A Night in Bethlehem Party from Hatchpatch

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If you’re planning your family Christmas party or perhaps a party for your church I found a great idea at hatchpatch.com.  I was so impressed with Hatchpatch that I just had to share. “Night in Bethlehem” is actually a party we did at our church about ten years ago but the folks at Hatchpatch have put together a party plan complete with invitation, menu and pictures.  Their plans will make your job  a lot of easier.

A Night in Bethlehem is a Christmas experience.  As a participant you come dressed in time period costumes and enter a re-creation of what the city of Bethlehem may have been like.  You pay taxes, interact with merchants and sample simple foods.  This party a wonderful way to feel the true reason for Christmas.

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If you’re looking for other ways to share the Christmas spirit consider familyreunionhelper’s  Twelve Days of Christmas Nativity.  Just purchase an 11 or 12 piece nativity and deliver one piece each night to your lucky secret friends.  Complete instructions as well as a printable for each day can be found at 12 Days Printable.

Top Ten Reasons to Play Musical Pipe Chimes

Making music with pipe chimes is an easy and inexpensive way to have fun with your family. My Mom saw pipe chimes more than thirty years ago and our family has been making music with conduit pipes ever since. Because pipe chimes are easy to make and easy to play, pipe chimes are perfect for family reunions, parties and church groups.   Anyone can play pipe chimes- no musical experience necessary!  So here are familyreunionhelper.com’s tongue in check top ten reasons to play pipe chimes!

Top Ten Reasons to Learn to Play Pipe Chimes

10. A pipe chime doubles as a game piece in an over- sized Clue game.

9. American Idol now lets you use an instrument.

8. Studies show that the resonating tones of pipe chimes stimulates hair follicles which encourages hair growth.

7. Chuck Norris plays pipe chimes.

6. Pipe chime playing is good for your hands. I probably have stronger hands/fingers than most people I know. And have you ever noticed the hands of a pianist? Beautiful, long, tapered fingers. Chances are that if you’ve ever admired someone’s hands, they play the piano… or pipe chimes.

5. Playing pipe chimes helps you burn calories. A 155 pound person burns 281 calories in an hour of pipe chime playing.

4. You can join the AFPOPCP – The association for the preservation of pipe chime playing.

3. People will automatically assume you’re a genius. Really, I’ve heard this a lot. People uttering "He/she plays the pipe chimes" in the same tone reserved for "He/she has an IQ of 180." You just can’t help but admire someone that plays an instrument.

2. Colleges like musical instruments on applications–it’s never too early to boost your kid’s qualifications! Hundreds of college scholarships for Pipe Chime playing go unclaimed each year.

And the number one reason to play pipe chimes…

1. Self-defense!

But seriously… Pipe chimes are perfect for your family reunion or family get- together.  With our easy to follow instructions and thirteen fun chimes songs, there’s no reason to miss out on the musical fun of conduit pipe chimes!  We don’t sell pipe chimes but on our site you can find complete instructions for making your own music pipe chimes and printable music at familyreunionhelper.com

Aunt MO

Coming together is a beginning
Keeping together is progress
Working together is success -Henry Ford

Gimme A Point

Use this game as an ice breaker game for your family reunion or party.  Make a copy of the game for every participant and give them a copy and a pencil when they arrive at your family reunion.  Your family can work on the game until you feel like everyone has arrived at your reunion site then call everyone together and go through the questions.  Your family will want to share their unusual and funny answers.  Be sure and have a prize for the winner of the game and perhaps for the person with the lowest score.  This is also  a fun time to give out a few family reunion awards such as the  tallest person at the reunion, the person that traveled the farthest to the reunion or the youngest person at your family reunion. 

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1. Give yourself 1 point for every button you are wearing.

2. Deduct 1 point for every 5 minutes you were late for this reunion.  

3. Add 1 point for each size shoe in shoe you are wearing. (Size 7- 7 points)

4. Add 5 points for every penny in your pocket or purse.

5. If you are wearing any pink, add 10 points to your score.

6. If you made your bed this morning give yourself 10 points.

     If your mother made your bed deduct 5 points.

