Quench Thirsts At Your Next Reunion

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Keeping your family hydrated during your family is important and can be a challenge if you are having your reunion outdoors and if you will be encouraging playing sports and other physical activities. You can create a budget and fund for communal beverages, ask everyone to bring their own drinks or try one of ideas below.

Water Bottles For Family Reunions

Water bottles give you a great opportunity to personalize your water bottles by making labels that support your reunion theme or your family name. Most of our family reunion theme packages include water bottle labels you can easily print and use on your water bottles.

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A package of sticker paper can easily be printed on then cut and apply to the water bottles.  Get a good quality sticker paper, some of the budget paper aren’t as sticky and may pull away from the water bottle. Sticker paper is great if you won’t keep water bottles in ice but if the water bottles will be stored where they will get wet you should select a sticker paper that is water resistant.  You can find water bottle sticker paper in the familyreunionhelper store.

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Water bottle labels compliment your reunion or party theme well and they can help save reunion funds and keep your reunion “green” if everyone writes their name on the bottle and reuses the same bottle during the reunion.

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Insulated cups from the Dollar Store

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A fun idea our family discovered recently are insulated cups from the dollar store.  They cost a dollar (surprise) and come in a variety of colors.  If you need a lot of cups you will probably want to order them from the store’s online site.  They will ship for free to your local store where you can pick them up.  Although cups cost more than a water bottle they do make a great souvenir that your family can continue to use when the reunion is over. 

My daughter has a vinyl machine and she made a fun  logo that we put on all of our cups. They were a hit with the family and with so many cup colors family members were able to easily keep track of their own cups.

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Water Coolers

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An  economical way to keep everyone hydrated is to use water coolers.  You can purchase a 5 gallon water cooler for around $25.00.  Buy several and keep one full of water and ice and one of punch or lemonade.  Drink coolers are also great for making homemade root beer. With coolers you can provide paper cups or can use them to refill water bottles or plastic drink  cups.

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Last but not least, ask everyone to provide their own beverages for the reunion. Asking everyone to provide their own drinks gives some relief to the budget and assures that everyone has their favorite beverage on hand.

Create a Cities and Towns Game

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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.

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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

Back Home- A Poem About Family

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I read this poem on Facebook and it really touched my heart.  I had such an amazing childhood- a huge backyard for whiffle ball games, a room of my own and parents that supported my love for horses and music.  Gatherings with extended family were a huge part of my child, vacations by myself to my grandparents house in Wyoming, cousin sleepovers and of course family reunions.

I don’t know who wrote this poem but I hope they won’t mind that I share it with you.  I think it could easily be part of a family reunion or heritage scrapbook or a touching tribute for a special person in your life.

Back Home

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If I had the power to turn back the clock,
and go back to that house at the end of the block.
The house that was home when I was a kid,
I know that I’d love it more now than I did.

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If I could be back there at my mothers knee,
and hear once again,the things she told me.
I’d listen now as I never listened before,
for she knew so well what life had in store.

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And all the advice my dad used to give…
his voice I’ll remember as long as I live.
But it didn’t seem really important then,
what I’d give to live it all over again.

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What I’d give for the chance I once had,
to do so much more for my mom and dad.
To give them more joy and little less pain,
a little more sunshine-a lot less rain.

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But years roll on and i cannot go back,
whether I was born in a mansion or a shack.
I can start right now in the hour that’s here,
to do something more for the ones I hold dear.
And since time in its flight is traveling so fast,
I can’t spend it regretting that which is past.
But I’ll try to make tomorrow a happier day,
By doing my Good unto Others…Today.

(Author Unknown)

A Tongue in Cheek List of Reasons to Play Pipe Chimes

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December is a  great time to dig up your set of pipe chimes and make some holiday music with your family and friends. 

Making music with pipe chimes is an easy and inexpensive way to have fun with your family. My Mom saw pipe chimes more than thirty years ago and our family has been making music with conduit pipes ever since.

Kids and adults are amazed how easy they are to play, and how wonderful they sound.  It’s so fun to play a song you recognize and have it sound good. For pipes, they are well tuned and have a good sound. 

