Making a Family Parade Float

parade blog

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.


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.


#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.

Reunion Buddies!

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Get the family reunion started early!

If you’re looking for a fun ice breaker activity and a way to generate interest in your upcoming family reunion try “Reunion Buddies” and get the  party started before the  reunion even  begins.

Reunion Buddies

About four weeks before your reunion make a double sided copy of the “Reunion  Buddies”  printable using the same  information on each side of the paper.

Match family members up into buddies making sure everyone, young and old has a reunion  buddy. 

Write one buddies name on the line that says “My Name Is” and write their buddies’ name below it on the line that says “My Buddy Is”.  You will need to do this on both sides of the  paper but reversing the information.

Send a copy of the reunion buddies printable to one of the  “buddies” with  the  instructions to fill out their  personal information and then mail the  completed  form to their buddy. Be sure and provide an address and if your reunion has the funds, a stamped envelope.

The buddy they mail the form to will complete the form and return it to back to their buddy.

Encourage buddies to spend some time with each other at your family reunion  perhaps even bringing inexpensive gifts (such as their favorite candy bar) to share.  You may even ask some family members to share what they learned about their reunion buddy.

The idea behind  “Reunion Buddies”  is to  make long lasting friendships  between cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.  Get a new buddy every year!


Giant Activities for Your Family Reunion

Miscellaneous” Activities for Your Family Reunion

I considered calling this post ”Miscellaneous” activities for your family reunion because they aren’t theme driven but have proven to be great time fillers for small groups of people during our family reunions.

Giant Checkers Rug

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I have had this giant Checkers Rug for more than 20 years.  We set it out at every family reunion and you will always find two people playing Checkers no matter what time of day it is, usually with a small crowd gathered around cheering for the underdog to win.

Giant Coloring Pages

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Giant coloring pages are always a huge hit at our  family reunions. Of course, there isn’t room for a lot of people to sit around coloring, but it’s a great activities for someone looking for a little down  time.  Coloring pages come in different themes that would go along with your reunion theme- jungle, circus, Medieval etc.  Some pages come with markers for coloring but you’ll need to bring extra.  When your page is complete, roll it up carefully and then enter in your county fair or have it framed for Grandma.

The giant Checker rug and giant coloring pages are both available at the family reunion helper  store  for under twenty dollars.

Memorial Day- the Start of Family Reunion Season

$5.00 off any Family Reunion Theme Package


Memorial Day seems to mark the beginning  of summer and the family reunion season.   To help jumpstart your family reunion planning is offering $5.00 off any of our reunion themes for 5 short days- until June 1st.  (This includes only $19.99 theme packages)

First step is to select the family reunion theme packages that best fits your family.  Each reunion theme comes with free downloadable games, activities, recipes, printables and templates to simplify, inspire and  guide your reunion planning.


You will need to  login or enter your credit card information before you can enter coupon code reunion2012 and receive $5.00 off your reunion package- but hurry, this coupon code expires June 1st 2012 at midnight!

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Happy Reunion Planning!

Unusual Family Reunion Souvenirs

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An Alternative to the Family Reunion T Shirt

Don’t get me wrong- I love family reunion t-shirts but when we planned our “Survivor “ family reunion I wanted to find an unusual reunion souvenir for family members to take home with them as a remembrance of our fun reunion.  We had done t-shirts for years and years and I was looking for something that would be different.

Then I remembered that one of my students, Lizzy, had given all my music students that sang at the Olympics a wooden Utah pin.  I was so impressed with the detail of the pins that I asked her about them and was surprised to find that her family had a business that made cool laser products.


CountryLazer Cutting and Engraving

The name of Lizzy’s families’ business is CountryLazer and they are Utah’s leading supplier of custom laser cutting & engraving wood, acrylic, glass, mat, leather, and other products.  They have been creating customized gifts and laser engraved products for over 30 years.

CountryLazer would be happy to help you with your family reunion design.  They try to keep pricing around 1- 2 dollars- less expensive then the traditional t-shirt. 


I love their cute pioneer wagon kit that could be assembled at  your heritage reunion and would serve as a reunion  craft and memento.


CountryLazer has a wide variety of designs for name tags, hat pins, wooden boxes, toys, awards, plaques, picture frames, scouting memorabilia, and Christmas gifts.


Design Your Own Family Reunion Souvenir

They will also work with you to create a completely unique product that shows your individual style or your company’s commitment to excellence. They can engrave your logo, graphic, or custom message on almost any material to make your product look more personal and professional.


So if you’re looking for a new way to remember your family reunion check out

Aunt MO

We do not remember days; we remember moments.  ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand

April Fools Pizza Cake

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Bake your cakes according to the package directions. Don’t fill your pan any fuller then 1/3 full. You don’t want the cake to go up over the edge of the pan. You’re looking for a large round flat cake.

Frost cake with red frosting.  If you are using canned frosting heat for a few seconds in the microwave to make it spread easier.

Grate white chocolate and sprinkle the shredded white chocolate on top of frosting.

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Cut circles out of red fruit roll ups for the pepperoni, use a small bottle cap to get the round shape. It’s easier if you cut the fruit roll ups before you remove them from their backing. After you cut your pepperoni, remove the backing and stick them on the pizza.

Make banana peppers by slicing a thin strip of a yellow fruit roll up. Stick the ends of the strip together to make a loop.

To make onions, pineapple and green peppers roll gum drops or gummy candy until flat and cut into small bits.

Make black olives with black gum drips and use a paper punch to make a hole in the middle.

Serve your “pizza” on a pizza pan or a pizza box.

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

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

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


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


Dinosaur theme T-shirts

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

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


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


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.

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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


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.


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.


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 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. 


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.


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.

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

$5.00 off any Family Reunion Theme Package

Labor Day seems to mark end of summer and the family reunion season.  You may be planning some fun family Halloween and Christmas parties but If you’re like me, as soon as one family reunion ends I immediately start thinking of ideas for the next years reunion.  


To help jumpstart your family reunion planning is offering $5.00 off any of our reunion themes until October 31st.  (This includes only $19.99 theme packages)


First step is to select the family reunion theme that best fits your family.  Each reunion theme comes with free downloadable games, activities, recipes, printables and templates to simplify, inspire and  guide your reunion planning.


You will need to  login or enter your credit card information before you can enter coupon code reunion2011 and receive $5.00 off your reunion package- but hurry, this coupon code expires October 31st at midnight!

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Happy Reunion Planning!

Minute to Win it Party

If you’re looking for a fun party idea consider hosting  a “Minute to Win it” party.   “Minute to Win it” is a low stress, fun way to have a party.
The television version of the game makes hosting a “Minute to Win it” party fairly simple. You can do most of the preparation in advance so on the day of the party there is very little last minute running around.

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The first step to planning a “Minute to Win it” party is to select the games or challenges you want to include.  Go to the “Minute to Win it” website and search for games by Name, Most Viewed or Most Popular.  Use this link to go to the website.

After choosing the games download the instructions included on the website.  For instance, for our party we played “Hanky Panky”.  You find the video of those instructions here-

Using these videos makes explaining the rules of the game easy- you just play the video!

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We also downloaded a video clock so that we didn’t need to use a clock or timer- we just started the video.

Having this video timer made the competition fun for everyone- spectators and competitors.

Some of our challenges were held inside for a few we had to mve outside.

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My brother, Lee, who organized the “Minute to Win it” competition was very organized so we didn’t have to wait while he found the props he needed.  Lee also separated the family into teams, mixing everyone up, not keeping families together.  Of course the winning team did get a prize to share.

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