Eats Are On The Way

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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”.

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Family Reunion Tug Of War

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New and improved is not better than tried and true!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Turkeys and Robbers Thanksgiving Game

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

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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.

Punch Board Game

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Punch Board For Your Family Reunion

You’ve seen punch boards on the popular TV game show, The Price is Right, but a punch board can be a fun addition to your family reunion.  A punch board can be an exciting way to award prizes at your family reunion.  You can use a punch board to make assignments or choose what activity you will do next.

A larger board can also be a fair way to divide into teams- for example- write families names on slips of paper (Aunt Geri’s family or Uncle Dan’s family etc.)  Punch two or more holes- those families join  together to make a tug a war, softball or family skit group.  You can use the same strategy to assign seating for meals to mix things up a bit.

Creating Your Punch Board

To create your punch board you will need:

  • sturdy poster board or a piece of cardboard
  • tissue paper
  • Plastic disposable  bowls, lunch sacks or sandwich bags
  • prizes
  • tape & hot glue
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  • The first  punch board we created we used one  sheet  of tissue paper to cover the entire back of the board.  Since then we have found that covering each hole with individual squares seems to work best as  punching one hole may pull the paper from around other holes.  Tape each square securely around individual  holes.

  • Behind the Punch Board

There are several  options for hiding prizes behind your punch board.  My favorite option is plastic bowls. Carefully run a line of hot glue around the rim of your bowl and attach it to the inside of the tissue covered holes, with the prize inside.  Be sure and put your prize or secret message inside the bowl before attaching it to the board. Other options include taping a lunch sack to the back of each hole or plastic sandwich bags.

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Punch boards also make fun advent calendars.  Create yours with 24 holes and 24 prizes.  Punch out one prize each day to help count down days until Christmas or your favorite holiday.

Giant Activities for Your Family Reunion

Miscellaneous” Activities for Your Family Reunion

I considered calling this post ”Miscellaneous” activities for your family reunion because they aren’t theme driven but have proven to be great time fillers for small groups of people during our family reunions.

Giant Checkers Rug

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I have had this giant Checkers Rug for more than 20 years.  We set it out at every family reunion and you will always find two people playing Checkers no matter what time of day it is, usually with a small crowd gathered around cheering for the underdog to win.

Giant Coloring Pages

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Giant coloring pages are always a huge hit at our  family reunions. Of course, there isn’t room for a lot of people to sit around coloring, but it’s a great activities for someone looking for a little down  time.  Coloring pages come in different themes that would go along with your reunion theme- jungle, circus, Medieval etc.  Some pages come with markers for coloring but you’ll need to bring extra.  When your page is complete, roll it up carefully and then enter in your county fair or have it framed for Grandma.

The giant Checker rug and giant coloring pages are both available at the family reunion helper  store  for under twenty dollars.

Remote Control Car Racing for Your Family Reunion

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We attended a party sponsored by my husbands company this summer and when we walked into the huge warehouse all the boys faces, young and old, lit up with excitement at what they saw.  A simple remote control race track had been set up in the warehouse and party goers were able to organize their own races against family and friends.  What a great party idea and what a fun idea for a family reunion!  Here’s how it works-

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The Cars

If your reunion committee has the funds, purchase a few cars and at the end of your reunion auction them off  or have a prize drawing.  Another option is to invite family members to bring their own remote control cars to the reunion. If you’re planning in advance, a good time to purchase remote control cars in during the Thanksgiving Black Friday sales.

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The RC Track

First you have to decide if you want a dirt track or an inside track. As far as size goes, you won’t need more than a 20-foot by 20-foot area. You can chart out the obvious oval course or focus on hard turns to make it more challenging. If you are racing on a hard surface, you can easily chart out the borders of the track using chalk or tape. Use 2x4s to make a sturdy track. A garden hose may also be a solution to keep the RC cars on the track. Depending on how many cars and racers you have the track should be within 5 to 7 feet wide.

