Bead Geckos- A Family Reunion Ice Breaker

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An effective way to jumpstart your family reunion is with an activity that  family members can participate in independently when they arrive at the reunion and are settling in. There is that awkward time when family arrives at the reunion  and everyone is  getting reacquainted.  Experience has proven that if there is a low key activity planned it will encourage family members to mingle and get comfortable with each other again.  A pre reunion activity also keeps younger family members busy and engaged while their parents are visiting and settled in.

Bead lizards or Geckos are the perfect solution.  Collect a supply of different colored pony beads and some satin cording and let your family create their own Geckos.

 

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What you’ll need for each lizard-

  • 2 yards satin cording of your choice 
  • 1 metal keychain or lanyard hook
  • 27 colored (shown as green in the above diagram) pony beads
  • 21 colored (shown as orange in the above diagram) pony beads
  • 2 black pony beads for eyes

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I really recommend watching the following video to get some great instructions for making your bead Gecko.  The great thing is,  if you download the video to your tablet, the  video will be available to your guests and you won’t spend so much time  trying to give instructions as you’re registering your family members and getting them situated- they’ll be  able to watch the video!  The video lasts less than 2 minutes and it’s actually quite entertaining.

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You can  find more ice breaker ideas by following the link below

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2010/03/really-cool-ice-breaker-games/

Superhero Reunion Theme

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Family Reunion Helper proudly announces the completion of their latest family reunion  theme- Superhero!

Now you can bring all the action-packed adventure and excitement of your favorite superheroes to your family reunion!

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A superhero reunion will appeal to family members of all ages. Superheroes have unique skills, wear awesome costumes and save the world on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.

A superhero family reunion lends itself to action-packed games, superhero training and fun activities.

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This reunion theme package includes a fun printable reunion invitation, secret super power cards, water bottle labels, superhero training cards, “what’s my super power?” activity, Kapow!, Boom! and Zap! signs and fun printables for napkin rings and table decorations.

Our superhero reunion is jam packed with more than 35 pages of ideas for many of your favorite superheroes: Batman, Spider-man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Iron-man, Flash, Hawk-eye and even Aqua-man.

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With the Superhero reunion theme your family will want to save helpless citizens, fight the forces of darkness and defeat the evil villains. Plan a superhero reunion and let your families’ powers shine. Whether they’re saving the planet or saving your family, a superhero family reunion or party will be a memorable reunion for anyone who has ever yearned to make right what’s wrong in the world.

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You can find the superhero reunion theme at Family Reunion Helper.com and by clicking on the link below.

Super Hero Family Reunion

The Ultimate Guide For Choosing a Family Reunion Theme

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Excite family members by using a reunion theme!

Are you looking for a way to excite family members and stir up interest about your next family reunion? Choosing a reunion theme is a great way to build excitement for upcoming and make it more likely family members will want to attend. clip_image004

A reunion invitation that invites you to a “Prehistoric” reunion for Brontosaurs burgers and a dinosaur egg hunt is more interesting than an invitation that invites you to a family reunion at “the park” for hamburgers.

A reunion theme helps to drive your reunion and with a little imagination food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion becomes a memorable event.

 

clip_image006Themes are inexpensive to implement and can inspire the creative side of many members in your family. Ask for their theme ideas, brainstorm and see what they come up with. Our best family reunion themes have come from brainstorming about themes. When a “Caveman”, Mafia and Oz theme were suggested in one of our brainstorming sessions I was kind of worried about what we would do but those themes are some of our favorites and have left us with some amazing reunion memories. Below are just a few family reunion themes that you may want to consider for your next family event.

All- Sport or Olympic Themed Reunion

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Get away from a boring sit around and just visit family reunion and jump into some action-packed fun with an All-sport or Olympic themed family reunion.

