Cruisin Family Reunion Theme

I’m so excited for our 2012 family reunion theme- cruisin’.  We will visit 6 different “ports” while camping out at Box Elder campground.

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Each of the 6 “original’ kids in my husband’s family will be responsible for one meal and a 2 hour block of time.  Every family is choosing a theme and planning their meal and activities around that theme.  During that 2 hours they can plan any activities, crafts or games they want.  This will give every family the opportunity to plan an activity they have always wanted to do or to choose a family reunion favorite.

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I’m pretty excited about this  reunion  format- I think it will relieve some of the stress I have when planning a reunion and give everyone a chance to make the reunion exactly the way they want.

Aunt MO

HINT: I got the backgrounds for these “beach” themed flyers from http://delightful-doodles.com/.

Memorial Day- the Start of Family Reunion Season

$5.00 off any Family Reunion Theme Package

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Memorial Day seems to mark the beginning  of summer and the family reunion season.   To help jumpstart your family reunion planning www.familyreunionhelper.com is offering $5.00 off any of our reunion themes for 5 short days- until June 1st.  (This includes only $19.99 theme packages)

First step is to select the family reunion theme packages that best fits your family.  Each reunion theme comes with free downloadable games, activities, recipes, printables and templates to simplify, inspire and  guide your reunion planning.

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You will need to  login or enter your credit card information before you can enter coupon code reunion2012 and receive $5.00 off your reunion package- but hurry, this coupon code expires June 1st 2012 at midnight!

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Happy Reunion Planning!

Family Reunion in an Afternoon

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You want to have a family reunion but…

You don’t have a 3 day weekend for your family reunion.

You don’t think you can stand listening to Uncle George’s lame jokes  for an entire weekend.

You can’t stand the thought of feeding all those hungry people.

Planning all those games and activities is just too overwhelming.

In my family reunion presentations I tell people that ANYTIME you get together with your family can be a family reunion.  There are no rules that say you have to spend a certain amount of time with your extended family to make it an “official” reunion.

A typical family reunion will assemble grandparents, aunts and uncles and tons of kids that share the same surname for a meal, some games and activities and maybe even some genealogy discussion and if all you have is a Saturday afternoon in the park then start planning!

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Let’s look at a possible schedule for a possible family reunion in an afternoon.

Things to do in advance

Be sure to reserve your location if holding your reunion at a park or hall.  Ask family members to bring a sack lunch for the noon meal and make food assignments or ask everyone to bring a potluck dish for the evening meal.

Send out invitations

Include food assignments and items such as swim suits or softball equipment.  If you are planning to go swimming, golfing, bowling etc. include how much these activities will cost.

Choose a theme.  A family reunion doesn’t have to have a theme to be successful but creating a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend. A reunion invitation that invites you to a “Prehistoric” reunion for Brontosaurs burgers is more interesting than an invitation that invites you  to a family reunion at “the park”. It also makes things more fun when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion. 

10:30 Registration

Set up a registration table for attendees to receive a name tag and schedule of activities.  This is a great time to get family member’s phone numbers, email and home addresses.  Provide an activity  that family members can participate in while waiting for everyone to arrive.  Try a huge game of badminton or volleyball for the teenagers, sugar cookie decorating or a coloring page for the youngsters and printable Older Than Dirt Game for the older generation.

11:00  Ice Breaker getting to know you games.

  My favorite ice breaker game is DO YOU LOVE YOUR RELATIVE?

The group sits in a circle with room in the center.  The person that is “IT” does not have a chair and stands in the center of the circle. “IT” walks up to one of the people in the circle, points to someone and asks, “_________, do you love your relative?” The individual pointed to can say one of two things:

“Yes I love my relatives (everyone sitting in the circle must move to a new chair)

“No, I don’t love my relatives but I love everyone _____________________.” Fill in the blank with things like- everyone that is wearing green, everyone that likes chocolate, everyone that has a dog or everyone that wears glasses. (Only the people that meet the requirements move to a different chair.)

In both situations, the person that asks the question runs to sit on a chair. The person left standing, without a chair to sit on, is the new “IT”.

Family Reunion Helper has lots of fun Ice Breaker Games.  You will need to plan on playing two to three games.

