Halloween Party Ideas to Make Your Guests “Squirm” and maybe even Scream!

candy corn blog


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!


hallo blog


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 Confused smile“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.

Bouncing Eyeballs


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”…


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)




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.

Slime Recipe


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



  1. Mix 1 Tablespoon of Borax powder to 1 cup warm water.  Stir until all the powder has dissolved.  This makes sodium borate.
  2. In a smaller separate bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons glue and 2 Tablespoons water and stir well. 
  3. Add 3 drops of food coloring to the glue/water mix and stir.
  4. Add 1 Tablespoon of the sodium borate to the glue/water mixture.
  5. Stir and let sit for a few minutes and then it will be ready to play with.
  6. 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-


Ghost Cake With Flaming Eyes

ghost cake

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!

Silver Dollar Game for Your Independence Day Party

silver dollar game

We have a Independence Day tradition in our family- Whenever we get together for a family or reunion or party around Independence Day we play the “Silver Dollar” game. The Silver Dollar game is a game my Mom invented to encourage us to remember our American history and important United States facts.

Mom would ask a US history question and the first one to get the answer right would get a sliver dollar. Mom has a fun way off tossing the silver dollar to the winner- I’m not sure how to describe,  it  but basically she just tosses it to the family member that has the correct answer to the question.


Plan to play the Silver Dollar game at your Independence Day family reunion or party. Don’t have Silver Dollars? How about using 50 states quarters, red, white and blue taffy, or patriotic pencils?

Warning: If your family is competitive, like mine is, you may have to assign someone to be the judge and determine who is the first to raise their hand and watch out- even if you do get the answer right someone may just reach out and snatch your prize right out of the air, Oh well, it’s just part of the game and family fun!


Below are a list of questions you can use for your Silver Dollar game:

1. What is the title of the National Anthem? 

Answer: The Star Spangled Banner

2.  Which right is guaranteed by the first amendment

Answer: Freedom of Religion

3.  What is the title of the head of a city government

Answer: Mayor

4.  Who has the ability to declare war? 

Answer: The Congress

5.  How many full terms may a Senator serve? 

Answer: No term limits for Senators

6.  How many full terms can a President serve?

Answer: 2

7.  How many years is a full term for a Representative? 

Answer: 2

8.  Which amendment sets the minimum voting age to 18? 

Answer: 26th

9.  Who becomes President if both the President and Vice President die?  

Answer: The Speaker of the House

10.  On July 4th, 1776 we declared Independence from whom? 

Answer: Great Britain

11.  How many branches of government do we have?

Answer: 3

12.  Which is part of the Judicial branch at the federal level?  

Answer: The Supreme Court

13.  Who elects the President of the United States? 

Answer: The Electoral College

14.  How many states are there? 

Answer: 50

15.  How many stripes are there on the American Flag? 

Answer: 13

16.  Who was the President of the United States during the civil war? 

Answer: Abraham Lincoln

17. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?
Answer: The Preamble

18. Who is the President of the United States?

Answer:  Barack H. Obama

19.  Who is the current Vice President of the United States? 

Answer: Joe Biden

20.  Why did the Pilgrims come to America? 

Answer: to find religious freedom

21.  How many total Senators are there? 

Answer: 100

22.  The Constitution has how many Amendments? 

Answer: 27

23. Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?
Answer: Thomas Jefferson

24.  According to the Constitution, a person must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible to become President. Name one of these requirements.

Answer: Must be a natural born citizen of the United States; must be at least 35 years old by the time he/she will serve; must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

25. How many Presidents have been impeached

Answer: 2 Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

26.  What is the Official Language of the United States? 

Answer: None

27.  Who was the first Vice President of the United States? 

Answer: John Adams

28.  Who said "Give me liberty or give me death?" 

Answer: Patrick Henry

29.  How many Presidents were assassinated while in office? 

Answer: 4 Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, John F. Kennedy.

30. Is it ever appropriate to fly the flag upside down?

Answer: Yes, but only in an emergency. "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

Twenty Questions Game for Birthdays or Other Special Occasions

twenty questions

When we celebrate a birthday or some other special occasion we like to play a “Twenty Questions” game.  We’ve played Twenty Questions for birthdays for more years than I can remember.  My big problem with the game is making up new questions every time so I decided to be selfish and write this blog so I would have a permanent record of questions to use.

I’ve included three sets of questions to target three different age groups- the “over the hill”, “prime of life” and a version for kids.  These are not icebreaker questions but questions for testing your knowledge of the person whose life you are celebrating.

You can give everyone a copy of the questions and ask them to write their answers down or read the questions aloud and everyone, including the birthday person writes their answers on a blank piece of paper.  (You don’t need to get the answers to the questions in advance.)

These are not icebreaker questions- but questions to test your knowledge of a friend, family member or other loved one.   Their answer IS THE CORRECT ONE!

