Annual Proclamations and Observances

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I just became aware of three official proclamations pertaining to family reunions and thought it was interesting that there are basically three “official” family reunion month.

Make your family reunion official by issuing an official proclamation. You can ask for a proclamation from your city for many reasons including the date of your family reunion. You could ask that the day of your reunion be declared, “Wells Family Reunion Day” or “Stewart” Family Reunion Day.

Use a proclamation to recognize an ancestor or a special family member. Dignitaries are anxious to grant such requests especially if the family has a long history of service in the community. Some communities will even dedicate a week to your special event, cause or industry.  Reads more about obtaining an official proclamation for your family reunion here.

 Family Reunion Month A Proclamation in 1985 To raise awareness of a growing trend of runaway children and newly formed organizations to help reunite families of runaways the Congress, by House Joint Resolution 64, has designated the period between Mother’s Day, May 12, and Father’s Day, June 16, 1985, as "Family Reunion Month" and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this period.

National Family Reunion Month While some commercial enterprises have dubbed August as National Family Reunion Month many social groups including churches observe National Family Reunion Month in the month of July.

Annual Family Reunion Planning Month A family awareness group with a focus on genealogy and traditional family reunion planning established in 2005 named November as "Annual Family Reunion Planning Month". Mark A. Askew, Founder, Legendary Heritage Heirlooms, "Family Reunion Planning Month." (November, annual monthly family reunion awareness observance)

Do’s and Don’t for Large Group Game Playing

 DSC05388Don’t plan games that make people feel uncomfortable mentally or physically

Don’t force people to participate.

Don’t allow “leaders” to choose sides.  This will lead to hurt feelings and discouragement.  At one of our family reunions we had everyone put their name in a hat and then we drew out names to make teams- what a disaster.  It took forever to get people to put their names in the hat and then everyone was so noisy they couldn’t hear whose name had been drawn.  Try this idea for choosing teams.  Line your family up tallest to smallest and count off into as many teams as needed.  If you need four teams count one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four etc.   For variation use Colors–Red-Blue, Red-Blue, etc. or by first letter of their name (not their last name if you are at a family reunion- veryone might be on the same team.)

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Another idea for separating into teams is to pass out cloth hair elastics for people to wear around their wrists to designate whose team they are on and you still keep some amount of control over whose team people are on.

Do keep the instructions for the games as simple as possible.

Do keep control of the game.  Explain the rules and demonstrate the procedure if necessary but after that stick with the rules.  Children are notorious for wanting to change the rules especially if they have played some other variation of the game before.  Explain that there are many different ways to play the game but that your family is playing it by the rules you’ve already explained.

Do have a back up plan and be ready to improvise if necessary.

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Do vary activities.  Even if your family is enjoying the game don’t let it go on too long.  The idea is to stop while everyone is at the peak of fun then waiting until interest is waning.

Do plan circle games.  To separate into two circles make one big circle then break in half, having each half become a circle of its own.

Do have more than one game leader.  If you have more than one game leader you can take turns leading the games.  That gives leaders time to prepare their props and get their game ready while the family is playing the current game.

For fun family reunion games click here.

Aunt MO

By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed

African Proverb quotes

Silly Getting to Know You Game

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When planning your next family reunion or party you will want to plan some fun “getting to know you” games. Here’s a fun idea to get to know a little more about your relative.

Wrap a gift of some kind that would be fun for any family member at your reunion or party. preferably something that goes along with your family reunion theme.

You don’t need to sit in a circle or in any organized order. In fact, you can play this game as you are eating a meal or waiting for an activity to begin. The important thing is that everyone can hear the poem as you read it so they can pass the gift around as directed.

The following verses are just ideas to use for your poem. You can easily write your own verses and even target specific members at your family reunion.

Getting To Know You Poem

Take this gift-now don’t be shy!
Give it to someone with blue eyes.

Yes, you are the lucky one
But give the gift to someone who has a teenage son!

Look around from seat to seat
And give it to one whose cooking can’t be beat.

Some of us are tiny and small
but give the gift to the one most tall!

Next look for someone that has the newest wife
and give it to the love of his life.

Birthdays come and birthdays go
Give this gift to the oldest person you know.