12:00  Sack lunches and family photo

After lunch you will want to take a picture of your family.  It doesn’t need to be professional, just a record of who attended the reunion.

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1:00  Extra Curricular Activity

Arrange in advance for your family to go swimming, bowling, roller skating, hiking or a road rally scavenger hunt. Some families like to split up during this time so people can participate in several activities- some may go golfing while others shop or make a craft. This will be your major activity.  For some activities such as boating or visiting an amusement park you may need to schedule more time.

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3:00 Theme Activities Craft or Fund Raiser

If you have chosen a theme for your reunion now is the time to do some of those activities.  This is also the time to do any fund raising such as an auction or raffle.

4:30 Genealogy Spotlight and Business Meeting

Ask someone that is a good story teller to share an interesting story from your family history.  It is very important that this presentation appeal to all family members and includes pictures and props.  You may also want to take a few minutes to discuss any family business such as when and where to hold you next reunion.

5:00 Dinner

You may do a potluck dinner, a meal that reflects your reunion theme (dinosaur theme- Brontosaurus Burgers, western theme- chuck wagon beans etc.) Other simple meal ideas are a baked potato or taco bar, grilled burgers or have your favorite pizza place deliver a variety of pizzas.  Do not serve dessert at this time.

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6:00 Talent Show Free Time

This is the time to let family members share their talents.  Play Let’s Make A Deal to keep everyone interested between acts.

7:00  Wrap it Up

Serve dessert and thank everyone for attending your reunion.  You will be tired and ready to clean up and go home but some family members will want to hang around and visit.  Put them to work helping you clean up. 

The  Branson Family Reunion web site list five reasons to have a family reunion.  One reason it lists is “Tradition”. “Tradition should be a big part of your family.  Taking the time to come together and teach (in a fun way) the tradition of your family will keep it alive and strong.”  Although planning a reunion can be a lot of work bringing your family together, if only for an afternoon, can be a rewarding way to keep traditions alive.

 

Aunt MO

Prehistoric, Caveman or Dinosaur Family Reunion

I love this family reunion theme!  It’s so flexible- with some minor tweaking your prehistoric reunion can become a dinosaur or caveman party. 

A “prehistoic” theme can be the perfect choice for someone celebrating a milestone birthday and adds some good natured fun to your celebration.

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One of the first family reunions I ever planned was a dinosaur reunion back in the early 80’s.  We made large, plywood dinosaur cut outs to decorate our reunion site.  We served Brontosaurs burgers and went on a hike to find giant dinosaur eggs.

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To throw the perfect caveman party, you will need to look the part. You can find fun Caveman or Flintstones costumes and accessories at costume store or online. (A good resource for Flintstone costumes is http://www.flintstonecostumes.com/)  You can also fashion your own out costumes out of fake fur, and animal-print fabrics. Don’t forget unkempt hair, bare feet, bone necklaces and hair bows, clubs and spears!

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With this fun family reunion theme you can plan a Saber Tooth Tiger Cateye hike in the dark or challenge family members to work together to make a prehistoric pipeline. Prehistoric “baseball” is a silly way to enjoy America’s favorite pastime. 

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A fill in the blank invitation is included along with recipes and ideas for "Good Things to Eat". Don’t forget to print off the dinosaur Bunko score card and the dinosaur trivia printable and leave dinosaur footprints all over your reunion site with the footprint printable pattern. Reunion activities for one day or a weekend of prehistoric family fun!

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For $19.95 you can let loose your families’ inner beast with family reunion helper’s Caveman theme package

Prehistoric Reunion Activities include;

  • Invitation printables
  • Dinosaur riddles
  • Dinosaur Trivia printable Game
  • Baking Soda Volcano instructions
  • "Lost World" Obstacle Course
  • Pet Rock Instructions
  • Dinosaur cookie decorating
  • prehistoric baseball
  • prehistoric pipeline
  • Dinosaur footprint painting
  • Dinosaur Bunko
  • "Good Things to Eat"
  • children’s games and activities
  • team building activities
  • dinosaur egg hunt
  • fossil painting
  • Slime recipe
  • costume helps
  • Saber Tooth Tiger cateye hike. A night time hike with flashlights.

