Skijoring- Winter Family Fun

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What do you do when you have an old snowboard in your shed, six horses on winter vacation and five acres of snow in your pasture- you go skijoring!

Skijoring is a winter sport that originated in Scandinavia. It involves towing a skier behind horses or dogs.  Having to choose between horse  power and dog power- we choose the horses. 

Horse skijoring usually takes two people and one horse. One person rides the horse while the skier is towed behind on skis or a snowboard.

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The rider determines how fast you go and the route, while the skier holds on and tries to maintain enough control to maneuver around obstacles or perhaps towards obstacles such as a jump.

Skijoring How To

We saw a demonstration of horse skijoring at Ogden City’s Winter Fest a couple of years ago and have talked about giving it a try ever since, but this is the year we made it happen.

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We began slowly, beginning first with an inner tube.  Our horse, Raleigh, wasn’t very excited about a black donut following behind him, but with some patience and encouragement he soon caught on so we took the next step- we added a live  person!

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That didn’t seem to bother Raleigh so we strapped on the snowboard and that’s when the real skijoring began.

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Skijoring Tips

We used a light, nylon rope for our skijoring which worked fine but hope to snag a waterskiing rope before we go skijoring again- the handle would be much more comfortable.

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One thing we did discover was that when the  horse made a turn the skier would be whipped around and would come right up to the side of the horse, very much like coming out of the wake when you are water skiing only a little more extreme.

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Skijoring Jumps

Our first attempt at Skijoring was so much fun we couldn’t wait to go at it again and this time we decided to add a jump.

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Even though it was a relatively small jump we did manage to get some air.

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Raleigh- the Skijoring Hero

Although the humans did a great job at skijoring the true hero was Raleigh, our 8 year old bay Quarter horse who was thoroughly dried off and given an extra measure of oats at the end of the day.

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Because there were a lot of people that wanted to get into the action we kept the four-wheeler running with inner tubes in tow.

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When I do my family fun presentations I encourage families to “make the ordinary- extraordinary” and skijoring is a perfect example of that.  All we did was took a look at what we had available to us and turned it into some extreme family fun.

One last thing- “LIKE” us on Facebook to be eligible to win a FREE family reunion theme package!  Like us HERE.

A Night in Bethlehem Party from Hatchpatch

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If you’re planning your family Christmas party or perhaps a party for your church I found a great idea at hatchpatch.com.  I was so impressed with Hatchpatch that I just had to share. “Night in Bethlehem” is actually a party we did at our church about ten years ago but the folks at Hatchpatch have put together a party plan complete with invitation, menu and pictures.  Their plans will make your job  a lot of easier.

A Night in Bethlehem is a Christmas experience.  As a participant you come dressed in time period costumes and enter a re-creation of what the city of Bethlehem may have been like.  You pay taxes, interact with merchants and sample simple foods.  This party a wonderful way to feel the true reason for Christmas.

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If you’re looking for other ways to share the Christmas spirit consider familyreunionhelper’s  Twelve Days of Christmas Nativity.  Just purchase an 11 or 12 piece nativity and deliver one piece each night to your lucky secret friends.  Complete instructions as well as a printable for each day can be found at 12 Days Printable.

Pumpkin Tree

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Everything in October doesn’t have to be scary or frightening- find a way to celebrate the fall season by creating a pumpkin tree.  Our grandchildren were so excited to see pumpkins growing on the tree in our front yard when they came to visit this weekend. 

Grandpa grew so many pumpkins this year that even after arranging them around flower pots and bushes and lining them down the sidewalk there were still lots of pumpkins just begging to be part of the the yard décor, so Grandpa hooked pumpkin stems over the branches of our tree and now we have a “pumpkin tree”. 

Several people have stopped to ask how we made the tree- no, we tell them, we did not use wire to fasten them to the tree, no, we did not use hot glue.  We merely hooked the pumpkin’s own stems over small branches or balanced pumpkins on larger branches.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking a nap under the tree though, for a stiff breeze might just blow a pumpkin out of the tree and onto your head.

Squirmy Halloween Ideas & Breakfast With Witches

However. if you’re looking for a way to be scary during this Halloween season check out Aunt Mo’s “Squirmy” ideas at

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Squirmy Halloween Ideas

or the fun “Breakfast with Witches” party at

ROCKIN WITCH

Breakfast With Witches

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..and Happy Fall to You!

P.S. Can you find the “scary” black dog in the above picture

Scene Setters for Parties and Family Reunions

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How do you turn a forest campground into a ship on a tropical cruise? Scene setters!  I love scene setters- they are inexpensive (each piece is under $20.00 and the add ons are usually about $5.00) and they instantly make your reunion or party theme come alive!

