5 Things Reunion Planners Should Stop Doing-Now!

Stop Sending Invitations Through  Snail  Mail

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For more than a century, the mailbox and the rotary dial phone were how we communicated.  But times have changed, we no longer have eight track tapes, floppy disks,  typewriters and . no one is using shorthand.  Family reunion planners should embrace the advances in technology when sending invitations and keeping  in  touch with family members.

I’m all for sending thank you cards, Christmas and birthday cards and wedding announcements by sail mail but when it comes  to family reunion invitations and flyers using email and texts just makes sense.

First off, consider the cost, at almost 50 cents for a stamp, the cost of mailing every family an invitation adds up quickly, especially if you have a large family.  Also factor in the cost of paper and ink to  print it on  or the cost  of taking your  invitations to a print  shop  to have them professionally printed.  You also need to figure in  the labor involved, sorting, stapling ,folding and putting  your  invitations into envelopes.

A reunion  planner can sit at her computer, compose a quick message, or create a beautiful custom invitation and send it off to the entire reunion family in a matter of seconds. No stamp is required, no trip to the  post office,  and no time is taken to physically fold, staple and lick. Just send it out and your whole family can be reading  it in a matter of minutes.

Our family has enjoyed sharing our family news and information on our family Facebook page and I know some families that have created their own family websites.  Both are convenient, instant and inexpensive ways to keep in touch.

However email isn’t perfect, Grandma and Grandpa and great Aunts and Uncles may still need a  physical invitation that arrives in their mailbox but using the latest technology is a great tool for reunion planners. 

Stop trying to do everything yourself

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This one is huge.  As a reunion planner you have enough to do without  worrying about every detail of your reunion.  Form a committee and give out assignments or if working solo, make a list of activities and give out assignments.  A simple way to make assignments is by family group.

There are 6 children in my husband’s family.  They are all over 60 years old now and have adult children of their own.  For most reunions, each family group receives an assignment to do an activity and plan and cook a meal.  When my family is given an assignment my children help with the planning and implementing of that assignment.

The theme of our last reunion was, “Game On”.  Every family group  was in charge of a JUMBO sized family game.  Our game was one of 6 games we played at the reunion and one of 6 activities the reunion planner didn’t have to worry about.

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Many years ago, we planned a “Cruise” themed reunion.  Each of the family groups choose a port of call and planned activities and a meal that represented the culture of that port.  Because there was six families, we sailed to six countries including Mexico, Alaska, Africa and Paris, France.

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 Stop spending your own money

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No matter how much you love each other, it still costs money to hold a family reunion.
You may charge reunion goers a fee for attending their reunion or you may ask them to donate food or other supplies but if you are a reunion planner I guarantee that you are spending your own money (Probably more than you think) to make your reunion  successful. 

For many families, putting someone (or a committee) over managing the money is a huge help.  This person should be  responsible  for all things money including any fund raising that takes  place.

Our family does a family auction to help with reunion expenses.  The responsibility for the auction including encouraging family members to bring donations  to  be auctioned  off  is up to  our reunion financial  guru.  She keeps track of all winning  bids and  collects the money.  She  also deposits the cash in  our family reunion bank account and  pays all the  bills. It’s one last thing the reunion planner needs to worry about.

Every reunion organizer needs a notebook to  record every purchase they make for the reunion. Glue an envelope in the back of your notebook for keeping receipts and at the completion of your reunion, review your purchases and submit your receipts to the money manager. 

Keep in mind that the purchases you make are made with  precious funds and  take care to spend wisely but if there doesn’t seem to be enough funds for one  of your activities unless you pay for it then it’s  time  to cut it from  the list. 

Stop worrying About Those that don’t attend the Reunion

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When you’re the  one  that  has  worked so  hard to plan  and implement  a reunion  it’s pretty hard to not take it  personally when someone tells you they can’t  attend.

Over the last 40 years of family reunions I have heard  some   pretty ridiculous reasons /excuses that someone can’t attend a family reunion but I’ve also learned that if someone doesn’t want  to come to the  reunion they’re just  not  going to come, no matter what you say  or do to change  their mind.  The reason they give you for not attending may have nothing to do with the  real reason  they’re not coming.

