New Years Man- A Family Tradition

You’ve probably never heard of the  New Years Man but it’s a family tradition that has  been part of our family for generations.New Years Man

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s customary in Spain to quickly eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of the clock. Each grape supposedly signifies good luck for one month of the coming year.  People around the world celebrate the  coming of the new year in many different ways but our families’ New Years tradition is one you’ve probably never heard of.

Every New Years Eve, if we have cleaned our rooms and put away our Christmas gifts, the “New Years Man” will  stop at our house and leave one last holiday gift.   I have no idea how the New Years Man tradition in  my family but it’s a tradition that goes back many generations. 

My Mom  remembers- “On  New Years Eve,  at bedtime we would make a “nest” out of our clothes.  While we were sleeping the New Years man would come and put goodies in our nest—It was always something to eat, candy, fruit etc.  Not toys.  Never a lot but we could tell he had been there “checking ” up on us. We  thought it was fun!” 

The tradition continued when  I was a child.  My parents used the New Years Man as a bribe to motivate us to clean up and put our Christmas things away. 

The New Years Man tradition has evolved to him bringing a small toy, treat or book etc. on New Years Eve for every girl  or boy that has put away their Christmas presents and cleaned their room so that it is spotless.  On New Years Eve we write our names on  a paper plate and if our rooms are clean the New Years Man will leave us a special prize.

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I don’t know what the  New Years Man looks like and I don’t know where he comes from but  I  do know that as a child I was extremely motivated to get my room cleaned and my Christmas gifts put away so that the  New Years man would leave me one more gift for the season.  I’m  sure that having the  house  clean  and orderly for the first day of the new year was well the effort  for my parents.

Fun Reindeer Party Ideas

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Magic Reindeer Food

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When you sprinkle magic reindeer food on your lawn on Christmas Eve, it leaves a glittering path–and a sweet treat–for Rudolph and Blitzon and their  friends.

Make a bag of Magic Reindeer food for each family that attends your party or as an inexpensive stocking stuffer for each child.

Package this simple recipe in zipper food storage bags, and add a free printable gift tag containing the Magic Reindeer Food poem to make Magic Reindeer Food easy to make–and to give.

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Magic Reindeer Food Recipe

In a large bowl or container, mix:

1/4- 1/2 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals
Small sealable bag
Magic Reindeer Food poem (You can find a free printable of the poem at Magic Reindeer Food Poem)

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Package Magic Reindeer food in small food storage bags or holiday gift bags.

NOTE: You can use craft glitter in your magic reindeer food but colored sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating) are safer for other animals or birds that may ingest it.

Reindeer Noses

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Another fun reindeer games party favor is a bag of reindeer noses.

I wanted the perfect gift for you-
But couldn’t decide just what to do.
I almost sent you a dozen roses-
Instead here’s a bag of…
reindeer noses

Reindeer noses are simply seven brown candies such as “Whoppers” and one red candy (to represent Rudolf). I used sour cherry candies for my red nose.  You may find a free printable of the reindeer nose poem below. Just copy and paste into your document.

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Log Reindeer Centerpieces

Log reindeer are the perfect project for your centerpieces. Simply reuse scraps of wood and timber from your woodpile, drill a few holes, and glue it all together. You’ll need a few thicker logs for the body and head; long, thin sticks for the legs, and pronged branches for your reindeer’s antlers. Add bow, bells or tinsel to complete your project.  After the party you can give away part of your herd as prizes or save them to give as neighbor gifts.

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Reindeer Cupcakes

Bake cupcakes according to package directions and frost generously with chocolate frosting.  Top with pretzels for the antlers, a Nilla Wafer for the face, white frosting dots for the eyes, back pearl sprinkles or black icing for the eyeballs, and brown and red candies for the nose.

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Santa Pancakes

HINT:  We made the pancake base of our Santa pancakes before arriving at the party.  Because they are a little time consuming we began decorating them in advance.  We noticed that the whipped cream started getting soft and didn’t look as cute.  Solution- get more help with the decorating so that you can make them on the spot.