For our “Cruisin’” family reunion we used a cruise ship scene setter to give the allusion of  being in the ocean on a luxury cruise ship.  Scene setters are usually used in a room and applied with some sort of “Sticky Tack” or tape.  Taking scene setters outside is where the real challenge is!

Each roll is usually 30 feet long and 4 feet high and because we were camping for our reunion we had to work around trees, rocks and other obstacles.  Uncle Richard, who works in construction, came to the rescue and very quickly built a background for my scene setter to go on.  Here’s how we did it-

Making Room Scene Setters Work Without a Room

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I didn’t care if the scene setter was 30 feet long or not- I believe ours ended up being 24 feet long.  Uncle Richard used plywood (the quality didn’t matter) and 2×4’s to brace it and hold it up.

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Once the background was up we used spray adhesive to attach the scene setter.  The trick to using spray adhesive is to spray both the plywood AND the scene setter.  It took three of us to keep smooth and straight but it wasn’t hard and it didn’t take long.

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There will be a few creases but it didn’t bother us at all. 

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After putting up the two large sheets of our scene setter we cut out the individual “add on” decorations.  Use your own wall adhesive for hanging or we found that if you get the add on a little wet it will just smooth on and although not permanent, adhered to our scene for the three days of our reunion.  I didn’t use all of the add ons provided- just our favorites.

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The pictures below show how a scene setter works.  This is how the makers of scene setters visualize the finished product.

Cruise Scene Setter

Tropical Cruise Ship Scene Setter

This is the top scene setter.

Ocean and Sky Backdrop

This is the bottom of the scene setter.  Each piece is 4 feet tall by 30 feet long.

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This is the “add on” we used.  We had to cut out each piece before we applied it to our scene.

Jungle Scene Setter

Other scenes are available like this fun jungle theme.  It is made up a jungle “trees” roll AND a jungle “foliage” roll.

Then you add decorations and animals.

Sports Stadium Scene Setter

I love this sports stadium scene setter.  Imagine holding a sports themed reunion or party and putting this along the walls of your gym or party room.

Sports Stadium Insta Theme

Pirate Design a Room

Design-A-Room Pirate Pack - Party Decorations & Backdrops & Scene Setters

I’ve used scene setters before- just last Christmas I used a brick like scene setter to take Santa pictures with the kids.  We held our party in the church gym and the brick background sure looked nicer than the boring white wall that we would’ve used.

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If you don’t do a 30 foot long scene and a have some pieces of your scene setter left over use on your serving table as a table cloth.

You can purchase all of the items I’ve shown you in the Family Reunion Helper store.  You’ll need some help and good adhesive to put it up but the way it transforms your room or your OUTSIDE party is almost magical.

Not-So-Newlywed Game

Cruise ships are famous for their scrumptious never-ending food and their fun entertainment.  Many  entertainment options are designed to get ship-goers an opportunity to participate in the fun.  As we plan our “Crusin” family reunion we looked for opportunities to get family members involved and decided a “Not-So-Newlywed” game would fit the bill.

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Rules for Not-So-Newlywed Game

The Newlywed Game is played in couples. Choose a variety of couples such as the longest married couple; the most recently married, a favorite of the family, and a couple that you just know will have funny answers. It is best to limit the game to four couples though you may use more if you need to. The disadvantage is that the more couples the longer the game so think about you audience and how long the game will keep their interest.

There are two rounds- one for the men and one for the women. Couples are awarded points for each correct answer based on the value of the question. All couples receive the points for each correct answer. Highest score after the second rounds wins the game.

There is no right or wrong answers- the answers the couples give must just be the same.

Begin the game with all couples sitting together at the front of the room or your playing area. Introduce the host of the game (Choose someone who will be happy to do it, has a good sense of humor and will make the game fun for everyone.) Then excuse the women (have them escorted to a room or area here they will not be able to hear their husband’s answers) The host can then ask the husbands the following questions. Do not attempt to explain the questions- if they have a question about the question just repeat it but don’t explain it.

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Not-So-Newlywed Questions for Men

5 pts What is your wife’s blood type?

5pts. What is your wife’s favorite salad dressing?

5 pts At what specific game or sport will your wife say that she is better than you?

10 pts. What traffic sign best describes your wife?

10 pts. Without looking what is the highest denomination bill in your wallet right now?

25 pts. What cereal best describes your marriage? Life, Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Nut ‘n Honey

When you have answers for all of these questions, invite the women back in to sit by their husbands and ask them the same questions you asked the men.

