Nature Scavenger Hunt {with free printable}

Nature Scavenger Hunt-  fun activity for your family reunion

Nature scavenger hunt

If your family reunion location  is at a park or a campground this Nature Scavenger Hunt  is a wonderful excuse to get outside, have some fun, and spend time together as a family.

Just  print off our fun Scavenger Hunt printable on heavy cardstock and  give everyone a copy along with a pencil and let the fun  begin.  You can  work as teams or individually, it can be a  race or a contest to see who finds the most items. Allow everyone an opportunity to show off their favorite find.

You can  find the link for our Nature  Scavenger Hunt below- or right-click on the picture above, save it to your computer, and print.

Potatoes in a Bag

A Delicious Idea From My Nephew, Brayden, for Your Family Reunion

Sometimes I get in a rut- I forget that some people don’t pack up and head for the mountains when they plan a family reunion or family gathering- instead they head for the BEACH!  And it was to the beach we went for a fun family party with my brother and his family. 

We packed up the surf boards, sunscreen and mashed potatoes- yes, MASHED POTATOES!  “Potatoes in a bag” is a fun and easy tradition Uncle Brett and Aunt Lisa have implemented in their family and would be a yummy idea for your family reunion no matter what location  you choose.

Most of the prep for “Potatoes in a bag”  was done at home.  Everyone measured 1/2 cup potato flakes in a plastic baggie and added their favorite “mix-ins” to give their bag of potatoes their own special flavor.

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At the beach, Uncle Brett heated up the water in his portable heater.  When the water was hot we added 1 cup to our bag of potatoes and squished it up in the bag until it was well mixed and creamy.  The potatoes were delish!  The beach was chilly  and wet, and the hot potatoes were a welcome treat.

Directions: Mix 1/2 cup of potato flakes with 1 cup boiling water.  Stir until blended. Add your favorite mix-ins: salt, dry ranch Salad dressing, dry onion soup mix, Butter Buds, dried parsley flakes, beef jerky pieces, diced cheese stick and a beef stick. For thinner potatoes, add more water; for thicker, add more flakes.

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If you’ve done eggs in a bag at your family reunion I think you’ll have fun with this idea.  Set out all the ingredients and mix-ins and let your family create their own delicious mashed potatoes.  Your bigger eaters may want to use 1 cup of potato flakes with 2 cups of water.

Thanks, Brayden, for a delicious family reunion idea! And if you’re looking for fun beach themed ideas for your family reunion, check out our Beach family reunion for lots of fun in the sun ideas.

Beach Family Reunion

Beach Reunion

 

Aunt MO

NOTE: Whenever you add boiling water to your baggie, always use heavy-duty or freezer zip lock bags. Although there have been no claims of injury or illness, Ziploc® states their baggies are not intended to be used at high temperatures, so use at your own risk.

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Zucchini Bread

A Family Favorite Recipe

 

I keep seeing pictures like  the  one pictured above, on Facebook.  People are posting their pictures of mounds of Zucchini and I gotta say- I AM SO JEALOUS!  My husband grudgingly lets me plant one hill of Zucchini each year but this year the bugs got it and the plant died.  So here I sit, writing a blog about one of our families’ favorite recipes with no Zucchini in sight.

It actually scare me a little to say that, if my neighbors see this post they may want to share their zucchini with me (that would be awesome) but as Paul Harvey  lamented in his dirt road commentary,  “At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn’t want some neighbor to fill it with too much zucchini. ”Bring it on , neighbors!

If you’re one of the lucky  ones with a sink full of Zucchini you might want to try this delicious recipe for Zucchini bread.  This recipe is in our family cookbook and is a favorite at our family reunion fundraising auctions.

I  always  use half oil and half applesauce but if I’m looking for a healthier option I will leave out all the oil and substitute it with more applesauce.  It’s still delicious but  not quite as moist.

This recipe differs from other Zucchini bread recipes because it has cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves in it. 

