Black Friday Shopping a Family Tradition

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For our family, Black Friday shopping is a Thanksgiving tradition as rich as turkey stuffing or pumpkin pie.  We wake before the crack of dawn the morning after turkey day and start hunting down Black Friday bargains.

I know that many of you are shaking your head in disgust right now- for many  people staying up late or getting up in the wee hours of morning seems ridiculous to you.  I’ll be the first to admit that you have to be a little (maybe a lot) crazy to get up early and be standing in a long line by 5 a.m.- in the cold, and the psycho crowds, but for me, it’s not about the bargains out there or the money I might save- it’s about the family memories we make. 

Black Friday Memories

In our family we enjoy remembering the time Uncle Lee almost got trampled (Well, not really but it makes a better story) by a mob of frenzied shoppers fighting over Furby pets.

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We loved the year Sears gave out free $10.00 gift cards to the first person in line and we all came out with our purchases and hadn’t spent a dime of our own money.  My daughter still has the slippers she bought that day and wears them proudly.

Then there was the year we stood in a freezing cold Staples line and they brought everyone hot chocolate.  The hot Styrofoam cup kept our hands warm while we stood in line and talked and laughed about how stupid it was to be standing outside in the freezing cold at five in the morning.

One year our main priority was to hit the huge sock sale at Fred Meyers but when we entered the store we found it overflowing with bargain sock shoppers that we left without purchasing even one pair of socks.

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For the Wells family, Black Friday is an event and a rite of passage for pre-teens as they hope to be included in the early morning shopping spree.

My brother Lee, Uncle Steven and I are the instigators of the craziness and a few years ago we took Black Friday Shopping to a whole new level with an “Application to Go Black Friday Shopping With Aunt Mo & Uncle Lee” form.  This was a tongue-in-cheek application that those who wanted to go shopping had to fill out.  (A copy of this form can be  found at the end of this blog.)

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My brother, Scott, added some “over the top” fun to the event by organizing all of the ads for Black Friday sales in a crate with hanging file folders.  He was adamant that we return all ads to their specific file location so that everything stayed organized.  (Of course, all his organizing was only a ploy to be accepted as a member of our Black Friday shopping team.)

Black Friday Shopping Tips

Here’s some things we’ve learned to help us have a successful shopping trip:

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Make a plan.  Decide in advance which stores have the best bargains for the most shoppers in your group.

Leave your coat in the car and anything else that makes it difficult to maneuver through the store.

Beat the system by shopping in teams. We always separate into teams and go after items that we want.  One person (usually Uncle Steve) always heads for the check-out line so we don’t have to waste so much time waiting in line to check out.

One final note to store and shop owners- please don’t ruin Black Friday shopping by opening your doors a week early and calling it a “pre Black Friday” sale.  It seems that stores are opening earlier than ever and some have door busters slated for the day before Black Friday, letting you shop after Thanksgiving dinner.   I guess you’d say I am a purest- I like Black Friday where it’s supposed to be- the day after Thanksgiving, very early in the morning and surrounded by my family- at least those that filled out a Black Friday shopping application.

Aunt MO

Black Friday Application

Application to Go Black Friday Shopping With Aunt Mo & Uncle Lee

Black Friday shopping is a very serious business. It is a great honor to be part of Aunt Mo and Uncle Lee’s Black Friday shopping team. If you would like to be considered for a spot on the our Black Friday shopping team please fill out the following questioner and give it to Aunt Mo or Uncle Lee by 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day. We have very strict guidelines and take our Black Friday shopping very seriously. We will notify all successful candidates by 9:00 PM that same day. Good luck!