Don’t let the gift get out of sight
Give it to the person sitting on your right.

The longest hair will win it now
If you have long hair, step up and bow

The gift goes to someone with a college degree
a good education pays off we can all agree.

The one with the most buttons of any kind
Will get passed the gift right now, this time.

We should stop now, it’s really time
The gift is yours to keep and everything is fine!

You’ll find lots of fun ice breaker games here

Aunt MO

“The grass isn’t greener on the ‘other side’, the grass isn’t greener on your side. It’s Greener where you water it.”

10 Fun Family Reunion Ideas- part 1

I’m not going to say these are my “Top Ten” family reunion ideas but if I made a “Top Ten list these ideas would certainly be in the running.  However, if I had to choose my number one favorite family reunion idea it just might be #1 in this list- the Cat-Eye Hike!

Family Reunion Idea #1- CAT-EYE HIKE

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This is a hike that is best done when it is very dark. Cut cat’s-eye shapes from reflective tape, available at bike stores or RV stores. It is best to set up your hike the night before guiding groups on the hike. Put cat eyes on markers or apply cat eyes to index cards and then use the cards to mark the trail.   You can find more information about Cat-Eye Hikes in the “Caveman” family reunion theme in the family reunion helper store.

Family Reunion Idea #2- BEADS!

Oh how I love beads- pony bead to be exact.  When used as rewards they are great motivators.  We have used beads as rewards at “Boot Camp” and “Beach” themed family reunions.  Award beads when family members complete certain tasks or activities.

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Family Reunion Idea 3- “A GAME OF CLUE”

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Murder Mystery Game for Your Family Reunion. This is a family friendly murder mystery game that has been simplified so that it will work for most ages at your family reunion. If you want to make it more difficult you will need to make adjustments to the clues. It is very important to have a practice with your cast before you present the game. (We practiced for about an hour and went through the scenes three times working out all the details) I sent the cast a copy of the script about a month before our family reunion and asked them to get their own costumes and props. I did not tell them who committed the crime until the practice. Most of our actors used their scripts and did not memorize their parts.

This murder mystery game includes the script, score cards, character name tags and lots of pictures for costume ideas and is available as  free download at http://familyreunionhelper.com/a_game_of_clue.php

Family Reunion Idea #4- WHEEL OF DOOM

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For a girls camp my daughter attended, she was asked to create a “Wheel of Doom”.  The idea was that the girls would spin the wheel to determine what kind of utensil they would eat with for dinner.  The girls had so much fun with the wheel that we decided to use it at our family reunion.   We used it several times and the family loves it every time!

Our Wheel of Doom is made out of piece of particle board.   You can easily change the wheel to fit whatever your family reunion theme is.  We printed off pictures that go along with each category  and taped them to the wheel.  You can even repaint the wheel for each reunion theme.  For instance we painted the board in different camouflage colors for the Boot Camp family reunion and we painted it with glitter paint for the Medieval family reunion.   As you can see, our wheel is not too fancy but it’s given us some fun and SUSPENFUL moments at our family reunions.  It’s fun to watch the children as they anxiously wait to see where the arrow will land. 

You can read more  about the “Wheel of Doom” on Aunt Mo’s blog at http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2010/03/wheel-of-doom/

Family Reunion Idea #5- HERITAGE COLORING BOOK

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Make a family heritage coloring book about the life of one of your ancestors.  If you’re an artist then this is probably going to be a fun and easy project for you but if you have little artistic ability then this can be quite a challenge.  To make my Heritage Coloring books I searched through old coloring books, magazines and of course the web to find “pioneerish” looking pictures and adapted my story to the pictures.  Although a Heritage coloring book is a lot of work it is a wonderful way to share the story of your ancestor’s life’s with the younger ones in your family.  You can find more information about about Heritage coloring books and resources for making one in the “Heritage” family reunion theme by clicking here.

More Family Birthday Party Ideas

When my Dad turned 70 we wanted to have a special  celebration.  He didn’t want anything elaborate for this milestone birthday so we decided to have an intimate family party.  My Dad loves M&M’s so that became the theme for our family birthday party. 

m & M M & M’s are a fun party theme- the colors are bright and the shape is simple so it’s easy to make party decorations.  Here’s some ideas:

Use all different M&M colors for party ware. Mix the colors for plates, napkins, cups, table covers, etc.  We put containers of mini  M & M’s on each person’s plate.

