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

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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.

Fun Party Games for Your Family Reunion

Are you looking for a fun game for your family party or reunion? Here’s a few fun  party games that also work well for  family reunions.  These games  work well for most ages  and abilities.

Paddle Ball Contest

I bought a dozen paddle balls, for under $10.00) from Oriental Trading (http://www.orientaltrading.com) so that we could have 12 people compete at a time. Everyone needs a partner so count off in twos. One person will compete, the other will count. I suggest coming up with some rules, for example, competitors must hit the ball down not up, they must not touch the elastic or the ball.

Give everyone a 1 minute “warm up” to practice and develop their technique. Time for 1 minute and award medals to those that hit the ball the most times.  Then reverse and let the counter have a chance with the paddle.

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Feeding Frenzy Pudding Game

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You will need one single serving of pudding for each participant. Teams of two sit one behind each other. The person behind puts their arms underneath the person in front. (See pictures) The person behind must feed the person in front the pudding. First team done is the winner of that round. Teams then reverse and the person that was in front now sits behind and its their turn to “get even”!

Spray Bottle Relay

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Set a garbage can 12′ from the foul line and place container of balloons behind the foul line. When the clock starts, player may toss balloon in the air from behind the foul line and attempt to direct it into the trash can using only the spray bottle. If the balloon hits the ground, the spray bottle, or any part of the player’s body, it’s void. A player may reuse an old balloon or use a new balloon to make a new attempt from behind the foul line. To complete the game, player must move 1 balloon through the air and into the trash can using only the water from the spray bottle within the 60-second time limit.

Pool-ategories!

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This game is as fun to watch as it is to play. First, chose a leader to be the “caller”. After you have chosen the caller, they will think of a category (colors, animals, ice cream flavors, etc).  People will line up at the diving board. One person will jump off the diving board and the caller will say a category as soon as they leave the diving board. The person who jumps off has to name something in the category before they hit the water. If he or she does, they return to the line. If they do not, they are out. Then the next person in line goes.  The last person in the game is the caller for the next round.

Balloon Stomp

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I think this is Uncle Scott’s favorite party game and it really does work well with a large group of people.

An area of your family reunion site is cordoned off or you could use an inside area. Participants tie a balloon to each ankle. On a whistle all the contestants have to try to stomp on each other’s balloons and pop them. If both of your balloons are popped you are out. The winner is the last one with a un-popped balloon on their leg.

5 Dollars Off Any $19.95 Reunion Theme Package

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Had the pleasure of stopping by the Mower family reunion today. It was so fun to see everyone visiting, enjoying yummy food and kids playing on the toys. Seeing them having such a good time made me excited for family reunion season. Can’t wait to get together with our extended family!

To get the reunion season started off right, family reunion helper is offering 5.00 off any of their $19.95 reunion theme packages. Circus, Caveman, Heritage, All-sport, Western or any of our fun reunion themes.

Just enter the code "reunion2013" at check out. This offer expires at midnight, May 27th 2013, Memorial Day- the start of family reunion season!

Have a Circus and Carnival Family Reunion

 

Ladies & Gentlemen,
Children of all Ages…
Family Reunion Helper
is proud to present…
A Circus and Carnival family reunion!

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No need to run off and join the circus- you’re family will have more fun than they ever imagined when you create a Circus-themed family reunion!

Circus Parade

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Begin your family reunion with a circus parade. Ask everyone to dress up as clowns, wild animals, popcorn venders or circus performers. Decorate bikes, strollers and wheelchairs and give prizes for the most creative and unusual costumes. You might want to have a few extra crazy wigs, wacky bow ties and plastic noses for those that forget their costume.

Carnival Booths

My favorite thing about a circus themed family reunion is that it is so easy to make assignments.  Assign individual families a game booth for your carnival. They can be responsible for the game and prizes for their booth.

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Circus Acts

Assign family members a circus act (silly and creative acts are the best) and don’t forget a ringmaster to keep things lively.

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Face Painting

Get the teenagers in your family involved by asking them to be in charge of a face painting booth.  Kids love to have fun with their favorite animated characters and cartoon idols. Face painting is popular but you will need more than one painter to accommodate all the children that want their faces painted at your circus reunion.

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Circus Party Games and Activities

You can find lots of fun circus party and and game activities in familyreunionhelper.com’s reunion theme package.  Consider a game of “Clown Softball”.  It’s a mixed up and silly way to play softball that will get team members and spectators laughing.

Or how about a “Big Top” parachute?  Parachutes are so fun and can add to your circus theme if you call it the “Circus Big Top”. The best thing about a parachute is that up to 25-30 people can be kept busy and that there are no actual winners and losers in the games.

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It’s important to include activities for family members that don’t want to be as physical as the younger set. Pass out copies of the “How Well Do You Know the Circus?” Quiz and give a box of animal crackers to the person that gets the highest score.  Test your circus knowledge with this sample question  from the quiz.

1. About how long is the RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY train?

a. 1 mile

b. 21 cars

c. 1.5 miles

The answer- A, 1 mile.

You can find a copy of the quiz as well as lots of fun activities at familyreunionhelper.com. They are included in the Circus themed reunion.

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If you’re looking for a family reunion that gives your family a chance to clown around then a “Circus” theme is the one for you.

Thanks to the Banner family for many of the photos posted in this blog.  You can certainly tell that they are a supportive and fun family.  Organizer of the Banner reunion was the Ric and Jill Crowther family.

