5 Dollars Off Any $19.95 Reunion Theme Package

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Had the pleasure of stopping by the Mower family reunion today. It was so fun to see everyone visiting, enjoying yummy food and kids playing on the toys. Seeing them having such a good time made me excited for family reunion season. Can’t wait to get together with our extended family!

To get the reunion season started off right, family reunion helper is offering 5.00 off any of their $19.95 reunion theme packages. Circus, Caveman, Heritage, All-sport, Western or any of our fun reunion themes.

Just enter the code "reunion2013" at check out. This offer expires at midnight, May 27th 2013, Memorial Day- the start of family reunion season!

Genealogy Themed Photo Books

I’m so lucky because I had some ancestors that wrote things down and family members, like my Mom and my brother, Scott who made sure old photos were labeled, digitalized and stored safely.  My contribution to their efforts is to share some of my ancestors life stories in digital photo books.

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Tell Your Ancestor’s Story

Besides making a reunion scrapbook each year, I have also made family history or genealogy books. This is fun to do if you have a lot of stories about an ancestor. The book pictured below is about an ancestor and the decision they made to come to America. I didn’t try to tell their whole life story just the events that led up to their coming to America and their arrival here.

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As you might expect, part of the challenge when making this type of photo book is getting enough pictures to go in the book.  I handled that problem by finding generic pictures on the internet and using them in my books. For instance, if Grandma got a 1950’s blue Schwinn bike for her 8th birthday search for that image on the internet and add it to your book. (Note: be sure images are not copywrited) In the picture below you see a page that is telling about a conversation our ancestors had in their kitchen.  Of course I didn’t have a picture of their kitchen but I did find a picture of cooking utensils they might have had in their kitchen and included that in my photo book.

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I repeated the same idea with this page.  Although not personable to my ancestor it is representative of life when the story took place.

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The best pages are those that feature actual photos of ancestors to illustrate real stories from their life’s. 

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The easiest photo books to create are those of loved ones that are still living.  When my Mom celebrated her latest milestone birthday we gave her a book of lessons learned and fun experiences we had growing up with her.  We titled it “Teachings, Tall Tales and Inspirations” and Mom loves it.

Sharing Your Photo Book

You can buy copies of your book to give as gifts to family members, auction them off to raise money for your reunion or just let family members know the book is there and let everyone buy their own copy.

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Emory University concluded in a recent study of children ages 14-16 that “a child’s ability to retell family stories was linked to lower instances of depression, anxiety and less acting out due to frustration and anger”.  There is an African saying that "a people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots."Kind of reminds me of my favorite reunion quote, “A tree without roots falls over.”  The moral to this story- share the stories of your ancestors whether it be around the campfire or in a genealogy themed photo book.

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.

Top Ten Tips for Great Family Reunion T-Shirts

Ideal bulk clothing for your family reunions

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Family reunions are a terrific way to vacation and spend much needed quality time to reconnect with far away relatives. They can be difficult to organize considering schedules and distances, so it is nice to have a keepsake to remember these rare events and good times. Here are some tips to ease the process of making souvenir t-shirts.

Tip #1- Design a family logo

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Reunion t-shirts often include basic information like the date and place of the event, the family name, a fun phrase, and a logo. Why not relieve some of the stress of planning the event by asking an artist in the family to design a logo for the reunion. It can be a lot of fun for a child or teenager to be the one who designs the t-shirts for everyone. You can find some great family reunion quotes at

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2011/04/family-reunion-quotes/

Tip #2- Wear shirts of different colors to identify sub-families or generations

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It is a cute idea to have each separate sub-family or generation wear a different color t-shirt, and possibly a different design as well. This can be helpful for more distant relatives in figuring out exactly who everyone is, and it is a smart tool for younger children to figure out the family tree.

Tip #3- Design T-shirts round your reunion theme

It is more fun to dress up the t-shirt logo to a theme. If
the reunion is a destination weekend, make a design of a road sign with the mileages to the towns of each family from the event location. Say it is a circus theme; make a circus sign, with the details of the date and family slogan, etc. If it is a beach location reunion, make a family tree logo out of a palm tree or write different family names on seashell logos.