We made a huge poster imitating a bag of M & M’s.    It was a fun idea and easy to make because- M & M’s are CIRCLES!! Use colored paper plates, write an "M" on them and attach to the wall or glue two plates together;flat sides touching. When dry, punch a hole at the top edge of the plates. Use fishing line to hang them from the ceiling or use coordinating colors of curling ribbon.

Use any M&M decorations you can find. We found fun M & M helium balloons.  M&M makes tons of fun things  to decorate with.  A great idea that was fun for our family party was the little plush M & M guys that you can see sitting on the table in the picture.  We used them as prizes for the games and activities we had.  Other fun prize ideas are small packages of  M & M candy.

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A simple idea for dessert is a large M & M cake.  (There’s that simple circle thing again!) Bake a cake in a round pan and frost in a bright M & M color.  Using a “star” tip  put a large “m” on the cake.  We served ours with M & M ice cream.  Cupcakes decorated as M & M’s is another fun idea.

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Fun Activity Ideas:

Have a jar full of M&Ms and the guests must guess the correct number. Whoever is closest, win the jar!

You can find free printable M & M coloring pages for the younger ones in your family at Coloring Pages.

If you play games with teams have “red” vs “green” or “plain” vs “peanuts” etc.

M & M Scattergories: This is a great word-type game idea.  To play give guests a minute or two to name as many things in a certain category as possible (2 minutes to write down animals beginning with the letter M, things with wheels that begin with the letter M or flowers that begin with the letter M etc.  (You get the idea) You can divide your family into teams. The team with the most answers in a category wins a point. The team with the most over-all points wins the game.

M & M Dice Game: You will need a straw and paper plate for everyone that is participating, M&M’s, a large bowl, and a pair of dice. Everyone sits in a circle.

Fill the bowl with M&M’s. Pick a person to start and hand them the bowl. To the person on their left, hand the dice and the box top. On your mark, the person with the dice starts rolling. The person with the M&M’s starts sucking up M&M’s with the straw as quickly as they can and setting them on their plate. As soon as the dice roller hits doubles, the M&M’s get passed to them, and the dice are passed to the next person. Continue around the circle until all the M&M’s are gone or for an allotted time.

When we have played this game at family reunions we split into groups of about 8 players and have several games going on at a time.

For more great birthday party ideas for your family reunion or family get together check out our latest product “When You Were My Age”. at Family Reunion Helper.

Aunt MO

Why did the teenager get fired from the M&M factory?
She threw away all the candy with W’s on them. :-)

Our Family Reunion is Going Green

 

image We had our annual family reunion planning meeting and we all agreed- it’s time to “Go Green”! Since this is a new thing for our family reunion we planned to make changes to our reunion by using the  Three R’s of Going Green- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce or prevent waste to reduce greenhouse gases by using less and throwing away less. Instead of using lots of paper and plastic products we are going to use mesh “dunk” bags and each family member at our reunion will wash their own dishes.

To do this, we are assigning each person to bring their own mesh bag, utensils, plate, bowl and cup to our family reunion.  After each meal, we will fill three dishpans with water. In one we will put liquid detergent, bleach in the other and leave the final bin full of clear water. Each family member will then wash their dishes in the detergent water, then the bleach water and finally the clear water.  All wet dishes be put in a mesh bag and then hung on a line outside.

Mesh Dunk bags are available at  http://www.outdoorpros.com/ for under $4.00 or may be available at your local dollar store.

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Reuse products by giving them to other people who want or need them instead of throwing them away.

It seems we are always finding half full water bottles at our family reunion.  This year we are making plans to reuse water bottles.  Family members will write their name on each water bottle and then refill it with water from coolers when it is empty.  We’re hoping that one bottle a day is all that each person will need.

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Recycle items made of materials such as glass, metal, plastic, or paper.

We have always collected empty aluminum cans for recycling at our family reunions but this year we’re planning to add other items to our recycling list.  At our 2011 family reunion we will also include a container for paper and one for plastic.

