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

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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

 

 

 

 

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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Cat Eye Flashlight Hike

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Cat-eye Hike for Family Reunions or Parties

One of the most requested activities at our  family reunions is a Cat Eye hike.  You do a Cat Eye hike in the dark so it’s a  perfect activity for a “camping” family reunion. We have also done cat eye hikes in apartment complexes and residential areas.  We’ve done cat eye hikes with family reunions, girls camps and for kid parties.  It’s a fun activity but does take some time and thoughtful strategy to set up.

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How to Organize a Cat Eye Hike

This hike is best done when it is very dark. Cut cat’s-eye shapes (squares work fine too) from reflective tape, available in the Family Reunion Helper store. Another product you might want to consider is “Trail Tacks”.  They are basically just thumb tacks with a reflective paint on the top.  They are visible for up to 200 yards and are great  for sticking into wooden fences etc. You will probably want to use a combination of the two products- tape and tacks.  Just be considerate of others when you set up the hike- you don’t want to be shinning flashlights into peoples windows or causing  damage with reflective tape or tacks.

 

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. We like to set up our hikes the night before the cat eye hike is scheduled.

How to Set Up a Cat Eye Hike

When making the trail, place the eyes in such a manner that you can see only one more set of cat’s eyes from the location of one set. Hikers will shine their flashlights on the first set of eyes and then run to the second set of eyes where they will shine their flashlights around the area until they locate the next set of eyes. They will continue searching for eyes and following their path until they arrive back at camp.

If you have a large group, instead of a mass start, send groups of ten or so at a time. You can group hikers as children, teenagers and senior citizens.  Every participant will need a flashlight- you will want to remind your family members to bring a flashlight on your reunion invitation.

If camping, have S’mores for hikers when they complete the hike.