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A barrier in the center of your track helps keep cars roaring around the track and may help keep younger racers from getting stuck in the center.  It can also be used as a control central for racers.

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RC Jumps and Obstacles

Now it’s time to have some fun adding obstacles and jumps. If your car is a cheaper model, add only slight jumps but medium cost remote control cars can fly right over jumps without being damaged. You can use 2 liter bottles that you spray paint bright orange as obstacles. Put a little sand in each bottle and use them for obstacles to weave in and out  off.  (You can use orange cones but the smaller ones get pushed out of place.) Another fun obstacle for your track is a tunnel made from plastic or metal that a remote control car can fit through.  If you are creating a dirt track the pipe can also double as the base for a jump if dirt is piled around it.  You will have to experiment to get the dirt at the right angle.  Tunnels can also be made out of cardboard boxes.

Race Day!

Have your track set up when reunion goers arrive.  Invite them to practice racing cars around the track then choose a few cars to race for prizes at the end of the day. Gift bags of “Hot Wheel” and “Cars” goodies are fun awards.

Race Day Party

  • You can find race day printable invitations, decoration ideas,printable Pit Passes, water bottle (fuel) labels and award certificates in the familyreunionhelper store at Race Day Party.
  • Whether for a family reunion or birthday party it’s a great party theme with plenty of ZOOM!

Gentlemen, start your engines!

Create a Cities and Towns Game

You can create a fun pencil and paper game using the names of the cities and towns in your state.  It’s pretty simple to do, especially if you get a few people together to brainstorm with you.  Things might get a little silly as you match up clues and cities but in the end you should have 20- 25 clues for your next reunion  or party.

Utah Cities and Towns Game

Here’s the game we made for our state, Utah.  Hopefully our ideas will help you create a game for your state. The first part is the clue the second  part is the city or town name that matches the clue.

1. Get on a horse smiling- Mount Pleasant

2. What it costs- Price

3. What you do for a girl in need- Helper

4. Has figs in in- Newton

5. Always around a dam site- Beaver

6. Place of 360 degrees- Circleville

7. A wealthy meadow- Richfield

8. Big Wind- Hurricane

9. Fragrant Tree- Cedar

10. Spanish headdress- Mexican Hat

11. A wreath of flowers- Garland

12. Hurrah!- Eureka!

13. Happy outlook- Pleasant View

14. Everyone is under 21- Minersville

15. A prickly weed- Thistle

16. Halfway there- Midway

17. Put your money on us- Backus

18. Give your boy money- Payson

19. A dragging gun holster- Logan

20. Nothing beautiful about her- Plain City

21. What you do with the little cars at mines- Orem

22. His dad is a firearm- Gunnison

The Family That Eats Together Stays Together

 

Or Forcing Your Family to Mingle

One difficult part of a family reunion or party can be getting your family to mingle during meal time.  We usually have each family group sitting together- the Maddox family, the Wynnes and the Stewarts all sitting in their own little group.  It’s not that we don’t like each other or don’t get along-we just gravitate to our  own family group.

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Here’s a fun way to mix things up.  Put a pieces of colored tape or ribbon on each chair or seating space (if you’re dealing with picnic benches)  When everyone has begun eating announce that everyone sitting on a yellow space must switch places with another yellow.  A few minutes later have pinks switch and so on.

DO NOT make it too complicated!  If you have green switch with pink and yellow with red, nothing will happen- everyone will remain in their original seat.  If you’re family is compliant and seems to enjoy the mixing up you could try switching two colors at a time but for the most part it’s best  to focus on one color at a time.  You don’t have to mix people up all in one meal- keep the colors on during your entire reunion and only do a couple of swaps per meal.

Towards the end of the meal you can announce “Rainbow Mixup” and everyone has to switch places.

HINT:  Choose a meal that doesn’t have a lot of plates and silverware etc. to be moved.