I usually make my Zucchini bread in small loaf pans and then I wrap it in tin foil and put it in the freezer.  My husband likes to take it in his lunch and the smaller loaf size is just right. I also  make Zucchini muffins from this same  recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 bag MINI chocolate chips (must use Mini chips)

Directions

  1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon,nutmeg and  cloves together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and chips until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

In our family, I’m famous for my Jell-O making and my Zucchini bread-  hope this becomes a family favorite at your house too.

Aunt MO

The Latest Trend in Family Reunion T-shirts

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I LOVE family reunion T-shirts!  They are the ultimate “party favor” or “souvenir” that family members can take home with them after the reunion fun is over. Reunion T-shirts are a  reminder of the good times had at that years family reunion. 

There’s a new reunion T-shirt trend going around and I think it’s great!  We used to take family pictures at our reunion  like the one  below (we used paper plates  with  numbers on it). 

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But now, families are  having fun applying this idea to t-shirts. Each family has a different color, and each t-shirt gets a number on the back representing the order you joined the family (through marriage or birth).

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You can have each generation be a color and the in laws all have their own color as well. Then, every person is either numbered according to birth order (by generation) or by when they married into the family.

If there are people at the reunion who aren’t yet married into the family, you can give them a shirt with a question mark on it as in, who will be the next lucky member of the family?”

When it comes to  figuring out what  number everyone  is your  most valuable resource will be the matriarch of the family. Make a list of each  family member and when they became part of the family.  You may want to ask your family to email you their birthdates and anniversary to make  sure your list is accurate.  Email  the completed list to your family so they can double  check your  numbers.

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A  common design for  the front of the shirts is  a  fun idea.  You may  want to have a  t-shirt company  print the  common design on the front  of each shirt  and then apply the numbers yourself, especially if you are doing multiple  colors.

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Of  course, you’ll  want to  take a  family picture.  Take  a picture with everyone facing forward and then do a second photo of  the  back of the shirts. I  just love  this latest trend in family reunion t-shirts. If you decide  to do this at your  reunion, send us  a photo and we’ll feature your family on our  website. 

The Family Reunion Planner’s Shopping List

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10 things every family reunion planner needs in her arsenal

Here’s my list of top ten tools I need to pull off a family reunion:

 

1. Divider Sticky Notes 60 Ruled Notes- I am an organization freak and these are perfect for keeping everything organized. They are like regular sticky notes but they have a tab that makes everything easier to find. They are very helpful when  organizing your registration binder. You can find them at Amazon following the  link below.

2. Tape- every size and every type.  Be sure and include Duct tape.

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3. Jumbo paper clips– It seems that every time I try to clip together a group of paper they get all messed up. The clips come off and I end up with a bigger mess than if I had just stacked them .  I found these jumbo paper clips a couple of years ago and I use them for everything.  They may seem  pricey but after you’ve used them I think you’ll agree with me- it’s a screaming deal!

4. Ziploc bags– These bags go a long way to keeping me organized and I’m not talking about food.  I use Ziploc bags to keep office supplies, game pieces, personal grooming supplies and a host of other items grouped together.   For me, they have to be the bags with  the zipper that slides across the top- they are faster to close and I know for sure that they are sealed. I like to put groups of items such as pencils and markers in smaller quart size bags and use gallon sized bags for larger items such as props for a game, items for a costume or all the tape variations I’ve collected.

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5. Sharpie markers– more than one.  I usually keep at least one Sharpie in my  pocket at all times during a family reunion.  A Sharpie for me and one or two to loan out.

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6. A Laminator– I was so surprised to learn that I could buy a laminator for less than $20.00 and although they are  pretty slow I  love not gathering up all my signs, name tags and table toppers to take to the copy store for laminating . With this inexpensive laminator you can laminate documents up to 9 inches wide and it warms up and is ready to use in about 5 minutes. I still take my large jobs to the copy store but there are so many times I need to laminate a few items and this product has really saved me tons of time and trips to the store.   Don’t forget the laminating pouches also available at Amazon.