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Design for Mafia themed reunion

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Dinosaur theme T-shirts

Tip #4- Use a “family togetherness” themed T-shirt

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It could simply be a family togetherness theme. One side of the t-shirt can be the event logo, and on the back can be the names of the family members, or it can be a fun list. For example, "You know you’re a [family name] if…," followed by a list of "family-isms." The possibilities are truly endless!

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One blank t-shirt that is easy to print on and is also guaranteed to please every member of the family is the Gildan G200 6.1 oz. Ultra Cotton T-Shirt. It is a very breathable 100% preshrunk cotton that also has moisture-wicking properties. It is available in sixty-six colors and eight sizes ranging from S-5XL. This unisex t-shirt has comparable varieties available in women’s, youth, and extra large tall sizes.

Tip #5- Consider climate and weather conditions when designing your reunion T-shirts

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For chillier event locations or reunions in colder months, this Gildan ultra cotton t-shirt is also available with long sleeves in men’s and women’s styles with several color and size options.

For the more eco-conscious family, the Anvil OR420 Men’s Organic T-Shirt is 100% certified organic cotton. The cotton fabric is also preshrunk. It is available in fifteen colors and eight sizes ranging from XS-4XL. Available for the whole family, this Anvil t-shirt has comparable styles for women and youth. These t-shirts are also easy for printing, adding to the family reunion fun.

Tip #6- Decorate T- shirts as a reunion activity

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It can be tough to find activities to fill in the weekend, especially if it rains, so why not decorate the t-shirts while at the reunion. This is an especially entertaining activity for children where they can bond with cousins they might not see often.  You can download a copy of the family reunion t shirt template to color at your reunion at

Fun T- Shirt Idea

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All you need are some fabric crayons, puffy paints, and other fun decorating supplies.

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Tip #7- Create DIY Sandpaper T-Shirts

A new trend in DIY t-shirts is coloring on sandpaper with crayons, then ironing to the t-shirt. All that is required to seal the design is a run through the dryer.  Follow this link to find complete instructions for “sand paper” T-shirts.
http://alphamom.com/family-fun/crafts/sandpaper-printed-t-shirt/

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Tip #8- Design sports themed T-shirts using “Raglan” t-shirts


For families who have sports activities planned, such as softball, kickball, football, or other games, raglan t-shirts are a great option.

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Raglan t-shirts are known more commonly as "baseball tees," with their diagonally sewn shoulders that allow for more upper-body movement. To plan for games, make t-shirts in two different colors for opposing teams, and put last names and a number on the back.

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These could be the individual’s first or last name, a nickname, or any family name, and any number such as the year the person was born, or simply the year of the reunion. The Anvil 2184 ¾-Sleeve Raglan Baseball Jersey is 100% preshrunk cotton with moisture-wicking properties and contrasting colors on the body and sleeves. It is available in an adult unisex variety in eight colors and five sizes ranging from S-2XL. It is also available in youth sizes, so the children can participate in the athletic activities. And try some baseball caps or visors for added fun and a better distinction of teams. The baseball caps and visors can be a lot of fun to decorate right before the game with team names.

Tip #9- Think “outside” the box

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Don’t wait for your “summer” reunion to make family
t-shirts.  Consider designing shirts for other family get-together such as Christmas or Easter or a 50th anniversary celebration.  Any time your family gathers is a great time to make t-shirts as a remembrance of the occasion.

Tip #10- Tote bags and t-shirt quilts

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Tote bags are also a lot of fun to make for family members for reunions. It can be a nice gesture to have guest bags ready for each reserved room at the hotel. These bags can be filled with the pre-made t-shirts for the weekend, brochures of activities in town, candies and other local foods, and a family related project like a book or letter of life updates. The BAGedge BE002 Non-Woven Promo Tote is a nice choice for this bag. Its dimensions are 14.75"w x 14.5"h x 2.75"d, so it is a perfect fit for these items as well as other souvenirs that may not fit well in luggage on the journey back home. It can be a lot of fun to decorate before distributing. It is also available in nine colors, for a perfect match to the family style.

