5 Things Reunion Planners Should Stop Doing-Now!

Stop Sending Invitations Through  Snail  Mail

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For more than a century, the mailbox and the rotary dial phone were how we communicated.  But times have changed, we no longer have eight track tapes, floppy disks,  typewriters and . no one is using shorthand.  Family reunion planners should embrace the advances in technology when sending invitations and keeping  in  touch with family members.

I’m all for sending thank you cards, Christmas and birthday cards and wedding announcements by sail mail but when it comes  to family reunion invitations and flyers using email and texts just makes sense.

First off, consider the cost, at almost 50 cents for a stamp, the cost of mailing every family an invitation adds up quickly, especially if you have a large family.  Also factor in the cost of paper and ink to  print it on  or the cost  of taking your  invitations to a print  shop  to have them professionally printed.  You also need to figure in  the labor involved, sorting, stapling ,folding and putting  your  invitations into envelopes.

A reunion  planner can sit at her computer, compose a quick message, or create a beautiful custom invitation and send it off to the entire reunion family in a matter of seconds. No stamp is required, no trip to the  post office,  and no time is taken to physically fold, staple and lick. Just send it out and your whole family can be reading  it in a matter of minutes.

Our family has enjoyed sharing our family news and information on our family Facebook page and I know some families that have created their own family websites.  Both are convenient, instant and inexpensive ways to keep in touch.

However email isn’t perfect, Grandma and Grandpa and great Aunts and Uncles may still need a  physical invitation that arrives in their mailbox but using the latest technology is a great tool for reunion planners. 

Stop trying to do everything yourself

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This one is huge.  As a reunion planner you have enough to do without  worrying about every detail of your reunion.  Form a committee and give out assignments or if working solo, make a list of activities and give out assignments.  A simple way to make assignments is by family group.

There are 6 children in my husband’s family.  They are all over 60 years old now and have adult children of their own.  For most reunions, each family group receives an assignment to do an activity and plan and cook a meal.  When my family is given an assignment my children help with the planning and implementing of that assignment.

The theme of our last reunion was, “Game On”.  Every family group  was in charge of a JUMBO sized family game.  Our game was one of 6 games we played at the reunion and one of 6 activities the reunion planner didn’t have to worry about.

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Many years ago, we planned a “Cruise” themed reunion.  Each of the family groups choose a port of call and planned activities and a meal that represented the culture of that port.  Because there was six families, we sailed to six countries including Mexico, Alaska, Africa and Paris, France.

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 Stop spending your own money

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No matter how much you love each other, it still costs money to hold a family reunion.
You may charge reunion goers a fee for attending their reunion or you may ask them to donate food or other supplies but if you are a reunion planner I guarantee that you are spending your own money (Probably more than you think) to make your reunion  successful. 

For many families, putting someone (or a committee) over managing the money is a huge help.  This person should be  responsible  for all things money including any fund raising that takes  place.

Our family does a family auction to help with reunion expenses.  The responsibility for the auction including encouraging family members to bring donations  to  be auctioned  off  is up to  our reunion financial  guru.  She keeps track of all winning  bids and  collects the money.  She  also deposits the cash in  our family reunion bank account and  pays all the  bills. It’s one last thing the reunion planner needs to worry about.

Every reunion organizer needs a notebook to  record every purchase they make for the reunion. Glue an envelope in the back of your notebook for keeping receipts and at the completion of your reunion, review your purchases and submit your receipts to the money manager. 

Keep in mind that the purchases you make are made with  precious funds and  take care to spend wisely but if there doesn’t seem to be enough funds for one  of your activities unless you pay for it then it’s  time  to cut it from  the list. 

Stop worrying About Those that don’t attend the Reunion

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When you’re the  one  that  has  worked so  hard to plan  and implement  a reunion  it’s pretty hard to not take it  personally when someone tells you they can’t  attend.

Over the last 40 years of family reunions I have heard  some   pretty ridiculous reasons /excuses that someone can’t attend a family reunion but I’ve also learned that if someone doesn’t want  to come to the  reunion they’re just  not  going to come, no matter what you say  or do to change  their mind.  The reason they give you for not attending may have nothing to do with the  real reason  they’re not coming.

Focus instead on all  the wonderful people that come to the  reunion- cousin  Toby that planned his wedding so that his  anniversary would never  fall on the reunion weekend and Aunt Jean and Uncle Mack who save their work vacation every year so that they can attend.  Those are the people that need your attention and perhaps you’ll see some of the non-attenders next year when they hear how much fun everyone had at the reunion  they missed.

To encourage attendance at the next reunion, send out a nice,  personalized email or text to those that didn’t attend letting them know that they were missed.

have very strong memories of being around my extended family while I was growing up. It was so meaningful to the older generation to sit around talking and spending time together. Seeing someone’s child, the extension of your family play and run with other family members was a joyful and celebrating occasion.

There was a time when people felt such a connection to their family that even though they may have moved to another city or state, they still longed for home.

In past years, when I attended family reunions we end up divided into groups of people that we associate with on a regular basis anyway, and never get to know distant cousins and other relatives who have traveled great distances to be here, so what’s the point?

11. (Enter name) will be there and I refuse to be in the same room, let alone city with that..

I can’t justify spending (enter amount) dollars to travel across the country to spend time with people I will not see or hear from again until the next family reunion.

To have a strong family, we have to be a strong family member. We can’t sit back and say what someone else isn’t doing when we aren’t doing those very things ou

reunions can be an opportunity to solidify or even create important boundaries that have been ignored or neglected in the past. One way to do that in advance is to remind a spouse, sibling, in-law or parent if you’ve told them something you want kept private from other family members.  Another is to set ground rules with your spouse about maintaining a united front in discussions about your marriage, child-raising, financial status, or any sensitive topics that are just between the two of you.

