyful and celebrating occasion.

There was a time when people felt such a connection to their family that even though they may have moved to another city or state, they still longed for home.

In past years, when I attended family reunions we end up divided into groups of people that we associate with on a regular basis anyway, and never get to know distant cousins and other relatives who have traveled great distances to be here, so what’s the point?

11. (Enter name) will be there and I refuse to be in the same room, let alone city with that..

I can’t justify spending (enter amount) dollars to travel across the country to spend time with people I will not see or hear from again until the next family reunion.

To have a strong family, we have to be a strong family member. We can’t sit back and say what someone else isn’t doing when we aren’t doing those very things ou

reunions can be an opportunity to solidify or even create important boundaries that have been ignored or neglected in the past. One way to do that in advance is to remind a spouse, sibling, in-law or parent if you’ve told them something you want kept private from other family members.  Another is to set ground rules with your spouse about maintaining a united front in discussions about your marriage, child-raising, financial status, or any sensitive topics that are just between the two of you.

They may come next year when  they hear how much everyone else had.

Don’t Reinvent the wheel

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We live in an age when everyone is sharing their expertise and experiences on the internet. 

AmazingReunion.com is a simple free online service helping people plan their next family reunion. They can help with registration, hotel reservations and collecting fees.

Familyreunionhelper.com is a website that offers reunion theme packages that are packed full of reunion ideas- activities, games, recipes, printables and templates that take a lot of the “planning” out of reunion planning.

Glean from  the experiences of others when organizing your reunion.  Talk with friends and work associates,  find out what their favorite family reunions are. The  experiences of others is a great jumping  off  point for creating the  perfect reunion for your family. 

Planning a family reunion is a huge responsibility for reunion planners but as you work through the reunion process keep in mind the reason you’re having a reunion.  Don’t wait for a funeral to get together, plan a reunion where your family and  play and have fun together. The work you do will assure  that children will get to know their distant cousins and is a way for families to reconnect with their roots and find a sense of belonging.