     If your bed is not made deduct 10 points.

7. If your eyes are brown or green give yourself 5 points.

8. If you have grey in your hair give yourself 10 points.

9. Add 1 point for every egg you have eaten this week.

10. Give yourself 5 points for every game of golf you played in July.

11. Add 1 point for every baseball game you’ve watched this summer.

12. If you emptied the dishwasher or washed the dishes today give yourself 10 points.

13. If you are over 6 feet tall give yourself 5 points.

14. If you are under 5 feet tall give yourself 10 points.

15. If you sent more than 100 texts this week add 5 points to your score.

16. If you are over 50 and sent 1 txt this week add 10 points to your score.

17. Give yourself 1 point for every mile you walked or ran this week.

18. If you are wearing a belt give yourself 5 points.

19. If you have a dog give yourself 5 points.

20.  Give yourself 1 point for every 100 miles you traveled to be at this family reunion.

Okay, you can add up your score and put the total here-         

___________

More fun family reunion games are available in the “family fun” drop down at www.familyreunionhelper.com/ 

Aunt MO

“People are more honest around  a campfire.”- Megan

Planning for Stormy Weather When Planning Your Family Reunion

 

This weekend I planned a fun two-day party at my house for 25 of my favorite family members. We planned to go horseback riding, play Badminton, Human Foosball, watch a movie and sleep outside. Fifteen minutes before the party was to begin, with no warning, the winds came up and the rains came down, and the thunder started booming. I’m actually amazed that I didn’t begin crying but with a few adjustments we were able to have a very fun party.

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Every outdoor reunion or party should have an alternative plan, in case the weather becomes uncooperative. When planning a family reunion it isn’t always reasonable to cancel the reunion or reschedule, instead you need to have a “plan B”.

I remember a family reunion we attended in Delta, Utah many years ago. The reunion was held at Great Grandma Stanworth’s tiny home and so everyone brought their tents and trailers to camp out. The reunion was great fun until the wind started blowing. It blew so hard that the tents were laying flat on the ground and we couldn’t even talk to each other because our words were just blown away.

If you don’t want to pack up and go home when the storm hits, that’s the time to plan for another activity. If you’re close to a town, take everyone bowling, to an indoor pool or a movie. Hopefully, two hours later, the wind will have died down. If not, stop at a restaurant or fast food place for an ice cream treat or a full meal. If the weather still isn’t cooperating stop at a park with a bowery and play a few games.

We played a fun new game at our “outdoor” party this weekend. It’s called “The Couch Game”. Directions and rules for playing the game can be found at www.familyreunionhelper.com/ but basically, you split into two teams, boys against the girls, and through strategic maneuvering, try to get four of your teammates sitting on the couch.

A couple of years ago we had rain at our big Stewart reunion. The weather did shut down a few of our planned activities but we were lucky because our reunion location included a huge bowery with an indoor kitchen. Everyone stayed in the bowery and we played a lengthy game of Bunko and ate dinner until the storm blew over.

Portable, easy-to-setup pavilions are a great solution to keep family members out of the rain and provide shade even on bright sunny days. Unless there is a major storm, good family reunion planning dictates you provide your guests with shelter from the rain. Many of the gazebos on the market will provide adequate shelter unless you are hit by a major storm. Renting a big tent can be very expensive; in fact sometimes I think it would be cheaper to just buy one that you can count on having every year. In our area you can plan on paying $495.00 for 30×30 tent and they go up in price from there.

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I think a better option is to reserve an alternate location in advance. If your reunion site does not have a bowery or a rec hall of some sort, consider reserving a church’s culture hall or a school gym near your family reunion site. Our school rents their gym for $75.00 a day and our church’s gym is free but must be reserved in advance. We can rent our town’s civic center for $50.00 a day.