5 pts What is your blood type?

5pts. What is your favorite salad dressing?

5 pts At what specific game or sport are you better at then your husband?

10 pts. What traffic sign did your husband say best describes you?

10 pts. What is the highest denomination bill in your husband’s wallet right now?

25 pts. What cereal best describes your marriage? Life, Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Nut ‘n Honey

Recognize the couple with the highest score so far and of course, poke a little friendly fun at the couple with the lowest score. Then dismiss the men and ask the women the next round of questions.

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Not-So-Newlywed Questions for Women

5 pts. What is your husband’s shoe size?

5 pts. What color is your husband’s favorite tie?

5 pts. What was the last movie you and your spouse last saw together?

10 pts. When did your husband say he actually realized for the first time that he was seriously in

love with you?

10 pts. What is your husband’s favorite snack before going to bed?

25 pts. What movie star will your husband say he is most like: Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise or John Wayne?

When you have answers for all of these questions, invite the men back in to sit by their husbands and ask them the same questions you asked the women.

5 pts. What is your shoe size?

5 pts. What color is your favorite tie?

5 pts. What was the last movie you and your spouse last saw together?

10 pts. When did you realize for the first time that you were seriously in love with your wife?

10 pts. What is your favorite snack before going to bed?

25 pts. What movie star will your wife say you are most like- Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise or John Wayne?

Total the points and award prizes to the winning couple. You may also award smaller prizes to the 2nd and 3rd place couple and a booby prize to the losing couple (box of Milk Duds for being such duds)

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Additional Questions to Substitute as Needed:

What is your spouse’s dream car?

What is your spouse’s favorite color?

What will your wife say is the one gift she received this Christmas that she loved the most?

What is the most unusual piece of clothing that your wife wears?

What is the color of your spouse’s toothbrush?

Which one of your wife’s friends would you say is the biggest gossip?

How many windows will your spouse say are in the largest room of your home?

What is the license plate number on your car?

What was your curfew when you were dating?

What did you do on your first date?

What percentage of the housework would your husband say he does?

Husbands, if your wife could send you to a Body Repair Shop, what on you would she have fixed?

What home improvement project needs to be done next at your house?

What time of day was your first child born?

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Home for the Holidays Family Reunion

You can find more fun activities like the “Not-so-Newlywed” game in the “Home for the Holidays” reunion theme package.

“Home for the Holidays” is one of our favorite family reunion themes. It is especially appropriate if you have a family member such as a serviceman or missionary that has been away from the family for awhile.

We celebrated every holiday we could think of during the three-day family reunion. We went trick or treating to family trailers and tents. When we woke up Sunday morning, the children found the Easter Bunny had left plastic eggs all over the campground and we had a huge family birthday cake. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a delicious turkey and even played a Christmas Right/Left game.

Saddle Up For an Easter Egg Hunt on Horseback

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Our Stewart family’s horseback Easter egg hunt has become a tradition that we have celebrated for the past seven years, ever since we moved to Bear River City.  Easter is one of my favorite holidays and horses are my favorite animal, so it just seemed natural to put them together.

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I tell my adult children, “I don’t care if I have to share you on Christmas and Thanksgiving, but I want you for the Saturday before Easter.”  And they come, sometimes bringing friends or other family members.  Each year it seems our family changes and grows and we plan our Easter egg hunt around those changes.

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To make things more fair for the inexperienced and younger riders, Uncle Steven and I hide the eggs according to color. Each rider has a different color or style of egg.  For instance, last year we had basketball eggs for Kory, purple eggs for Megan, football eggs for Ryan, chicken shaped eggs for Brynna, pink eggs for Janie, and so forth. 

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We’ve been collecting eggs for years, and since we ask everyone to leave their eggs and just take the candy home, we have quite a collection.  Assigning each rider their own color makes it possible for us to hide the eggs according to the rider’s ability.  Uncle Steven especially likes to hide eggs in unusual places- like hanging them from tree branches.

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A few of our family members are experienced riders and we love hiding their eggs in difficult locations- over ditches, in trees, through gates and around obstacles such as wood piles and water hazards. For our lower level riders, we have a rule that you have to be touching some part of your horse when you pick up an egg. This makes it possible for riders with less experience to get off their horse to get an egg.

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Last year we added “jumbo” sized eggs to the hunt and they sure made things more challenging and interesting .

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After the riders find their designated colored eggs, they are allowed to hunt for the prized golden eggs, which hold items like movie tickets, gift certificates and money.

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This is the most exciting part of the hunt, as riders become a little more daring and often find themselves racing for the same golden egg as another rider.