Focus instead on all  the wonderful people that come to the  reunion- cousin  Toby that planned his wedding so that his  anniversary would never  fall on the reunion weekend and Aunt Jean and Uncle Mack who save their work vacation every year so that they can attend.  Those are the people that need your attention and perhaps you’ll see some of the non-attenders next year when they hear how much fun everyone had at the reunion  they missed.

To encourage attendance at the next reunion, send out a nice,  personalized email or text to those that didn’t attend letting them know that they were missed.

have very strong memories of being around my extended family while I was growing up. It was so meaningful to the older generation to sit around talking and spending time together. Seeing someone’s child, the extension of your family play and run with other family members was a joyful and celebrating occasion.

There was a time when people felt such a connection to their family that even though they may have moved to another city or state, they still longed for home.

In past years, when I attended family reunions we end up divided into groups of people that we associate with on a regular basis anyway, and never get to know distant cousins and other relatives who have traveled great distances to be here, so what’s the point?

11. (Enter name) will be there and I refuse to be in the same room, let alone city with that..

I can’t justify spending (enter amount) dollars to travel across the country to spend time with people I will not see or hear from again until the next family reunion.

To have a strong family, we have to be a strong family member. We can’t sit back and say what someone else isn’t doing when we aren’t doing those very things ou

reunions can be an opportunity to solidify or even create important boundaries that have been ignored or neglected in the past. One way to do that in advance is to remind a spouse, sibling, in-law or parent if you’ve told them something you want kept private from other family members.  Another is to set ground rules with your spouse about maintaining a united front in discussions about your marriage, child-raising, financial status, or any sensitive topics that are just between the two of you.

They may come next year when  they hear how much everyone else had.

Don’t Reinvent the wheel

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We live in an age when everyone is sharing their expertise and experiences on the internet. 

AmazingReunion.com is a simple free online service helping people plan their next family reunion. They can help with registration, hotel reservations and collecting fees.

Familyreunionhelper.com is a website that offers reunion theme packages that are packed full of reunion ideas- activities, games, recipes, printables and templates that take a lot of the “planning” out of reunion planning.

Glean from  the experiences of others when organizing your reunion.  Talk with friends and work associates,  find out what their favorite family reunions are. The  experiences of others is a great jumping  off  point for creating the  perfect reunion for your family. 

Planning a family reunion is a huge responsibility for reunion planners but as you work through the reunion process keep in mind the reason you’re having a reunion.  Don’t wait for a funeral to get together, plan a reunion where your family and  play and have fun together. The work you do will assure  that children will get to know their distant cousins and is a way for families to reconnect with their roots and find a sense of belonging.

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Goose Chase- an App for Reunion Fun

A Scavenger Hunt for Your Family Reunion

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At our back to school faculty meeting  we  played a game using the Goose Chase app.  The entire time we were playing the game I kept thinking how fun this game would be for a family reunion- and I couldn’t wait to share it  with you.

Here’s how it works. GooseChase is basically a scavenger hunt. You go to the Goose Chase website where you build your game. You give your game a name and can also set how long the game will run and whether there’s a password to join.

Each GooseChase game has a list of missions for participants to complete. You can create your mission list using their bank of 100+ tested missions or by designing your own from scratch.

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Missions have a name, description, point value and an optional link or photo to provide extra information. To complete a mission, select it from the list and follow the instructions to receive the allotted points.  Our team had 6 people in it and we piled into a car and drove around to complete  our challenges. With real-time activity feeds and rankings, you’re able to see everything as it happens. At the end of the game we were able to watch a slideshow of all the photos & videos which was a ton of fun.

“GooseChase got people moving around, talking to each other and laughing.  If I have any reservations about GooseChase  it is the cost.  It may be out of the reach for some family reunions and church groups but they do have an educational license for schools etc. and there is a free version if you only have 3 teams.

You can read more about GooseChase at GooseChase.

Pancake Bar

Pancake Party- a delicious way to feed your family.

