A pretty sweet printable game- and it’s free!
Whenever I plan a I 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.
What’s a Mashed Potato Bar?
I had never heard of a “Mashed Potato Bar” until recently when my daughter came home from a family function with her husband’s family and they had hosted a mashed potato bar. My daughter raved about how delicious and fun the mashed potato bar was.
Of course, I’ve eaten at lots of baked potato bars and for any years a potato bar was our go to meal at family gatherings but a mashed potato bar is a fun new twist to that traditional and rather over done family reunion meal.
Here’s how you put a Mashed Potato Bar together for your next family reunion or party.
Of course, the main ingredient is mashed potatoes. You can make your own (see recipe below) or you can use already prepared potatoes such as the ones Costco carries.
Mashed Potato Bar Toppings Ideas
Serve your potatoes in large crock pots to keep the potatoes warm and set out various toppings. I’ve listed a few of our favorites but use your imagination to customize to your needs:
Chopped green onions
Finely shredded cheese
Ranch salad dressing
Grilled zucchini and summer squash
Caramelized onions and peppers
Freshly grated Parmesan
Grilled tri-tip sliced thin
Country Gravy (I like to stay away from gravy, it’s the obvious choice and people aren’t’ as creative if they have gravy as a choice)
Salt and pepper
The Idaho Potato Board has their own list of ingredients for a Mashed Potato Bar which you can find by clicking on the link below.
Serve on plain plates or bowls or fancy things up a bit by using goblets as your dishes. You can always find a miss-matched assortment of goblets and wine glasses at your local DI or Goodwill.
A good basic mashed potato recipe includes just a few ingredients. Note: Baking and Russet potatoes tend to be heavier and starchier than Yukon Gold potatoes.
Basic Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- 8 Potatoes
- 1/2 Cup melted butter
- 1 can Evaporated Milk ( I melt my butter in a bowl with the milk for creamier potatoes.
- Fresh Pepper
- Peel and dice potatoes and put in pot of boiling salted water. Cover and simmer until potatoes are fork tender (20-30 minutes, depending on quantity of potatoes). Remove from heat and drain.
- Mash potatoes with a potato masher or a hand mixer.
- Add butter and milk
Be sure and sign up to receive a copy of familyreunionhelper.com’s FREE reunion cookbook HERE
Peanut butter Eyeballs!
We love peanut butter eyeballs. My daughter found the recipe several years ago and it has since been a Halloween family favorite. The saying, “bet you can’t eat just one!” certainly applies to these delicious treats.
What you will need:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 pound white candy coating (in small pieces) or white chocolate chips
24 milk chocolate M&M’s
1 tablespoon water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
- Mix together 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and butter. Roll into 1-in. balls; place on a waxed paper-lined pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
- In a microwave, melt white candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper. Immediately top of each eyeball with an M and M to make the pupil.
- Make squiggly lines to make the eyeballs look look “bloodshot”.
Makes about 2 dozen eyeballs.
A trail mix buffet is a fun option for your western or rustic themed reunion or party. If your occasion is more formal you can dress up your buffet with glass apothecary jars for a fancier look which lends itself to fancier parties such as wedding receptions or anniversary celebrations. A trail mix buffet is also a fun treat idea for a movie themed or kid themed party.
For our family reunion of 100 guests we used large tin foil pans to put the many treat options in but using a variety of glass jars, tin buckets, and baskets are great for holding all the delicious goodies your guests can choose from. .
Serving guests is a breeze and everyone fills their own containers (paper sacks, sandwich bags, party treat bags, boxes or paper ice cream cups) with their favorite treats.
You can use healthy ingredients for your buffet featuring raisins, nuts and seeds or a kids favorite buffet using cereals, M & M’s and gummy bears. Use your imagination when selecting treats for your buffet.
Here’s a list of possible options for your buffet:
nuts- almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews etc.
pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
cereal such as Cheerios, Trix, Chex, Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch etc.
chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, vanilla or peanut butter chips etc.
candy- M&M’s, candy corn, gummy worms, milk duds, sour patch kids etc.
coconut, banana chips
pretzels, goldfish crackers
raisins, Craisins, chopped dates, yogurt raisins
Popcorn makes a great filler.