NAME ____________________ AGE ______

1. How many times have you been Black Friday shopping? ___________________________________

2. Are you an experienced Black Friday shopper YES or NO

3. What time will you go to bed Thanksgiving night? ________________________________________

4. Do you push the “snooze” button when your alarm goes off? YES or NO (We don’t want to wait for you)

5. What will you be shopping for? ________________________________________________________

6. Name three stores you would like to shop at? List in order of importance.

1.__________

2. __________

3. __________

7. How much cash will you bring with you? _______________________________________________

8. Do you have a credit or debit card? YES or NO (We do not allow those who use checks as they slow us down)

9. What do you feel is a good price to pay for a Hot Wheel car on Black Friday? __________________

10. Are you willing to stand in line while others shop? YES or NO

11. How fast do you run the mile? _________________________________________________________

12. How many pounds can you bench press? _______________________________________________

Please attach one letter of reference to this form.

Thank you for applying to be part of our Black Friday team. We will contact you by 9:00 PM Thanksgiving night.

When You Were My Age Giveaway

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We’re so excited about our new and updated version of “When You Were My Age Party” that we’re giving away a free copy to one of our subscribers.  Just tell us what celebration you might  use this party  for in the comments section of this blog and we will randomly select one person to receive a free copy on December 1st, 2013.

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Our new version of “When You Were My Age” includes a fill in the blank invitation and gives you 37 pages of information for the years 1921- 2010.

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This is such a fun program, fashioned after a Bill Cosby Show episode and was called, "When Mom Was my Age." We have done variations of the program for 70th and 80th birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries. Each time we do "When You Were My Age" everyone is thrilled and excited to be a part of the celebration. Everyone has a part on the program and an opportunity to highlight world events and significant family happenings throughout the life of your loved one.

This is a great way to honor your Grandma or Grandpa on their special birthday or your Dad or Mom on their 50th anniversary. Celebrating a landmark birthday or anniversary is always going to be a lot of work but with this package you’ll be well on your way to saying "We love you" in a very special way.

When You Were My Age

M & M or Skittle Ice Breaker Game

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.

Dinosaur Party Game

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Carnivores vs. Herbivores Game

This is a fun dinosaur game to play outside. Divide family members into two teams, the Carnivores and the Herbivores.

Give each Carnivore a small sheet of dinosaur stickers. When you say "Go", the Carnivores chase the Herbivores. A Herbivore is "caught" when a Carnivore places a sticker on his or her back. The Herbivore must "freeze" until another Herbivore releases him or her by removing the sticker.

Play until the Carnivores run out of stickers. Distribute stickers to the Herbivores and repeat the game.

NOTE:  This game comes from our Caveman Reunion Theme. 
Caveman Reunion

Crescent Roll Pizzas for Family Game Night

 

At our house, Friday night, is pizza and game night.  On Friday night, all the kids and grandkids that are available come to our house for homemade pizza and fun.  The truth be known I get a little tired of pizza every Friday so I’m always on the look out for non-traditional ways to prepare pizza and was excited about this super simple but yummy pizza variation.

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You’ll only need four ingredients:

Pillsbury crescent rolls
Pizza sauce
Pepperoni or favorite pizza toppings
Cheese sticks

Preheat oven by the directions on the crescent’s

  • unroll the crescents
  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of pizza sauce (more if you don’t mind the mess)
  • Place pepperoni or other topping on top of the sauce at the wide end of the crescent
  • Put your cheese on the wide end of the crescent
  • Roll beginning at the  wide end of the crescent
  • Bake for about 8-10 mins.
  • Let cool and enjoy!

Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts part 2

 

Scavenger Hunt Clues Using Pictures

Take a picture of the location of a hidden clue but only take a portion of the picture. In the example below you can see that just a portion of the word is shown.  You could do part of a clock, drinking fountain, corner of tent, a car wheel with interesting rims etc.  When the hunters figure out what the clue is a picture of they run to that location to get their next picture clue and so on until they find the treasure.  This does take some advance planning but makes for fun hunt for even the very young that may not be good readers.
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Secret Codes Hunt

Writing secret codes is another way to generate clues. Using numbers in place of letters is an easy way to create the code (1=a, 2=b, etc.), but  using a backwards letter code can make things a little extra challenging. Decipher the  clue to find out where to look for their next clue.