Pancake bars are easy to put together and can easily be customized to your family’s needs.  The toppings are limited only by your imagination and the pancake recipe can be your favorite store brand or a family favorite recipe.

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I’ve hosted a couple of pancake bars over the years, and it’s one of my favorite ways to celebrate pretty much anything. Christmas, neighborhood get-togethers, church functions, birthdays and fund raisers  or sleepovers.  It can also be a pretty inexpensive  way to do breakfast at a family reunion.

You can cook your pancakes on  the  spot or make a big batch of pancakes ahead of time.  Just be sure to let your precooked pancakes cool then stack them between sheets of parchment paper and freeze them for later.  When you’re ready to use your premade pancakes you can reheat the pancakes in the oven, microwave or Dutch oven.

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I like to serve a variety of toppings with plenty of options for those that are eating healthy and for those that like to to make the craziest looking pancake they can. 

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The most popular item on my pancake bar is the spray whipping cream. When planning your pancake bar, you can really just think ice cream sundaes and that will help you come up with  some fun toppings. Here’s some of our favorites: 

  • Butter
  • Peanut Butter
  • Nutella
  • Honey
  • Yogurt
  • Fruits such as peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and sliced bananas.
  • M & M’s
  • Crushed butterfingers
  • Toasted nuts
  • Gummy Bears
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • Sprinkles
  • Mini Marshmallows 
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Whipped cream
  • Syrups such as Maple, Cinnamon, Raspberry of Strawberry
  • Hershey’s syrup

You can serve your pancakes alone (which is  what I like to do)  or add a side of bacon,, sausage or eggs.  Either way, everyone can find something to love on a pancake  bar and no one should go away hungry.

My New Favorite Reunion Recipe

Biscuit & Gravy Casserole for a Crowd

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Uncle Steven attended a camp out with about 90 youth this past week.  When he was telling me about the camp he said his  favorite thing to eat was the Biscuit and Gravy casserole they had for breakfast.  It sounded delicious and so I  contacted  the camp cook and  she shared her recipe and I tried it out on  my family.  Kids and adults thought it was delicious  and it was very easy to make.

Biscuits and Gravy Casserole Recipe

I made 2 cake pans (9×13) of this so I doubled the recipe.  I used 1 lb sausage and 1 lb ground beef.

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Ingredients

1 lb bulk pork breakfast sausage or ground beef

1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Southern Homestyle refrigerated Buttermilk biscuits (8 biscuits)

1 pkg of biscuit gravy mix (should make 1 quart of gravy)

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook sausage/ground beef until browned and thoroughly cooked.

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Using another pan, cook gravy according  to package directions.. Combine thickened gravy and meat. Spoon into a 9×13 dish.

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    Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Cut each biscuit into fourths. Top sausage mixture with biscuit pieces.

    Sprinkle with a little cheese if desired.

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    Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and biscuits are golden brown.

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    Serve & enjoy but don’t plan on leftovers.  I will use this recipe to feed family at two reunions this year. I think I’ll cook the meat and  make the  gravy in advance so I just need to assemble the casserole a couple of hours before we eat.

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Five Things Reunion Planners Should Stop Doing Now

Aunt Mo shares her reunion  planning advise with  Reunion Workbook magazine readers.

Family Reunion Helper is proud to partner with Reunions Workbook magazine to bring you, “Five Thing Reunion Planners Should Stop Doing Now”. http://reunionsworkbook.com/five-things-reunion-planners-should-stop-doing-now/

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Family Reunion Brag Badges

The Ultimate “Getting to Know You” Game for Your Family Reunion

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A family reunion “Brag Badge” is a small tag, somewhat resembling a “military dog tag” that represents the hobbies, interests, occupations and accomplishments of members of your family.

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Collecting Brag Badges is so much fun that quite often children in  the family will see a badge they want to earn and they’ll run off looking for a family member that will help them earn badge they desire and they’ll connect with a new cousin, aunt or uncle or be surprised by the accomplishments or interests of a favorite relative.

