The Family Reunion Planner’s Shopping List

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10 things every family reunion planner needs in her arsenal

Here’s my list of top ten tools I need to pull off a family reunion:

 

1. Divider Sticky Notes 60 Ruled Notes- I am an organization freak and these are perfect for keeping everything organized. They are like regular sticky notes but they have a tab that makes everything easier to find. They are very helpful when  organizing your registration binder. You can find them at Amazon following the  link below.

2. Tape- every size and every type.  Be sure and include Duct tape.

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3. Jumbo paper clips– It seems that every time I try to clip together a group of paper they get all messed up. The clips come off and I end up with a bigger mess than if I had just stacked them .  I found these jumbo paper clips a couple of years ago and I use them for everything.  They may seem  pricey but after you’ve used them I think you’ll agree with me- it’s a screaming deal!

4. Ziploc bags– These bags go a long way to keeping me organized and I’m not talking about food.  I use Ziploc bags to keep office supplies, game pieces, personal grooming supplies and a host of other items grouped together.   For me, they have to be the bags with  the zipper that slides across the top- they are faster to close and I know for sure that they are sealed. I like to put groups of items such as pencils and markers in smaller quart size bags and use gallon sized bags for larger items such as props for a game, items for a costume or all the tape variations I’ve collected.

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5. Sharpie markers– more than one.  I usually keep at least one Sharpie in my  pocket at all times during a family reunion.  A Sharpie for me and one or two to loan out.

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6. A Laminator– I was so surprised to learn that I could buy a laminator for less than $20.00 and although they are  pretty slow I  love not gathering up all my signs, name tags and table toppers to take to the copy store for laminating . With this inexpensive laminator you can laminate documents up to 9 inches wide and it warms up and is ready to use in about 5 minutes. I still take my large jobs to the copy store but there are so many times I need to laminate a few items and this product has really saved me tons of time and trips to the store.   Don’t forget the laminating pouches also available at Amazon.

7. Cell phone– You might think that’s a  pretty obvious choice but when it comes to planning a family reunion it a cellphone is the perfect place to store your lists. Just a take a  photo of the agreement for the  rental site and you’ve got it at your fingertips when you need to show your reservation.  Take a photo of your t-shirt order, family list, agenda and rules and instructions and you won’t have to run off to grab your files- they’ll be  right there in the  palm of your  hand. (Not to mention all the phone numbers you’ll have handy)

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8. Storage containers– I usually use Rubbermaid containers but paper boxes will work as well.  I use one box or container for each day and time period.  For instance- Saturday morning, Saturday evening and Saturday morning. As I prepare and pack for the reunion Ii I put everything I need for that time period  in its  box.    At the reunion location I organize the containers according to the day and time when their contents will be needed.  This saves me from having to dig through a jumble of boxes and bags.

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9. Camera– I need my own personal  camera, preferably one that fits in my pocket. (If your phone takes good pictures that may be all you need.)  I don’t like to rely on others to take pictures of the reunion so I like to have my own  camera to take pictures whenever or wherever I want.  I like to document many aspects of the reunion for my blogs and reunion theme packages and with my personal camera I’m sure  to get just the shot I’m  looking for.

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10. Emergency items– I’m talking about “fun” emergencies.  If you have the following items you always have a fun game or activity if something doesn’t go quite right or if you  have time to fill:  A ball, 2 large dice and a deck of cards.

I prefer a playground ball that you can kick, jumbo dice and a regular deck of  playing cards.  You might also want  to include sidewalk chalk, colored markers, Frisbees and a rope for group jumping games.

PSYCH! A Multiplayer Game For Your Phone and… Your Family Reunion

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I recently attended my nieces wedding,  luncheon and reception. Everything was beautiful and I loved being part of the festivities but like most weddings and such there is a lot of downtime for those of us who are basically spectators.  During one of these downtimes my brother introduced us to  a fun  game you can  play on your phone that involves everyone.

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The name of the game is Psych!  Choose from a variety of fun categories in which each player makes up fake answers to real trivia questions.