7. Cell phone– You might think that’s a  pretty obvious choice but when it comes to planning a family reunion it a cellphone is the perfect place to store your lists. Just a take a  photo of the agreement for the  rental site and you’ve got it at your fingertips when you need to show your reservation.  Take a photo of your t-shirt order, family list, agenda and rules and instructions and you won’t have to run off to grab your files- they’ll be  right there in the  palm of your  hand. (Not to mention all the phone numbers you’ll have handy)

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8. Storage containers– I usually use Rubbermaid containers but paper boxes will work as well.  I use one box or container for each day and time period.  For instance- Saturday morning, Saturday evening and Saturday morning. As I prepare and pack for the reunion Ii I put everything I need for that time period  in its  box.    At the reunion location I organize the containers according to the day and time when their contents will be needed.  This saves me from having to dig through a jumble of boxes and bags.

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9. Camera– I need my own personal  camera, preferably one that fits in my pocket. (If your phone takes good pictures that may be all you need.)  I don’t like to rely on others to take pictures of the reunion so I like to have my own  camera to take pictures whenever or wherever I want.  I like to document many aspects of the reunion for my blogs and reunion theme packages and with my personal camera I’m sure  to get just the shot I’m  looking for.

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10. Emergency items– I’m talking about “fun” emergencies.  If you have the following items you always have a fun game or activity if something doesn’t go quite right or if you  have time to fill:  A ball, 2 large dice and a deck of cards.

I prefer a playground ball that you can kick, jumbo dice and a regular deck of  playing cards.  You might also want  to include sidewalk chalk, colored markers, Frisbees and a rope for group jumping games.

PSYCH! A Multiplayer Game For Your Phone and… Your Family Reunion

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I recently attended my nieces wedding,  luncheon and reception. Everything was beautiful and I loved being part of the festivities but like most weddings and such there is a lot of downtime for those of us who are basically spectators.  During one of these downtimes my brother introduced us to  a fun  game you can  play on your phone that involves everyone.

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The name of the game is Psych!  Choose from a variety of fun categories in which each player makes up fake answers to real trivia questions.

According to the games own  description-  the idea behind the game is to get together with a bunch of friends and answer ridiculous trivia questions. The catch is, the multiple choices you’re given include the correct answer as well as a bunch of incorrect answers which are provided by the other players. So, say for instance the question popped up of “Who is the Editor in Chief of TouchArcade?” “Eli Hodapp” would be in there somewhere, along with whatever else anyone playing decides to toss into the mix as possible answers.

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Anyone who knows me will understand that, after playing a few rounds of Pysch! with  my family, my “reunion” brain kicked into gear and I immediately began to think of ways to use the game at a family reunion.

Can you imagine how excited the teenagers in  your family would be if you asked them  to get their cellphones for a game they would be playing. Psych! is a clever way to get family members that just  can’t seem set their cellphones  down to join in  a game or activity to participate with the group.

Psych! is also a pretty fun  way  to get to know family members that you see only once a year at the  family reunion.  Some of the  game options give you a real opportunity to see into your cousin’s psyche.

“PSYCH!” is the perfect app for game night, road trips, or even waiting in line. So grab your phones, gather ‘round, and get ready for a gaming experience unlike anything you’ve ever tried!

NOTE:There’s in-game ads as well, which can be removed for $2.99. If you’re just downloading the game to play with a friend (who might have bought a ton of stuff in-game), it’s totally free.

Mashed Potato Bar

mashed potato bar

What’s a Mashed Potato Bar?

I had never heard of a “Mashed Potato  Bar” until recently   when my daughter came home from a family function with her husband’s family and they had hosted a mashed potato bar. My daughter raved about how delicious and fun the mashed potato bar was.

Of course, I’ve eaten  at lots of baked potato bars and for any years a potato bar was our  go to meal at family gatherings but a mashed potato bar is a fun new twist to that traditional and rather over  done family  reunion  meal.

Here’s how  you  put a Mashed Potato Bar together for your next family reunion or party.

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Of course,  the main ingredient is mashed potatoes.  You can make your own (see recipe below) or  you can use already prepared potatoes such as the ones Costco carries.

