The Latest Trend in Family Reunion T-shirts

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I LOVE family reunion T-shirts!  They are the ultimate “party favor” or “souvenir” that family members can take home with them after the reunion fun is over. Reunion T-shirts are a  reminder of the good times had at that years family reunion. 

There’s a new reunion T-shirt trend going around and I think it’s great!  We used to take family pictures at our reunion  like the one  below (we used paper plates  with  numbers on it). 

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But now, families are  having fun applying this idea to t-shirts. Each family has a different color, and each t-shirt gets a number on the back representing the order you joined the family (through marriage or birth).

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You can have each generation be a color and the in laws all have their own color as well. Then, every person is either numbered according to birth order (by generation) or by when they married into the family.

If there are people at the reunion who aren’t yet married into the family, you can give them a shirt with a question mark on it as in, who will be the next lucky member of the family?”

When it comes to  figuring out what  number everyone  is your  most valuable resource will be the matriarch of the family. Make a list of each  family member and when they became part of the family.  You may want to ask your family to email you their birthdates and anniversary to make  sure your list is accurate.  Email  the completed list to your family so they can double  check your  numbers.

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A  common design for  the front of the shirts is  a  fun idea.  You may  want to have a  t-shirt company  print the  common design on the front  of each shirt  and then apply the numbers yourself, especially if you are doing multiple  colors.

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Of  course, you’ll  want to  take a  family picture.  Take  a picture with everyone facing forward and then do a second photo of  the  back of the shirts. I  just love  this latest trend in family reunion t-shirts. If you decide  to do this at your  reunion, send us  a photo and we’ll feature your family on our  website. 

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.

Storing Your Reunion Photos

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Where to Store Your Family Reunion Photos?

There’s no doubt about it, organizing a family reunion is the hard part. We drift apart over time because of studies, work, marriage, or just drift. Some families are closer than others. It’s even more so for cousins or between generations. When you have the family reunion worked out and you are going to meet, it’s natural to think of photos and videos of the event, but what do you do with them? How do you share them?

Technology now makes it easier to not only find lost or distant family members and to trace our family histories, but to also store and share photos and videos. By creating a single cloud account, families can let everyone have access to them – they can download other people’s photographs or upload their own. These can be from the reunion or from their lives and those from the past.

The question is then which cloud service is best. A good cloud storage service for families is low cost, preferably free, but is also secure. It should be encrypted so to protect users but be accessible from any device where the user knows the login details. To find out more about these services and what to look out for, check out this piece on the top 3 family friendly cloud services.

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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Grammie Hooton’s Chocolate Pudding Cake Recipe

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An easy way to feed a crowd

My Grandma Hooton was an amazing cook.  She was famous for her homemade cinnamon rolls, chicken noodle soup and cabbage rolls- among other things such as fudge and divinity.  Grammie, as we called her, would work in the  hay fields all day with the hay crew and then, while the rest of us were taking a break because we were so tired, she would be in  the kitchen cooking up a delicious chicken fried steak dinner with all the trimmings.

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Sometimes Grammie would round off the meal with a yummy chocolate cake and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how perfect it was for large family gatherings.  The  cake is made in a large jelly roll pan and it serves 24 but it’s easy and fast to fix so you can  make two pans fairly simply.

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Grammie’s Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 (5-oz) box cook and serve chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
3 cups milk (for the pudding)
1 box DRY chocolate cake mix
2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet or milk)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Make pudding to package directions then combine it with 1 package DRY chocolate cake mix. (DO NOT add the eggs and oil etc) Spread in a prepared 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and chopped nuts on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15  minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.) Cool completely before cutting.

I feel fortunate to have several of my Grandmother’s recipes and some day I’d like to make a “heritage” cookbook but for now I’ll just  share this delicious recipe at my next family reunion.

Making a Family Parade Float

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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.

How well do “Ewe” know your ancestors?

A game for getting to know your ancestors!

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I’m always looking for fun ways to help family members learn about and make a connection with their ancestors.  We’ve played “Wheel of Ancestors” and “Ancestor Jeopardy” with large groups of our family members and I think most of our family are pretty familiar with many of our family “stories”.

Recently I decided to create a game for smaller groups.  This game is a fun way to really learn interesting facts about your ancestors and to  test the knowledge of those playing the game.  I call it the “Black Sheep Game”.

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Black Sheep Game Instructions

How well do “Ewe” know your ancestors?

Print, cut and laminate several copies of the “Black Sheep” cards. You can make as many copies as you want. You can also glue a colored paper to the back of the game cards before laminating to make it more difficult to tell which cards have the “black sheep” on them.