Pipe Chimes Book

The most frustrating thing about pipe chimes is getting music for them so I decided to put together my own  “Pipe Chimes Music Book”.  Most of the music in book one is Christmas music but I’ve also included songs for every day singing as well and if you have a specific song you want to play you can use the note chart I’ve included to write your own music.

Pipe Chimes Book 2

With the success of book  one, I decided to compile a  second book of chimes music. Included in book 2 are eleven songs arranged specifically for pipe chimes choirs. “Red River Valley” features beautiful harmonies and is for more advanced chimes players. You will find “America the Beautiful” a challenge but will love the finished product after a few practices. For small groups we’ve included “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Au Clair De La Lune”.

As long as you can read numbers, you can play pipe chimes.  They are numbered 0 to 20; they also each have their note name on them, so you can play a song that you know the melody to. 

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Now, here’s my list of-

Top Ten Reasons to Learn to Play the Pipe Chimes

10. A pipe chime doubles as a game piece in an over- sized Clue game.

9. American Idol now lets you use an instrument.

8. Studies show that the resonating tones of pipe chimes stimulates hair follicles which encourages hair growth.

7. Chuck Norris plays pipe chimes.

6. Pipe chime playing is good for your hands. I probably have stronger hands/fingers than most people I know. And have you ever noticed the hands of a pianist? Beautiful, long, tapered fingers. Chances are that if you’ve ever admired someone’s hands, they play the piano… or pipe chimes.

5. Playing pipe chimes helps you burn calories. A 155 pound person burns 281 calories in an hour of pipe chime playing.

4. You can join AFPOPCP – The association for the preservation of pipe chime playing You get positive vibes from playing pipe chimes.

3. People will automatically assume you’re a genius. Really, I’ve heard this lot. People uttering “He/she plays the pipe chimes” in the same tone reserved for “He/she has an IQ of 180.” You just can’t help but admire someone that plays an instrument.

2. Colleges like musical instruments on applications–it’s never too early to boost your kid’s qualifications! 100s of college scholarships for Pipe Chime playing go unclaimed each year.

And the number one reason to play pipe chimes…

1. Self-defense!  No one  messes with someone  carrying a pipe in  their hands!

Whether the Weather

Predicting the weather for your next family reunion- yes, there is a tool to help!

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A couple of months ago I was directed to a website that promised to provide free long range weather forecasts to help with planning outdoor activities.  I was excited to think there was a website like this, because, if you’ve ever been in charge of an outdoor family reunion or gathering of some sort, you know the most difficult thing  to predict is the WEATHER! 

The http://www.weathertab.com/ website doesn’t guarantee that their information is 100 percent accurate but their research and science does give you a bit of an advantage when trying to choose a date for your family reunion and they do say that their forecasts “start where others stop”.

The weathertab site can show you the predicted weather for 1 day to 18 months in advance, it is always free and requires no subscription or registration.

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I put the weathertab site to the test when planning my husband’s 60th birthday party.  I choose to have his celebration a day earlier because there was only a 13% chance of rain on that day instead of his actual birthday when there was a 39% chance of rain.

I felt lucky when we had a wonderfully sunny,  no rain party on his special day.  I’m excited to use the site when planning next years family reunion. Check out http://www.weathertab.com/ when planning your reunion too and see if WeatherTAB’s  long range weather forecast can help you find a reunion day with a lower chance of rain too.

Find Someone Who… Reunion Bingo

Getting To Know You Ice Breaker Game for Your Family Reunion

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Family Reunion Bingo

A fun, traditional ice breaker game for your family reunion is the “Find Someone Who…” game.  The printable game card is set up similar to a BINGO card but our family prefers to just play the game using the entire card.

Give everyone at your reunion a copy of the game card and a pen or pencil. (Different colored pencils or markers make for a colorful card when the card is filled up.

Getting Signatures

Instruct your family to have reunion goers sign the squares that apply to them.  You can make up rules that best fit your family reunion- you may only sign one time on a card or two times on a card etc.

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Awarding Prizes

You may give prizes to those that complete a row across, down or diagonal such as in family reunion BINGO, but I like to award prizes to those that get every square signed.  ‘’Smarties” candies are great  prizes for those that only get a BINGO but consider giving

Kudos bars – Kudos to you
Bar None - You are the best
Milky Way or Mars bars – You’re Out of This World
M&Ms – Magnificent & Marvelous Award

or an award that goes along with your family reunion theme.