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Another fun idea is to make a patched quilt of t-shirts. Each family can bring a few of the same pattern that represents their own household. At the party, everyone can exchange the designed t-shirts, and make their own quilts with the other designs while at the party, or after they go home. Either way, it is a fun keepsake of a meaningful reunion.  Follow this link for step by step instructions for making a t-shirt quilt.
http://quiltbug.com/articles/Tshirt-quilts.htm


USE THIS

Family reunions are special and memorable events that are cherished by all who attend. Over the years, the T-shirt has become the popular and enduring keepsake item of any successful family reunion.  A great resource for reunion t-shirts is www.shirtsinbulk.com By creating a family reunion T-shirt you not only create a keepsake item that can be worn to remember a fun and fantastic reunion, but also creates family unity at the event itself. Try any of these ten tips for a guaranteed "t-riffic" reunion!!

Music For Your Family Reunion Slide Show or Video

Creating a family slide show or video is fun and with all the tools available surprisingly easy.  Whether you’re reunion is being held at a resort or at a casual retreat, there’s no better way to take a stroll down memory lane than with a reunion slideshow or video presentation. 

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We’ve been making and showing slide shows at our family reunions for years now and have witnessed for ourselves the evolution of the slide show from the old photo slides and projectors to power point and movie maker presentations projected on wall sized screens.

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When making your slide show don’t make it too long-15 minutes is about right and you stretch it to 20 minutes if you keep your background music upbeat and catchy.

Be sure y0u include at least one photo of every member of your family.  Review the photos you plan on using to be sure you aren’t featuring one dominant person in your presentation.

Background Music is Important

Through the years we have come to realize the importance of the music used as background music behind the photo presentation. Music has the powerful ability to set the tone of your slide show and evoke strong feelings of good family memories.

When making a  family reunion slideshow or video you have to be able to put aside your own music preferences and select music that Grandma will enjoy (and can understand the lyrics) and music your teenagers will be able to bear.  I prefer upbeat music for most of my slideshows with one slow, sentimental song to really cement the memories.

Family Reunion Slide Show Music

When I thought about writing this blog I wondered what I could do to help a slide show makers job a little easier.  I decided that perhaps a list of good slide show background music might be helpful.  So listed below are some of the good old music “standards” we have used in our family slide shows throughout the years.  Just click on the song picture to download it for your presentation.

A good opening song might be “These Are My People” from Rodney Atkins.

“This is where I come from
Were givin’ this life everything we got and then some
It ain’t always pretty
But its real
It’s the way we were made
Wouldn’t have it any other way
These are my people”

“Firework” has a great message about how we are all important and can light a the world light a firework.  But it also has a catchy, upbeat tempo and your family will probably sing along with it.

If you want to feature Grandma and Grandpa in your slide show consider using Josh Grobin’s “You Raise Me Up” as tribute to these great people in your lives.

There was a time when I was making a lot of slide shows and “We Go Together” from the movie Grease seemed to be a great song for the end of the slide show.  It is upbeat and gets across the message that we’re family and “We Go Together”.

My family loves swimming and watersports so our family slide shows always include a lot of “water” pictures.  More often than not I look to the “Beach Boys” for good background music for these kinds of pictures.

“Let Them Be Little” by Billy Dean or Lonestar is a great song for showing baby pictures or pictures of the “early” years.  With the right pictures this song will bring tears to the Moms and Dads in your family.  Of course there is also “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers and “Sunrise Sunset”  though I think these last two songs have been over used.

It’s pretty hard to beat Rascal Flatts “My Wish” for sending out a powerful message to your family.  Be careful to not use pictures that will make people laugh when they see it- you don’t want their laughter to cover up the beautiful lyrics of this song.

“But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.”