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Last year we had more little ones, so we did a hunt for them before the adult riding hunt began. We have to work the hunt around the weather, so it  usually begins at about 11:00.  Following the hunt, we usually play with the horses, give them their annual vaccinations and worm them, eat barbecue and potato salad and play badminton.

This year we add a new son-in-law and grandson to the mix so we’ll need two more colors of eggs and two more chairs at our Easter table.  And as our family continues to grow and change, so will our Easter Egg hunt.

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As for our horses, they aren’t too fond peanut butter eggs or jelly beans but they do receive their own prizes in the form of carrots, apples and other treats.

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Rules of Chocolate Easter Eggs

If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.

If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge.  Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

April Fools Day Food

It has become tradition at my house to have “funny” food for one of our April Fools Day meals.  For many years I made “Flannel” pancakes.  I don’t know why but I fooled my family for probably 5 years in a row with my flannel pancakes. 

This year I have the greatest idea ever- actually I got this idea from my friend and amazing hair stylist, Stephanie.  How about cauliflower mashed potatoes?!?! 

Mashed cauliflower looks and some people say the taste is similar to mashed potatoes but with fewer carbs. I experimented with making mashed cauliflower so I would be ready for April Fools Day and I have to tell you it’s pretty delicious.  I think once my family gets over the shock of their mashed potatoes actually being mashed cauliflower they’ll be happy I made it.

If you’re not sure your family will get fooled by Mashed Cauliflower give one of these other fun ideas a try.

Mashed Cauliflower


What you need:
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 to 7 cups)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and then drain well and transfer cauliflower to a food processor. Add oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mash cauliflower with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

 

Flannel Pancakes

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When cooking pancakes put a piece of white flannel, about 3”x3”, and cook as usual. Flannel makes pancakes impossible to cut and eaters will become quite frustrated until they realize they’ve been fooled. This is an easy trick to do when serving many people. Put one flannel pancake on a plate with two or three other pancakes.

Non-drinkable Juice

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What you’ll need:
Clear drinking glasses, Jell-o, Straws

The night before make some jell-o in clear juice glasses.  Use a flavor that matches the juice they drink – such as grape, orange etc. Fill the glass about ¾ full and after it starts to set, insert a drinking straw. Once it is set, it will look like a normal glass of juice with a straw in it. Simply set it at their place at the breakfast table.  Provide spoons so they can eat the gelatin when they realize they can’t drink it.

Wormy Apple

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What you’ll need:
Fresh apple, Gummy worm
Use an apple corer to remove a piece of the apple and insert a gummy worm.  The worm will be hanging out some.

Make a naked egg.
Simply by soaking it in vinegar, you can remove the shell from an egg, even an uncooked one, leaving the rest of the egg intact. Imagine someone’s surprise when they reach into the egg carton and extract a real raw egg that is squishy and elastic!

Silly Utensils

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Instead of using traditional plastic utensils use kitchen utensils to eat with such as an ice cream scoop, a spatula, or pancake turner, the stranger the better.

Aunt MO

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.  ~Chinese Proverb

April Fools Pizza Cake

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Bake your cakes according to the package directions. Don’t fill your pan any fuller then 1/3 full. You don’t want the cake to go up over the edge of the pan. You’re looking for a large round flat cake.

Frost cake with red frosting.  If you are using canned frosting heat for a few seconds in the microwave to make it spread easier.

Grate white chocolate and sprinkle the shredded white chocolate on top of frosting.

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Cut circles out of red fruit roll ups for the pepperoni, use a small bottle cap to get the round shape. It’s easier if you cut the fruit roll ups before you remove them from their backing. After you cut your pepperoni, remove the backing and stick them on the pizza.

Make banana peppers by slicing a thin strip of a yellow fruit roll up. Stick the ends of the strip together to make a loop.

To make onions, pineapple and green peppers roll gum drops or gummy candy until flat and cut into small bits.

Make black olives with black gum drips and use a paper punch to make a hole in the middle.

Serve your “pizza” on a pizza pan or a pizza box.

Six Fun Ideas for Your Reindeer Themed Christmas Party

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Magic Reindeer Food

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When you sprinkle magic reindeer food on your lawn on Christmas Eve, it leaves a glittering path–and a sweet treat–for Rudolph and Blitzon and their  friends.

Make a bag of Magic Reindeer food for each family that attends your party or as an inexpensive stocking stuffer for each child.

Package this simple recipe in zipper food storage bags, and add a free printable gift tag containing the Magic Reindeer Food poem to make Magic Reindeer Food easy to make–and to give.