Plan backup activities if rain pushes your family reunion inside. If your outside activities have been washed out, planning alternatives will keep your family busy. Plan on setting up a minimum of three stations (activities) at different places. Divide the family into three groups and then rotate them from activity to activity. Each activity should take 20 to 30 minutes but each should last the same amount of time. Do a craft at one station, have story time at a second station, play a game at the third station. You could ask three different members of your family to plan a “rainy day” activity to be used “just in case” or use the activities you have already planned for your reunion and move them inside.

Other rainy day activities might be:

Having a table set up with various paper, markers and scissors and encourage family members to make cards for family members that weren’t able to attend the reunion.

Have each family group draw a family portrait of their family, give an award for the best family portrait and then hang all the portraits up for the remainder of the reunion. You will need colored pencils and paper that is at least 11×17.

Square Dance

BINGO or BUNKO

Have someone tell a story.

Fold origami birds or frogs (be sure paper is cut into perfect squares)

Put on an impromptu play or melodrama. Pass out copies of the script and the actors improvise as they go along.

Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. Pclip_image006ut on some waterproof gear and play volleyball, football or whiffle ball in the rain. Relay races or tag games can be extra fun in the rain.

So back to my fun outdoor summer party- we rescheduled a few of our plans; we ate dinner first and rode horses last. We postponed playing Human Foosball until day 2 but we did manage to work in everything we had planned (right down to cooking S’mores over a fire the first night) even added a few unplanned things like playing with the neighbor’s 6 puppies and giving rides on the tractor.

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Every person in charge of planning a family reunion is hoping that rain, rain will just go away, but with a little extra thought and a good “plan B” your family reunion will keep on going, even in stormy weather.

Aunt MO

Into each life some rain must fall.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Best Ever Relay Race Games

from www.familyreunionhelper.com

Relay races have been a part of our family reunions since I attended the Fackrell family reunion in Lyman, Wyoming way back in the 1960’s. We did traditional relays like the wheelbarrow race, 3-legged race and the gunny sack race. Those races are fun but I wanted to share some relay races that aren’t so traditional. Let me introduce you to some of our favorite “Best Ever” relay races- hope your family likes them too.
Most relay race games ask you to form 2 or more even teams. As in any relay race, have a starting line and a finishing line (You can easily make start and finish lines using flour sprinkled on the grass or dirt, or spray paint or long ropes or hoses.)and teams race to one end of the course and back as quickly as possible. Mix your running relays with creative relays that let family members who aren’t fast runners be successful in other ways.

Sponge Relay Race

I asked my two cute nieces, Sydnee and Maicie, what their favorite relay race game was and they both agreed it was the “Sponge” race.

You will need two 5 gallon buckets- one filled with water and one empty. Each team will also need a large sponge.

Set the buckets of water on one side of the course with the sponges in the bucket. Place the empty buckets at the opposite end of the course. The object of the game is to be the first team to fill the emptyclip_image002 bucket (you can also use a milk jug for the empty container) with water. The first player of each team soaks the sponge with water runs to the empty container and squeezes the water into it then runs back to pass the sponge to the next player. This continues until the first bucket is empty or everyone has had a turn. Winner is the team that has the most water in their once empty container.  You may want to add a little food coloring to the water to make the water line easier to see.


Human String Relay

You will need 2 Spoons and 2 Ball of yarn, equal lengths.  Tie a spoon to the end of a ball of yarn.  Line up both teams single-file.  clip_image004

On the word, "Go," the first person from each team must put the spoon down his shirt, as well as his pants. When it comes out of his pant leg, he must then pass it to the next player (As it is still attached to the first player).

When the spoon has gone through the entire line, and everyone is attached, then the last person at the end of the line must clip_image006reverse the process (While the first person winds the string into a ball as it comes back out of each person’s clothing).

When the team finishes unwinding the string then the first person in that line needs to shout, "Done!" The team to finish unwinding the string first wins.