“Voices” by country artist Chris Young, is about all the things we hear from our family and how we hear their “voices” as we go throughout our lives.  Be sure to check out his music video of the song for some great family reunion video ideas. http://www.cmt.com/videos/chris-young/538509/voices.jhtml

You could say I’m a little bit crazy
You could call me insane
Walkin’ ’round with all these whispers
Runnin’ ’round here in my brain
I just can’t help but hear ‘em
Man, I can’t avoid it

I hear voices
I hear voices like
My dad sayin’ quit the team
And you’ll be a quitter for the rest of your life
Mama tellin’ me to say a prayer
Every time I lay down at night
And grandma sayin’ if you find the one
You’d better treat her right
Yeah, I hear voices all the time

 

If you have lost someone dear in your family during the year since your last family reunion you my want to include a segment of pictures of them in your slideshow using Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” as background.

For more current music substitute “My Way” for Brad Paisley’s “When I Get Where I’m Going”.

“Yeah when I get where I’m going
There’ll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I’ll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I’m going
Don’t cry for me down here”

And if all else fails and you just can’t come up with a song you can always use “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.  It may have been overused but you just can’t beat it’s catchy beat and meaningful lyrics.

“All of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose”

Use  a Projector for a Life Sized Slide Show

When I started doing family reunion presentations to civic and church groups it became necessary for me to get a projector that would project large images on the wall. My projector isn’t fancy with a lot of bells and whistles but so far it’s been just perfect for what I need it for.  A projector like mine may be just the thing to show your side show on for your family reunion. 

If you’re going to make a slideshow for your reunion, make sure you budget enough time to put together a good production. Don’t underestimate your show’s ability to influence people’s overall impression of your family. Sharing and reliving memories is a powerful thing!

Aunt MO

Have You Heard the Family Reunion Song

A few years ago I wrote  blog about the ten best family reunion songs.  http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2010/04/my-top-ten-family-reunion-songs/  Heading the list was a little known song called “Family Reunion” from Teresa Jennings and Plank Road Publishing.  Teresa and her crew gave me permission to feature the song on our family reunion website and since then many visitors to the site have listened to the song and become addicted to it’s catchy hillbilly sound.

You can listen to this song at http://www.familyreunionhelper.com and you can download it http://www.mootoobmoosic.com

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Our family has had a lot of fun with the reunion song. One year we assigned a few people from each family group to learn the song and then sing it at our family reunion. Many of the performers dressed up in Hillbilly attire and sang it with a twang. It was the highlight of the reunion and soon everyone at the reunion was singing along. It’s easy to learn and easy to sing but if you’re looking for a serious family reunion song this is not it.

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Since writing that family reunion music blog a new song has come to my attention.  It’s from country artist Chris Young and is called “Voices”.  To get the full effect of the song you need to watch the music video "Voices" Video

You could say I’m a little bit crazy
You could call me insane
Walkin’ ’round with all these whispers
Runnin’ ’round here in my brain
I just can’t help but hear ‘em
Man, I can’t avoid it

I hear voices
I hear voices like
My dad sayin’ quit the team
And you’ll be a quitter for the rest of your life
Mama tellin’ me to say a prayer
Every time I lay down at night
And grandma sayin’ if you find the one
You’d better treat her right
Yeah, I hear voices all the time

“Voices” would be a great song choice for your family reunion power point, video or slide show.

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Taking Family Reunion Photos

Family reunions are a great time to take a family photo. We have very few family group photos that look perfect- maybe we don’t even have one perfect picture. It’s so hard to get everyone looking in the same direction, smiling and not squinting. It seems that if you get the children looking at the camera their parents are looking at the children but no matter how difficult a family reunion photo may be to take, you’ve just got to do it- old family photographs are a treasured part of any family history and it won’t be long until the pictures you take today become a cherished part of your family memories.

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Becoming our Family Reunion Photographer

You can always hire a professional photographer but unfortunately for us, most photographers don’t like to travel to the locations we have our reunions and so we are left with “Do-it-yourself” family reunion pictures. Here’s some things we’ve learned over the years.

Take Photos at the Beginning of Your Reunion

Take pictures earlier in the day and at the first of your reunion.  Children haven’t gotten dirty, or sunburned and no one has spilled their food or drink.  If you’re camping, take pictures the first day before everyone’s hair has gone flat and make up has worn off.