They may come next year when  they hear how much everyone else had.

Don’t Reinvent the wheel

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We live in an age when everyone is sharing their expertise and experiences on the internet. 

AmazingReunion.com is a simple free online service helping people plan their next family reunion. They can help with registration, hotel reservations and collecting fees.

Familyreunionhelper.com is a website that offers reunion theme packages that are packed full of reunion ideas- activities, games, recipes, printables and templates that take a lot of the “planning” out of reunion planning.

Glean from  the experiences of others when organizing your reunion.  Talk with friends and work associates,  find out what their favorite family reunions are. The  experiences of others is a great jumping  off  point for creating the  perfect reunion for your family. 

Planning a family reunion is a huge responsibility for reunion planners but as you work through the reunion process keep in mind the reason you’re having a reunion.  Don’t wait for a funeral to get together, plan a reunion where your family and  play and have fun together. The work you do will assure  that children will get to know their distant cousins and is a way for families to reconnect with their roots and find a sense of belonging.

Our Favorite Halloween Treat

Peanut butter Eyeballs!

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We love peanut butter eyeballs.  My daughter found  the recipe several years ago  and it has  since been a Halloween family favorite.  The little kids in our family like them because they’re kinda scary, Grandma likes them because they don’t look very realistic and everyone likes them because they’re delicious! The saying, “bet you can’t eat just one!” certainly applies to these delicious treats. 

What you will need:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 pound white candy coating (in small pieces) or white chocolate chips
24 milk chocolate M&M’s
1 tablespoon water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

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Directions

  1. Mix together 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and butter. Roll into 1-in. balls; place on a waxed paper-lined pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. In a microwave, melt white candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper. Immediately top of each eyeball with an M and  M to make the pupil.

Make squiggly lines to make the eyeballs  look “bloodshot”. 

Makes about 2 dozen eyeballs.

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?

How to Light Up Your Family Reunion

Or… how to say reunion thank yous with candy light bulbs

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My son is an electrician and for his birthday my daughter came up with these cute light bulb favors for everyone that came to his party.  It was  the perfect idea for an electrician’s birthday but I couldn’t help but think about how to use these bulbs for a family reunion.

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We purchased our  “light bulbs” from Amazon.  Follow this link- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X66WJBI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1They are about a dollar a piece.  We filled them with Skittles candies.  It was kind of a pain separating the candy into different colors but it looked cute when we were done.  I liked how the yellow ones looked best so if I ever did this again I would probably fill them  with Lemonhead candies.

Although I haven’t used this idea for a family reunion, though I will, here are some ideas I came up with:

If you have a contest and want to give a prize to the person that gets the most answers correct, you could say, “You’re the BRIGHTEST bulb in the box”.

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To say thank you-

Thanks for sharing your BRIGHT ideas. 

Thanks for being a LIGHT to our family.

You LIGHT up my life! Thanks for all your help with our family reunion.

Thanks for making our family reunion BRIGHTER

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Encouragement-

Be BRIGHT share your LIGHT

You’re future is looking BRIGHT

Let your LIGHT so SHINE

I’m sure there’s a lot of ideas out there- if you have one you’d like to share, please comment and let us know.  SHINE on!

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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Family Reunion Helper Is Having a Sale!

We’re celebrating the surviving the family reunion season off by offering 20% off our reunion theme packages.vista

Yay, we did it! The “official” family reunion season has come to an end and we survived!  To celebrate, FAMILY REUNION HELPER IS HAVING A SALE IN THEIR ETSY SHOP! Follow the link below to receive 20% off any reunion theme package.This even includes the wildly popular Family Reunion Brag Badges! But hurry, sale ends September 15th, 2020 .

https://www.etsy.com/shop/FamilyReunionHelper…

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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Pancake Bar

Pancake Party- a delicious way to feed your family.

Pancake bars are easy to put together and can easily be customized to your family’s needs.  The toppings are limited only by your imagination and the pancake recipe can be your favorite store brand or a family favorite recipe.

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I’ve hosted a couple of pancake bars over the years, and it’s one of my favorite ways to celebrate pretty much anything. Christmas, neighborhood get-togethers, church functions, birthdays and fund raisers  or sleepovers.  It can also be a pretty inexpensive  way to do breakfast at a family reunion.

You can cook your pancakes on  the  spot or make a big batch of pancakes ahead of time.  Just be sure to let your precooked pancakes cool then stack them between sheets of parchment paper and freeze them for later.  When you’re ready to use your premade pancakes you can reheat the pancakes in the oven, microwave or Dutch oven.

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I like to serve a variety of toppings with plenty of options for those that are eating healthy and for those that like to to make the craziest looking pancake they can. 

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The most popular item on my pancake bar is the spray whipping cream. When planning your pancake bar, you can really just think ice cream sundaes and that will help you come up with  some fun toppings. Here’s some of our favorites: 

  • Butter
  • Peanut Butter
  • Nutella
  • Honey
  • Yogurt
  • Fruits such as peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and sliced bananas.
  • M & M’s
  • Crushed butterfingers
  • Toasted nuts
  • Gummy Bears
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • Sprinkles
  • Mini Marshmallows 
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Whipped cream
  • Syrups such as Maple, Cinnamon, Raspberry of Strawberry
  • Hershey’s syrup

You can serve your pancakes alone (which is  what I like to do)  or add a side of bacon,, sausage or eggs.  Either way, everyone can find something to love on a pancake  bar and no one should go away hungry.

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”.

Sprinkler Red Light Green Light Splish Splash Elements (11)

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.

 

Beach Ball Race. Pool Party Kit 2 Elements (26)

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.