Hula Hoop Relay #1

Each team makes a circle, connecting it by holding hands.

Give each team a hula hoop. On the word “go” each team must move the hula hoop around the circle.. To do this, participants must move their arms and shoulders to make the hoop travel around the circle. At no point may any of the participants break their grasp on their teammates’ hands. The first team to move the hula hoop around the circle wins. To make it more complicated add a second hoop going th opposite way.

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Hula Hoop Relay #2

You will need 1 hula hoop for each team and items to make an obstacle course such as orange cones, garbage cans, lawn chairs, etc.

Begin by creating a course-a straight line to a goal and back, or create a slalom-type trail around obstacles. When the race begins, the first player from each team rolls the team’s hoop (using his hand or a stick) along the entire course before returning to the starting line and passing the hoop to the next player. The race continues until all of the players on one team complete the course.

Rock, Tree, Bridge Relay

This relay comes from Stacey Hanson. We tried it at a family and about died laughing. Check out the video at www.familyreunionhelper.com/ for a video of Stacey’s class playing “Rock, Tree, Bridge”

I’ve included a video of instructions for this next relay on the first page  of this website. This is not my family but a school teacher, Stacey, and her students. I think this clever relay is so fun and after you watch the video it will be easy for you to play too.

To play, get into teams of 3 and make a line. The first person in line is the rock. He ducks down on his knees with his head tucked in. clip_image013

The second person in line jumps over the rock and stands up and becomes the tree. clip_image002[18]

The third person in line jumps over the rock, goes around the tree twice, and makes a tent with his body and becomes the bridge.

                              clip_image014The person who was the rock then goes around the tree 2 times, goes under the bridge, and becomes a rock again.  They keep repeating this pattern until their team reaches the finish line. The first team to finish wins.

Leap Frog Race

This was my favorite relay race game when I was a little girl- I know you’ve played it clip_image016but maybe there is a little girl in your family who would like it as much as I did. Let’s hop to it!
This is a game for 6 or more players and should be played outside or in an open area.
All you need are two teams of at least three, and a start and finish line.
To play, the two teams each line up single file. Players then leap frog over each other. The last player jumps over her teammates. When she leaps over the two people ahead of her, the new last person in line then jumps over her two teammates.
The first team to leap frog down to the line and back wins!

Crazy Waiter

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You need a couple of sturdy paper plates and ping pong balls.

Divide into two teams, and stand in 2 lines. Demonstrate how to hold the plate- like a waiter. (Thumbs and fingers cannot be on top of the plate)
Now put a ping pong ball onto each plate a give one to the leader of each line. On the word go, their job is to run as fast as they can weaving in and out of each player down the line, while balancing the ball on the plate. Once he gets to the back of the line he then runs straight up to the front again (without weaving) and gives the plate to the next player, and runs down to the back position.

The next player repeats the process. If the ball falls off the plate the player must return to the front and restart. First team to run the course wins.

clip_image004[9]You may also map out an obstacle course to run through or for a more simple game have players run to a central marker, like a chair or an orange cone, run around it and then run home.

Another fun variation on this game is the “Golf ball on spoon relay”. This relay is just like “Crazy Waiter” only you use a golf ball on a spoon.

Turkey Feather Relayclip_image020

Divide into relay teams. First player holds a long turkey feather (or any other feather). At the word "Go" each throws his feather, javelin style, toward the finish line. As soon as it comes to earth, he picks it up and throws it again, and continues until across the finish line. He then picks it up and runs back to his team to give the feather to the next player.

clip_image022Ice Cube Melt

To play, form teams of at least 6 people. Each team lines up and gets an ice cube. The first person in each line rubs the ice until his hands get too cold. Then he passes it to the next person in line. She rubs it until her hands get too cold. Keep passing their ice until it melts. The first team to melt their ice wins.

This is also a fun game to play with a T-shirt but requires some advance preparation. Get a T-shirt for each team and soak it in water. Put the T-shirt in the freezer overnight. First team to melt their shirt enough for someone to get it over their head and wear it is the winner- brrr.