Write ancestors or family names on each sheep card using the lines one each card. It is fun to also include family members that are well known such as Grandpa and Grandma, aunts and uncles etc. If available, you may even want to put a small picture of the ancestor on the card.

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To Play:

· Turn the cards upside down in the center of the table.

· Draw a card

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· If there is a white sheep on the card read the name and tell something you know about that ancestor. If you are correct you may keep the sheep card.

Shepherd Card

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· If a “shepherd” card is drawn you can “take a white sheep” card from any of the players but you must read the name on the card and say something you know about them.

Black Sheep Cards

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If a “black sheep” card is drawn you lose all of your cards, they go back into the card pile.

· NOTE: Players may repeat information already used in the game.

· This game can go on forever, just end when your time is up. Count how many sheep cards each player has at the end of the time and give a prize to the player with the most cards.

Reunion Buddies!

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Get the family reunion started early!

If you’re looking for a fun ice breaker activity and a way to generate interest in your upcoming family reunion try “Reunion Buddies” and get the  party started before the  reunion even  begins.

Reunion Buddies

About four weeks before your reunion make a double sided copy of the “Reunion  Buddies”  printable using the same  information on each side of the paper.

Match family members up into buddies making sure everyone, young and old has a reunion  buddy. 

Write one buddies name on the line that says “My Name Is” and write their buddies’ name below it on the line that says “My Buddy Is”.  You will need to do this on both sides of the  paper but reversing the information.

Send a copy of the reunion buddies printable to one of the  “buddies” with  the  instructions to fill out their  personal information and then mail the  completed  form to their buddy. Be sure and provide an address and if your reunion has the funds, a stamped envelope.

The buddy they mail the form to will complete the form and return it to back to their buddy.

Encourage buddies to spend some time with each other at your family reunion  perhaps even bringing inexpensive gifts (such as their favorite candy bar) to share.  You may even ask some family members to share what they learned about their reunion buddy.

The idea behind  “Reunion Buddies”  is to  make long lasting friendships  between cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.  Get a new buddy every year!

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Genealogy Icebreaker Activities for Your Family Reunion

Icebreaker Activities

Family Tree Photo

Make a live family tree and take a photo. Arrange family members as they would be on a genealogical chart of the family.  Begin  with Grandma and Grandpa.  Add a branch consisting of their children and spouses.  Add additional branches for each of their children and so on. Be sure and take a picture- preferably from an elevated position.

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Birthday Game

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Mix family members up and divide into groups or ten or so. Challenge family members to put themselves in order of their birth date (day, month and year). If you have mostly young children the challenge should be to get in a line, oldest to youngest.  To make the  challenge more difficult try doing it blindfolded and tell them “No Talking!”  It’s amazing how resourceful they will be communicating in other ways.

To involve your entire family ask those that were born in January to get together in one group; do the same for each of the other months. Then have the members of the January group give their birthdates, such as January 21, January 9, etc. and  line up  accordingly. This is fun activity that forges an immediate bond between those that share the same birthday or even birthday month.  This activity is especially effective with reunions of 100  or more participants.

Family Reunion Concentration Game

This activity takes some  advance planning.  Create a "memory" or "concentration" game. You will need 54 cards with 26 pairs of pictures on them.  With so many digital options this is a fairly easy but still a time consuming idea.  Make two copies of each photo- be sure and include name, birthdate and birthplace of each person.  You can make a game using ancestors or using photos of family members that are attending the current reunion.  With this game you will reconnect with the past or make connections with the present.

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Family Tree Chart

Make a huge family tree on and display it during the reunion. You can have large 36” x 48” “engineering prints” made at Staples for under $10.00 that work perfectly for this kind of presentation. Be sure and make 8 1/2 x 11 copies of the tree for each family to take home.  The chart pictured above is another option.  It is available from My History and is a fill in the blank type chart.

Name Tags for Your Family Reunion

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Be creative  with  your reunion name tags.  When family members check in at your reunion site give them each a name tag.  But instead of the same old  “my name  is” name tags be a little creative.  Put different design on name tags so that everyone with design sits at the same table for meals and are on the same team when dividing for activities.  This helps family members get acquainted or Reacquainted with family members they don’t see often. The tags above are from the family reunion helper Heritage Reunion.

Family Reunion T Shirt

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One of my music students came to class wearing this fun reunion shirt and I just couldn’t help but share it with you.  Such a fun and simple design. Notice the family name at the top and the date and place at the  bottom of the shirt. 

We’ve done a lot of reunion shirts over the years but when this cute little guy wore an old shirt his dad wore I was thrilled.  Keeping old reunion t-shirts year after year means you always have something to wear to the family reunion!

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