Our Favorite Halloween Treat

Peanut butter Eyeballs!

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We love peanut butter eyeballs.  My daughter found  the recipe several years ago  and it has  since been a Halloween family favorite.  The saying, “bet you can’t eat just one!” certainly applies to these delicious treats. 

What you will need:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 pound white candy coating (in small pieces) or white chocolate chips
24 milk chocolate M&M’s
1 tablespoon water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

Directions

  1. Mix together 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and butter. Roll into 1-in. balls; place on a waxed paper-lined pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. In a microwave, melt white candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper. Immediately top of each eyeball with an M and  M to make the pupil.
  3. Make squiggly lines to make the eyeballs look look “bloodshot”. 

    Makes about 2 dozen eyeballs.

Have a Trail Mix Buffet

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A trail mix buffet is a fun option for your western or rustic themed reunion or party.  If your occasion is more formal you can dress up your buffet with glass apothecary jars for a fancier look which lends itself to fancier parties such as wedding receptions or anniversary celebrations. A trail mix buffet is also a fun treat idea for a movie themed or kid themed party.

For our family reunion of 100 guests we used large tin foil pans to put the many treat options in but using  a variety of glass jars, tin buckets, and baskets are great for holding all the delicious goodies  your guests can choose from. .

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Serving guests is a breeze and everyone fills their own containers (paper sacks, sandwich bags, party treat bags,  boxes or paper ice cream cups) with their favorite treats.

You can use healthy ingredients for your buffet featuring raisins, nuts and seeds or a kids favorite buffet using cereals, M & M’s and gummy bears.  Use your imagination when selecting treats for your buffet.

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Here’s a list of possible options for your buffet:
nuts- almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews etc.
pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
cereal such as Cheerios, Trix, Chex, Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch etc.
chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, vanilla or peanut butter chips etc.
candy-  M&M’s, candy corn, gummy worms, milk duds, sour patch kids etc.
granola
marshmallows
coconut, banana chips
pretzels, goldfish crackers
raisins, Craisins, chopped dates, yogurt raisins
Popcorn makes a great filler.

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Make signs for ingredients your guests may not recognize. Custom labels, mini chalkboards and cardboard tents designed to  support your theme will do the job. Print off the following food tents for your trail mix buffet. western food tent

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Provide serving scoops such as ice cream scoops, oversized spoons or measuring cups- you’ll need one for each treat in your buffet.  Smallish scoops help control serving size to assure that there is enough if each treat for all your guests.

Pool Noodle Ponies For Your Western Reunion

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At our western themed family reunion we created our own pool noodle ponies.  Everyone, no matter what their age, made a pony until we had a whole herd of them.  DIY pool noodle ponies are a great activity for a multi day reunion.  We had the whole first day to create our ponies and used them for fun activities on the second day.

For each pony you need one swimming noodle  the skinnier ones work best and you can usually find them for $1.00 at dollar stores.

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twine or yarn
felt (9 x 12 sheets work well)
large wiggly eyes
low temp glue gun and glue
scissors
Permanent markers
Decorations

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For your ponies head, bend the end of your noodle over and use twine or yarn and tie  tightly to hold in place.  This will be the ponies bridle.  Attach a longer piece of rope to make the reins. You may want to braid this part of the bridle or add bows etc.

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For the mane of the pony make a slit, about 1/2-1 inch deep, into the pool noodle with a box cutter, pocket knife or one side of a pair of scissors. Cut felt so it is fringed on both edges then stuff the felt (center first) into the slit.

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The felt will stay put without gluing.

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Cut another strip of felt with points on both ends to make the ears.  Put the ears under the bend of the head and pull upward.

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Encourage pony creators to be creative.  Provide permanent markers, stickers and jewels and see what they create.  We have found that the more time you give them the more creative the ponies got.  We even got a long necked giraffe (made from two pool noodles).

Finally, put together a rodeo or horse show for your horses to  compete in.  Give prizes for

Helpful hint- If you have a large crowd making ponies, write names on your trusty steeds.  Although each is unique they may still  be difficult to pick out of the crowd.