Activities- Soccer, volleyball, “whiffle” ball, Whacky miniature golf. Hold a cheerleader camp for the girls in your family and a sports camp for the boys. Go bowling or hold a family 5K. Give a family reunion MVP award.  For fun variations of these favorite sports- whiffle ball, soccer, bowling, swimming and volleyball plus lots of great ideas for your sports themed reunion.

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Food- Smoothies, “Breakfast of Champions” or “Long Jump” lunch hoagies.

Wear– Favorite team jerseys and t-shirt. Make a family t-shirt fashioned after a sports jersey.

Decorations: Pom, poms, pennants, sports balls, sports posters and plastic tablecloths.

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Olympic Reunion
Family History or Family Heritage Reunion

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If your family reunion is held near where the family originated, then schedule a trip to the old family homestead, church or cemetery. You can use this as an opportunity to share family memories, or go a step further and recruit the clan to clean up the ancestral cemetery plots or research the family in old church records. Hold your reunion at the family home if available or in the town where one of your ancestors were born, raised, married or buried. You can find more Family History ideas for your family reunion at wwwfamilyreunionhelper.com.

Food – Use an ancestor’s home country as theme for your meals. Use recipes from that county and set tables with a centerpiece of memorabilia and a picture of your ancestor. If your people come from Italy, serve a spaghetti dinner, from Mexico, serve tacos, enchiladas or tamales. Box lunches are a fun idea to share an old-time tradition.

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At our Family Heritage reunion, the girls in the family designed and decorated shoe boxes at home. We provided sandwich fixin’s, individual chip packages, fruit snacks and drink boxes along with cookies for dessert. The girls made lunches for two and put them in their box. We gave each box a number and the guys in the family each drew a number out of hat to determine which lunch they got to eat and which girl they ate lunch with. In a few instances, we had more girls than guys and so doubled up.

Activities – Play “classic” games at your reunion such as “3-legged race, gunny sack race, Annie I Over. Create a huge wall chart of your family so everyone can see how they are related. Take “old-time” photos and have everyone dress up. Make a family “time capsule”.

Dress – In the ethnic costume of your ancestors.

Ancestor Coloring Book- Making a heritage-coloring book about one of your ancestors is clip_image022a monumental task but it’s a wonderful way to make family history come alive for the little ones in your family. If you have an artist in the family, then designing a coloring book will be much easier for you. If you don’t have a talented artist in the family a great resource is http://store.doverpublications.com/by- subject-coloring-books.html.

 Family Heritage Reunion

Sun, Sand and Surf Reunion Theme

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If your reunion is in the summertime then it’s the perfect time for a Sun, Sand & Surf family reunion theme. Merge your beach reunion ideas with your Hawaiian reunion ideas for double the fun.

Invitations: Consider sending “Message in a Bottle” invitations to encourage family members to attend your family reunion or write out your reunion invitation on a beach ball with a permanent marker.

Activities: Sand candles and castles, sand art, volleyball variations and swimming pool games.

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Aquatic Obstacle Course: Use sprinklers, Slip-N-Slides, baby pools, limbo sticks and hula hoops to create an obstacle course for wet and wild reunion fun!

Food: Sub sandwiches, fruit trays, shish kabobs, fruit kabobs, gold fish crackers.

Decorations are easy for a beach themed family reunion. Use beach umbrellas, Beach towels, Beach balls, Paper party lanterns, Paper Palm trees and party lights on a string. travel posters, flowers, straw skirt table. Don’t forget to use pink flamingos in your decorating and be sure to include music from the Beach Boys to round out your reunion theme.

Beach Reunion

Wedding Anniversary or Significant Birthday Family Reunion Theme

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Planning a family reunion around an important wedding anniversary or milestone birthday makes for an easy but memorable family reunion.

Invitation – Put two photos of the honored couple on the invitation: their original wedding photo and a current photo.

Food – Finger foods and a “wedding” cake.