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I know that there are other ideas we could use to “Go Green” at our family reunion but I feel pretty good about the three changes we are planning on implementing in 2011. 

Aunt MO

"Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground."
- Anonymous

Planning to Pay For Your Family Reunion

Today I will meet with our family reunion committee to plan our 2011 family reunion. Because of the current state of the economy our fund raising auction last year was not as productive as in years past so we are faced with some new challenges this year.  How are we going to pay for our family reunion?  We always joke about plugging our “money tree into the “currant” bush but this year I think we’re going to need some new ideas.

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I can tell you that our 3 day reunion cost $16.00 a person in 2010 and that included everything!  Doing the math, I figure that we are going to need about $1,500 to pay for reunion expenses.

I needed some  new ideas so I  talked to everyone I knew and did a lot of research on the internet and these are the ways I found you are paying for your family reunions:

Divide all expenses equally, or have everyone pay individually for expenses as they incur.

Collecting recipes and producing cookbooks and many other publishing projects such as directories, scrapbooks, and history books to sell at the reunion.

Pass the hat

Food, beverage and white elephant sales. Food sales can net a nice profit if you consider carefully your reunion customers. A bake sale could feature desserts to eat right there as well as whole bakery specialties to take home.

Family yard sale

Order personalized (imprinted) products such as t-shirts, caps, coffee mugs, pens, pencils…and many more items to sell

Charge a traditional registration fee to families. Some families charge per family unit and others charge different prices based on age and family size. Average cost families are charging for their reunions are adults (ages 13 and over)- $70.00, children- $40.00. Pay electronically or elect to pay with a bank check or money order.

If some families can’t afford to pay then give them opportunities to provide service in exchange for paying fees- for instance could type in recipes for a family cookbook, maintain a family website or do family history research.

The easiest way to reduce reunion expenses is to cut back on the time your reunion lasts. If you normally have a three day reunion cut back to two or just get together for a Saturday afternoon and evening. Make your meals potluck and enjoy the time, however short, that you have with each other.

With finances in mind, some families opt not to have reunions every year.

Ask for reunion dues and ask family members to send a portion of their dues on a quarterly basis so that it isn’t a one-time large payment.

Hold a raffle of donated items from companies or family members during the reunion. Plane tickets or electronics are good money generating items.

Collect corporate donations or pledges for a fundraising event like a bike or 5K race. Corporations sometimes donate to large reunions where knowledge of the company’s name and contribution reaches many people.

My favorite idea, and the one  am going to suggest at our planning meeting is:

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Family reunion pocket change. Ask family members to save their pocket change during the year and bring it to the reunion. Count money by hand or take to a counting machine. Announce the grand total at your reunion.

In hopes that our reunion committee will adopt this idea I quickly made some labels using fun fonts from Lettering Delights. http://www.letteringdelights.com/  I hope they’ll like this idea and that along with our annual auction we will be able to fund our Stewart family reunion.

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Clever Ice Breaker Game Idea

This is a fun idea for an ice breaker game for your next  family reunion or family party.  It is even a fun idea for a work, school or church function.

Divide into groups of about 10.  The groups work together to determine the  total amount of points they have  earned.  Each team will need a team captain and recorder. 

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You can make up your own list of points but here are a few ideas to get  you started.

1.  Counting January as one point, February as two points and so on, add up the total points of your group.

2. Score one point for each college attended.

3. Score one point for every button on each shirt.

4. Total number of pennies teammates have in their pockets.

5. Total of all sizes added together- one shoe only per person.

6.  Hair color score- Black hair- 2 points, Brown hair- 1 point, Red hair- 3  points, Grey hair- 5 points, Blonde- 1 point

7. Five points for everyone that is  wearing glasses, 2 points for contacts.

8. One point for every child each person has, twins- 5 points, triplets- 10 points.

9. Minus 1 point for every soda or pop consumed.  Plus 1 point for every glass or bottle of water.

10. 1 point for everyone that is wearing a watch.

Add up the total of points each team has and award prizes to the team that has the “most” points, “least” points, “most unorganized” etc.