Make signs for ingredients your guests may not recognize. Custom labels, mini chalkboards and cardboard tents designed to support your theme will do the job. Print off the following food tents for your trail mix buffet.
Provide serving scoops such as ice cream scoops, oversized spoons or measuring cups- you’ll need one for each treat in your buffet. Smallish scoops help control serving size to assure that there is enough if each treat for all your guests.
This fun variation of the traditional piñata may very well become the highlight for the kids at your next family reunion or party.
One of the highlights of our 2016 reunion was the human piñata chase held for all the children. It’s an interesting and fun twist on the traditional piñata game.
To prepare the human piñatas hot glue onto the front and back of a t-shirt. You will need one shirt for every piñata. Use old or cheap shirts because they will be destroyed in the chase. Use small snack sized candies, fruit snacks and small cookie snacks with a full sized candy bar thrown in for good measure.
You can also glue money on the piñata shirts if you put it in a zip lock bag. Pencils and small toys can also be glued to the shirts.
To play, divide children into age groups. Ask for someone to be the piñatas. You may do 1 piñata at a time (1 piñata for each age group) or let all of your piñatas be chased at the same time but put a time limit for each age group. Give the human piñatas a head start then send the kids out to collect their treats. When they get close enough kids grab hold of the prize and pull it off. Some can be hard to pull off but that is just part of the fun.
You may already have your own “spooky” and “scary” Halloween party traditions but how about adopting a few new traditions that will make your guests- SQUIRM! Keep in mind, these are “family friendly” “squirms” and hopefully nothing will be too scary for the little ones in your family.
When I think of things that make me squirm I think of bats, worms, snakes and spiders- all typical Halloween creatures. Oh, and what about eyeballs- sure to bring on a squirm!
A few old brooms decorated with bows and lights makes for a fun entrance to your party. Wrap plastic snakes around the broom handle and spiders in the bristles.
Silhouettes make decorating easy. You can purchase spooky silhouettes or easily make your own using black paper such as teachers use for bulletin boards. Put silhouettes in windows for a fun Halloween decoration- you want your guests to start “squirming” with fright before they even get to the door.
Don’t want to make your own silhouette- the cat pictured is actually a Martha Stewart Halloween Witch Silhouette Window Cling. This image clings to glass or mirrors and can be reused year after year.
Squirmy Vampire Soap
You will need a small jar, laxative tablets (over the counter product at pharmacy), rubbing alcohol, soap and water.
In the jar, crush one or two laxative tablets and add a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Rub some of the mixture on your hand and allow to dry. Then wash it off with soap. The soapy water will turn bright red!
NOTE: Do not eat or drink this solution.
What happened? The laxative contains a substance called phenolphthalein, which turns bright red when mixed with an alkali base like soup.
Squirmy Peanut Butter Eyeballs
2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
½ – 1 pound white chocolate candy coating
Small bag of M & M’s or Skittles
Tube of red decorator frosting
1. Blend peanut butter and butter until creamy. Add sugar. Continue beating until it comes together and is about as thick as thick cookie dough. When well blended shape into 1 inch balls and put in the fridge on waxed paper to chill until firm. (30 minutes)
2. Melt the white candy coating in the microwave. Microwave in 60 second intervals stirring at the end of every minute until candy is smooth and creamy. Dip peanut butter balls in the candy coating and place back on your waxed paper. Immediately press a candy on top to make an iris. Place back into the fridge until set.
3. Using the tube of red decorator frosting make red squiggly blood vessels.
HINT: Since taking these photos we have found that to clean your eyes up a bit, use a paring knife to cut the excess candy coating from the eyeball- it will give your eyeball a cleaner look.
HALLOWEEN GAMES to make you Squirm
Worms in a Pie
You will need gummy worms, whipped cream and aluminum pie plates. Place gummy worms in the bottom of the pie plate and then cover with whipped cream. On the word “go” players try and eat as many gummy worms as they can find in the cream. You can award prizes for the most worms found or most worms found in a time limit. For extra fun, blindfold the contestants.