Location, Location- What’s Your Favorite Family Reunion Location?

A real estate agent will tell you- location is everything when buying a house and family reunion planners will heartily agree that when planning a reunion- LOCATION is everything!

Tell us about your favorite family reunion location- where is it at and why do you go there?

For many families, returning to a much-loved reunion destination has become an annual tradition.  After several years that location may feel more like home than home itself.

Our Favorite Family Reunion Location

We have the greatest little reunion site It’s called Hansen Park in Elwood Utah.  It has a huge covered bowery with a kitchen, a fire pit, restrooms and even a baseball diamond and small basketball court.

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Someone must have told the good people of Elwood what a treasure they have because they have now made it as difficult as possible to reserve the park and our family has just given up trying to get it- but if you can find a friend that lives in Elwood they may just be able to help you out.

Family Reunion Camping

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In the years before Hansen Park and the years after- we have spent many family reunions in group site C and D in Box Elder Campground.  It’s a little more like “roughing it” then Hansen Park and the kids get dirtier because there is a lot more dirt.  It’s true camping and all of us except the mom’s that have kids that crawl love it.  There are lots of picnic tables, restrooms and beautiful shade trees. Parking can sometimes be a challenge but we’ve learned to adapt.

If you’re looking for a campground you can find a list of campgrounds in the US and make reservations at http://www.reserveamerica.com/

Family Reunion at the Lake

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In the years that we had access to a boat we held our family reunions at Bear Lake.  The water is some of the bluest I’ve ever seen but hold your reunion in June and it will be some of the coldest water you’ve ever jumped in.  You can camp at locations such as Rendezvous Beach or rent a condo close by.

If you’re looking for  a list of lakes in North America you could use http://www.greatlakesnorthamerica.com/ as a resource.

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Of course, if I had unlimited resources I would probably choose a cruise for my favorite family reunion location, but since that isn’t an option, you’ll find my family campin’ out at good ole campsite C and lovin’ every minute of it!

Tell us about your favorite family reunion location

Tell us about your favorite family reunion location- where is it at and why do you go there?  It may feel like you’re giving up your favorite fishin’ hole but please share- what works for your family?

Aunt MO

Helpful Hints for Building Your Family Tree

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Have you ever thought about your family tree and wondered which branch you fell from? Lots of people want to know more about their ancestry and past, but might not know where to start. The truth of the matter is that there are lots of ways to find out where you came from and what your relatives were like. It is not easy, but it is completely possible.

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Interview Grandpa

Talking with your older family relatives, and while you are at it, take down their information as well. While it’s not pleasant to think about these things, it is important to remember that they won’t always be around. Eventually, your children or your grandchildren are going to want to know where they came from as well. Ask your older relatives about their families and history. You can even use a tape recorder to document their thoughts. Can they remember anything about what their parents or grandparents did? At the very least, that will give you a good place to start.

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Discover Your Ancestry by Checking Official Records

Remember to hit the records as well. You can find paper records at the library and electronic ones online at ancestry databases. For example, looking up obits can give you a great deal of information about different people, their occupations, and their families.

 

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Check for old news articles that mention family members. You never know when someone did something important. The more research you do, the more there is to learn. Also look around for any old documents that your family may have kept. Are there journals, old year books, property deeds or any other paperwork in the attic from the people who came before you?

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Family Reunions- a Great Genealogy Resource

Perhaps the most information rich place to add branches to your family tree is your family reunion, especially those reunions that include extended family and branches of your family tree.  You can even get children involved in building your family tree by using Family Reunion Helper’s “Super Sleuth” Challenge which guides children through the process of discovering their family history.

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Consider having a family history or genealogy “church” during your reunion, a time where the family gathers together to learn about their ancestors.  Make sure presentations are done creatively and with enthusiasm  to keep the attention of the younger members of your family.  Some fun ideas for your family history church can be found at Family Reunion Helper.

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Keep Accurate Genealogy Records

When you have all of the raw information in front of you, don’t forget to record it. It is easy to get distracted by minutiae. Take a moment to write down what you learned, whether it is in a notebook or in a series of files online. Remember that you are also doing this for posterity, and the more effectively you archive your own efforts, the more likely it will be that your work is going to be useful for the people who come after you.