Keeping in Touch When the Reunion is Over

All good things must come to an end, but saying goodbye at the end of your family reunion doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year’s reunion to visit with your favorite cousin. In today’s high tech world it’s pretty simple to keep in touch through emails, web pages and social networking. Why just this month I learned, through social media, that Cousin Bobbie has a new car, Cousin Lindsey is having dog problems and I don’t dare say who… is expecting another baby.

Take Advantage of Email

clip_image002E-mail is a great way to send a spontaneous note. People love to catch up on the latest family news, and you’ll find that they will reply to your message more often than not!

It’s hard to beat the convenience, and cost savings of sending emails when planning your family reunion. You do have to be sensitive to those that haven’t yet discovered email and be sure they aren’t kept out of the loop.

Online Chat
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A unique way to plan your family reunion and to keep everyone up to date on reunion plans is to invite your relatives (or those who can participate) to join in an online family chat. It’s easy to set up a private chat room on America Online just by going to People Connection and selecting Private Room. Tell everyone the name of your room and when you plan on "talking." Use the chat to plan the event and the details of travel. Roundtable chats are also an excellent way to keep in touch after everyone returns home. Other chat options are Google Talk, Skype, Yahoo Instant Messenger or MSN Live, a Microsoft program. Talk to family members at your next family reunion and find out what chat method will work best for them when planning your family reunion.

Family Newsletter

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A family newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with each other between reunions. A monthly newsletter is great but often difficult to keep up with. A quarterly newsletter can be a better option. Ask family members to email information about family activities and upcoming events such as weddings, baptisms and births. Include information about your upcoming family reunion. A family newsletter is a great family reunion planning tool. To save on postage expenses only mail your newsletters to family members that don’t have email.

Family Webpage

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By creating a website for your family, you can share special events such as birthdays, graduations, family reunions and parties. A family webpage can also be a great place for family reunion planning and to share ideas. For a family webpage to be successful family members have to be committed to participating by checking the site regularly and contributing to conversations.

You might consider using websites such as Carepages, Caringbridge, www.mygreatbigfamily.com or Blogger for your family webpage. They need very little computer knowledge to "operate", yet provide an excellent forum for families communicate and to send out family reunion planning updates.

Technology has changed how we keep in touch. Studies have shown that almost half of the baby boomer generation is on social networking sites, and 31 percent say the first time they saw photos of a new grandchild or family member was through the internet. Two-thirds of boomers, or about 64 percent, E-mail friends and family more frequently than they call them on the phone. The internet helps us be more connected to loved ones and when used appropriately can help with family reunion planning and distributing reunion information.

Aunt MO

“Trees without roots fall over.”

My favorite Family Reunion T-Shirt Idea

My niece, Sydnee, showed up to the “Stewart Summer Party” wearing a T-shirt from her Brown family reunion. It was the best family reunion T-shirt I have ever seen and I couldn’t wait to blog about it for www.familyreunionhelper.com.

The shirt design was a few stick figures that members of the family painted with fabric markers when they arrived at the family reunion. Reunion planners had screen printed the design on each shirt but you could have your design professionally printed on your shirts.

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The design seemed simple enough but I discovered that drawing stick figures can be more difficult than you might think. However; after about twenty tries I finally came up with an acceptable design for our 2011 family reunion T-shirts. You are welcome to use my design or try your hand at creating your own stick figure design.  Be sure and put yur family name and reunion date on your shirt.

Here’s some helpful hints to consider when planning your family reunion T-shirts.

Hints:

#1. If screen-printing yourself, prewash T-shirts to remove any sizing added during manufacture which may prevent the paint from adhering to the surface.

#2. Put a piece of light cardboard inside the shirt before painting so that the markers don’t bleed onto the back of the shirt.

#3. You can use fabric paints but for a large reunion crowd fabric “markers” are easier and less messy.  I’ve used several brands of fabric markers and have not be disappointed by any of them.

clip_image004#4. The easiest way to set fabric paints is to iron it for a few minutes (check the manufacturer’s instructions). If you iron on the wrong side of the fabric, the paint will still set fine and you don’t have to worry about it rubbing off onto the iron or the colors bleeding into each other.

 

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Thanks Syndee and the BROWN family for a great family reunion T-shirt idea.

Aunt MO

"There is no such thing as ‘fun for the whole family.’" -Jerry Seinfeld