Family Reunion Bingo

Copy, paste and print on card stock this family reunion Bingo card for lots of ice breaker fun at your next family reunion.  You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn about your family.

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Cat Eye Flashlight Hike

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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.

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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.

Reunion Buddies!

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Get the family reunion started early!

If you’re looking for a fun ice breaker activity and a way to generate interest in your upcoming family reunion try “Reunion Buddies” and get the  party started before the  reunion even  begins.

Reunion Buddies

About four weeks before your reunion make a double sided copy of the “Reunion  Buddies”  printable using the same  information on each side of the paper.

Match family members up into buddies making sure everyone, young and old has a reunion  buddy. 

Write one buddies name on the line that says “My Name Is” and write their buddies’ name below it on the line that says “My Buddy Is”.  You will need to do this on both sides of the  paper but reversing the information.

Send a copy of the reunion buddies printable to one of the  “buddies” with  the  instructions to fill out their  personal information and then mail the  completed  form to their buddy. Be sure and provide an address and if your reunion has the funds, a stamped envelope.

The buddy they mail the form to will complete the form and return it to back to their buddy.

Encourage buddies to spend some time with each other at your family reunion  perhaps even bringing inexpensive gifts (such as their favorite candy bar) to share.  You may even ask some family members to share what they learned about their reunion buddy.

The idea behind  “Reunion Buddies”  is to  make long lasting friendships  between cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.  Get a new buddy every year!

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Family Reunion Right Left Game

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I love “Right/Left games!  It’s a great way to exchange “white elephant” gifts but… I absolutely hate the “Mrs. WRIGHT RIGHT “ games that you can find on the web (let’s get creative people!) so I wrote my own right/left game that is designed for use at a family reunion.  Hope you like it.

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First thing you need to do  is assign each family member to bring a white elephant gift to your family reunion or party. Decide if you want them to bring their gifts wrapped or unwrapped.  Most people will bring funny, used items they no longer want so I always like to  include some more desirable gifts that will get everyone excited about winning.  Large candy bars, money, and 2 liter bottles of soda are always a hit.

Everyone sits in a circle. As you read the story, they pass (the gifts) left when you say left, and pass them right when you say right. When the story ends, everyone opens the gift they are LEFT with. I have capitalized the words RIGHT and LEFT in the story for easy identification.  Be sure and read with lots of expression and pauses- the children in your family will have fun anticipating RIGHT or LEFT.

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Family Reunion Right/Left Story

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Let me tell you what happened to Uncle Harv and Aunt Ethel on the way to this reunion. Harv and Ethel decided to get an early start because they didn’t want to be LEFT out of all the fun. Since both of their cars were in the shop, they borrowed their neighbor’s two ton truck. (These are the neighbors to the RIGHT of them, not the LEFT.) Harv sat in the driver’s seat and Ethel sat RIGHT next to him. The kids all climbed in and took the space that was LEFT.

It’s a long way to this reunion from Harv and Ethel’s house and I guess Harv began to get a little sleepy. The truck began to serve to the LEFT and to the RIGHT and then to the LEFT again. Before Harv knew it, the truck had LEFT the road and was going RIGHT into the burrow pit.

“You get RIGHT back on that highway!” Ethel screamed.

“I’m trying!” Harv yelled back as the truck bounced around. “I just hope I can keep this truck upRIGHT!”

Just then a house appeared RIGHT before their eyes and sure enough the truck ran RIGHT into the big, locked gate that stood RIGHT in front of it. Everyone began screaming and soon the people that lived in the house came running from all directions- from the RIGHT and from the LEFT. They were RIGHT neighborly though and invited us RIGHT into what was LEFT of their house to have breakfast with them. Although Harv and Ethel were anxious to get RIGHT back on the road, and Uncle Harv’s RIGHT knee felt a little stiff, they decided the nice thing to do was to eat breakfast with the family.

The family consisted of Ma and Pa Dowinkle and their eight kids. (Everyone in their family was LEFT handed- isn’t that odd?) Harv and Ethel LEFT their coats RIGHT by the front door. As we Harv and Ethel and their kids sat down at the huge kitchen table the Ma Dowinkle asked that they sit on their RIGHT side so that they wouldn’t bump elbows. Ethel sat RIGHT next to Ma Dowinkle and Harv sat RIGHT next to Pa Dowinkle. There was room for everyone RIGHT at the big table, in fact there was even some room LEFT- over.