Urban Race

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As a Youth Council advisor for our town, I had the fun opportunity to participate in a Great Urban Race at Utah State University.  The teenagers learned a lot about the university by unscrambling clues and completing challenges to complete the race.  The kids loved it and I couldn’t help but think what a fun activity it could be for a family reunion, especially if you held your reunion in a town that your family had ties to. 

Urban Race is the team race that’s part photo hunt and part trivia. Teams must solve clues to find checkpoints throughout the city. To move on they must take photos or perform certain tasks to earn points.

The fun part of an urban race is that the use of cellphones is  okay. Teams may call family members left back at the reunion site to get help with difficult trivia. Everyone gets a chance to participate in the fun.

Riddle Clues

Scavenger Hunt Ideas & Riddles | Treasure Hunting | Riddle Me

The most difficult part of a treasure or scavenger hunt for me is making up the  clues, it’s also time consuming. I found a website that can help with that- it’s called “Riddle Me”. They have over Over 10,000 Riddles on 1,200 objects and can target different age groups and types of gatherings.  Their program also lets you be in control over the time of the activity, because it lets you decide how many clues to print in a scavenger hunt.

Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts

Puzzle Treasure Hunt

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Take a picture of where the treasure will be hidden.  Cut up the picture of the location into several pieces. (The older the participants the more pieces)

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Hide the pieces in a designated area. Players search for the pieces then try to assemble the puzzle to get the prize or treasure.

Sandbox Treasure Hunt

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Sandbox treasure hunts are tried and true hunts.  Hide pennies, nickels and quarters in sand or saw dust.  Be sure and keep the sawdust and sand contained in a #10 tub, children’s pool or on a sheet of plastic. 

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Who’s Got the Key? Treasure Hunt

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Gather as many spare keys that you can find. You will need a lot of keys so ask family members to bring their keys also. (You can purchase large lots of key blanks on eBay for under $10.00) Buy a lock and key. Put the lock on a treasure chest or box of some sort with hidden treasure in it. Hide all of the keys including the key that will open the lock. Everyone searches for a key, when they find a key they try it in the lock- if it doesn’t work they search for another key until someone finds the correct key and opens the treasure.

Digital Camera Treasure Hunt

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This is such a fun idea for a family reunion. You’ll need one digital camera for each team. Give each team a list of things to take pictures of.  If you want to put a family history spin on this hunt, challenge teams to find:

Someone who served in a war
Oldest relative at the reunion
Youngest relative at the reunion
Relative that  has won a trophy
Someone that had a rotary dial phone
Relative who came the farthest distance to the reunion
Someone who has lived out  of the country
The couple that has been married the longest

You get the idea- it’s fun to really make teams talk to their older relatives to find out the information.  Be sure and take a team picture with each relative.

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Cousin Bobbie planned a digital camera hunt as part of our Thanksgiving fun a few years ago.  We had to find as many things on our list as possible, take a picture of them and return back to the meeting area and determine the winner.  We had to find things like a scarecrow, pumpkin, cat, turkey and Christmas lights.

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Look for part 2 or this article next week and in the meantime- happy hunting!

The Jumping, Running, Throwing Fun of an Obstacle Course

I’m not writing this blog for you, I’m writing it for me.  Every time I need to create an obstacle course I have to rethink every type of course we’ve done in the past.  Next time I have to make an obstacle course I’m just going to search for this blog,hopefully you’ll get some good ideas too.

Kids love obstacle courses and they’re pretty easy to create just using the things you have around your house or party area. 

The easiest way to create a course is to assign each person one obstacle or if it is for a family reunion, assign several families to each bring an obstacle.  You  can do this with little or no advance notice using just the things you have in the course area.