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Reindeer Games Minute To Win It

We used the “Minute to Win It” format for our “reindeer games”.  We divided into four teams- team Rudolf, team Blitzen, team Dasher and team Donner and competed in 8 different challenges. We projected a countdown clock on the wall so that everyone could join in the drama as the seconds counted down.  For more information on Minute the Win It games check out the following link.

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2011/10/minute-to-win-it-party-2/

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Log Slice Ice Breaker Craft

Many families gather together during the holiday  season for their traditional Christmas parties.  To get the party started , I like to have a simple craft or activity that can be done as everyone arrives and these log slice ornaments are just the thing. They’re a fun ice breaker that keeps your guests busy and requires little supervision and they’re pretty inexpensive.

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With just a few supplies, you can whip up LOTS of them.  Wood slice ornaments are perfect for hanging on your Christmas tree, attaching to gifts, or giving to friends and family.  If you don’t have access to tree logs you can purchase pre sliced packages at the craft store.  The ones I found cost under $2.00 for a package of 4, but the least expensive option is to cut your  own.

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After cutting your wood slices, don’t  forget to drill a small hole at the top so that you can hang it on your tree or tie to a package. 

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Purchase chalkboard paint at your favorite craft store.  Paint the center of the wood slice. 

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It doesn’t take long for the paint to dry but if you’re really pressed for time, have a hand held hair dryer to speed up the process. After the paint dries, draw a simple picture or write your favorite Christmas word with chalk.  And don’t forget some cute Christmas string for hanging on the tree.

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If you don’t want the mess of painting your ornaments and you have a  die cutting machine, you can cut a variety of shapes and words and family members can apply those onto their wood slices. You could add a layer of decoupage on top so it will last longer.

Jelly Bean Bracelets Ice Breaker

Ice breakers for all kids

Whether planning a family reunion or party, I always like to  provide an activity that gives family members an activity to do while waiting for the organized activities to begin.  For instance, in the Caveman reunion, reunion goers decorated dinosaur sugar cookies.  This is a great way to get family members reconnect with each other and shouldn’t require hands on attention from the reunion planner.

Here are fun idea that fit the bill-

Jelly Bean Bracelets

What could be better then jewelry you can eat?

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Purchase lots of bags of Jelly beans (Try buying these at after Easter sales), sewing needles, Jewelry cord that is stretchy and scissors.

Cut the jewelry cord about 7″ long. Tie knots about 1 inch from the bottom of the cord. Thread the cord through the sewing needle. Tip- be sure the the cord you use will fit through the  eye  of the needle.

Push the needle through the center of each jelly bean to thread them, then push them down to the bottom of the cord. Continue to add jelly beans, about 15- 20 depending on your wrist size, until the bracelet is long enough. When your bracelet is long enough, tie the two ends together securely using several knots.

Tip: If the needle gets sticky give it a quick cleaning with baby wipes to clean off your needle.

Working on this project will kids talking and help them get reacquainted.  I think you’ll be surprised at the fun color combination your family will come up with.  Have I mentioned that this is a fun idea for your Easter celebration?

Pudding Painting

The delicious way to paint.

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What can I say- pudding painting is a very messy, very fun activity.  It’s perfect for days that you have  planned a water slide or sprinkle under the trampoline activity because it makes clean up super easy!

The first time I did pudding painting was in the 80’s when I had a cousins party for all my nieces and nephews and they still talk about how fun it was. Most recently, I had a pudding painting party with my grandkids and they had a ball.

There are a couple of ways you can do pudding painting.  You can mix up your own pudding (vanilla is great because you can add food coloring to make different colors) or you can buy the already made puddings in the single serving containers.

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This was an activity I did outside on a table covered with a plastic table cloth.  I gave each child a large sheet of paper (like teachers use on their bulletin boards) and let them paint away. 

Over the years I have found that some children do not like getting their hands messy so I like to provide other “tools” for them to use.  Things like spatulas and larger paint brushes work well.

When kids are done painting you can let their paintings dry in the sun and if you have planned a water activity,they’ll be all cleaned up in a splish and a splash.

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Goose Chase- an App for Reunion Fun

A Scavenger Hunt for Your Family Reunion

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At our back to school faculty meeting  we  played a game using the Goose Chase app.  The entire time we were playing the game I kept thinking how fun this game would be for a family reunion- and I couldn’t wait to share it  with you.