Activities- “When You Were My Age” A Celebration of Life’s Memorable Moments. This is such a fun program, fashioned after a Bill Cosby Show episode and was called, “When Mom Was my Age.” We have done variations of the program for 70th and 80th birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries. Each time we do “When You Were My Age” everyone is a good sport and excited to be a part of the celebration. Everyone has a part on the program and an opportunity to highlight world events and significant family happenings throughout the life of your loved one. Download the “When You Were My Age” from Family Reunion Helper or write a “This Is Your Life” program for your reunion celebration.

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Decorations –Photos and other various memorabilia of the couple’s life together.

When You Were My Age

Three Ring Circus and Carnival Reunion Theme

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Begin your reunion with a circus parade and invite everyone to dress in fun costumes and march around your reunion site.

Food –Circus food- corn dogs, cotton candy and popcorn.

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Activities – As your family arrives, have then guess how many circus animal cookies or peanuts are in a jar. The person who guesses closest to the actual number wins the jar full of treats. Have a carnival. Assign 6- 10 family members a carnival booth. Children earn prizes at each booth. Face painting, fishing booth, fortune teller, Plinko, Dart Throw etc. Consider renting a bounce house for the little ones in your family. For more ideas check out the family reunion “circus” theme at www.familyreunionhelpercom/

Decorations – Balloons, tents and circus animal cutouts.

Circus Reunion

There’s no place like home- Wizard of Oz Theme inspired theme

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Oz Themed Activities

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Design an obstacle course depicting famous scenes from the movie. Run through a tissue paper poppy field, jump over bale of straw etc. Make bottle tornados and make a yellow brick road out of scrap lumber. Plan an activity that represents each Oz character such as paper plate lions, red glitter shoes and

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Decorations- Make flying monkeys from black poster board and hang around your reunion location. Use rainbow colored tablecloths (one color per table).

Food- “Ding Dong” the witch is dead Ding Dong cakes, rainbow lollypops, Lions, Tigers and Bears animal crackers and melted witch treats.

 

There's No Place Like Home

Western Themed Reunion


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Western Reunion Themed Activities

Make ponies from dollar store pool noodles and have a pool noodle rodeo. Shoot at targets with rubber band guns or pvc pipe bow and arrows. Make a family totem pole or try some line dance.

clip_image056Food- Call the food you serve” vittles”. Have a chili cook off., have a Texas Straw Hat food bar or serve barbeque, spareribs or grilled hamburgers. Use tin pie plates, mason jars with handles and lots of bandanas.

clip_image058Decorations- Put up a large ranch sign at the party entrance. Print off some wanted posters. To make it more fun, get hold of some photos of the guests and put them on the posters. Place some paper or real horseshoes on the path leading to the party entrance. Create a teepee out of a large sheet and some wooden dowels. Create a large cactus out of a cardboard box or even buy some inflatable ones. Cover the party food table in a red and white checkered cloth and hang up a sign saying “SALOON”.

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Western Family Reunion

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

Making a Family Parade Float

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Small Town Parades

My favorite parades are those in small communities.  The parade in our town is only two blocks long and lasts about 20 minutes, but we always arrive early so we can get a front row seat.  We don’t want to miss those great family floats!

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When I was growing up we always had a Hooton family float.  My Mom and her sister would design and make a float for all of my Grandparents’ grandkids to ride on.  I don’t remember a lot of the details about creating the float but I do remember having lots of fun with my cousins. I also liked getting a free ticket to the local movie theater and 25 cents to buy a treat which was the prize for having an award winning float.

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Highlight Your Family

Having a family float in a local parade can be a fun activity for your family reunion.  It’s also a great way for Grandma and Grandpa to show off their posterity.  The Brown family counted all their posterity and celebrated by building the family float pictured below.

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Here’s some tips to having a great family reunion float:

Register Your Float or Parade Entry

#1.  Be sure to register your float with the parade  committee in advance.  Find out the specifics about entering before you begin building your parade float. Some parades have restrictions about throwing candy or passing out flyers so find out the rules and safety requirements.

