How to Plan a Caroling Party

Tips for a Successful Christmas Caroling Party

Gathering your family or friends together for Christmas caroling or a family sing-a-long can make your family party fun and fairly fuss free. Consider these helpful tips when planning your family caroling party.

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Choosing the Music

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The most important element of your musical caroling  party is the music and you can download a free copy of caroling lyrics at www.familyreunionhelper.com. Caroling will be successful if everyone has the same list of carols.  Provide one song sheet for every 2 carolers. Specify how many verses you will sing of each song.  One verse is usually enough especially if caroling with children.

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.

Choose songs that are short, easy to sing, and fun. It’s also best to sing upbeat songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “Up On the Housetop”.You should plan on singing 1 or 2 songs per house and end with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

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.

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.

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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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Our Favorite Halloween Treat

Peanut butter Eyeballs!

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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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Make squiggly lines to make the eyeballs look look “bloodshot”. 

    Makes about 2 dozen eyeballs.

Have a Trail Mix Buffet

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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. .

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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.

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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.
granola
marshmallows
coconut, banana chips
pretzels, goldfish crackers
raisins, Craisins, chopped dates, yogurt raisins
Popcorn makes a great filler.

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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. western food tent

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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.

Pool Noodle Ponies For Your Western Reunion

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

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

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

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

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

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The felt will stay put without gluing.

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

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

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

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

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

Western Family Reunion

Human Piñata Chase

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This fun variation of the traditional piñata may very well become the highlight for the kids at your next family reunion or party.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Nail It Game!

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I love finding a new game to share with my family and friends and the game I’m sharing today is a good one. Simple to put together and simple to play. This version of the “stump game” can be played by everyone and we call it “Nail It”.

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Nail It Game Tools

To play you need a tree stump, as many nails as there are players, and one hammer.   The nails we used are pictured below.

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How to Play the Nail It Game

Everyone puts their nail into the stump just enough for it to stand nice and sturdy (in the order that you are standing in the circle). Each player then “claims” a nail by placing his or her finger on the nail to claim it as theirs. This will be his nail for the duration of the game. It is generally understood that people will claim the nail directly in front of them.

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The first player taps the hammer two times on the stump and then takes a swing at any of the nails but their own.  They either hit the nail or miss the nail- either way the hammer is then passed to the next person in the circle and they repeat.

Winning the Game

The goal is to hit everyone else’s nail until it is flush with the stump and to be the last nail standing.  A player is eliminated from the game (and thereby takes no more turns) once any part of the head of his nail passes below the level of the surface of the stump (including bending over the edge of the stump without actually entering it). Use your fingernail to test if the nail is flush.

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It is common for the winner of the game, should he choose to do so, to drive his own nail fully into the stump in a victory drive.

I have to say I was a surprised when, doing research for this blog, found that the “stump” game is actually a drinking game.  So, as a disclaimer, let me say that we have played this game and never, at any time, have we had to have a can of beer in our hand to have fun playing it.  It’s a great game for family members of most ages and abilities.  Sometimes the most powerful hammer swingers are the worst players. 

Nail It Game Tips: 

*You may all stand or all sit to play
*Keep your face a safe distance from the stump so you don’t get hit in the head.
*Be careful reaching across the stump to hit a nail- you may hit your palm on a nail and it doesn’t feel very good.
*Choose good, sturdy nails- too small and some players can drive them in one swing.

Giant Yardzee Game For Your Reunion or Outdoor Party

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I’ve never gotten too excited about all the “giant” yard games you  find on the internet but a couple of weeks ago I actually saw a giant Yahtzee game. I got to touch it, roll the dice and count up my score and I thought, “Hey this would be fun for our next family reunion!”  (I  think that about a lot of things)

Giant Yardzee is pretty simple to make.  You’ll need  5 dice cut from 4″x”4″ fence posts.  Cut each cube to 3.5 inches to make a perfect cube.Sand as necessary and paint in bright colors.  To make dots use a circle template to paint them on or use stickers or circles cut with a 1 inch hole punch.

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This is a very cute bucket to store Yardzee score cards and markers in but a 5 gallon bucket is more practical as it will also hold your dice.

Print off giant sized Yahtzee score cards- there are many free ones on the internet- here’s one resource.http://www.memory-improvement-tips.com/support-files/yahtzee-score-sheet-large.pdf

Playing using normal Yahtzee rules.

Did you know- A single “dice” is called a die and multiples are called dice. The round dots on a die are called pips!

Silver Dollar Game for Your Independence Day Party

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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.

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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!

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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.”

M & M or Skittle Ice Breaker Game

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Getting to Know You Game

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Take a bag of M&M’s or Skittles candy and tell everyone to grab a handful…or specify a number (I prefer this if you have a large group so it doesn’t take so long- I suggest each family member take 4 or 5 candies) You might also choose to split up in smaller groups such as children under 12, 12 and over, young adults etc. if you have a larger group such as a family reunion.

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Assign a different meaning to each color, blue= family, green=hobbies, yellow=animals, brown= work or school etc. Participants must tell one thing about themselves for how many candies they have in their hands using the colors as their guide. They may also eat them as they share their information.  (“Blue…I have two sisters.”, then eats the candy. “Yellow…I have a dog named Kodi.”, and eats the candy etc.) If you have two or more of the same color you have to tell one thing per candy regardless the color.

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This is a good ice breaker because you can play it as soon as your party is supposed to start and those that come a little late can participate when they arrive.

A slight variation to the game is have participates tell things that make them, happy, sad, angry, excited or afraid.

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Free Party Game Resource

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Friday night is pizza and game night at my house.  We have our favorite games and we have our favorite pizza but some nights we’re in the mood to try something new.  I  know where to find new pizza combinations and now I know where to find new game ideas.

If you’re looking for a game to play you should check out this new game site- Party Games 411.  It’s a very simple site to use and a marvelous resource  for party planners.

I plan a lot of  parties and family reunions and I am always looking  for a new game or activity.  I search the web trying to find ideas but this site is the easiest way I’ve found.

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Search for a Game

There are several ways to search for a game at Party Games 411. You can:

1. Enter the number of players and the location (inside or outside) that the game will be played.  For instance, I searched for an indoor or outdoor game for  80 people and it gave me 40 possible games we could  play.

2. You can also search for games alphabetically.

3. You can search for particular game by entering the name of it. 

Each game gives you recommended ages and game requirements and easy to understand rules and instructions.

Games, Games, Games

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You will find ideas for card games, team building games, tag games, mind games,  party games, large group games and so much more.  So next time you ask, “What game should we  play?” check out Party Games 411.