According to the games own  description-  the idea behind the game is to get together with a bunch of friends and answer ridiculous trivia questions. The catch is, the multiple choices you’re given include the correct answer as well as a bunch of incorrect answers which are provided by the other players. So, say for instance the question popped up of “Who is the Editor in Chief of TouchArcade?” “Eli Hodapp” would be in there somewhere, along with whatever else anyone playing decides to toss into the mix as possible answers.

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Anyone who knows me will understand that, after playing a few rounds of Pysch! with  my family, my “reunion” brain kicked into gear and I immediately began to think of ways to use the game at a family reunion.

Can you imagine how excited the teenagers in  your family would be if you asked them  to get their cellphones for a game they would be playing. Psych! is a clever way to get family members that just  can’t seem set their cellphones  down to join in  a game or activity to participate with the group.

Psych! is also a pretty fun  way  to get to know family members that you see only once a year at the  family reunion.  Some of the  game options give you a real opportunity to see into your cousin’s psyche.

“PSYCH!” is the perfect app for game night, road trips, or even waiting in line. So grab your phones, gather ‘round, and get ready for a gaming experience unlike anything you’ve ever tried!

NOTE:There’s in-game ads as well, which can be removed for $2.99. If you’re just downloading the game to play with a friend (who might have bought a ton of stuff in-game), it’s totally free.

Mafia Themed Activities for Your Family Reunion or Party

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Let us make you an offer you can’t refuse-

When it was first suggested that we use “Mafia” as our theme for the Stewart family reunion I was a little apprehensive but after three days of Mafia activities over Labor Day I’ve decided that “Mafia” is just another word for “Family”. Family can also be friends, and so a Mafia theme for a reunion or party is a great idea. Included in this party pack are invitations and activities for a party or reunion for either your friends or your family.

You will have fun creating Mafia names for your guests using the list of names and name tags included in this party theme package.

Guests can also fill out an application to join the Mafia using the “Complete Mafia Dictionary” to decipher Mafia lingo.

Test your Mafia IQ to see if you should be “The Boss” or “Knuckles”.

If you are having an indoor party consider playing the party game, “Mafia”. The game of Mafia is all about the power of bluffing and knowing when other people are bluffing themselves. You can be a member of the Mafia, a towns person, the FBI or the Moderator in this elimination and guessing game. You will vote out other players and try to avoid being murdered in the middle of the night by the Mafia!

If you planning an outside party play “Steal the Flag” using marshmallow shooters. Instructions for making custom shooters are included.

Mafia Party

Printables include invitations, The “Complete Mafia Dictionary”, Mafia Application, Mafia funny money, Mafia IQ test, water bottle labels, Mafia name tags and playing cards for the game, Mafia.

Cosa Nostran (This thing is ours!)

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Mafia Party

Superhero Reunion Theme

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Family Reunion Helper proudly announces the completion of their latest family reunion  theme- Superhero!

Now you can bring all the action-packed adventure and excitement of your favorite superheroes to your family reunion!

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A superhero reunion will appeal to family members of all ages. Superheroes have unique skills, wear awesome costumes and save the world on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.

A superhero family reunion lends itself to action-packed games, superhero training and fun activities.

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This reunion theme package includes a fun printable reunion invitation, secret super power cards, water bottle labels, superhero training cards, “what’s my super power?” activity, Kapow!, Boom! and Zap! signs and fun printables for napkin rings and table decorations.

Our superhero reunion is jam packed with more than 35 pages of ideas for many of your favorite superheroes: Batman, Spider-man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Iron-man, Flash, Hawk-eye and even Aqua-man.

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With the Superhero reunion theme your family will want to save helpless citizens, fight the forces of darkness and defeat the evil villains. Plan a superhero reunion and let your families’ powers shine. Whether they’re saving the planet or saving your family, a superhero family reunion or party will be a memorable reunion for anyone who has ever yearned to make right what’s wrong in the world.

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You can find the superhero reunion theme at Family Reunion Helper.com and by clicking on the link below.

Super Hero Family Reunion

The Ultimate Guide For Choosing a Family Reunion Theme

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Excite family members by using a reunion theme!

