Build Your Own Pizza Party

Build Your Own Pizza and Team Pizza Building

pizza party blog

Most families like pizza and for many families, pizza is part of their Friday night fun,  but skip ordering take out and try one of our pizza party ideas with a twist. 

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Pizza Bar

A favorite pizza activity of our kiddos is making their own own pizzas-  This is a great way for kids to create their own  custom  pizza and you know they’ll eat it because they get to choose their own toppings.

The only tricky part of a Build Your Own Pizza party is choosing the crust you want to use.  You can make your own pizza dough or buy a  premade crust.  Pictured below are some options.  We have also used English muffins, French  bread or  pita bread, left whole, for crust.   If making your crust from scratch be sure to keep each crust “personal” pan  size.

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Set out popular pizza toppings.  To get you started, the 10 most popular pizza  toppings are listed below and are a good place to start:

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Mushrooms
  3. Onions
  4. Sausage
  5. Bacon
  6. Cheese
  7. Black olives
  8. Green peppers
  9. Pineapple
  10. Spinach

Our family would include barbeque chicken and Canadian bacon to that list. You might also want to consider offering a white sauce and a red sauce as options for your pizza bar.

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Pizza Making for Teams

To add some suspense to a traditional pizza party, divide your family and friends into teams.  Give each team a premade pizza crust, a jar of pizza sauce and a bag of cheese.

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Wrap pizza toppings in gift wrap or newspaper and let each team pick 2 or 3 of the wrapped toppings.  These are the toppings that they must use on their pizza.  They won’t know what toppings they have picked until they unwrap their packages.  Decide if trading toppings will be allowed.

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After all the teams have “decorated” their pizzas and baked them, set them out for all the teams to try.  Cut pizza in small slices so there are lots of samples.  You can even give prizes for the most delicious pizza creation.

The challenge with any pizza party is getting them baked.  Individual pizzas are great because you can fit more that one pizza in your oven  at a time.  As pizzas bake you may want to play an ice breaker game to keep your guests entertained.  You can find some our favorites HERE.

How Sweet it Is! Candy Match Game

A pretty sweet printable game- and it’s free!

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Whenever I plan a  I party or a family reunion I like  to have an activity  or game that people can play when they first arrive. The goal is to get family members, or friends, laughing and talking  with each  other.  The “How Sweet It Is” free printable fits the bill and coming up with prizes for the winners is  a snap- candy bars!  I suggest the snack size because you’ll probably have several winners.  This ice breaker game is great for large or small group games and for family members of most ages. You can download the free printable by clicking below.  Don’t forget to download the answer key.

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. 

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

 

 

 

 

Whether the Weather

weather blog

 

Predicting the weather for your next family reunion- yes, there is a tool to help!

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A couple of months ago I was directed to a website that promised to provide free long range weather forecasts to help with planning outdoor activities.  I was excited to think there was a website like this, because, if you’ve ever been in charge of an outdoor family reunion or gathering of some sort, you know the most difficult thing  to predict is the WEATHER! 

Since my first visit to their website I have used their information at weathertab.com when  planning several family functions and each  time their predictions turned out to be accurate.  About a year  ago, I  used the weathertab website to get an  idea but how weather would be for our family reunion/vacation (12 months in the future) would be in sunny southern  California.  They predicted that the weather on the dates we would  be in California, it would rain for 3 days and they were right- it rained 3 of the days we were at Disneyland. (Which isn’t  necessarily a bad thing- no crowds and no waiting in line.)

The http://www.weathertab.com/ website doesn’t guarantee that their information is 100 percent accurate but their research and science does give you a bit of an advantage when trying to choose a date for your family reunion and they do say that their forecasts “start where others stop”.

The weathertab.com site can show you the predicted weather for 1 day to 18 months in advance, it is always free and requires no subscription or registration.

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I put the weathertab.com site to the test when planning my husband’s 60th birthday party.  I choose to have his celebration a day earlier because there was only a 13% chance of rain on that day instead of his actual birthday when there was a 39% chance of rain.

I felt lucky when we had a wonderfully sunny,  no rain, party on his special day.  I’m excited to use the site when planning next years family reunion. Check out http://www.weathertab.com/ when planning your reunion too and see if WeatherTAB’s  long range weather forecast can help you find a reunion day with a lower chance of rain too.

The cute graphics in  this blog have been  purchased from Kimberly Stewart, Scrapbook-elements.com

Rainy Family Reunion?

Three Day Family Reunion
Two days of severe thunderstorms-
Are you kidding me!!!!

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Be Prepared for Bad Weather

The Stewart family has held their family reunion on Labor Day weekend for almost 30 years and in all those years we have only had rain three times- we’re either “lucky” or “blessed”.  When I do family reunion presentations I talk about the “Three Keys to a Successful Family Reunion” but after our last reunion I think I will add a fourth key- be prepared for bad weather!

The challenge was not keeping dry in our tents but keeping dry as we did our many fun activities and how to keep 80 people out of the rain while doing them. 

I would always prefer to have our family reunion in sunny weather but every outdoor reunion or party should have an alternative plan, in case the weather becomes uncooperative. It isn’t always reasonable to cancel the reunion or reschedule, instead you need to have a “plan B”.

Surviving a Family Reunion in Bad Weather

Plan Ahead

When I checked the weather forecast the day before we left for our campsite I realized that we could have some rainy weather so sent off a quick email to family members asking them to bring tarps and ropes and to prepare for stormy weather.  Our guys are so resourceful they were able to cover all of the tables and cooking area.  I learned that no matter what the forecast pack a large tarp and rope when packing for our reunion.

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Alternate Activities

Luckily we had planned some activities that we could do under the tarps as it rained and we adjusted our schedule to fit whatever the rain was doing. We played BINGO during one downpour which provided good entertainment for everyone. From now on I will always include BINGO supplies when packing for our reunion- just in case.

We planned the Not So Newlywed game as one of our activities and played the first half of the game in the sunshine and for the last half moved in under the tarps when the rain began to fall.

BUNKO is a great group game that mixes everyone up and gets them working together. It takes very few supplies (dice, pencils and score sheets) and can easily be a permanent addition to your reunion supplies.

You can also throw in a few board games, puzzles and a deck of cards.

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Reserve an Alternate Indoor Location

I wish I had thought of this before our reunion.  About 2 miles from our reunion campsite was a church.  We could have reserved it for a nominal fee and then when it started raining it would have been a great place to play some fun group games and perhaps eat a meal.

If you’re close to a town, take everyone bowling, to an indoor pool or a movie. Hopefully, a few hours later, the weather will be more cooperative. If not, stop at a restaurant or fast food place for an ice cream treat or a full meal.

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Our reunion theme this year was “Cruisin’” and it appeared the “captain” of our ship was not very experienced as he kept steering our cruise ship into major tropical storms.  However, his “passengers” were amazingly positive in spite of the weather.  A couple of times I thought about suggesting we “dock the ship” and go home but with everyone working together and helping each other it turned out to be one of our best family reunions ever.  Oh, and we did get ONE day without rain.

You can read more about planning for stormy weather at Planning for Stormy Weather.  And remember-