Here’s how it works. GooseChase is basically a scavenger hunt. You go to the Goose Chase website where you build your game. You give your game a name and can also set how long the game will run and whether there’s a password to join.

Each GooseChase game has a list of missions for participants to complete. You can create your mission list using their bank of 100+ tested missions or by designing your own from scratch.

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Missions have a name, description, point value and an optional link or photo to provide extra information. To complete a mission, select it from the list and follow the instructions to receive the allotted points.  Our team had 6 people in it and we piled into a car and drove around to complete  our challenges. With real-time activity feeds and rankings, you’re able to see everything as it happens. At the end of the game we were able to watch a slideshow of all the photos & videos which was a ton of fun.

“GooseChase got people moving around, talking to each other and laughing.  If I have any reservations about GooseChase  it is the cost.  It may be out of the reach for some family reunions and church groups but they do have an educational license for schools etc. and there is a free version if you only have 3 teams.

You can read more about GooseChase at GooseChase.

Flour War

Flour Fight Festival for your family reunion

I’ve seen a lot of fun group games but when I was invited to participate in a “Flour” war I was totally blown  away- almost literally.  I had never seen such a thing but it was sure a good time for everyone that  participated.

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Here’s how it  works.  First thing is to make your flour “bombs”.  Use small popcorn bags and fill  them with  flour.  Twist the end tightly on each bag but don’t tie or tape it closed.  You will want to  make  lots and lots of these.

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At the beginning of the game, put all of the flour bombs on the dividing line between the two teams. Have players line up on their side equal distances from the dividing line.

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When someone yells “go,” all players can make a run for the flour bombs and grab as many as they can. Then it becomes like Dodge Ball.  Players throw their flour bombs to the opposing team.  When you run  out of flour bomb just pick up more from the ground.

The white marks left by the flour bombs will help settle disputes as to whether someone was hit or not. (Wearing dark shirts is recommended).

You might want to make rules about hoarding flour bombs, and remind teams that all hits must be below the neck.  In most games, if you get hit you are out of the game but when throwing flour bombs everyone stays in the game and when the  flour is all gone  everyone lines up and awards can be given for the most  flour and the least etc.

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Flour wars is actually a real thing.  For 200 years a battle has taken place in Ibi, Alicante, Spain. Not fought with swords or guns, but with flour and eggs. Every year on December 28th the town celebrates Els Enfarinats, better known as the Flour Fight Festival. This is Spain’s version of April Fool’s Day. At the end of the day there is a massive food fight, complete with fire crackers, to commemorate the day. I’m not sure I could handle the egg part of that competition but if Spain is part of your heritage it might be fun to share this information with your family.

And most importantly, the flour will disappear within 10 minutes of your battle but please be good stewards of the environment by picking up all the discharged bombs- paper popcorn bags..

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Water Games for Your Family Reunion

Or… some fun ways to cool off on  a hot summer day!
For the Little Ones

Birdie In My Cup

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Players form a circle and one player goes to the center with a cup of water or a squirt bottle. He says, “I have a little birdie in my cup. What color is he? He then goes around the circle and gives each player a chance to guess the color. If they guess correctly he flicks or sprays water on the the player. Then they switch places and that player becomes ”It”.

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One child stands at the far side of the yard to be the caller and the rest of the children line up at the opposite side of the yard. Set up a sprinkler in the middle of the yard and turn it on. The caller will turn their back to the other kids and says “green light.” When they say green light, the rest of the kids will try to move across the yard to reach the caller. When the caller turns around and says, “red light,” kids have to freeze where they are. If they don’t freeze, they will be sent back to the starting line.

Whoever can tag the caller first wins and becomes the next caller.

For the Older “Kids”
Sponge Soaker

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In sponge soaker, teams take turns running to a bucket to fill their sponge with water and run back (keeping the sponge above their head).  Then squeeze it into an empty bucket, the winning team is the first to have a full bucket of water. You can also play this game with a glass of water instead of sponges.

WATER BALLOON DODGEBALL

Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of water balloPool Party Kit 2 Elements (4)ons. Water balloons are labor intensive and a safety hazard if you don’t get them all picked up, but I always make an exception for Water Balloon Dodge ball.