Are you looking for a way to excite family members and stir up interest about your next family reunion? Choosing a reunion theme is a great way to build excitement for upcoming and make it more likely family members will want to attend. clip_image004

A reunion invitation that invites you to a “Prehistoric” reunion for Brontosaurs burgers and a dinosaur egg hunt is more interesting than an invitation that invites you to a family reunion at “the park” for hamburgers.

A reunion theme helps to drive your reunion and with a little imagination food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion becomes a memorable event.

 

clip_image006Themes are inexpensive to implement and can inspire the creative side of many members in your family. Ask for their theme ideas, brainstorm and see what they come up with. Our best family reunion themes have come from brainstorming about themes. When a “Caveman”, Mafia and Oz theme were suggested in one of our brainstorming sessions I was kind of worried about what we would do but those themes are some of our favorites and have left us with some amazing reunion memories. Below are just a few family reunion themes that you may want to consider for your next family event.

All- Sport or Olympic Themed Reunion

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Get away from a boring sit around and just visit family reunion and jump into some action-packed fun with an All-sport or Olympic themed family reunion.

Activities- Soccer, volleyball, “whiffle” ball, Whacky miniature golf. Hold a cheerleader camp for the girls in your family and a sports camp for the boys. Go bowling or hold a family 5K. Give a family reunion MVP award.  For fun variations of these favorite sports- whiffle ball, soccer, bowling, swimming and volleyball plus lots of great ideas for your sports themed reunion.

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Food- Smoothies, “Breakfast of Champions” or “Long Jump” lunch hoagies.

Wear– Favorite team jerseys and t-shirt. Make a family t-shirt fashioned after a sports jersey.

Decorations: Pom, poms, pennants, sports balls, sports posters and plastic tablecloths.

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Olympic Reunion
Family History or Family Heritage Reunion

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If your family reunion is held near where the family originated, then schedule a trip to the old family homestead, church or cemetery. You can use this as an opportunity to share family memories, or go a step further and recruit the clan to clean up the ancestral cemetery plots or research the family in old church records. Hold your reunion at the family home if available or in the town where one of your ancestors were born, raised, married or buried. You can find more Family History ideas for your family reunion at wwwfamilyreunionhelper.com.

Food – Use an ancestor’s home country as theme for your meals. Use recipes from that county and set tables with a centerpiece of memorabilia and a picture of your ancestor. If your people come from Italy, serve a spaghetti dinner, from Mexico, serve tacos, enchiladas or tamales. Box lunches are a fun idea to share an old-time tradition.

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At our Family Heritage reunion, the girls in the family designed and decorated shoe boxes at home. We provided sandwich fixin’s, individual chip packages, fruit snacks and drink boxes along with cookies for dessert. The girls made lunches for two and put them in their box. We gave each box a number and the guys in the family each drew a number out of hat to determine which lunch they got to eat and which girl they ate lunch with. In a few instances, we had more girls than guys and so doubled up.

Activities – Play “classic” games at your reunion such as “3-legged race, gunny sack race, Annie I Over. Create a huge wall chart of your family so everyone can see how they are related. Take “old-time” photos and have everyone dress up. Make a family “time capsule”.

Dress – In the ethnic costume of your ancestors.

Ancestor Coloring Book- Making a heritage-coloring book about one of your ancestors is clip_image022a monumental task but it’s a wonderful way to make family history come alive for the little ones in your family. If you have an artist in the family, then designing a coloring book will be much easier for you. If you don’t have a talented artist in the family a great resource is http://store.doverpublications.com/by- subject-coloring-books.html.

 Family Heritage Reunion

Sun, Sand and Surf Reunion Theme

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If your reunion is in the summertime then it’s the perfect time for a Sun, Sand & Surf family reunion theme. Merge your beach reunion ideas with your Hawaiian reunion ideas for double the fun.

Invitations: Consider sending “Message in a Bottle” invitations to encourage family members to attend your family reunion or write out your reunion invitation on a beach ball with a permanent marker.

Activities: Sand candles and castles, sand art, volleyball variations and swimming pool games.

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Aquatic Obstacle Course: Use sprinklers, Slip-N-Slides, baby pools, limbo sticks and hula hoops to create an obstacle course for wet and wild reunion fun!