It’s All in the Name

Print the alphabet on pieces of cardstock- one letter on ¼ piece of paper. Yu will need to copy it more than once and make additional cards with the most used letters of the alphabet. (E,A,I,O,R,T,N,S,L) Some good alphabet cards can be found at http://www.eslflashcards.com/preview.php?id=31

Dump all the letters in the middle of the room or playing area. Teams race to collect letters to combine them into words such as family names, places and traditions. For instance, at the Wells reunion, I would ask them to find words like “Wells”, “England”, Waldhere” and “Wells Fargo”. The words must be spelled correctly, all the letters in order, to receive a point.

Aunt MO

“I don’t have to look up my family tree, because I know that I’m the sap.” –Fred Allen

Older Than Dirt Game for Your Family Reunion

I’m always looking for fun games to play at our family reunions- especially pencil and paper games, so I was quite excited when a friend of mine sent me the following game.  I have to admit, however, that I was a little disappointed to find out that I am actually “older than dirt”!  How about you-

“Are YOU Older Than Dirt?"

1. In the 1940′s, where were automobile headlight high beam switches located?

a. On the floor shift knob

b. On the floor board, to the left of the clutch

c. Next to the horn

2. What would you do with an old soda bottle with holes the bottle cap?

a. Capture lightning bugs

b. Sprinkle clothes before ironing

c. Shaker for sea salt

3. In the 50’s what cost 20 cents?

a. Gallon of gas

b. Postage stamp

c. Loaf of bread

4. What was the popular chewing gum named for a game of chance?

a. Blackjack

b. Gin

c. Craps!

5. What method did women use to look as if they were wearing stockings when none were available due to rationing during W.W.II?

a. Suntan

b. Leg painting

c. Wearing slacks

6. What postwar car turned automotive design on its ear when you couldn’t tell whether it was coming or going?clip_image004[5]

a. Studebaker

b. Nash Metro

c. Tucker

7. Which was a popular candy when you were a kid?

a. Strips of dried peanut butter

b. Chocolate licorice bars

c. Wax coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside

8. How was Butch wax used?

a. To stiffen a flat-top haircut so it stood up

b. To make floors shiny and prevent scuffing

c. On the wheels of roller skates to prevent rust

9. Before in-line skates, how did you keep your roller skates attachedclip_image006[6] to your shoes?

a. With clamps, tightened by a skate key

b. Woven straps that crossed the foot

c. Long pieces of twine

10. As a kid, what was considered the best way to reach a decision?

a. Consider all the facts

b. Ask Mom

c. Eeny-meeny-miney- mo

11. What was the most dreaded disease in the 1940′s-50′s

a. Smallpox

b. AIDS

c. Polio

12. "I’ll be down to get you in a ________, Honey"

a. Station wagon

b. Taxi

c. Streetcar

13. What was the name of Caroline Kennedy’s pet pony? clip_image008[6]

a. Old Blue

b. Paint

c. Macaroni

14. What was a Duck-and-Cover Drill?

a. Part of the game of hide and seek

b. What you did when your Mom called you in to do chores

c. How you prepared for an A-bomb attack

15. What was the name of the Indian Princess on the Howdy Doodyclip_image010[6] show?

a. Princess Summerfallwinterspring

b. Princess Sacajawea

c. Princess Moonshadow

16. What did all the really savvy students do when mimeographed tests were handed out in school?

a. Immediately sniffed the purple ink

b. Made paper airplanes to see who could sail theirs out the window

c. Wrote another pupil’s name on the top, to avoid looking bad when they flunked

17. Why did your Mom shop in stores that gave Green Stamps withclip_image012[5] purchases?

a. To keep you out of mischief by licking the backs, which tasted like bubble gum

b. They could be put in special books and redeemed for various household items

c. They were given to the kids to be used as stick-on tattoos

18. Praise the Lord, and pass the _________?

a. Meatballs

b. Dames

c. Ammunition

19. 1930’s college fad

a. Swallowing goldfish

b. Collecting bottle caps

c. Streakingclip_image014[5]

20. Who left his heart in San Francisco?

a. Tony Bennett

b. Xavier Cugat

c. George Gershwin

www.familyreunionhelper.com

ANSWERS

1. b) On the floor, to the left of the clutch. Hand controls, popular in Europe, took till the late ’60′s to catch on.