Over the Hill

dad's bday ryders eye 1625


  1. What did you want to be when you were small?

  2. What was your favorite song during your young adult years?

  3. What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?

  4. What’s the tallest building you’ve been to the top of?

  5. How many the cities have you lived in?

  6. What was your favorite family vacation?

  7. If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?

  8. Is there anything you wished would come back into fashion?


  1. What is your favorite book to read?

  2. In the evening, would you rather play a game, watch a movie, or read?

  3. Who is your favorite author?

  4. What was the last movie you went to?

  5. How many pillows do you sleep with?

  6. How many languages do you speak?

  7. How many time a month do you go grocery shopping?


  1. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

  2. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

  3. Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Alaska?

  4. What one thing could you not go a day without?

  5. If you could share a meal with any 3 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?

Prime of Life



  1. How many houses have you lived in?

  2. What time of day were you born- morning, noon or night?

  3. What is the best roller-coaster you ever went on?

  4. What was your favorite toy as kid?

  5. What was your first job?


  1. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

  2. What’s your favorite type of foreign food?

  3. What spice do you use the most?

  4. What was the last thing you recorded on TV?

  5. Are you a clean or a messy person?

  6. What is your favorite form of exercise?

  7. What time do you usually wake up in the morning?

  8. What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?

  9. What is your favorite pizza?

  10. What was the last sporting event you attended?

  11. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?


  1. Where do you want to retire?

  2. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

  3. If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

  4. What is your dream car?


bynna's birthday 037


  1. When you grow you will probably be __________?

  2. What is your teachers/coaches name?

  3. Who is your tallest friend?

  4. What super hero/Disney princess would you like to be?


  1. Where would you rather live- ocean or moon?

  2. What was the last restaurant you ate at?

  3. Best fieldtrip you’ve been on?

  4. Where would you like to go on vacation?


  1. Right now- is your room clean or messy?

  2. What was the last book you read?

  3. If you could play any musical instrument, what would it be?

  4. What magical power would you like to have?


  1. What’s your favorite zoo animal?

  2. Which sport do you like to play?

  3. What sport do you like to watch?

  4. What is your favorite toy?

  5. What is your least favorite chore?

  6. What is your favorite school lunch food?

  7. Favorite thing to do in the summer?

  8. Favorite color?

Cat Eye Flashlight Hike

cat eye hike_edited-1

Cat-eye Hike for Family Reunions or Parties

One of the most requested activities at our  family reunions is a Cat Eye hike.  You do a Cat Eye hike in the dark so it’s a  perfect activity for a “camping” family reunion. We have also done cat eye hikes in apartment complexes and residential areas.  We’ve done cat eye hikes with family reunions, girls camps and for kid parties.  It’s a fun activity but does take some time and thoughtful strategy to set up.


How to Organize a Cat Eye Hike

This hike is best done when it is very dark. Cut cat’s-eye shapes (squares work fine too) from reflective tape, available in the Family Reunion Helper store. Another product you might want to consider is “Trail Tacks”.  They are basically just thumb tacks with a reflective paint on the top.  They are visible for up to 200 yards and are great  for sticking into wooden fences etc. You will probably want to use a combination of the two products- tape and tacks.  Just be considerate of others when you set up the hike- you don’t want to be shinning flashlights into peoples windows or causing  damage with reflective tape or tacks.


It is best to set up your hike the night before guiding groups on the hike. Put cat eyes on markers or apply cat eyes to index cards and then use the cards to mark the trail. We like to set up our hikes the night before the cat eye hike is scheduled.

How to Set Up a Cat Eye Hike

When making the trail, place the eyes in such a manner that you can see only one more set of cat’s eyes from the location of one set. Hikers will shine their flashlights on the first set of eyes and then run to the second set of eyes where they will shine their flashlights around the area until they locate the next set of eyes. They will continue searching for eyes and following their path until they arrive back at camp.

If you have a large group, instead of a mass start, send groups of ten or so at a time. You can group hikers as children, teenagers and senior citizens.  Every participant will need a flashlight- you will want to remind your family members to bring a flashlight on your reunion invitation.

If camping, have S’mores for hikers when they complete the hike.

Eats Are On The Way

eats are on the way2_edited-1

If you’ve hosted a party, shower or other gathering you know how difficult it can be to pull yourself away from the festivities in order to prepare the refreshments.  This simple game is the perfect solution! 

Just give your guests a copy of the game below and a pencil.  Tell them to solve the puzzle by answering the questions correctly.  As they get to work on the puzzle you sneak into the kitchen to prepare the refreshments.

The simple solution to the puzzle is, “eats are on the way”.  It doesn’t take much time to solve but it does distract for a few minutes and when they read the answer to the puzzle they’ll be content to wait until you return with the  “eats”.