Food: Sub sandwiches, fruit trays, shish kabobs, fruit kabobs, gold fish crackers.

Decorations are easy for a beach themed family reunion. Use beach umbrellas, Beach towels, Beach balls, Paper party lanterns, Paper Palm trees and party lights on a string. travel posters, flowers, straw skirt table. Don’t forget to use pink flamingos in your decorating and be sure to include music from the Beach Boys to round out your reunion theme.

Beach Reunion

Wedding Anniversary or Significant Birthday Family Reunion Theme

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Planning a family reunion around an important wedding anniversary or milestone birthday makes for an easy but memorable family reunion.

Invitation – Put two photos of the honored couple on the invitation: their original wedding photo and a current photo.

Food – Finger foods and a “wedding” cake.

Activities- “When You Were My Age” A Celebration of Life’s Memorable Moments. This is such a fun program, fashioned after a Bill Cosby Show episode and was called, “When Mom Was my Age.” We have done variations of the program for 70th and 80th birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries. Each time we do “When You Were My Age” everyone is a good sport and excited to be a part of the celebration. Everyone has a part on the program and an opportunity to highlight world events and significant family happenings throughout the life of your loved one. Download the “When You Were My Age” from Family Reunion Helper or write a “This Is Your Life” program for your reunion celebration.

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Decorations –Photos and other various memorabilia of the couple’s life together.

When You Were My Age

Three Ring Circus and Carnival Reunion Theme

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Begin your reunion with a circus parade and invite everyone to dress in fun costumes and march around your reunion site.

Food –Circus food- corn dogs, cotton candy and popcorn.

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Activities – As your family arrives, have then guess how many circus animal cookies or peanuts are in a jar. The person who guesses closest to the actual number wins the jar full of treats. Have a carnival. Assign 6- 10 family members a carnival booth. Children earn prizes at each booth. Face painting, fishing booth, fortune teller, Plinko, Dart Throw etc. Consider renting a bounce house for the little ones in your family. For more ideas check out the family reunion “circus” theme at www.familyreunionhelpercom/

Decorations – Balloons, tents and circus animal cutouts.

Circus Reunion

There’s no place like home- Wizard of Oz Theme inspired theme

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Oz Themed Activities

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Design an obstacle course depicting famous scenes from the movie. Run through a tissue paper poppy field, jump over bale of straw etc. Make bottle tornados and make a yellow brick road out of scrap lumber. Plan an activity that represents each Oz character such as paper plate lions, red glitter shoes and

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Decorations- Make flying monkeys from black poster board and hang around your reunion location. Use rainbow colored tablecloths (one color per table).

Food- “Ding Dong” the witch is dead Ding Dong cakes, rainbow lollypops, Lions, Tigers and Bears animal crackers and melted witch treats.

 

There's No Place Like Home

Western Themed Reunion


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Western Reunion Themed Activities

Make ponies from dollar store pool noodles and have a pool noodle rodeo. Shoot at targets with rubber band guns or pvc pipe bow and arrows. Make a family totem pole or try some line dance.

clip_image056Food- Call the food you serve” vittles”. Have a chili cook off., have a Texas Straw Hat food bar or serve barbeque, spareribs or grilled hamburgers. Use tin pie plates, mason jars with handles and lots of bandanas.

clip_image058Decorations- Put up a large ranch sign at the party entrance. Print off some wanted posters. To make it more fun, get hold of some photos of the guests and put them on the posters. Place some paper or real horseshoes on the path leading to the party entrance. Create a teepee out of a large sheet and some wooden dowels. Create a large cactus out of a cardboard box or even buy some inflatable ones. Cover the party food table in a red and white checkered cloth and hang up a sign saying “SALOON”.

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Western Family Reunion

Thanksgiving Jeopardy Printable Game

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Just print off this game and you’re ready to go- a fun Jeopardy inspired printable game.

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FREE DOWNLOAD!