Get the Light Right

The middle of the day is a difficult time for pictures- The light is harsh and unflattering. Because it’s coming from overhead you will get a lot of light on top of people’s heads, but their faces are not going to be lit. For shady locations it won’t matter as much, but for photos out in the open, before 10 AM or after 2 PM is better, if that fits in your reunion schedule.

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Choose a Spot Free of Distractions

A tall row of shrubbery or a colored wall makes ideal backdrops. People say, “I’ll just photo shop that.” But think of the time and headache you’ll save if you just “clean it up” before you take the photo.

Try Something New

Try taking your shot from atop a ladder, bench or table. If you shoot from an elevated position, it’s easier to get everyone’s face, even if people are standing behind one another.

Small Family Groups

Various small groupings of family members can be very nice to have for the future.  You can consider having an all girls picture, all boys picture, and an all children picture etc.  Try making your pictures “action” shots- besides making interesting  pictures they’re a lot more fun to shoot.

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Grandma will want to have a picture of her and Grandpa with all the grandkids for their Christmas photo card.

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Family Photo Boards and Frames

A fun, new photo trend is photo boards. Cut holes in a piece of plywood to accommodate old frames and let family members pose in family groupings. The effect is that of family photos hanging on a wall. You may want to put wallpaper on your plywood “wall” or paint stripes or dots and hang decorations to give it a more “homey” look.

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Putting hands or props outside the frames give a fun 3D effect.

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Hand held frames can also be fun remembrances of your reunion. Have a variety of frames available and let family members organize their own family groupings.

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Set aside some time for photos of family members in their reunion theme costumes. It’s usually easier to take smaller family groupings and helps with identifying family members.

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My Favorite Family Reunion Photo Tip

is to use paper plates to help in identifying family members. Give everyone a paper plate with a number on it. Take a “paper plate” picture then remove the plates and take another picture. After printing the two pictures you can list family names using the numbers on the paper plates- #1- Jane Moyer, #2 Clint Holmes etc. Hint: Don’t let anyone move after you’ve taken the first photo with the paper plates.

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Use  Digital Camera

And finally, use a digital camera! You may delete more images than you keep but going digital allows you to snap as many pictures as you want and then do simple editing later and print only the best photos for keepsakes.

When it’s all said and done, the only thing you have left of your family reunion are the memories you’ve made and the pictures you’ve taken so- “Say Cheese”!

Aunt MO

Slide Box Ornament for Your Christmas Tree

 

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For the last 50 years my family has recorded their favorite family memories on photographic slides that can only be viewed with a slide projector.  As much as I love gathering the family together for a slide show I was thrilled when Uncle Steven came up with a brilliant idea for making slide ornaments for our Christmas tree.

Slide ornaments are easy and inexpensive to make.  There is quite a bit of cutting, folding and taping involved but the most difficult part of making slide ornaments is choosing the slides you want to display on your tree.

It is fun to use slides from past Christmases, family reunions or especially embarrassing for children and fun for parents is to use pictures of children when they were small.

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Because we were making over a hundred slides we had a print shop print our ornaments and they even scored the fold lines.  You will want to use a higher end grade of card stock, one that has been coated in either or matte or gloss finish.  We used the gloss finish.  Both should be available at your local print or stationary store.  You can download a free  slide ornament pattern at familyreunionhelper.com 

We had our name printed on our slide box but  we found that made it a little restricting as we couldn’t use vertical slides in our ornaments without making our name look funny.  I would recommend not using any words or graphics that will limit your options.

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We used a good pair of scissors to cut out our ornaments and an X-acto knife and ruler to cut out an opening for the slide.  Tape the slide  to the inside  of the box then fold and fasten together with doubled sided tape.

HINTS:

Display with white or clear lights.  Your slides will be whatever color the light is.

You can punch the hole for the lights in the top or bottom of the box depending on how you want the ornament to hang.

Store slide ornaments in a shirt box for next year’s tree.  They are are long lasting and make a fun family tradition during the Christmas season.

Aunt MO

“Remember that our blessings outnumber the  lights on the Christmas tree.” Unknown