Family Reunion Tug Of War

getting your family to pull together_edited-1

New and improved is not better than tried and true!

camp 2014 mom's house 153

It seems like I spend a lot of time trying to dream up and create new family reunion games and activities to excite and entertain family members.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen back on the old “tried and  true” activities and in the end they become the new favorites of our family.

camp 2014 mom's house 163 

For instance, this year we’ve done tug of war at several reunions and parties and our families have LOVED it!  We did several categories- family vs. family, girl cousins vs. boy cousins, the original “big 6” (my husband’s  brothers and  sisters), great grand girls vs. boys and so on.

The most difficult part of a tug a war is finding a rope.  We borrowed a rope from our neighbors who  are ranchers.  When looking for a  tug of war rope I look for a rope that is 75- 100 long, a thick  sturdy rope (1” in. 1.5 in diameter) and 100 percent cotton.  This rope is available from the family reunion helper store.

The rope pictured above is soft on your hands to manila ropes. These 100% cotton ropes reduce rope burn and splinters.  Professional tug of war competitions like to use manila ropes but for a family reunion I suggest cotton ropes. Ropes like this one can cost between $150.00- $200.00 but I think you’ll find it’s an activity that can be used every year and adapted to every theme.

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Preparing the tug of war rope

trek 2014 138

Find the center of your rope and mark with a piece of colorful tape or a bandana. Make a center mark on the ground for your starting point. You can make your marks with logs, ropes or create obstacles such as water or a mud puddle.

trek 2014 178

Make two more marks on the ground  (I suggest 13 feet) equal distance from the center line.

The teams start with the rope’s center line directly above the line marked on the ground.  We like to  start with the rope on the ground and have the official/judge tell the participants to “pick up the  rope” before the contest begins.  When the official gives the order to “pull” teams begin pulling in an attempt to pull  the other team across the center line or obstacle.

Tug of War Hints

Never make a loop by wrapping the rope around the hand to get a better grip.

Don’t tie the rope around the last persons waist.

On your family reunion invitation add “gloves” on their list  of things to  bring.

camp 2014 mom's house 170


Did you know that tug of war was part of the Olympic Games from 1900 until 1920.

Five Things I Will Never Do Again at a Family Reunion

5 things i  will never do at a family reunion

1.  I will never make a fish print t shirt. 

fish t shirt1

Fish  print t shirts- it seemed like a great idea- and it fit our theme perfectly but in the end it was an epic fail.   To make the shirts you generously paint one side of the  fish with fabric paint. Then you place the T-shirt front side down on the painted fish and pat in place.

When you lift the t shirt  off the fish you have the imprint of the fish, scales and all, on the shirt. 

I’ve seen cute shirts done this way but the only fish we could  find were HUGE catfish- in most cases bigger than the shirt.  Everyone worked hard to make the shirts successful but when only half of the fish fits on your shirt it’s kind of disappointing. This activity goes down as the worst one I’ve ever planned.

Never again will  I plan an activity or craft without trying it out on my immediate family before using it at a family reunion.

2. I will never let a scientist be in charge  of making gravy


At a huge family dinner I was in charge of I gave the  responsibility for making the gravy to a scientist who had all the correct formulas for making gravy but couldn’t seem to get it to thicken up.  It looked like brown water.  I had 300 people sitting at tables waiting to be served and no gravy for their potatoes.  Panic mode! 

I finally enlisted the help of a school lunch cook who swooped in  and easily thickened the gravy.  It was kind of a touchy situation- I didn’t want to offend the  scientist but I really needed to get that gravy thickened so I had to turn to the REAL expert.

This “never” item  isn’t about gravy it’s more about assigning people responsibilities that they can be successful  at completing.  I learned to make sure I matched the right people with the right assignment!

3. I  will never hold a reunion without having a plan for bad weather.

camp 201

Look at this picture- these are not happy times. A rainy family reunion  is not a happy family reunion. 

We’ve been  holding the Stewart family reunion for 30 years and have only had bad weather two times.  So what am  I complaining about- that’s a pretty good record.  It’s great, unless it’s one of the times it rained for three days. 

Rain and other bad weather can really put a damper on your  family reunion.  Our family were really great sports when it came to this family reunion in 2012 but a break from the rain would’ve been nice.  Now when  I  schedule our reunion I also reserve a nearby church’s cultural hall where we can do activities, eat a meal and get out of the weather for awhile if needed.  We also come prepared with large tarps and portable heaters- just in case. 

Of course, if you hold your reunion at a hotel this won’t be as much of an issue- unless, you plan on attending a theme park or other outdoor activities.  Talk to hotel officials in advance about the use of large conference halls for a bad weather day.