Breakfast was so good that no one LEFT anything on their plate. After eating, Harv and Ethel gave all ten of the Dowinkles a big hug and LEFT.

“I’m driving the rest of the way to the reunion”, Ethel said, “Is that  alRIGHT with you?” She asked the kids. The kids cheered and Ethel turned RIGHT out of the Dowinkle’s driveway and LEFT their new friends in a RIGHT big cloud of dust. She headed RIGHT for the freeway and before anyone knew it, they arrived at the family reunion RIGHT on time.

So, if you see Uncle Harv and Aunt Ethel at the reunion be sure and ask them if they are feeling alRIGHT and give Uncle Harv a pat RIGHT on the back and Aunt Ethel a kiss RIGHT on the cheek and let them know how glad we are that they could come to the family reunion.

Well, that’s the end of the story- there isn’t any more LEFT- I know I’m RIGHT because it was my job to WRITE the RIGHT/LEFT story- and WRITE it I did. Isn’t that RIGHT?!?!

Aunt MO

Cooking With Pie Irons

 

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No, we’re not talking about the loved ones that will be attending your family reunion- we’re talking about Pie Irons! Pie Irons are known by many different names, Pudgie Pies, Pioneer Pies, Fire Pies, Toasties and Jaffles, but each name is referring to ingredient-filled "pockets" of bread toasted over a campfire. Cooking with pie irons is a long time tradition at our family reunions.

The Basics of  Cooking With Pie Irons

Camp cooking doesn’t have to be just hot dogs and roasted marshmallows. Our family reunions wouldn’t be complete without a delicious raspberry pie cooked over the campfire and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. With a pie iron, you can cook anything from a simple grilled-cheese and ham sandwich to a delicious berry pie for dessert.

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In its most basic function, a pie iron is a way to cook grilled cheese sandwiches and fruit pies over an open fire. This is done by placing the food inside the pie iron and then locking the two sides closed with a metal hook. Metal rods with wood handles extend from the castings so the user can easily maneuver the pie iron over a campfire. A few minute over the heat, usually 4 to 6 minutes, and you will have perfectly toasted sandwich or pie.

Pie Irons are available in both cast iron & aluminum. Our family prefers cast iron. They come in several different shapes; round, square, oblong and double. For our family reunions, we only use square irons. Aunt Lynn doesn’t think she’s had breakfast unless she has had a piece of toast so we’ve even used our pie irons for toast.

To make the most simple of pies, just take two slices of bread (buttered on the outsides), fill with jam, cheese, meat or pie filling- you don’t need much, then place inside the pie iron and lock it closed. Hold it over your campfire for a few minutes on each side and you’ll soon be eating a grilled cheese sandwich or a scrumptious apple pie.

At our family reunions, we like to make fruit pies in the evening while we are sitting around the campfire visiting, singing or playing games. About ten years ago, at a family reunion, cousin Mindy suggested that we sprinkle our freshly baked pies with sugar and cinnamon when we dump it out of the pie iron. Yummy! Some of our favorite flavors of fruit pies are lemon and raspberry.

Pie Iron Fruit Pies

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Instructions

 Step 1

Build a campfire. Pie Iron pies do best over a hot bed of coals. Try to start your campfire an hour early to let it burn down.

 Step 2

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice, butter side down, in one half of the pie iron.

 Step 3

Put a spoonful of pie filling in the center of the bread slice. Keep the filling away from the edges, as it may leak while the pie is cooking.

 Step 4

Place the second slice of bread, buttered side up, on top of the pie filling.

 Step 5

Place the second half of the pie iron on the bottom half, squeezing the bread and filling together. Latch the two halves of the iron together, to keep it from opening up while the pie is cooking.

 Step 6

Place the pie iron over the campfire, and let it cook for several minutes (4-6 minutes). Turn the pie over, and check for doneness. The pie is done when both sides are golden brown and toasted.

 Step 7

Put the pie on a plate. If you have crispy edges you may want to carefully trim them. Be careful, as the filling is HOT! Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and enjoy!