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#2. Once you know the size requirements and approved vehicles for floats, you will need to find either a truck and trailer or flatbed that you can use as a base for your float.  If you don’t have access to a truck and trailer let your family ride their bikes or walk in the parade.  Children in the family can dress in their team uniforms, dance costumes or school shirts and ride decorated bikes  in the parade.

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Another option is to put everyone in matching family reunion shirts and make a banner with your family name on it. Give everyone a helium balloon and wah la- you have a “walking” family reunion float.  Like they say, sometimes- “less is more”.

#3.  Make sure  you have plenty of help when assembling your float.  You will have to build your float in a few hours so you will need to be organized. Be sure you have all supplies on hand.

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#4. Money is probably going to be an issue for your family reunion float but floats don’t have to cost a lot of money to be fun.  There are inexpensive supplies that you can use to make a fun float. Colored butcher paper, paint, cardboard, straw bales and balloons can create a very nice float. Cut out props from the cardboard boxes. Try making props more three dimensional by using folds or tape and glue. Make them big, the bigger the better, because your float will be viewed from a distance. Paint these props colorfully and be sure to adequately secure them to the vehicle or trailer.  Balloons are a great filler as are colorful crepe paper streamers. Make skirting to cover the sides and wheels by wrapping and securing colored butcher paper with tape and a staple gun.

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#5.  Last of all, be sure you have a safe driver for your float.  Grandpa is a good option if he doesn’t already have an assignment.  After you have put your family reunion float together with crepe paper, balloons and staples, all that’s left is to add your family.

Aunt MO

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.

M & M or Skittle Ice Breaker Game

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Getting to Know You Game

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Take a bag of M&M’s or Skittles candy and tell everyone to grab a handful…or specify a number (I prefer this if you have a large group so it doesn’t take so long- I suggest each family member take 4 or 5 candies) You might also choose to split up in smaller groups such as children under 12, 12 and over, young adults etc. if you have a larger group such as a family reunion.

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Assign a different meaning to each color, blue= family, green=hobbies, yellow=animals, brown= work or school etc. Participants must tell one thing about themselves for how many candies they have in their hands using the colors as their guide. They may also eat them as they share their information.  (“Blue…I have two sisters.”, then eats the candy. “Yellow…I have a dog named Kodi.”, and eats the candy etc.) If you have two or more of the same color you have to tell one thing per candy regardless the color.

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This is a good ice breaker because you can play it as soon as your party is supposed to start and those that come a little late can participate when they arrive.

A slight variation to the game is have participates tell things that make them, happy, sad, angry, excited or afraid.

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Secrets for Hosting a Successful Family Reunion

3 keys to a successful reunion

3 Keys to a Successful Family Reunion

Planning a family reunion can be a nightmare. But the good news is that you are not alone, we can do this together. I don’t know your specific situation but I can tell you that if you will follow these 3 important keys you will be on your way to having a successful family reunion. So let’s get to work- first key is…

Choose a permanent reunion date

This is the most important aspect of reunion planning- it’s not much of a reunion if no one can attend.

When we began planning the “Stewart” family reunion we were only working around about 20 people and it was fairly easy to find a date that was good for everyone, but now that we are more than 100 family members strong we would never be able to find a date that met everyone’s needs. Lucky for us, about 20 years ago we set Labor Day weekend as the permanent date for our family reunion.

We have found that holding the reunion at the same time every year helps family members plan their busy lives around that weekend. They always know when the Stewart reunion will be and although the location may change the date never does. Unbelievable but true- we usually have all but about 3 family members attend our reunion each year.

Plan a Reunion Date BEFORE You End Your Family Reunion

If you can’t choose a permanent date, plan your next reunion date before you end the reunion you are currently attending. Planning in advance will increase the odds that more people will be able to attend the reunion, which translates into more fun for everyone. If you book early, you can most likely get better rates and/or reserve your preferred hotel or retreat site, flights and other travel arrangements. Most campgrounds and parks can be booked a year in advance.

Last of all, stick to your decision. Changing dates in the middle of planning can create a huge amount of anxiety and additional work.