If you have a committee that is putting the course together spend some time brainstorming ideas for your course layout. If you will be at a campground you may be able to take advantage of a water hazard, large rocks and logs.

Eight to ten challenges is a good number for most people.  Here’s some tried and true obstacles that have proved to be fun  over the years.

Jumping Obstacles

Bales of straw or hay make a fun obstacle.  Other jumping obstacles can be logs, laundry baskets or rolled up sleeping bags.  Instead of jumping you can crawl under or over a row of chairs.

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Running Obstacles

Lay a ladder on the ground and children run through the ladder making sure they step in the hole between each rung on the ladder.

Every obstacle course needs a tire challenge of some sort.  When runners reach the tires, they have to run through them, placing one foot in each of the tires. The more tires you have the harder it becomes.

Swinging Obstacles

Everybody likes a good old rope swing and it’s a fun addition to any obstacle course. If you aren’t near a natural water hazard fill up a kiddy wading pool to provide an extra challenge. Several big knots tied in the rope’s end makes it easier to grab.

Balancing Obstacles

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Using logs, 2x4s or wooden planks makes for a fun balancing portion of your course.

Throwing Obstacles

Throw beanbags into a bucket or basket.  If you have access to a basketball hoop, require participants to make a basket before moving to the next challenge.  If football is your sport of choice throw a ball through a goal post made of PVC pipe.

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Silly Obstacles

Purchase some old couch cushions from the thrift store, mattress or foam pad and set out for participants to run through. This challenge will really slow runners down- just be sure to tell them there is no jumping allowed.

And don’t forget cones (good for zig zagging) and hula hoops (good substitute for tires).

A stopwatch (or the stopwatch on your cellphone) is essential for keeping track of their course times.  You can keep times individually or run your obstacle course as a team relay event.

Setting up an obstacle course is a wonderful way for adults and children to get some fun physical activity. Kids will do it as  part of an organized activity but when the “official” activity is over they’ll continue to play and be entertained making their own kind of fun.

Famous Aunts & Uncles Family Reunion Game

How well do you know the aunts and uncles in your family?  Well,here’s a test to find out how well you know “famous” aunts and uncles that you’ve come to love through TV, books and in the movies.  Pass copies of the test out to older family members when they arrive at your reunion or during down time. Give prizes for the best(WHOPPERS, SMARTIES,100 GRAND) and worst (Milk DUDS) scores.

Famous Aunts & Uncles

www.familyreunionhelper.com

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1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt

2. Mr. Television

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”

6. Uncle housekeeper on “My Three Sons”

7. Common sense aunt on “Fresh Prince of "Bel-Air”

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup

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10. Luke Skywalker’s uncle from “Star Wars”

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt

12. Cissy, Buffy & Jody’s uncle on “Family Affair”

13. Whitney Houston’s famous singing Aunt

14. Motorcycle riding uncle on “Full house”

15. George Clooney’s favorite singing aunt

16. The richest duck in the world

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17. Aunt that Amy stays with in “Little Women” 

18. He wants YOU (for the US Army)

19. Spiderman’s uncle and adoptive father

20. Who lived with her aunts at 133 Collins Road?

Famous Aunts & Uncles Answer Key

Answer Key

1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt- Aunt Bee

2. Mr. Television Uncle- Miltie

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt- Auntie Em

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”- Uncle Festus

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”- Aunt Clara

6. Uncle housekeeper on “My Three Sons”- Uncle Charley

7. Common-sense aunt on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Aunt Vivian

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle- Uncle Vernon

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup- Aunt Jemima

10. Luke Skywalker’s uncle from “Star Was” Uncle Owen

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt- Aunt Polly

12. Cissy, Buffy & Jody’s uncle on “Family Affair”- Uncle Bill

13. Whitney Houston’s famous singing Aunt- Dionne Warwick

14. Motorcycle riding uncle on “Full house” – Uncle Jesse

15. George Clooney’s favorite singing aunt- Rosemary Clooney

16. The richest duck in the world- Uncle Scrooge

17. Aunt that Amy stays with in “Little Women”- Aunt March

18. He wants YOU (for the US Army)- Uncle Sam

19. Spiderman’s uncle and adoptive father- Uncle Ben

20. Who lived with her aunts at 133 Collins Road?- Sabrina the Teenage Witch

A “ready for printing” copy of this game as well as other fun “Pencil and Paper” games is included with every family reunion theme package purchased at familyreunionhelper.com/