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For more fun ideas for your western themed family reunion or party check out familyreunionhelper.com

Western Family Reunion

Accommodating Those With Food Allergies at Your Family Reunion

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Ten ideas for “accommodating” those with food allergies at your family reunion or party
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Allergies to gluten, eggs, milk, seeds, nuts, peanuts, and more make it impossible to eat “normal” family reunion food. In our family we deal with life threatening food allergies every time we get together for a family reunion or party.  Below is a list of things we have found make a difference when planning family reunion food around food allergies:

  1. As the family reunion chairman make sure you know about any food allergies or other food restrictions. 
  2. As a family member with allergies be specific when you let the reunion food committee know about your allergies.  Don’t just say “gluten-free crackers,” but suggest a brand and where to purchase it.  No one is going to be as concerned about food allergies as you are. They may not consider some things that you feel are obvious so speak up.
  3. If you are planning a potluck meal for your family reunion make a note of food allergies in your family.  For instance you could add,  “Please remember, no nuts” (Be specific) on your invitation. For some fun recipes check out these 10 Delicious Nut Allergy Friendly Recipes.
  4. Some meal ideas that make dealing with food allergies at your family reunion a little easier is salad, taco or potato bars.  Family members with allergies can take only those foods that are safe for them.  See Aunt Mo’s blog on “Belly Up To The Bar” for more food bar ideas.  However if the food allergy is life threatening you must be aware of cross-contact when eating at buffets or food bars.
  5. If you have food allergies, it is often safest to bring your own food.  Instead of planning meals around the entire family consider doing some meals “on your own”. 
  6. Offer to bring safe food so that you know there will be something there that you can eat. 
  7. If you’re on the food committee consider keeping the original boxes and packages for food you’ve used so that parents can read the packages for themselves.  Even though you may think you’ve taken all the precautions only those with experience will know for sure.
  8. If  you are on the food committee for your family reunion don’t let those with allergies feel like a burden or annoyance. Let them know that you are want them to be safe and enjoy the reunion food just like everyone else.  For help with planning food for a large reunion check out our “How Much Do I Need To Feed a Hundred” chart.

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My sister-in-law, Lisa, has a couple of children with food allergies.  Over the years she has developed her own ways of coping with food allergies at family reunions and parties.  Lisa added her own suggestions to the list I made:

  1. Often food is given as prizes and treats at family reunions. Lisa suggests bringing your own bag of treats.  Make sure the treats for those with allergies are “cool” treats like Pop Rocks or fruit snacks.
  2. Lisa also carries fast to fix food for her children like cereal, instant oatmeal, Cup of Noodles and instant mashed potatoes for when surprise situations arise.

Lisa says, “It’s nice when people make an acceptation for my kids but I don’t plan on it or expect it.”  When talking about her daughter’s sensitivity to dairy she says, “It’s my job to take care of it and I plan ahead for unforeseen situations.”

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One of my nieces, McKell,  is a vegetarian and we accommodate that at our family reunions by reserving a serving of Dutch oven potatoes before we add the bacon etc.  She loves vegies and we always make sure there are several choices for her.  McKell’s uncles like to tease her about her food choices but in the end they all respect her and work to make sure she can eat with the family.

When it come to food allergies any food allergy can be life-threatening. As the Aunt to several children with food allergies, I try to be a meticulous label- reader and remove all nut- containing foods when I’m in charge of the food at a family reunion or party but honestly, I’m never going to be as good at identifying problem foods as Lisa or her children. Lisa has taught her children to accept some responsibility for the food they eat.  They have learned to ask questions before they eat foods that may be  a problem for them.

And lets not forget those family members that may eating healthy or trying to lose a few pounds.  Its such a welcome surprise for them when they find healthy options amidst all the high calorie foods usually found at a reunion. Check out our list of 30 healthy snacks all containing less than 70 calories for great snack ideas that won’t be detrimental to your health.

You’ll find seven delicious and decadent recipes for those that are trying to eat healthy, like carrot cake bites and peanut butter cups here. Seven Guilt Free Recipes for Healthy Desserts

There's No Place Like Home  Medieval Reunion   Family Heritage Reunion

A little extra planning can help those with allergies  feel like they’re part of the group.  If you can prepare one or two food items around your reunion theme.  For instance, if you’re having “Bronasuraus Burgers for dinner make a vegie burger for you vegan family members.  You will find some fun reunion reunion theme ideas here.

Sometimes those with food allergies have apologized for being a problem and for the extra work it takes to accommodate them.  Honestly, ensuring safety for family members is not being “accommodating”, it is being responsible and loving- and that’s what families do!

Human Piñata Chase

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This fun variation of the traditional piñata may very well become the highlight for the kids at your next family reunion or party.

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One of the highlights of our 2016 reunion was the human piñata chase held for all the children. It’s an interesting and fun  twist on the traditional  piñata game.

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To prepare the human  piñatas hot glue onto the front and back of a t-shirt.  You will need one shirt for every piñata.  Use old or cheap shirts because they will be destroyed in the chase. Use small snack sized candies, fruit snacks and small cookie snacks with a full sized candy bar thrown in for good measure. 

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You can also glue money on the piñata shirts if you  put it in a zip lock bag. Pencils and small toys can also be glued to the shirts.