2. b) To sprinkle clothes before ironing. Who had a steam iron?

3. a) Gallon of gas- 20 cents, stamp- 3 cents, bread- 14 cents

4. a) Blackjack Gum.

5. b) Special makeup was applied, followed by drawing a seam down the back of the leg with eyebrow pencil.

6. a) 1946 Studebaker.

7. c) Wax coke bottles containing super-sweet colored water. They were called "Nik-L-Nip"

8 a) Wax for your flat top (butch) haircut.

9. a) With clamps, tightened by a skate key, which you wore on a shoestring around your neck.

10. c) Eeny-meeny-miney- mo.

11. c) Polio. In beginning of August, swimming pools were closed, movies and other public gathering places were closed to try to prevent spread of the disease.

12. b) Taxi. Better be ready by half-past eight!

13. c) Macaroni.

14. c) Hiding under your desk, and covering your head with your arms in an A-bomb drill.

15. a) Princess Summerfallwinterspring. She was another puppet.

16. a) Immediately sniffed the purple ink.

17. b) Put in a special stamp book, they could be traded for household items at the Green Stamp store.

18. c) Ammunition, and we’ll all be free.

19. a) Swallowing goldfish

20. a) Tony Bennett

SCORING

18-20 correct: You are older than dirt!

12-18 correct: Not quite dirt yet, but you’re getting there.

0-11 correct: You are just a young “whippersnapper” and if you don’t know what that is ask someone that is “older than dirt”.

For more fun family reunion and party games visit www.familyreunionhelper.com

Tool Game for Fathers Day

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated my father’s 80th birthday.  We played lots of games that represented Dad’s favorite things, games using Oreo cookies, games with tennis balls and games with M & M’s, but one of the most  fun games was about Dad’s interest in tools and I thought you might want to add this game to your list of games for your Father’s Day party.

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Begin by dividing your group into two teams or more, if you have a large group.  Have each group choose a contestant for the round.  Contestants come to the front of the group, standing equal distance around a tennis ball on a folded towel.

The Master of Ceremonies for the game, begins reading a description of a tool and the contestant that knows the answer first, grabs the tennis ball from the towel.  The contestant with the ball gets the first chance to give the name of the tool.  If they answer correctly, that team receives a point, if not, the question is read again and another team is given the opportunity to give the correct answer.

If neither contestant is able to give the correct answer, contestants may huddle with their team members to try and come up with the answer.  First contestant to grab the tennis ball can give the answer.

Game continues until the winning team, the one with the most points, is determined.

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A list of tools and descriptions are listed below:

Stillson Wrench- a large pipe wrench with L-shaped adjustable jaws that tighten as pressure on the handle is increased.

Coping Saw- a handsaw with a taut thin blade; used for cutting small curves in wood

Back Saw- any hand saw which has stiffening rib on the edge opposite the cutting edge, allowing for better control and more precise cutting than other types of saws.

Mallot- a tool resembling a hammer but with a large head (usually wooden); used to drive wedges or ram down paving stones or for crushing or beating or flattening or smoothing.

Pliers- a gripping hand tool with two hinged arms and (usually) serrated jaws.

Lathe- a machine tool which spins a block of material to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling or deformation with tools that are applied tot he work piece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.

Router- a plane for cutting interior angles, as at the bottom of a groove.

Plomb Bob- a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, that is suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line.

Allen Wrench- A tool consisting of an L-shaped bar with a hexagonal head, used to turn screws with hexagonal sockets.