Looking for another fun game to test your knowledge?  Try the Older Than Dirt game and find out who is older than dirt at your next reunion.

Using Your Super Hero Powers to Wipe Out Dead Air At Your Family Reunion

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How to Destroy Boring Family Reunion
“Dead Air”

Back in my 20’s I worked as a disc jockey at a radio station.  About the worst thing a deejay could do back then and I’m  pretty sure now, is to have “dead air”.  Dead air is an unintended period of silence during a radio broadcast.  I have been unfortunate enough to experience some  periods of dead air when I worked as a disc jockey, usually because I was unprepared, unorganized or because there was an equipment mal-function.  I have also experienced “dead air” at a family reunion.

It is most common to experience reunion or party dead air between the time when family or guests are arriving and the time when the planned activities are scheduled to begin.  I know you’ve experienced it- people just standing around in awkward silence not sure what they’re supposed to be doing and wishing that they had someone to talk to.

There is a solution to doing away with reunion dead air- be prepared, be organized and PLAN an activity that doesn’t have to be supervised.

A few of our favorite dead air busters are:

Sugar Cookie Decorating

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When we arrived at Aunt Karen’s dinosaur reunion twenty or so years ago, we found plastic wrapped dinosaurs shaped sugar cookies tied to trees and fences all around the park where the reunion was held.  After checking in, everyone went on a dinosaur hunt to find the perfect sugar cookie and then on  to the decorating station where we found frosting, sprinkles and candies to decorate our cookies.

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As we frosted and decorated our cookies, other family members arrived and we laughed, talked and ate our dinosaur masterpieces and Bam- dead air destroyed!

DIY Tee Shirts

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The Brown family used a creative idea to not only take care of dead air but to also personalize their reunion t-shirts.

Instead of doing a generic design on their shirts they did stick figures of a family and when family members arrived at the reunion  they painted their own shirt using fabric paints and markers.  Everyone was so busy and excited about their shirts they chatted and shared ideas and Pow- dead air busted!

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Boondoggle

Boondoggle will keep most kids, 10 and over occupied for any dead air during your reunion.  By taking two strings of boondoggle, you can weave, braid, or otherwise knot it to create some fun projects.

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Set out a few spools of boondoggle and a few clips or key chains and before   you know it, young and old will be making new boondoggle creations.

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You will need someone to man the boondoggle station that knows how to start boondoggle.  If someone in your family has been to a girl or boy scout camp they probably already know how to do boondoggle.  A good resource for learning boondoggle basics is Boondoggle Man- and Splash- dead air busted!

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NOTE: If using an activity for the older children, like boondoggle, don’t forget to set out something for the younger ones such as coloring pages, a kiddy pool  filled with sand or a few soft balls.

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Stating the Obvious

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Here’s the obvious boredom busters- set up volleyball, badminton, croquet, horseshoes or any activity that  will get your family interacting with each other. 

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I have a giant Checkers game that I set out at every reunion (it’s tradition) and before too  long one of the cousins will challenge an uncle to a game and a crowd will  gather around to watch. 

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to set these games up but it sure adds to the reunion fun.

When most of your family has arrived at the reunion it’s time to move on to your planned activities, usually ice breaker games, but with some extra planning and effort on your part their won’t be much ice to break- families members will feel right at home because you’ve used your super hero powers to destroy reunion dead air.