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With Brag Badges, family members will  have fun discovering their relatives that love ice cream, pizza and dancing.  They’ll find relatives  that drive trucks, teach school and relatives that have been to Hawaii. They’ll find relatives that are Eagle Scouts,  Veterans and couples that have been married for 50 years.  They’ll discover relatives that share their same  birth month, like to  read, play baseball and so much more. IMG_0507 (2)

Brag Badges are a perfect way for your family to to show off their interests, talents and achievements and are great way for family members to get to know each other!

When I use Brag Badges at a family reunion I require that badges are signed before they can be earned so that family members will always remember who the relative was that helped them earn the badge. 

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I display my brag badges at our family reunions in needle craft organizers you can purchase by following the link below. I like to leave the badges on a table and let reunion goers supervise themselves. You can purchase the needlepoint cases in the Family Reunion Store. If using all of the badges included in this download you will need to purchase several cases.

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The graphics on these badges are so cute your family will love them!  Over 60 different “Brag Badges” are included in this digital download- all in bright COLOR!  There are 4 of each design but you can print as many copies as you need- depending on the size of your family. You don’t need one of each design for everyone in your family- it makes badges more valuable if the the number is limited.

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Print the Brag Badges on card stock, laminate, cut and  punch a hole in the top of each badge.  The hole is  for the ball bead chain  to  wear around your neck and to display the Brag Badge discoveries you have made.  You can  purchase 50 chains in the Family Reunion Helper store for less than $8.00.

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This fun family reunion resource includes over 60 brag badges in color and printer friendly version. Brag Badges help family members connect in a way they will never forget.  You can purchase a complete set of Brag Badges in  the Family Reunion Helper Store

Family Reunion Helper is Having a Sale!

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FAMILY REUNION HELPER IS HAVING A SALE IN THEIR ETSY SHOP!
Until midnight tonight, you can purchase any family reunion theme package using our special ETSY coupon.

Follow the link below to receive $5.00 off any reunion theme package.

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Aunt Lynn’s Camping Match Game

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Aunt Lynn’s Camping Match Game has been a favorite activity at our family reunions for over 20 years. You play this game like you do most match games but instead of only one winner, everyone that finds a match receives a prize.

To play the game lay the cards face down on a flat surface.

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Youngest player goes first.

Players take turns turning over 2 cards at a time.

The cards must be turned over completely so that all players can see them. A player makes a “match” if the two cards turned over are identical. (When printing the cards you will need to make two copies)

When a match is made the player puts the pair of cards beside them and takes the prize associated with that match. (see list below) and the next player takes their turn. We don’t let the person that finds a match continue to make matches until they don’t make a match. That way more people are able to earn prizes.

Examples of prizes for matches include-

Hike-  Rocky Road

Logs-  Tootsie Roll

Mosquitos-  Slap Stick

Mountains-  Mounds

You can give a grand prize to the player with the most matches if you want to.  

You can download the complete printable game here.

Punch a Bunch Party Game- DIY

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My family is really enjoying punch boards. A punch board is an exciting way to award prizes. This game show activity allows each person to punch ​through the tissue paper to find a toy or treat, or whatever you decide to put in it. We have even put gift cards in  them. Punch boards are perfect for family reunions, especially if your theme is a circus or carnival  theme.

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 is a fun way to distribute prizes bit you can also use a punch board to make assignments or choose what activity you will do next.

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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.

We have one punch board at our house that we change to fit the theme of  the party we are having.  If you’re having a super hero party or reunion the punch board becomes the perfect- Smash Hulk board.

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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

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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.

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t admit to you  that building your own punch board may drive your crazy.  Taping all the bags on the back and making sure the prizes stay in place can be frustrating so if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making your own punch board you can purchase a reasonably priced board by following this link.

https://www.shindigz.com/personalized-prize-punch-game/p/GAMPAB?gclid=CjwKCAjwypjVBRANEiwAJAxlImgxyEZ7zdpjd0JzEVlt4UsIbx24ynwBLB78oJ53fDilfdoFGewT2xoCFD8QAvD_BwE

Personalized Prize Punch Game