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Mashed Potato Bar Toppings Ideas

Serve your  potatoes in large crock pots to keep the potatoes warm and set  out various  toppings.  I’ve listed a few of our favorites but use your imagination to  customize  to your needs:

Sour cream
Chopped green onions
Mushrooms
Olives
Crumbled bacon
Finely shredded cheese
Steamed broccoli
Chopped Ham
Shredded chicken
Whipped butter
Sour cream
Frozen Peas
Ranch salad dressing
Grilled zucchini and summer squash
Caramelized onions and peppers
Freshly grated Parmesan
Tomato salsa
Tomatoes
Jalapenos
Grilled tri-tip sliced thin
Onion crisps
Country Gravy (I like to stay away from gravy, it’s the obvious choice and people aren’t’ as creative if they have gravy as a choice)
Salt and pepper

The Idaho Potato Board has their own list of ingredients for a Mashed Potato Bar which you can find by clicking on the link below.

  https://idahopotato.com/recipes/mashed-potato-bar

Serve on plain plates or bowls or fancy things up a bit by using goblets as your dishes.  You can  always find a miss-matched assortment of goblets and wine glasses at your local DI or Goodwill.

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A good basic mashed potato recipe includes just a few ingredients. Note: Baking and Russet potatoes tend to be heavier and starchier than Yukon Gold potatoes.

Basic Mashed Potatoes Recipe

  • 8 Potatoes
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk ( I melt my butter in a bowl with the milk for creamier potatoes.
  • Salt
  • Fresh Pepper
  1. Peel and dice potatoes and put in pot of boiling salted water. Cover and simmer until potatoes are fork tender (20-30 minutes, depending on quantity of potatoes). Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or a hand mixer.
  3. Add butter and milk

While doing research for this article I found this cute Mashed Potato Bar sign on Etsy.  The name of the shop that offers it for sale is the TheDoodleCoop.

Potato Bar Sign, Mashed Potatoes Sign, Make Your Own Loaded Potato Printable, Wedding Reception, Sweet Sixteen, Birthday Party, Potato Bar

TheDoodleCoop

Be sure and sign up to receive a copy of familyreunionhelper.com’s FREE reunion cookbook HERE

Tried and True Recipes

 

 

 

 

Reunion Buddies

A Getting to know you activity before the reunion even begins

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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!

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Remembering Loved Ones

Memory Tables for Remembering Loved Ones at Your Next Family Gathering

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A family reunion is a perfect time to remember a special loved one who has passed on.  At more and more reunions, weddings and family gatherings I am seeing beautiful displays dedicated to a special family member that isn’t in attendance.  I especially loved the sentiment in this display my niece put together at our last family reunion to remember my father-in-law.

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Memory tables, or Remembering tables are not large displays such as you would find at a funeral or memorial, they are small and simple table displays to give you pause and a minute to remember your loved one when you see it.

At a reunion you can always decorate the table in the theme of the reunion- the theme for the reunion in the above picture was western so the table was decorated in bandanas and sunflowers.

The most important part of a memorial table is a few photos of the person who has passed but accent those photos with flowers or candles.  Photos can highlight special moments in their life such as childhood, marriage and photos with children and grandchildren.  You may want to set a photo book on  the table for those who want to spend more time looking at memories.

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If you’ve lost someone who is dear to you, it is only natural to be saddened that they are no longer with you when your family gets together for special occasions and there are many ways to remember them.

You may have seen a  white rose on a chair at a wedding ceremony, signifying that a spot has been saved for a loved one that has passed on well, my father-in-law had a special chair he sat in for every family reunion we had.  He passed away in 2012 but we continue to set his chair up (along with his favorite hat) at our reunions.  It almost feels like he’s watching over us as we go about our reunion fun and it helps us remember the wonderful contributions he made to our family.

A balloon release, in honor of a loved one, is a wonderful way to send our love to the heavens but recently I’ve seen “butterfly” releases as a way of remembering someone. There’s an Indian legend that goes something like this-

If anyone desires a wish to come true they must capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since butterflies make no sound, they can’t tell the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit. By making a wish and releasing the butterfly the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

You can find more information about butterfly release at Butterfly Release Company.

The simplest way to remember a loved one is to have a moment of silence, perhaps as the family gathers together for a meal.

Some of my favorite quotes about remembering those we love are below.

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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.