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To play, divide children into age groups.  Ask for someone to be the piñatas. You may do 1 piñata at a time (1 piñata for each age group) or let all  of your piñatas be chased at the same time but put a time limit for each age group.  Give the human piñatas a head start then send the kids out to collect their treats.  When they  get close enough kids grab hold of the prize and pull it off.  Some can be hard to pull off but that is just part of the fun.

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Grammie Hooton’s Chocolate Pudding Cake Recipe

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An easy way to feed a crowd

My Grandma Hooton was an amazing cook.  She was famous for her homemade cinnamon rolls, chicken noodle soup and cabbage rolls- among other things such as fudge and divinity.  Grammie, as we called her, would work in the  hay fields all day with the hay crew and then, while the rest of us were taking a break because we were so tired, she would be in  the kitchen cooking up a delicious chicken fried steak dinner with all the trimmings.

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Sometimes Grammie would round off the meal with a yummy chocolate cake and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how perfect it was for large family gatherings.  The  cake is made in a large jelly roll pan and it serves 24 but it’s easy and fast to fix so you can  make two pans fairly simply.

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Grammie’s Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 (5-oz) box cook and serve chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
3 cups milk (for the pudding)
1 box DRY chocolate cake mix
2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet or milk)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Make pudding to package directions then combine it with 1 package DRY chocolate cake mix. (DO NOT add the eggs and oil etc) Spread in a prepared 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and chopped nuts on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15  minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.) Cool completely before cutting.

I feel fortunate to have several of my Grandmother’s recipes and some day I’d like to make a “heritage” cookbook but for now I’ll just  share this delicious recipe at my next family reunion.

Olympic Themed Family Reunion

“OWN THE PODIUM!” An Olympic Inspired Family Reunion or Party

There are few times that the world comes together to celebrate, cheer and honor its people – the Olympics is one of those occasions. This global event has the power to unify the world and inspire peace for a moment in time. To celebrate this extraordinary event and its athletes in your own corner of the world, host an Olympic Family Reunion! Everyone can be a gold medal athlete at your Family Reunion Olympic Games. No training is required; all you need is the desire to have a good time. Enjoy classic Winter and Summer events plus amusing twists in “Silly Olympic”contests. This Olympic reunion includes more than 40 pages of tips, tricks and shortcuts for “Owning the Podium” at your next Olympic games.

Purchase this Olympic theme at
http://familyreunionhelper.com/products/products.php?ProductID=8

Olympic Reunion

http://familyreunionhelper.com/products/products.php?ProductID=8

Nail It Game!

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I love finding a new game to share with my family and friends and the game I’m sharing today is a good one. Simple to put together and simple to play. This version of the “stump game” can be played by everyone and we call it “Nail It”.

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Nail It Game Tools

To play you need a tree stump, as many nails as there are players, and one hammer.   The nails we used are pictured below.

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How to Play the Nail It Game

Everyone puts their nail into the stump just enough for it to stand nice and sturdy (in the order that you are standing in the circle). Each player then “claims” a nail by placing his or her finger on the nail to claim it as theirs. This will be his nail for the duration of the game. It is generally understood that people will claim the nail directly in front of them.

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The first player taps the hammer two times on the stump and then takes a swing at any of the nails but their own.  They either hit the nail or miss the nail- either way the hammer is then passed to the next person in the circle and they repeat.

Winning the Game

The goal is to hit everyone else’s nail until it is flush with the stump and to be the last nail standing.  A player is eliminated from the game (and thereby takes no more turns) once any part of the head of his nail passes below the level of the surface of the stump (including bending over the edge of the stump without actually entering it). Use your fingernail to test if the nail is flush.

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It is common for the winner of the game, should he choose to do so, to drive his own nail fully into the stump in a victory drive.

I have to say I was a surprised when, doing research for this blog, found that the “stump” game is actually a drinking game.  So, as a disclaimer, let me say that we have played this game and never, at any time, have we had to have a can of beer in our hand to have fun playing it.  It’s a great game for family members of most ages and abilities.  Sometimes the most powerful hammer swingers are the worst players. 

Nail It Game Tips: 

*You may all stand or all sit to play
*Keep your face a safe distance from the stump so you don’t get hit in the head.
*Be careful reaching across the stump to hit a nail- you may hit your palm on a nail and it doesn’t feel very good.
*Choose good, sturdy nails- too small and some players can drive them in one swing.

Planning a School Reunion Party

 

Whether it’s been 10 years, 20 years or 50 years, high school reunions are a time to catch up with old friends and reminisce about days gone by. Planning a school reunion can be a daunting task but the ideas shared in this article written by Sally Fain gives many  helpful suggestions to help you start  planning and soon you’ll find yourself catching up with bygone friends.

Planning a School Reunion Party

By Sally Fain

If you’re curious about what happened to all your old school friends, who married who, what jobs they’re doing now and how many of you have kids, why not find out by having a school reunion party?

Locating Your Old Friends

The first thing you need to do when planning the perfect reunion is find all your old friends.

The Place to Start is Facebook

As more than one billion people worldwide have a Facebook account. If your friends have identified what school they attended in the education section of their profile, you may be able to find them that way as Facebook can link you with others who attended your school. You can also search by name and surname but this is more difficult as people get married and change their names and some choose a nickname for their account.
You do have the option of posting a request for your friends to get in touch with you via the site and for a very small advertising fee, you can ‘boost’ your post so that it is highlighted and appears on Facebook’s News feed. This will attract more attention to it.

School Search Engines

You can also try Gradfinder, an entirely free search engine that allows you to search for your school and covers all states.

If you don’t know the contact details of your school, you could try the American School Directory – an extensive nationwide directory that provides fax numbers, phone numbers, addresses and other details for all public, private and catholic schools.
Once you have located the school you can ask if a reunion request can be published on their website.
Once you’ve found your friends form your reunion committee. Planning things out will be less stressful and more manageable with help!

Pick a Sensible Location 

Some of your friends may have to travel from other countries so you should pick a location that is nearer for the majority. It should also be near a hotel so that those travelling long distances have somewhere to stay overnight.

Keep the Venue Affordable

If some of your friends are paying a lot for fuel airline tickets in order to attend the reunion, don’t hire out an expensive venue which would then require you to sell expensive tickets. This will reduce the turn out for your event. For more affordable venues, ask about hiring your church hall or community center.

Another great idea to is ask your old school authority if you can hold your reunion at the school that you all went to. Not only will it add to the charm of your reunion, but the money you spend on hiring the school hall will be given to the school to benefit its current students. Its other advantage is that school accommodation is usually large so it shouldn’t be a problem if your mates bring their husbands, wives and children with them.

Fundraise in Advance

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 Don’t pay for everything up front as you may get people dropping out. Attendance should be by invitation only, where guests who wish to come send a ticket fee with their invitation slip (or for ease and speed, you could set up a function via facebook and paypal and have them send their acceptance and ticket fee online). If you don’t want to individually charge for tickets, you could try fundraising by appealing on social media or setting up a GoFundMe page.

Decide on the Theme of Your Party

Discuss with your friends the theme you would like for your get together. If you want to give your party a high school theme you could specify that guests come in fancy dress. Costume hire stores and ebay sell school uniform costumes, graduation hats and gowns and other accessories.
You can ask guests to email copies of high school photographs that you can then use to decorate the walls with.
Another idea is to play music from the year you graduated or theme your event around the music and media from that year.

Play Group Games

Consider playing group games after dinner to get everyone involved and talking to each other. Family Reunion Helper can provide downloadable print outs for group games. Print outs contain instructions for games, patterns for game accessories and themed ideas.

Give Goodie Bags 

You could give parting goodie bags with small items from your graduating school year, for instance, a coin from the year, small fashion items or chocolate.
Remember the Place Tags – Put named place holders at the table where you eat or, if it’s a buffet, ask everyone to wear name tags. Everyone will have changed a lot since they were 18!

Consider Having a Slide Shown or PowerPoint Presentation 

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Have a slide show or one comprising home video footage of everyone when they were younger and give everyone the opportunity to say what they’re doing now. Revisit the “good old days” by showing pictures of memorable high school moments.

Give Everyone a Throw Away Camera

Give Everyone a Throw Away Camera  so they can take their own unique snapshots of the event from their perspective. Alternatively, make your own reunion website and ask guests to take pictures on their cell phones and download them to the site so everyone can share their snaps afterwards. 

Giant Yardzee Game For Your Reunion or Outdoor Party

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I’ve never gotten too excited about all the “giant” yard games you  find on the internet but a couple of weeks ago I actually saw a giant Yahtzee game. I got to touch it, roll the dice and count up my score and I thought, “Hey this would be fun for our next family reunion!”  (I  think that about a lot of things)

Giant Yardzee is pretty simple to make.  You’ll need  5 dice cut from 4″x”4″ fence posts.  Cut each cube to 3.5 inches to make a perfect cube.Sand as necessary and paint in bright colors.  To make dots use a circle template to paint them on or use stickers or circles cut with a 1 inch hole punch.

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This is a very cute bucket to store Yardzee score cards and markers in but a 5 gallon bucket is more practical as it will also hold your dice.

Print off giant sized Yahtzee score cards- there are many free ones on the internet- here’s one resource.http://www.memory-improvement-tips.com/support-files/yahtzee-score-sheet-large.pdf

Playing using normal Yahtzee rules.

Did you know- A single “dice” is called a die and multiples are called dice. The round dots on a die are called pips!