Take a ping pong ball and decorate with markers to look like blood shot eyes. Then get plastic pumpkin or party cups. Now give each child an eyeball and place the plastic pumpkin or cup at the bottom of stairs or across the floor. Have each player toss or bounce the eyeball down the stairs or across the room. The goal is to see if their eyeball bounces into the pumpkin. You can give a prize to those that get it in the pumpkin. Also for young kids, you may want to place paper cups together and have each cup worth a prize.
Speaking of “eyeballs”…
SCARY STORY to make you SQUIRM-
The Legend of White Eyes
I didn’t write it nor do I know where it came from- maybe it really is a true story and came from the pages of my history book. I’ve heard a lot of scary stories when I’ve been camping but this is the only story that made me scream- I hope you scream too.
Advance preparation- besides practicing the telling of this tale you will need to take a ping-pong ball and cut it in half. Color a small dark dot on each half with a permanent marker. These will be your “white eyes”. Keep them concealed in a closed hand. When the time is right, pop them on over each eye. (You may customize place names in your story to suit the occasion) NOTE: I would wait to tell this story until the little ones in your family had been tucked into bed.
There on that side of the lake (point) is where this story took place. As you all may know, the area around here was a busy place 100 years ago due to the Gold rush. Miners turned this whole region upside down in a quest for GOLD!
Greed can be a dangerous thing, especially where Gold is involved. To find more gold meant faster production, and digging deeper underground. It also meant sacrificing safety, but they didn’t care because there were a lot of foolish men around looking to make their fortune.
One day an underground mine collapsed with 16 men still waiting to come up from a full day’s work. Hour after hour went by as they awaited their rescue. The conditions were terrible. It was pitch-black dark, and very hot, dry and dusty down deep in that shaft. The men collected droplets of water that seeped down the tunnel walls in an attempt to satisfy their dying thirst. Days went by and still no rescue. To stave off hunger, they ate rats, mushrooms, and eventually… their dead co-workers.
(Throw a log on the fire for dramatic effect! Poke away at the embers.)
Despite their hopelessness, they scraped away at the rock and debris to try and dig their way out, confident that others would be digging from the surface as part of the rescue attempt. They dug and they dug, day after day, frantically hoping to see daylight from the surface. The days stretched into weeks, and then from there, the few men left alive lost track of time, and started losing their minds.
An eternity later, the survivors finally broke through, and made two very surprising discoveries. One: there was no search party. The mining company had abandoned the mine, and simply walked away. And two… all that time underground had affected their eyes… Their eyeballs were all white, except for an itty bitty black pupil. And they could no longer tolerate sunlight.
Being left for dead was bad enough. Turning into some sort of White-eyed freak was too much. They snapped. In their rage they made a pact to hunt down every man who abandoned them in that old mine. And soon after, mysterious instances of men being killed in the mountains around here started.
The locals at first thought it was a bear or a cougar doing all the killing. The victims were usually found mauled, bloody and torn. But; closer examination showed the teeth marks on the bodies… were from human teeth!!
(Throw log on the fire!)
One by one, those white-eyed freaks killed off every miner, and any other man they could find in this area. And to this day, you won’t find any mining around these parts. Keep in mind this all happened 100 years ago. You’re probably wondering what happened to those white-eyes?? They should all be gone now due to old age, or at least that’s what they thought… until a few weeks ago. I heard on the radio, they found a hiker mauled on that trail on the backside of the lake. And on that dead man’s neck… human teeth marks!!!
Heed my words, kids: As long as you’re close to the fire, the light will scare ‘em away, but if you need to go into the dark… (pop in the ping-pong ball props)
BEWARE of the WHITE-EYES!!!!
Road Kill Stew
(Tune: “Three Blind Mice”)
Road kill stew, road kill stew.
Tastes so good, just like it should.
First you go down to the interstate.
You wait for the critter to meet it’s fate.
You take it home and you make it great.
Road kill stew, road kill stew.
Squirmiest Song Ever
Nobody likes me; everybody hates me;
Guess I’ll go eat worms.