4. I  will never reserve a reunion site without shade.


Several years ago, we had a difficult time finding a location for our family reunion.  Someone beat us to the punch and we  lost out on our normal reunion site.  (That hasn’t happened since.) In desperation we reserved a campsite at a hot springs thinking that swimming would be great fun  for everyone- it was.  However; there was no shade whatsoever and it was HOT!  We put up some tarps to give us some relief but the sun beat down on us relentlessly.  Everyone was exhausted from swimming in the hot springs pools and then baking in the hot sun. 

Since that reunion I have made it a policy to check out our family reunion sites personally.  A couple of things I look for in a suitable site are:  proximity  to the bathrooms
        suitable sites for tents  and trailers
        Enough parking (most campsites restrict the number of cars) 
        cooking facilities & eating arrangements
        open space for games and activities
        and SHADE!

5.  I will never contribute to a boring reunion.

4th of july 2014 016

This is a picture of the really awesome obstacle course we put together for a family reunion.  Where’s Waldo?  You won’t  find Waldo or any other human in this picture because nobody wanted to do anything- BORING!

I was asked to plan activities for a large family.  My family worked hard at hauling bales of hay, ladders and other props for a dynamite obstacle  course.  We  also organized Frisbee golf and volleyball tournaments- BUT… nobody wanted to participate.  Their reunion consisted of eating, visiting (which  is important) and holding  an auction.  The most frustrating part of the reunion for me was when we finally got enough people together to play volleyball and the reunion  organizers shut us down so they could start the auction.  UGH!

When  I attend a family reunion I want to get to  know family members better- I want to  play with  them, laugh with  them and get a little crazy with them, but if that’s not what’s  important at your reunion  don’t ask  someone  to plan activities. 

I learned from this experience that I had better know who my “audience” is and plan activities (or no activities) depending on their  family makeup and interests.

Plan a Caroling Party for Family and Friends

caroling party

Gathering your family and friends together for Christmas caroling or a family sing-a-long is an easy party to plan.  Consider these helpful tips when planning your family caroling party.

Tips for Successful Christmas Caroling


Choose Your Music

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”. 

To build your song list you can type and print your own caroling sheets or make copies of the free family reunion helper caroling book by clicking here- free Christmas caroling 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.  Once you have your music you can plan the other elements of your caroling party.

Choose your caroling route

Caroling was a favorite family tradition when I was growing up. We weren’t the most talented group of singers but we were enthusiastic.

My 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 end 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.

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.

Light up the night

Ask carolers to bring flashlight to the party or purchase inexpensive lights to help with reading the sheet music.   A flashlight will also help as you navigate sidewalks, stairs and uneven ground.  If you will be caroling with children give them glow in the  dark sticks and necklaces. 

Christmas caroling Water Bottles

Give carolers a water bottle to keep their throats lubricated. You can even customize your bottles with personalized labels.

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.


Turkeys and Robbers Thanksgiving Game

If you’ve played “Cops & Robbers you can play “Turkeys and Robbers”.

Turkeys and robbers copy

Feeling a little “stuffed” after your Thanksgiving dinner? Here’s a fun game to get your Thanksgiving guests up and moving.  Before you know it they’ll be ready for pumpkin pie.

How To Play:

  1. Divide participants into two groups-the "Turkeys" and the "Robbers." If you have an odd number of people, add extra people to the robbers.  It is better to have more robbers than turkeys.
  2. Make a “nest” for your turkey eggs by making a circle (hula hoop) and placing soft balls or bean bags in the center. Start with three “eggs” but for a longer game you use more eggs.
  3. Mark off an area to be the "barnyard". When a turkey tags a robber they take the robber to the barnyard.  The barnyard could be a tree or an area you mark off.
  4. Mark off a home base for the robbers. Turkeys may not enter the home base.
  5. Robbers can get their friends out of the barnyard by touching them. 
  6. To win the game, the robbers must take the eggs while not getting captured by the turkeys.
  7. The turkeys can tag the robbers to remove them from the game or send them to the barnyard (jail).
  8. The robbers win if they successfully steal the turkey eggs and take them back to their "home base."
  9. The turkeys will win the game if they capture all of the robbers and send them to the barnyard.
  10. You will need to decide if the robbers can throw the turkey eggs from one another to keep them from the turkeys. We like that option especially when playing with an older group.
  11. If a robber is tagged while running back to the safe zone with a turkey egg, the turkeys must return the object directly to their nest. At no other time may the turkeys carry the eggs.

Turkeys and Robbers is basically just Cops and Robbers with a Thanksgiving twist.  There are many variations to the game and I’m sure you have your favorite rules so feel free to tweak as necessary.  For instance,you may want to create a safety zone around the nest for the robbers or decide on a time limit for robbers to be inside any of the safety zones. 

Whatever variations your family decides on, Turkeys and Robbers is a great way to burn off that stuffed feeling after you’ve gobbled up Tom Turkey and all the trimmings.