New and Improved Circus Family Reunion or Party

Ladies & Gentlemen,
Children of all Ages…
Family Reunion Helper
is proud to present…
A Circus and Carnival family reunion!

Not everything is new about familyreunionhelper’s “Circus” reunion but we’ve made some changes that we think you’ll love. 

Circus Invitations

Our new fill in the blank Circus invitations are so fun.  Just print on cardstock, fill in the blanks and mail to family and friends. There are two styles to choose from and a “save the date” card.

Circus Water Bottle Labels

The Circus family now includes circus themed water bottle labels that come in three fun styles and circus bag toppers that can be stapled to bags of popcorn, animal crackers or cotton candy.

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Although we’ve included some fun circus printables to our circus theme we’ve kept the tried and true games and activities that we know your family will love.

If you’re looking for a family reunion that gives your family a chance to clown around then a “Circus” theme is the one for you.

Circus Family Reunion

Circus Reunion

New and Improved Campfire Songbook

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Campfire Songbook

After months of hard work the familyreunionhelper.com new and improved "Campfire Songbook" revision is ready to go! The book is FREE to familyreunionhelper.com subscribers. FREE Campfire Songbook link

The revised addition is in landscape format and includes cute graphics from scrappindoodles.com.

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HINT: Give family members a link to the songbook and ask them to print their own songbook to bring to your family reunion or sing a long.

HINT: Set your printer to print – front to back.

HINT: Laminate the outside cover of your songbooks so they can be used for many sing a longs to  come.

Guitar Tabs for Traditional Songs

Also included in this new songbook are a few pages of songs with guitar chords.  Experienced guitar players can easily pick out  the chording to a song but for me, having the chords written down is huge help.

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Already a subscriber but would like a copy of the new Campfire Songbook? Send Aunt Mo an email and she’ll make sure you get a copy of the updated songbook. Email Aunt MO

Planning a Family Reunion Checklist

12 Months prior

(Make these decisions before leaving your reunion) Planning in advance will increase the odds that more people will be able to attend the reunion, which translates into more fun for everyone. By booking early, you can most likely secure 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.

  • Set date
    • The best of all situations is to hold your family reunion at the same time every year. Choose a holiday such as Memorial Day or Labor Day or a weekend such as the third weekend in August etc. Finally, stick to your decision. Changing dates mid-stream can create a huge amount of additional work.

  • Choose location
    • Aim for a family reunion location that is most accessible and affordable to the majority of people you want to attend. If family members are located in one area, then select a reunion location that’s nearby. If everyone is scattered, then choose a central location to help cut down on travel expenses. Most locations will need to be reserved a year in advance, campgrounds, hotels and conference centers, cruises, condos, resorts and parks etc.
    • If possible arrange an on site inspection of your family reunion site. You will be able to check out your reunion site amenities and recognize challenges you may need to plan around. At a campground or park, check for fire pits, covered bowery or picnic tables and benches. If your site is a hotel or condo you will be able to assess for yourself banquet facilities, room amenities, meeting room sizes and cleanliness of the location.
    • Contact local hotels and reserve blocks of rooms for out of town visitors

  • Choose a reunion theme
    • Creating a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend. It also makes things more fun when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion. Family history themes are especially popular, as are family reunions which celebrate a very special family member’s birthday or anniversary, or the family’s cultural heritage.
  • Compile a list of family members and update mailing and email lists
    • A clipboard with a list of family names can be passed around during the family reunion. Family members can make corrections and add new emails and address to the list. Be sure and assign a family member to be in charge of this list.

9 months Prior

  • Make final reservations–remember that some family members will have to cancel, and others may decide to show up at the last minute.
  • Schedule events and activities that require advance registration or booking
  • Make contact with family members by email to keep them up to date on family reunion plans. Encourage email contacts to help spread the word.

6 Months Prior

  • Have planning meeting either on phone or in person with committee chairmen/ make assignments
    • Send “save the date” cards or emails- include cost per person or family and what is included in the ticket price, if you are charging admission fees. Inform of any fundraising activities you will be having- such as a family auctions so that family members can be preparing items for donation.
    • Confirm reservations
    • Make final decisions

3 Months Prior

  • Make special assignments such as activities and games , so volunteers have time to prepare and purchase supplies for their assignment
  • Order souvenirs, T-shirts etc.

2 Months Prior

  • Send detailed schedule and assignments
    • Directions on how to get to the family reunion site.
    • Date, time, and location of the reunion.
    • Remind family members to bring their fund raising donations
    • Remind family members of assignments
  • Gave a confirmation call to caters, photographers etc.
  • Start purchasing non-perishable items: dry goods, decorations, supplies, etc. Watch for sales to get the best prices.

1 Month Prior

  • Review final details with family reunion committee
  • Confirm with relatives who are bringing food or other supplies.
  • Contact restaurants or caterers with a final guest count if necessary.
  • Order any products or supplies that must be delivered to assure timely delivery.

Week Before

  • Get chairs, tables, grills and other items
  • Buy last-minute decorations and supplies and perishable items
  • Make final preparations such as signs and welcome banners.

Day Of Family Reunion

  • Set up and decorate family reunion site
  • Post flyers with family reunion schedule for family to reference
  • Welcome family members as they arrive at your family reunion

Click here to download a PDF version of the family reunion checklist

3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion

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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.

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.

Delegate!

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.

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.

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.

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!

Select a Theme!

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? 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.

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

Click here to download a PDF version of the 3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion