The Family That Eats Together Stays Together

 

Or Forcing Your Family to Mingle

One difficult part of a family reunion or party can be getting your family to mingle during meal time.  We usually have each family group sitting together- the Maddox family, the Wynnes and the Stewarts all sitting in their own little group.  It’s not that we don’t like each other or don’t get along-we just gravitate to our  own family group.

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Here’s a fun way to mix things up.  Put a pieces of colored tape or ribbon on each chair or seating space (if you’re dealing with picnic benches)  When everyone has begun eating announce that everyone sitting on a yellow space must switch places with another yellow.  A few minutes later have pinks switch and so on.

DO NOT make it too complicated!  If you have green switch with pink and yellow with red, nothing will happen- everyone will remain in their original seat.  If you’re family is compliant and seems to enjoy the mixing up you could try switching two colors at a time but for the most part it’s best  to focus on one color at a time.  You don’t have to mix people up all in one meal- keep the colors on during your entire reunion and only do a couple of swaps per meal.

Towards the end of the meal you can announce “Rainbow Mixup” and everyone has to switch places.

HINT:  Choose a meal that doesn’t have a lot of plates and silverware etc. to be moved.

Family Reunion T Shirt

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One of my music students came to class wearing this fun reunion shirt and I just couldn’t help but share it with you.  Such a fun and simple design. Notice the family name at the top and the date and place at the  bottom of the shirt. 

We’ve done a lot of reunion shirts over the years but when this cute little guy wore an old shirt his dad wore I was thrilled.  Keeping old reunion t-shirts year after year means you always have something to wear to the family reunion!

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Time Capsule Dig

Family Reunion Time Capsule

Five years later and we finally got to dig up our time capsule!  Five years ago at our Stewart family reunion we had every family member fill out a questionnaire.  We asked questions about the present, their predictions for the future and invited everyone to set some goals that they hoped to accomplish by the time we opened the capsule in 2013.

On the 2nd day of our reunion this year, we went to Grandma’s house where the time capsule was buried to begin our search for the capsule we had buried five years ago.  We followed a very funny set of clues that cousin Tyler made up to find the capsule. 

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The first clue took us to the "”three pronged wooded fork” and then led us to a spot under Grandma’s bathroom window…. but there was no capsule there.

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Retracing our steps we realized that we had misinterpreted the clues and on this attempt found the time capsule buried at the corner of the house.  It took a little digging and we broke the lid off of the capsule but we found all our questionnaires safe and sound.

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Family History Church

We read our questionnaires at  the conclusion of our annual family history “church” we hold at each reunion.  Some of us found that we had remained focused during the five years and completed our goals and some found that their goals had been forgotten.  Some of us predicted what the price of gas would be in 2013 pretty accurately and some found they were living in a fantasy land. We had questioners from old boyfriends that had attended our reunion that year and from a dear Grandpa who had passed away.

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Our family time capsule was a big hit and family members voted to make another time capsule next year.  We’re already working on the questions for our new questionnaire.

Famous Aunts & Uncles Family Reunion Game

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

Famous Aunts & Uncles

www.familyreunionhelper.com

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1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt

2. Mr. Television

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”

6. Uncle housekeeper on “My Three Sons”

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

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup

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

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt

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

13. Whitney Houston’s famous singing Aunt

14. Motorcycle riding uncle on “Full house”

15. George Clooney’s favorite singing aunt

16. The richest duck in the world

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

18. He wants YOU (for the US Army)

19. Spiderman’s uncle and adoptive father

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

Famous Aunts & Uncles Answer Key

Answer Key

1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt- Aunt Bee

2. Mr. Television Uncle- Miltie

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt- Auntie Em

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”- Uncle Festus

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”- Aunt Clara

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

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

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle- Uncle Vernon

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup- Aunt Jemima

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

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt- Aunt Polly

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

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

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

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

16. The richest duck in the world- Uncle Scrooge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Destroy Boring Family Reunion
“Dead Air”

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

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

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

A few of our favorite dead air busters are:

Sugar Cookie Decorating

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

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

DIY Tee Shirts

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

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

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Boondoggle

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

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

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

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

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Stating the Obvious

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

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

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

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

Not-So-Newlywed Game

Cruise ships are famous for their scrumptious never-ending food and their fun entertainment.  Many  entertainment options are designed to get ship-goers an opportunity to participate in the fun.  As we plan our “Crusin” family reunion we looked for opportunities to get family members involved and decided a “Not-So-Newlywed” game would fit the bill.

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Rules for Not-So-Newlywed Game

The Newlywed Game is played in couples. Choose a variety of couples such as the longest married couple; the most recently married, a favorite of the family, and a couple that you just know will have funny answers. It is best to limit the game to four couples though you may use more if you need to. The disadvantage is that the more couples the longer the game so think about you audience and how long the game will keep their interest.

There are two rounds- one for the men and one for the women. Couples are awarded points for each correct answer based on the value of the question. All couples receive the points for each correct answer. Highest score after the second rounds wins the game.

There is no right or wrong answers- the answers the couples give must just be the same.

Begin the game with all couples sitting together at the front of the room or your playing area. Introduce the host of the game (Choose someone who will be happy to do it, has a good sense of humor and will make the game fun for everyone.) Then excuse the women (have them escorted to a room or area here they will not be able to hear their husband’s answers) The host can then ask the husbands the following questions. Do not attempt to explain the questions- if they have a question about the question just repeat it but don’t explain it.

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Not-So-Newlywed Questions for Men

5 pts What is your wife’s blood type?

5pts. What is your wife’s favorite salad dressing?

5 pts At what specific game or sport will your wife say that she is better than you?

10 pts. What traffic sign best describes your wife?

10 pts. Without looking what is the highest denomination bill in your wallet right now?

25 pts. What cereal best describes your marriage? Life, Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Nut ‘n Honey

When you have answers for all of these questions, invite the women back in to sit by their husbands and ask them the same questions you asked the men.

5 pts What is your blood type?

5pts. What is your favorite salad dressing?

5 pts At what specific game or sport are you better at then your husband?

10 pts. What traffic sign did your husband say best describes you?

10 pts. What is the highest denomination bill in your husband’s wallet right now?

25 pts. What cereal best describes your marriage? Life, Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Nut ‘n Honey

Recognize the couple with the highest score so far and of course, poke a little friendly fun at the couple with the lowest score. Then dismiss the men and ask the women the next round of questions.

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Not-So-Newlywed Questions for Women

5 pts. What is your husband’s shoe size?

5 pts. What color is your husband’s favorite tie?

5 pts. What was the last movie you and your spouse last saw together?

10 pts. When did your husband say he actually realized for the first time that he was seriously in

love with you?

10 pts. What is your husband’s favorite snack before going to bed?

25 pts. What movie star will your husband say he is most like: Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise or John Wayne?

When you have answers for all of these questions, invite the men back in to sit by their husbands and ask them the same questions you asked the women.

5 pts. What is your shoe size?

5 pts. What color is your favorite tie?

5 pts. What was the last movie you and your spouse last saw together?

10 pts. When did you realize for the first time that you were seriously in love with your wife?

10 pts. What is your favorite snack before going to bed?

25 pts. What movie star will your wife say you are most like- Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise or John Wayne?

Total the points and award prizes to the winning couple. You may also award smaller prizes to the 2nd and 3rd place couple and a booby prize to the losing couple (box of Milk Duds for being such duds)

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Additional Questions to Substitute as Needed:

What is your spouse’s dream car?

What is your spouse’s favorite color?

What will your wife say is the one gift she received this Christmas that she loved the most?

What is the most unusual piece of clothing that your wife wears?

What is the color of your spouse’s toothbrush?

Which one of your wife’s friends would you say is the biggest gossip?

How many windows will your spouse say are in the largest room of your home?

What is the license plate number on your car?

What was your curfew when you were dating?

What did you do on your first date?

What percentage of the housework would your husband say he does?

Husbands, if your wife could send you to a Body Repair Shop, what on you would she have fixed?

What home improvement project needs to be done next at your house?

What time of day was your first child born?

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Home for the Holidays Family Reunion

You can find more fun activities like the “Not-so-Newlywed” game in the “Home for the Holidays” reunion theme package.

“Home for the Holidays” is one of our favorite family reunion themes. It is especially appropriate if you have a family member such as a serviceman or missionary that has been away from the family for awhile.

We celebrated every holiday we could think of during the three-day family reunion. We went trick or treating to family trailers and tents. When we woke up Sunday morning, the children found the Easter Bunny had left plastic eggs all over the campground and we had a huge family birthday cake. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a delicious turkey and even played a Christmas Right/Left game.

Scrapbooking Your Reunion with Digital Photo Books

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After we’ve played all the reunion games, roasted all the marshmallows, sang all the songs and I’ve taken 700 pictures of the action, I can hardly wait to get back home and see what amazing pictures I’ve taken of my family reunion.  I load my pictures on my computer and begin to make a family reunion DIGITAL scrapbook.

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Making these reunion scrapbooks is fun for me- much less time consuming than the “olden days” when I had to measure, cut and paste everything. And did I mention the MESS- there is NO mess with digital scrapbooking. You just slide your digital photos into predesigned layouts, add digital stickers and some suitable digital paper backgrounds and and then you send it off to the printer. Setup and cleanup are literally as easy as pushing a button. Everything is contained within your computer- NO SETTING UP OR PICKING UP AFTERWARDS. 

I recently read an blog by Bradylou that lists about 10 reasons why digital scrapbooking is a good alternative to traditional scrapbooking- she has some great ideas- read her blog at bradylou.com

I always make a reunion scrapbook for myself and one for Grandma and Grandpa (taking advantage of BOGO sales.)  Everyone enjoys reliving reunion memories when they visit Grandma and look through the books.

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I use two scrapbook companies for my digital scrapbooks- Picaboo and Mixbook.

Picaboo Photo Books

I prefer Picaboo when I have a lot of photos I want to include in my book. Picaboo does not force you to spend hours uploading photos before you can create a project. Rather, with Picaboo installed, you can make a complete, ready-to-order book in a short amount of time. Picaboo has amazing customer service and I love their “chat” service. When I have an idea but don’t know how to implement it I just chat with their helpful costumer service people.  Picaboo has cool and FREE backgrounds you can use- thousands of them- I love the pizza one pictured below.

Picaboo is running a deal this week for up to 40%.

Up to 40% off Classic books and calendars. Ends 7/16. Use code: SUNNYDAYS.

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Mixbook Scrap Books

Mixbook does not require that you download their software. The feature I like most about Mixbook is that it allows you to choose one of their professional designs (or you can start from scratch) and easily and quickly create a photo book. I also like the “stickers” you can add to yourbook.  You can move, crop, rotate, pan and zoom on photos; add stickers and backgrounds; and create custom layouts.

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Right now Mixbook has a deal going-

Deal:Get $15 off $50!
Code:15OFF50
Valid: 07/12/12 4:00 am PST – 07/16/12 11:59pm PST
Restrictions: This offer is only valid with coupon code 15OFF50. This offer cannot be combined with other coupons, vouchers, Groupons, or applied after an order has been placed. Discount applies only to completed projects. No adjustments on previous purchases. Shipping and taxes will apply.
Offer expires 07/16/2012 (11:59 pm PST).

Once your scrapbook is completed you can sell additional copies for family members that preorder them or auction them off at your net reunion auction as a fundraiser.

Check Aunt Mo’s blog next week to find out how to make genealogy or family history photo books.

Game Night!

Invite tons of your friends or family to a “game night”!  Begin by setting up game stations.  Let your guests choose a game they would like to play and when everyone has made their game choice set a timer for 15 minutes and let the fun begin.  When the timer dings everyone rotates to a new game whether they have finished the game they have been playing or not.

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This is a great way to mix up family members at your family reunion and help them to get to know each other a little better.

According to a Hasbro press release, a 1999 article in Psychology Today asserted that you can learn more about someone by playing a game than going on 10 dates. And you can learn more about yourself by playing a game than you can from several therapy sessions.

You can make signs to help your guests easily find the game they would like to play.

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Board game suggestions for your game night party:
  • Monopoly
  • Clue
  • Cranium
  • Life
  • Jenga
  • Sorry
  • Candy Land
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  • Shoots and Ladders
  • Scrabble
  • Apples to Apples
  • After rotating through four games (approximately one hour of game playing time) have everyone come together to play one giant group game.  Some game suggestions are:

Trivial Pursuit
Bingo

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Taboo
Pictionary
Outburst
Trash or Treasures

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Scattergories
Minute to Win it

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For refreshments, set up a fun candy station that guests can help themselves to during their game playing or ask everyone to bring a treat to share.

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You must invent your own games and teach us old ones how to play.
Nikki Giovanni

Glow in the Dark Volleyball

Anything you can play on the dark with glow sticks and black lights is sure to be a huge success at your family reunion or party.

Played in the dark, the net, ball, out-of-bounds line and related equipment come alive with the glowing magic of glow sticks, bracelets, tape and black lights!

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You will have to do some advance planning and gather the following equipment for your glow in the dark game.

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Purchase glow in the dark tape to wrap around volleyball, beach ball, plastic play ball or purchase a real glow in the dark volleyball available at Family Reunion Helper.

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Glow Bracelets

Buy lots of glow bracelets.  You will need them for the net and for everyone to wear. Glow bracelets are pretty inexpensive- a hundred for under $10.00 in the Family Reunion Helper store.  Glow sticks are also fun to hang on the net.

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Black Lights

You can rent black lights for about $10.00  a day but we found black light strips at Walmart for under $20.00 which included the light bulb and stand.  We only needed two lights to light up our small gym.

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Other black lights as are available.  Tape to the wall for added fun.  Don’t forget extension cords for all these lights.  

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White T-shirts

Ask family members to wear white t-shirts for extra fun.  Some will forget but it won’t interfere with the game.  Most shirts that are 100% cotton will glow in the dark under black lights.

You can play glow in the dark volleyball using just glow sticks but adding black lights really gives the game an illuminating boost!

For refreshments serve glow in the dark lemonade- the secret to glowing food is tonic water (diet tonic water works too).  It contains quinine, and guess what happens when you expose quinine to black light yep, it glows!  Tonic water can have a bit of a bitter taste to it so use as little as possible.  Hint:  Serve glow in the dark Jell-O by replacing some of the water with tonic water.

“It’s better to illuminate than merely to shine.”

Aunt MO

Mafia Family Reunion

When it was first suggested that we use “Mafia” as our theme for the Stewart family reunion I was  a little apprehensive but after three days of Mafia activities over Labor Day I’ve decided that “Mafia” is just another word for “Family”.

My favorite activity was the marshmallow wars- the longer the game went the more strategic the teams got.  I hate to admit I was on the losing team but if the winner is the team that had the most fun it would most certainly be my team!

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The “Godfather” of our family got a little help to get around the reunion site.

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“Gangster” ball and “Mob”  Ball were two favorite activities.

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We printed our own Mafia “funny” money.  It featured portraits of the Godfather and Godmother.

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Family photos with a Mafia twist were snapped as family members entered the “speakeasy” and sat down to a delicious Italian dinner and murder mystery theater.

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A picture of the “Family” was taken in our black Mafia shirts.

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Look for the all the “Mafia” reunion fun at family reunion helper- Aunt MO will soon be posting everything you need to have your own Mafia themed  family reunion so your family can learn how to put “Family First” too.

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Aunt MO