Key #2- Delegate Responsibilities!

People always wonder why we have such good attendance at our reunions and I tell them, “Because everyone has a job!” There is always someway that everyone can contribute to your reunion no matter what their age or their ability. You can assign a couple of pre-teen girls to do a story time or games for the younger children at your reunion, ask a 5 year old to bring a can of olives or assign someone that loves music to lead a sing- a- long.

It’s impossible to organize a reunion by yourself, I know, because I’ve tried it. Not only that, but it is good to have the input of different family members’ points of views. Family members that have a responsibility feel greater ownership in the reunion.

Make Assignments According to Abilities

Delegate tasks according to those with special talents, skills and connections. Our Uncle Ben owns a restaurant whose specialty is turkey steaks and quite often we have turkey steaks at our reunions or family parties. We have great Dutch oven cooks in our family and of course, we give them the opportunity to practice their skills. Use the resources that you have.

There are certain jobs at our reunions that have become tradition- for instance cousin R.D. and Uncle Richard always make the homemade root beer, Aunt Lynn is always in charge of Bunko and Uncle Steven always makes his Dutch oven potatoes.

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So how do you put all these people and their great ideas together? Let me tell you how we do it. There are six original children in the Stewart family; we call them the “Big 6”. We schedule a planning meeting and ask that there be a representative from each Big 6 family at the meeting. These people become your liaison from each branch of the family.

At the meeting we discuss our plans and make assignments, that way every family has a representative and if they have concerns they can be addressed at that meeting and each families’ fun ideas can be implemented. We ask for volunteers to be in charge of each major aspect of the reunion – food, family history, invitations, photography, games and activities, finances and facilities. The chairman of the committee, that’s me, takes the ideas and suggestions home and makes a master plan or schedule which is emailed to the committee members for their approval.

Reunion Committee

A reunion committee is essential to planning a smooth, successful family reunion. Be sure your chairman (if you’re reading this than the chairman is probably YOU) is creative, energetic and willing to put in the time and effort required to organize a reunion.

Planning a family reunion is a too big a job for one person, so make a checklist, get some help, put your entire family to work and let everyone share in the satisfaction of a job well done!

Choose a Theme For Your Family Reunion!

A theme gives your family get-together an added twist that can build excitement. Choosing a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend your reunion. Who wouldn’t want to attend a “Caveman” reunion where they can feed on “Brontosaurus” Burgers?

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Or Conjure up a Wild West atmosphere for your next family reunion or party by using the decorating ideas, wild and wooly western games, activities and recipes available at familyreunionhelper.com You’re sure to have a rootin’ tootin’ good time!

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If your family has ever dreamed of sailing the seven seas in search of excitement and adventure plan a pirate reunion where you feast on barbequed parrots, search for treasure and walk the plank.

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A theme also makes it more fun to plan when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion.

If you have a wedding anniversary or a significant birthday coming up in your family you could choose to celebrate around those special events. If your grandparents were married in the 50?s, plan a fifties reunion complete with poodle skirts and sodas. If Aunt Addie will be turning 70, celebrate with her by having a seventies party- make tie-dyed shirts and decorate with peace and flower power signs.

When You Were My Age

Just because it is a family reunion doesn?t mean the theme has to be centered on the family itself. Plenty of other party themes are perfect for a reunion. Plan a western, caveman, boot camp or other similar theme.

A few years ago my sister-in-law suggested that we have a caveman reunion and I was pretty nervous about it- caveman? How do we do a caveman reunion? But we all shared ideas at our planning meeting and guess what- our caveman reunion turned out to be one of our best family reunions ever.

Whatever theme you choose, design your decorations, food, activities and games around that theme. Your caveman theme might feature Brontosaurus burgers and a dinosaur egg hunt or a pirate theme might include Barbecued Parrot and a treasure hunt.

Planning a family reunion requires serious effort and thoughtful strategic planning but if will follow these 3 important keys you will be well on your way to a memorable and successful family reunion. And who knows- maybe they?ll want you to be in charge next year too.