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Magic Reindeer Food Recipe

In a large bowl or container, mix:

1/4- 1/2 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals
Small sealable bag
Magic Reindeer Food poem (You can find a free printable of the poem at Magic Reindeer Food Poem)

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Package Magic Reindeer food in small food storage bags or holiday gift bags.

HINT: You can use craft glitter in your magic reindeer food but colored sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating)are safer for other animals or birds that may ingest it.

Reindeer Noses

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Another fun reindeer games party favor is a bag of reindeer noses.

I wanted the perfect gift for you-
But couldn’t decide just what to do.
I almost sent you a dozen roses-
Instead here’s a bag of…
reindeer noses

Reindeer noses are simply seven brown candies such as “Whoppers” and one red candy (to represent Rudolf). I used sour cherry candies for my red nose.  You may find a free printable of the reindeer nose poem at Reindeer Noses Printable

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Log Reindeer Centerpieces

Log reindeer are the perfect project for your centerpieces. Simply reuse scraps of wood and timber from your woodpile, drill a few holes, and glue it all together. You’ll need a few thicker logs for the body and head; long, thin sticks for the legs, and pronged branches for your reindeer’s antlers. Add bow, bells or tinsel to complete your project.  After the party you can give away part of your herd as prizes or save them to give as neighbor gifts.

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Reindeer Cupcakes

Bake cupcakes according to package directions and frost generously with chocolate frosting.  Top with pretzels for the antlers, a Nilla Wafer for the face, white frosting dots for the eyes, back pearl sprinkles or black icing for the eyeballs, and brown and red candies for the nose.

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Santa Pancakes

HINT:  We made the pancake base of our Santa pancakes before arriving at the party.  Because they are a little time consuming we began decorating them in advance.  We noticed that the whipped cream started getting soft and didn’t look as cute.  Solution- get more help with the decorating so that you can make them on the spot.

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Reindeer Games

We used the “Minute to Win It” format for our “reindeer games”.  We divided into four teams- team Rudolf, team Blitzen, team Dasher and team Donner and competed in 8 different challenges. We projected a countdown clock on the wall so that everyone could join in the drama as the seconds counted down.  For more information on Minute the Win It games check out the following link.

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2011/10/minute-to-win-it-party-2/

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Tips for Successful Christmas Caroling

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Gathering your family together for Christmas caroling or a family sing-a-long can make your family party fun and fairly fuss free.  Of course the most important element of your musical party is the music and you can download a free copy of caroling lyrics at www.familyreunionhelper.com.  Consider these helpful tips when planning your family caroling party.

Choose your caroling route.

My family went caroling on Christmas Eve.  Mom would choose 3 or 4 families that she knew would enjoy a caroling visit and she always made a few goodies to give them.  (Perhaps as payment for listening to us sing off key) We would complete our caroling at a local nursing home.  Many of the children were reluctant to sing at the nursing home but as the years have gone by caroling at the nursing home has become one of their most talked about memories of the season.  HINT: If you visit a hospital or a nursing home, ask for permission ahead of time to make sure your visit comes at a good time and that they can accommodate a large group.

Provide Carolers with a List of Carols

Caroling will be successful if everyone has the same list of carols.  One song sheet for every 2-3 carolers is plenty. Specify how many verses you will sing of each song.  To build your song list you can type and print your own caroling sheets or make copies of the family reunion helper caroling book by clicking here- caroling song book.  The book is designed so that you only have to print off the music that you will use for your caroling such as- Santa songs, snow songs or spiritual songs etc.

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Choose songs that are short, easy to sing, and fun. You should plan on singing 1 or 2 songs per house and end with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

Consider Using a Variety of Instruments

Jingle bells, cymbals and drum sticks are an easy way to make your caroling fun.  Carolers that are too shy or just don’t want to sing can participate by keeping the beat with drum sticks or shaking the bells to the beat.

Dress for the Weather

If caroling outside dress for the weather.  When sending out invitations for your caroling party be sure and let your guests know that you’ll be caroling outdoors so they can bring their hats, gloves and scarves.  A fun party favor for your party could be hand and toe warmers.

You can dress things up by asking everyone to wear a fun Santa hat or reindeer antlers.

Plan Refreshments for Your Carolers

At the end of your caroling party meet back at your house or rec hall and provide your carolers with bowls of chili and mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows or cider.  You can keep your refreshments warm in slow cookers while you’re caroling.

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If you are looking for a little Christmas caroling inspiration check out this amazing seven year old, Rhema Marvanne.

 

Rhema Marvanne