For this game you will need water balloons (about 5 per person) and a container. (To keep your balloons from breaking prematurely, fill the container with water so the balloons can float rather than put pressure on each other. If you prefer not to use water to fill your container, try a plastic trash bag: This allows the balloons to spread out and may help to relieve the pressure.)

Divide the playing field into two halves using rope, tape or cones to make a line to mark the middle . Fill up the balloons and put them in the middle of the playing field. For this game, you probably want water balloons that are a bit bigger so they break easily (but not so easily they break when you throw it).
 
Split players into two teams and have one team go on each side of the line. Water balloon dodge ball is just like regular dodge ball. Players have to race to get a water balloon out of the bucket in the middle of the field and throw water balloons at each other from their side of the yard- no head shots.  When the balloons are gone, the team with the most players is the winning team.  Losing team has to help fill balloons for the next round.  Be prepared with tons of water balloons.

 

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You’ll need an inflatable beach ball and water gun for each player. Designate a Starting Line and a Finish Line. To begin, line up the beach balls on the Starting Line. On “Go”, everyone shoots their balls with their water guns. The first ball over the finish line wins.

Freeze Water Gun Tag

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You’ll need one water-gun. Select one player to be “It”. Give “It” the water gun, and on “Go” have “It” try to tag the other players by squirting them. Whoever gets tagged becomes frozen until another player crawls between their legs.

 

Water Surprise
This is my favorite game!Pool Party Kit 2 Elements (8)

Put a line of cups on a table. Fill about half of the cups full with water and leave the other ones empty.

Play: Take turns and have each player one at a time choose a cup without looking (blindfold or cover their eyes). Once they’ve chosen the cup, they have to dump it on their head.

If there is water in the cup, they get wet and are out. If there is not water, they continue to the next round. The last dry kid standing wins.

For the Artsy Family Members

KOOL-AID PAINTING… Sprinkle unsweetened Kool-Aid on a piece a paper. Move a piece of ice over the Kool-Aid. Watch as the Kool-Aid turns to liquid and makes a yummy smelling picture.

SIDE WALK PAINT- a twist on sidewalk chalk.

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You will need equal portions of water and corn starch and mix well. Mix by adding a little at a time of both the water and cornstarch until you have the quantity and texture that you want. Your paint” should be thick and not runny. (Remember, cornstarch will get super thick as you’re mixing and thin out when you stop.) Start with 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. cornstarch and add a little less than 1/4 cup of cold water. To make colors add a drop of food coloring. You can then use this paint to paint on the sidewalk. Give it a few minutes to dry and you’ll have a wonderful work of ART! It washes off easily with a pail of water or hose.  

Silver Dollar Game for Your Independence Day Party

4th of July Games

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We have a Independence Day tradition in our family- Whenever we get together for a family or reunion or party around Independence Day we play the “Silver Dollar” game. The Silver Dollar game is a game my Mom invented to encourage us to remember our American history and important United States facts.

Mom would ask a US history question and the first one to get the answer right would get a sliver dollar. Mom has a fun way off tossing the silver dollar to the winner- I’m not sure how to describe,  it  but basically she just tosses it to the family member that has the correct answer to the question.

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Plan to play the Silver Dollar game at your Independence Day family reunion or party. Don’t have Silver Dollars? How about using 50 states quarters, red, white and blue taffy, or patriotic pencils?

Warning: If your family is competitive, like mine is, you may have to assign someone to be the judge and determine who is the first to raise their hand and watch out- even if you do get the answer right someone may just reach out and snatch your prize right out of the air, Oh well, it’s just part of the game and family fun!

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Below are a list of questions you can use for your Silver Dollar game:

Below are a list of questions you can use for your Silver Dollar game:

1. What is the title of the National Anthem?
Answer:
The Star-Spangled Banner

2.  Which right is guaranteed by the first amendment
Answer:
Freedom of Religion

3.  What is the title of the head of a city government
Answer:
Mayor

4.  Who has the ability to declare war?
Answer:
The Congress

5.  How many full terms may a Senator serve?
Answer:
No term limits for Senators

6.  How many full terms can a President serve?
Answer:
2

7.  How many years is a full term for a Representative?
Answer:
2

8.  Which amendment sets the minimum voting age to 18?
Answer:
26th

9.  Who becomes President if both the President and Vice President die?
Answer:
The Speaker of the House

10.  On July 4th, 1776 we declared Independence from whom?
Answer:
Great Britain

11.  How many branches of government do we have?
Answer:
3

12.  Which is part of the Judicial branch at the federal level? 
Answer:
The Supreme Court

13.  Who elects the President of the United States?
Answer:
The Electoral College

14.  How many states are there?
Answer:
50

15.  How many stripes are there on the American Flag?
Answer:
13

16.  Who was the President of the United States during the civil war?
Answer:
Abraham Lincoln

17. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?
Answer: The Preamble

18. Who is the President of the United States?
Answer:  Donald Trump

19.  Who is the current Vice President of the United States?
Answer: Mike Pence

20.  Why did the Pilgrims come to America?
Answer:
to find religious freedom

21.  How many total Senators are there?
Answer:
100

22.  The Constitution has how many Amendments?
Answer:
27

23. Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?
Answer: Thomas Jefferson

24.  According to the Constitution, a person must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible to become President. Name one of these requirements.

Answer: Must be a natural born citizen of the United States; must be at least 35 years old by the time he/she will serve; must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

25. How many Presidents have been impeached
Answer:
2 Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

26.  What is the Official Language of the United States?
Answer:
None

27.  Who was the first Vice President of the United States?
Answer:
John Adams

28.  Who said “Give me liberty or give me death?”
Answer:
Patrick Henry

29.  How many Presidents were assassinated while in office?
Answer:
4 Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, John F. Kennedy.

30. Is it ever appropriate to fly the flag upside down?
Answer: Yes, but only in an emergency. “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

31. What is the tallest mountain the US?
Answer: Mt McKinley, located in the state of Alaska it reaches 20,320 ft (6,194 m) above sea level.

32. Who was the first man to walk on the moon?
Answer: American Neil Armstrong (July 21, 1969).

33. What ocean is off the Florida coast?
Answer: The Atlantic Ocean

Family Reunion Brag Badges

The Ultimate “Getting to Know You” Game for Your Family Reunion

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A family reunion “Brag Badge” is a small tag, somewhat resembling a “military dog tag” that represents the hobbies, interests, occupations and accomplishments of members of your family.

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Collecting Brag Badges is so much fun that quite often children in  the family will see a badge they want to earn and they’ll run off looking for a family member that will help them earn badge they desire and they’ll connect with a new cousin, aunt or uncle or be surprised by the accomplishments or interests of a favorite relative.

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With Brag Badges, family members will  have fun discovering their relatives that love ice cream, pizza and dancing.  They’ll find relatives  that drive trucks, teach school and relatives that have been to Hawaii. They’ll find relatives that are Eagle Scouts,  Veterans and couples that have been married for 50 years.  They’ll discover relatives that share their same  birth month, like to  read, play baseball and so much more. IMG_0507 (2)

Brag Badges are a perfect way for your family to to show off their interests, talents and achievements and are great way for family members to get to know each other!

When I use Brag Badges at a family reunion I require that badges are signed before they can be earned so that family members will always remember who the relative was that helped them earn the badge. 

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I display my brag badges at our family reunions in needle craft organizers you can purchase by following the link below. I like to leave the badges on a table and let reunion goers supervise themselves. You can purchase the needlepoint cases in the Family Reunion Store. If using all of the badges included in this download you will need to purchase several cases.

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The graphics on these badges are so cute your family will love them!  Over 60 different “Brag Badges” are included in this digital download- all in bright COLOR!  There are 4 of each design but you can print as many copies as you need- depending on the size of your family. You don’t need one of each design for everyone in your family- it makes badges more valuable if the the number is limited.

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Print the Brag Badges on card stock, laminate, cut and  punch a hole in the top of each badge.  The hole is  for the ball bead chain  to  wear around your neck and to display the Brag Badge discoveries you have made.  You can  purchase 50 chains in the Family Reunion Helper store for less than $8.00.

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This fun family reunion resource includes over 60 brag badges in color and printer friendly version. Brag Badges help family members connect in a way they will never forget.  You can purchase a complete set of Brag Badges in  the Family Reunion Helper Store