Aunt MO

Find Someone Who… Reunion Bingo

Getting To Know You Ice Breaker Game for Your Family Reunion

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Family Reunion Bingo

A fun, traditional ice breaker game for your family reunion is the “Find Someone Who…” game.  The printable game card is set up similar to a BINGO card but our family prefers to just play the game using the entire card.

Give everyone at your reunion a copy of the game card and a pen or pencil. (Different colored pencils or markers make for a colorful card when the card is filled up.

Getting Signatures

Instruct your family to have reunion goers sign the squares that apply to them.  You can make up rules that best fit your family reunion- you may only sign one time on a card or two times on a card etc.

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Awarding Prizes

You may give prizes to those that complete a row across, down or diagonal such as in family reunion BINGO, but I like to award prizes to those that get every square signed.  ‘’Smarties” candies are great  prizes for those that only get a BINGO but consider giving

Kudos bars – Kudos to you
Bar None - You are the best
Milky Way or Mars bars – You’re Out of This World
M&Ms – Magnificent & Marvelous Award

or an award that goes along with your family reunion theme.

Family Reunion Bingo

Copy, paste and print on card stock this family reunion Bingo card for lots of ice breaker fun at your next family reunion.  You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn about your family.

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Genealogy Icebreaker Activities for Your Family Reunion

Icebreaker Activities

Family Tree Photo

Make a live family tree and take a photo. Arrange family members as they would be on a genealogical chart of the family.  Begin  with Grandma and Grandpa.  Add a branch consisting of their children and spouses.  Add additional branches for each of their children and so on. Be sure and take a picture- preferably from an elevated position.

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Birthday Game

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Mix family members up and divide into groups or ten or so. Challenge family members to put themselves in order of their birth date (day, month and year). If you have mostly young children the challenge should be to get in a line, oldest to youngest.  To make the  challenge more difficult try doing it blindfolded and tell them “No Talking!”  It’s amazing how resourceful they will be communicating in other ways.

To involve your entire family ask those that were born in January to get together in one group; do the same for each of the other months. Then have the members of the January group give their birthdates, such as January 21, January 9, etc. and  line up  accordingly. This is fun activity that forges an immediate bond between those that share the same birthday or even birthday month.  This activity is especially effective with reunions of 100  or more participants.

Family Reunion Concentration Game

This activity takes some  advance planning.  Create a "memory" or "concentration" game. You will need 54 cards with 26 pairs of pictures on them.  With so many digital options this is a fairly easy but still a time consuming idea.  Make two copies of each photo- be sure and include name, birthdate and birthplace of each person.  You can make a game using ancestors or using photos of family members that are attending the current reunion.  With this game you will reconnect with the past or make connections with the present.

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Family Tree Chart

Make a huge family tree on and display it during the reunion. You can have large 36” x 48” “engineering prints” made at Staples for under $10.00 that work perfectly for this kind of presentation. Be sure and make 8 1/2 x 11 copies of the tree for each family to take home.  The chart pictured above is another option.  It is available from My History and is a fill in the blank type chart.

Name Tags for Your Family Reunion

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Be creative  with  your reunion name tags.  When family members check in at your reunion site give them each a name tag.  But instead of the same old  “my name  is” name tags be a little creative.  Put different design on name tags so that everyone with design sits at the same table for meals and are on the same team when dividing for activities.  This helps family members get acquainted or Reacquainted with family members they don’t see often. The tags above are from the family reunion helper Heritage Reunion.

Five Things I Will Never Do Again at a Family Reunion

5 things i  will never do at a family reunion

1.  I will never make a fish print t shirt. 

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Fish  print t shirts- it seemed like a great idea- and it fit our theme perfectly but in the end it was an epic fail.   To make the shirts you generously paint one side of the  fish with fabric paint. Then you place the T-shirt front side down on the painted fish and pat in place.