Box Wrench- a wrench with a closed loop that fits over a nut or bolt head.

Ratchet- a type of wrench, or tightening tool, that uses separate, removable sockets, removable sockets to fit many different sizes of fittings and fasteners, most commonly nuts and bolts.

Clamp- a fastening device to hold or secure objects tightly together to prevent movement or separation through the application of inward pressure.

Nail- a thin pointed piece of metal that is hammered into materials as a fastener.

Tin Snips- hand tools used to cut sheet metal and other tough webs.

Hack Saw- a saw used with one hand for cutting metal.

Radial Arm Saw- a cutting machine consisting of a circular saw mounted on a sliding horizontal arm.

Anvil- a heavy block of iron or steel on which hot metals are shaped by hammering.

Vise Grip- pliers that can be locked into position, using an overcenter action.

Screw- a simple machine of the inclined-plane type consisting of a spirally threaded cylindrical rod that engages with a similarly threaded hole.clip_image002

Of course, there are hundreds of tools that can be added to this game, a dictionary is a great resource.

For other great Father’s Day games see the free download at Family Reunion Helper.

Family Reunion Church- Discovering the Roots and Branches of Your Family Tree

Our family reunions are full of fun games, unusual activities, creative crafts and delicious things to eat but we also take time to learn about and honor our ancestors during “Family History Church”.

Most of our family history church meetings are relatively simple but we have done some amazing and memorable things. Several years ago, we included an airplane ticket to Scotland with our family reunion invitation.

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During the reunion, we made a huge “airplane” out of tents, tarps and lawn chairs and took off, in our makeshift plane, for a visit to our ancestral home. We lifted off to the sounds of recorded jet sound effects, and our flight attendants served us peanuts and pop. As we approached the halfway point, our plane developed engine problems and we crashed.

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After the crash, we were greeted by a beautiful angel dressed all in white who led us to a secluded area of our campground where we were visited by six of our ancestors who shared their life stories with us. These “ancestors” were actually family members who memorized a script and dressed in costumes from the era in which they lived.

This was a very elaborate family history church and took a lot of advance preparation but it’s an activity that family members still talk about.

Most of our family history churches are not nearly as complicated.  We always begin our family history church with a prayer and a song about family history/genealogy.

http://www.lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=2&searchseqstart=94&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=94&searchsubseqend=ZZZ

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A few years ago we began spotlighting two family members, a child and an adult. We tell a little about the person and give them a few inexpensive gifts such as their favorite candy bar or soda. The next year those spotlighted choose another person to spotlight and so on.

I have the fun opportunity of giving a family history presentation about one of our ancestors each year.  These aren’t long, boring presentations but often include games such as “Wheel of Ancestors” or “Family Feud” and other fun activities.

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We have made crossword puzzles, coloring books and word searches to help our family learn about their ancestors. We have even acted out fun family stories and experiences that make us laugh.  Everyone in the Stewart family know the story of Aunt Ann and the banana because we acted it out during our family history church.

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We value the life stories of our ancestors so much. I wish I could say that all of our family are keeping wonderful descriptive journals for their posterity but we aren’t, so for more that 20 years we have asked our family to take a few minutes to fill out a journal page at our reunion. On the journal page, they record their experiences from the past year and then Grandma stores the pages in binders in hopes that some day we will compile them into family histories. Questions that are typically asked on the journal page are- What is the best thing that happened to you this year? What is the saddest thing that happened to you this year? What was the best movie you saw this year? For a more complete list of questions and sample journal pages, please download Journal Page Samples & Question Ideas.

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Anyone who has delved into the history of their family knows that, the more information they discover about their ancestors, the more real these people become, and the more fascinating. I love to learn the stories of the people that came before me and I love to share them with my family. Family history church is a wonderful way to join the past with the present and by learning about ones ancestors, it helps us understand ourselves, our heritage and the roots and branches of our family tree.

Aunt MO

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past, present and future."

Author: T.S. Eliot