Thanksgiving is at my house this year and as I’ve made my plans for food and activities I thought it might be fun to test every ones knowledge with a Thanksgiving Jeopardy inspired game.  The great thing about this game is that you can print it off on 8.5x 11 paper, cut each sheet in half and after hanging on your wall you’re ready to play. (Don’t  forget to write “100”, “200” etc on the back of each card for points.) Not much prep  work involved with  this activity.  Hope you enjoy the fruits of my  labor and that you and your loved ones have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Click on  the link below for your free Thanksgiving Jeopardy game
Thanksgiving Jeopardy

Remembering Loved Ones

Memory Tables for Remembering Loved Ones at Your Next Family Gathering

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A family reunion is a perfect time to remember a special loved one who has passed on.  At more and more reunions, weddings and family gatherings I am seeing beautiful displays dedicated to a special family member that isn’t in attendance.  I especially loved the sentiment in this display my niece put together at our last family reunion to remember my father-in-law.

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Memory tables, or Remembering tables are not large displays such as you would find at a funeral or memorial, they are small and simple table displays to give you pause and a minute to remember your loved one when you see it.

At a reunion you can always decorate the table in the theme of the reunion- the theme for the reunion in the above picture was western so the table was decorated in bandanas and sunflowers.

The most important part of a memorial table is a few photos of the person who has passed but accent those photos with flowers or candles.  Photos can highlight special moments in their life such as childhood, marriage and photos with children and grandchildren.  You may want to set a photo book on  the table for those who want to spend more time looking at memories.

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If you’ve lost someone who is dear to you, it is only natural to be saddened that they are no longer with you when your family gets together for special occasions and there are many ways to remember them.

You may have seen a  white rose on a chair at a wedding ceremony, signifying that a spot has been saved for a loved one that has passed on well, my father-in-law had a special chair he sat in for every family reunion we had.  He passed away in 2012 but we continue to set his chair up (along with his favorite hat) at our reunions.  It almost feels like he’s watching over us as we go about our reunion fun and it helps us remember the wonderful contributions he made to our family.

A balloon release, in honor of a loved one, is a wonderful way to send our love to the heavens but recently I’ve seen “butterfly” releases as a way of remembering someone. There’s an Indian legend that goes something like this-

If anyone desires a wish to come true they must capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since butterflies make no sound, they can’t tell the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit. By making a wish and releasing the butterfly the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

You can find more information about butterfly release at Butterfly Release Company.

The simplest way to remember a loved one is to have a moment of silence, perhaps as the family gathers together for a meal.

Some of my favorite quotes about remembering those we love are below.

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Pool Noodle Ponies For Your Western Reunion

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At our western themed family reunion we created our own pool noodle ponies.  Everyone, no matter what their age, made a pony until we had a whole herd of them.  DIY pool noodle ponies are a great activity for a multi day reunion.  We had the whole first day to create our ponies and used them for fun activities on the second day.

For each pony you need one swimming noodle  the skinnier ones work best and you can usually find them for $1.00 at dollar stores.

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twine or yarn
felt (9 x 12 sheets work well)
large wiggly eyes
low temp glue gun and glue
scissors
Permanent markers
Decorations

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For your ponies head, bend the end of your noodle over and use twine or yarn and tie  tightly to hold in place.  This will be the ponies bridle.  Attach a longer piece of rope to make the reins. You may want to braid this part of the bridle or add bows etc.

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For the mane of the pony make a slit, about 1/2-1 inch deep, into the pool noodle with a box cutter, pocket knife or one side of a pair of scissors. Cut felt so it is fringed on both edges then stuff the felt (center first) into the slit.

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The felt will stay put without gluing.

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Cut another strip of felt with points on both ends to make the ears.  Put the ears under the bend of the head and pull upward.

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Encourage pony creators to be creative.  Provide permanent markers, stickers and jewels and see what they create.  We have found that the more time you give them the more creative the ponies got.  We even got a long necked giraffe (made from two pool noodles).

Finally, put together a rodeo or horse show for your horses to  compete in.  Give prizes for

Helpful hint- If you have a large crowd making ponies, write names on your trusty steeds.  Although each is unique they may still  be difficult to pick out of the crowd.

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For more fun ideas for your western themed family reunion or party check out familyreunionhelper.com

Western Family Reunion