When you lift the t shirt  off the fish you have the imprint of the fish, scales and all, on the shirt. 

I’ve seen cute shirts done this way but the only fish we could  find were HUGE catfish- in most cases bigger than the shirt.  Everyone worked hard to make the shirts successful but when only half of the fish fits on your shirt it’s kind of disappointing. This activity goes down as the worst one I’ve ever planned.

Never again will  I plan an activity or craft without trying it out on my immediate family before using it at a family reunion.

2. I will never let a scientist be in charge  of making gravy

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At a huge family dinner I was in charge of I gave the  responsibility for making the gravy to a scientist who had all the correct formulas for making gravy but couldn’t seem to get it to thicken up.  It looked like brown water.  I had 300 people sitting at tables waiting to be served and no gravy for their potatoes.  Panic mode! 

I finally enlisted the help of a school lunch cook who swooped in  and easily thickened the gravy.  It was kind of a touchy situation- I didn’t want to offend the  scientist but I really needed to get that gravy thickened so I had to turn to the REAL expert.

This “never” item  isn’t about gravy it’s more about assigning people responsibilities that they can be successful  at completing.  I learned to make sure I matched the right people with the right assignment!

3. I  will never hold a reunion without having a plan for bad weather.

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Look at this picture- these are not happy times. A rainy family reunion  is not a happy family reunion. 

We’ve been  holding the Stewart family reunion for 30 years and have only had bad weather two times.  So what am  I complaining about- that’s a pretty good record.  It’s great, unless it’s one of the times it rained for three days. 

Rain and other bad weather can really put a damper on your  family reunion.  Our family were really great sports when it came to this family reunion in 2012 but a break from the rain would’ve been nice.  Now when  I  schedule our reunion I also reserve a nearby church’s cultural hall where we can do activities, eat a meal and get out of the weather for awhile if needed.  We also come prepared with large tarps and portable heaters- just in case. 

Of course, if you hold your reunion at a hotel this won’t be as much of an issue- unless, you plan on attending a theme park or other outdoor activities.  Talk to hotel officials in advance about the use of large conference halls for a bad weather day.

4. I  will never reserve a reunion site without shade.

Chrtistmas

Several years ago, we had a difficult time finding a location for our family reunion.  Someone beat us to the punch and we  lost out on our normal reunion site.  (That hasn’t happened since.) In desperation we reserved a campsite at a hot springs thinking that swimming would be great fun  for everyone- it was.  However; there was no shade whatsoever and it was HOT!  We put up some tarps to give us some relief but the sun beat down on us relentlessly.  Everyone was exhausted from swimming in the hot springs pools and then baking in the hot sun. 

Since that reunion I have made it a policy to check out our family reunion sites personally.  A couple of things I look for in a suitable site are:  proximity  to the bathrooms
        suitable sites for tents  and trailers
        Enough parking (most campsites restrict the number of cars) 
        cooking facilities & eating arrangements
        open space for games and activities
        and SHADE!

5.  I will never contribute to a boring reunion.

4th of july 2014 016

This is a picture of the really awesome obstacle course we put together for a family reunion.  Where’s Waldo?  You won’t  find Waldo or any other human in this picture because nobody wanted to do anything- BORING!

I was asked to plan activities for a large family.  My family worked hard at hauling bales of hay, ladders and other props for a dynamite obstacle  course.  We  also organized Frisbee golf and volleyball tournaments- BUT… nobody wanted to participate.  Their reunion consisted of eating, visiting (which  is important) and holding  an auction.  The most frustrating part of the reunion for me was when we finally got enough people together to play volleyball and the reunion  organizers shut us down so they could start the auction.  UGH!

When  I attend a family reunion I want to get to  know family members better- I want to  play with  them, laugh with  them and get a little crazy with them, but if that’s not what’s  important at your reunion  don’t ask  someone  to plan activities. 

I learned from this experience that I had better know who my “audience” is and plan activities (or no activities) depending on their  family makeup and interests.