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Rewards from Building Your Family Tree

Building a family tree takes time, patience and work, but anyone who has delved into the history of their family knows that, the more information they discover about their ancestors, the more real these people become, and the more fascinating. Building your family tree is a wonderful way to join the past with the present and by learning about ones ancestors, it helps us understand ourselves, our heritage and the roots and branches of our family tree.

Unusual Family Reunion Souvenirs

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An Alternative to the Family Reunion T Shirt

Don’t get me wrong- I love family reunion t-shirts but when we planned our “Survivor “ family reunion I wanted to find an unusual reunion souvenir for family members to take home with them as a remembrance of our fun reunion.  We had done t-shirts for years and years and I was looking for something that would be different.

Then I remembered that one of my students, Lizzy, had given all my music students that sang at the Olympics a wooden Utah pin.  I was so impressed with the detail of the pins that I asked her about them and was surprised to find that her family had a business that made cool laser products.

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CountryLazer Cutting and Engraving

The name of Lizzy’s families’ business is CountryLazer and they are Utah’s leading supplier of custom laser cutting & engraving wood, acrylic, glass, mat, leather, and other products.  They have been creating customized gifts and laser engraved products for over 30 years.

CountryLazer would be happy to help you with your family reunion design.  They try to keep pricing around 1- 2 dollars- less expensive then the traditional t-shirt. 

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I love their cute pioneer wagon kit that could be assembled at  your heritage reunion and would serve as a reunion  craft and memento.

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CountryLazer has a wide variety of designs for name tags, hat pins, wooden boxes, toys, awards, plaques, picture frames, scouting memorabilia, and Christmas gifts.

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Design Your Own Family Reunion Souvenir

They will also work with you to create a completely unique product that shows your individual style or your company’s commitment to excellence. They can engrave your logo, graphic, or custom message on almost any material to make your product look more personal and professional.

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So if you’re looking for a new way to remember your family reunion check out countrylazer.com.

Aunt MO

We do not remember days; we remember moments.  ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand

$5.00 off any Family Reunion Theme Package

Labor Day seems to mark end of summer and the family reunion season.  You may be planning some fun family Halloween and Christmas parties but If you’re like me, as soon as one family reunion ends I immediately start thinking of ideas for the next years reunion.  

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To help jumpstart your family reunion planning www.familyreunionhelper.com is offering $5.00 off any of our reunion themes until October 31st.  (This includes only $19.99 theme packages)

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First step is to select the family reunion theme that best fits your family.  Each reunion theme comes with free downloadable games, activities, recipes, printables and templates to simplify, inspire and  guide your reunion planning.

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You will need to  login or enter your credit card information before you can enter coupon code reunion2011 and receive $5.00 off your reunion package- but hurry, this coupon code expires October 31st at midnight!

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Happy Reunion Planning!

Make a Family Reunion Box

 

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I have a family reunion box.  I started the box because I got tired of  getting to the family reunion and finding out that I had forgotten to bring things like tape or scissors. 

It seems like my friends and family with trailers have everything stashed behind their trailer doors but I don’t have a trailer- I have a family reunion “box”.

Here’s what I’ve stashed inside my family reunion box: Gloves, rain ponchos,  first aid, tarp, all sizes of rope and string, plastic table cloths, collapsible shovel, plastic ware, serving spoons, can opener and rags.

I always keep things like balls of every size (including wiffle and volleyballs), horseshoes, marshmallow blow sticks, Frisbees, blindfolds, dice, huge checkers set, crayons and coloring books just in case we need some extra fun at our reunion.

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Inside the family reunion box I have a smaller box with lots of compartments where I keep things like tape, scissors, pens and pencils, markers, over the counter pain medicine, reflector tape, bug spray, sun screen, wet wipes, crayons, thumb tacks, toothpaste, new toothbrush, string, nails, extra lantern supplies, matches and batteries.

I usually have what we need at our family reunion in my box- except for this year- someone needed a stapler.  I didn’t have a stapler in my box this year but you can bet I will next year!

How do I generate funds to pay for family reunion expenses?