Chorus: Long, thin, slimy ones; short fat juicy ones;itsy, bitsy, fuzzy, wuzzy worms.
First you get a bucket; then you get a shovel;
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm.
Next, you pull their heads off, then you suck their guts out;
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm.
Down goes the first one, down goes the second one;
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm.
Up comes the first one; up comes the second one;
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm.
Everybody likes me; nobody hates me!
Why did I eat all those worms?
Chop up their heads, and squeeze out their juice,
And throw their tails away.
Nobody know how I can survive
On worms three times a day!
(Tune: “Auld Lang Syne”)
Should old worn sneakers be thrown out;
Or stink upon a shelf?
Should holey, moldy, gym socks walk
To the washer by themselves?
My smelly shoes, so torn and rank;
How comfortable to me!
My gym socks match them perfectly;
Let’s my piggies wiggle free!
Halloween Party Jokes
Q: What do you call a ghost in a torn sheet?
A: A holy terror
Q. What do you call a witch who lives at the beach?
A. A sand-witch.
Q. What do you call a witch’s garage?
A. A broom closet.
Q. What is a Skeleton’s favorite song.
A. Bad to the Bone.
Q. Why can’t a Skeleton Lift Weights?
A. He’s all bone and no muscle.
Q. What is a Mummie’s favorite type of music?
A. Wrap music!
Q. Why don’t mummies take vacations?
A. They’re afraid they’ll relax and unwind.
I was going through some old family reunion papers and found this fun recipe for Ooey Gooey Gax- some people call it “slime”. Kids love Gax/slime and it’s a perfect party craft especially if you’re outside.
2 Tablespoons white glue
2 Tablespoons water
3-4 drops food coloring
1 Tablespoons Borax – usually found in the laundry detergent section of your grocery store
Plastic bag for storing Gax
- Mix 1 Tablespoon of Borax powder to 1 cup warm water. Stir until all the powder has dissolved. This makes sodium borate.
- In a smaller separate bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons glue and 2 Tablespoons water and stir well.
- Add 3 drops of food coloring to the glue/water mix and stir.
- Add 1 Tablespoon of the sodium borate to the glue/water mixture.
- Stir and let sit for a few minutes and then it will be ready to play with.
- Place in an airtight container (Bag).
Hints: Don’t leave Gak on fabric, vinyl or wood. Do not eat Gak. Make a batch of Gak before getting to your reunion so you know how it works.
This recipe only makes a small batch.
To make Glow in the Dark Slime: Add several drops of glow-in-the-dark paint during the mixing in stage 1.
The cute graphics you see on this page may be purchased from-
When I was a young mother I attended a workshop that included some fun holiday cooking ideas. The most memorable idea I came away from the workshop with was this ghost cake with flaming eyes.
The best thing about this ghost cake is that you get maximum effect for minimum effort, so, if you are a busy mom or grandma, you can whip this cake up very quickly but the “wow” factor is huge!
To make the eyes flaming you place a lemon extract-doused sugar cube inside of a clean eggshell for each eye and then you light the cubes on fire. When presenting the cake turn out the lights before bringing in the cake.
Ghost Cake Recipe
1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix, mix according to package directions
1 (7.2-ounce) package fluffy white frosting mix or make your own 7 minute frosting. (No Cook 7 Minute Frosting Recipe)
2 sugar cubes & 1 teaspoon lemon extract
Licorice string, chocolate chips, m & m’s- whatever you want to make a mouth
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan.
Prepare the cake mix as directed on package. (When you break the eggs, crack each in the middle and pour out the egg. Then save the 2 best shell halves. Wash these halves and turn upside down to dry.) After mixing, pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. When cooled, you can remove the cake from the pan and put on a sturdy piece of cardboard or a tray so that you can trim your cake to look more ghost- like. I just left my cake in the baking pan and felt like it looked ghost- like enough without the extra work to decorate it.
Frost the cake. Place the 2 egg shell halves round sides down on cake for eyes. Place 1 sugar cube in each shell half. Make a mouth of licorice string.
Just before serving, pour 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract over each sugar cube. Light the eyes and amaze family and friends!