From Hope T., Location Oakland, TN. U.S.A

That’s a very good question, Hope.  It’s bad enough that family reunions take so much time but they can be expensive too.

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In 2010 our Stewart,  3 day reunion cost $16.00 a person which is a screaming good deal for those that attend.  We don’t charge for family reunion so the money has to come from somewhere and doing the math, I figure that we are going to need about $1,500 to pay for reunion expenses.

On both sides of our family, Grandma and Grandpa, Nana and Gramps have paid for the reunion location and accommodations which has really been a blessing. They pay for the campsite, the park or the condominium for the reunion but that still leaves the food (big expense) decorations, crafts, activities and prizes.

On the Wells side of our family we "divide and conquer". We rotate through all the original children (myself and my three brothers) the responsibility for the reunion and that family makes the assignments. They assign out meals and if you are responsible for breakfast then you provide the food, prepare it and clean up. Another family will be responsible for lunch and another dinner etc. This works out quite well as each family can choose for themselves how much work and expense they choose to take on. Assignments for other activities can also be made.

On the Stewart side of our family, Aunt Peggy Sue suggested that we hold a family auction. I have to admit, I wasn’t very excited about a family reunion auction. I just couldn’t get the vision for how an auction would work. Well, work it did. Our reunion auctions have paid for all the food, activities, prizes and crafts for the Stewart family reunion and we’ve been holding auctions for almost ten years.

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Everyone brings something to donate to the auction. Some family members work all year to make a quilt or other special item for the reunion, some offer services such as haircuts and some bake cookies, brownies or bring produce from their garden The best sellers at our reunion are always the crocheted dishtowels Grandma makes ($40.00- $80.00) and the hand-stitched heirloom quilts that Grandpa makes ($200.00- $400.00). Other popular items are restored and framed photos of ancestors and photo memory books- anything with sentimental value. No one counts the items someone brings or judges them on how much they bid, everyone does the best they can, sometimes more, sometimes less.

I have the great pleasure of going around and talking to people about family reunions and many have shared their ideas for paying for their reunion. 

Some families divide all expenses equally, or have everyone pay individually for expenses as they incur.

Collecting recipes and producing cookbooks and many other publishing projects such as directories, scrapbooks, and history books to sell at the reunion.

Pass the hat

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Food, beverage and white elephant sales. Food sales can net a nice profit if you consider carefully your reunion customers. A bake sale could feature desserts to eat right there as well as whole bakery specialties to take home.

Family yard sale

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Order personalized  (imprinted) products such as t-shirts, caps, coffee mugs, pens, pencils…and many more items to sell

Charge a traditional registration fee to families. Some families charge per family unit and others charge different prices based on age and family size. Average cost families are charging for their reunions are adults (ages 13 and over)- $70.00, children- $40.00. Pay electronically or elect to pay with a bank check or money order.

If some families can’t afford to pay then give them opportunities to provide service in exchange for paying fees- for instance could type in recipes for a family cookbook, maintain a family website or do family history research.

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The easiest way to reduce reunion expenses is to cut back on the time your reunion lasts. If you normally have a three day reunion cut back to two or just get together for a Saturday afternoon and evening. Make your meals potluck and enjoy the time, however short, that you have with each other.

With finances in mind, some families opt not to have reunions every year.

Ask for reunion dues and ask family members to send a portion of their dues on a quarterly basis so that it isn’t a one-time large payment.

A lot of people at my family reunion presentations hold a raffle of donated items from companies or family members during the reunion. Plane tickets or electronics are good money generating items. 

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Collect corporate donations or pledges for a fundraising event like a bike or 5K race. Corporations sometimes donate to large reunions where knowledge of the company’s name and contribution reaches many people.

Family reunion pocket change. Ask family members to save their pocket change during the year and bring it to the reunion. Count money by hand or take to a counting machine. Announce the grand total at your reunion.

Families all over the world are having family reunions and there are hundreds of ways to pay for them.  The most important thing is to choose the idea that you think will work best for your family and move forward.  As the years go by you can tweek your plan until it’s perfected.  Paying for a family reunion is a little like getting married- if you wait until you can afford it you’ll never do it. So make a plan, Hope, and do it! Thanks for asking the question and good luck!

Aunt MO