Marbles and Your Space Themed Family Reunion

Marbles Make Great Planets

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These are not marbles, they are planets.  Each marble represents a planet (yes, we included Pluto) and will be given to older children at our space reunion as they complete planet oriented challenges and activities.

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At one time, you could purchase marbles that represented each planet but I could only find Earth marbles and Jupiter marbles. For the other planets, I had to search for marbles that in some way highlighted a distinguishing feature of each  planet. I choose red Rooster marbles to represent the “red  planet” Mars and because Neptune is the coldest planet due to its proximity to the sun, I choose Ice Queen marbles. 

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I purchased my marbles from a local toy store and paid $3.25 a bag (24 marbles and 1 shooter).  When I searched online, I found marbles for $3.50 a bag plus shipping.

Shooter marbles are the large ones used for “shooting’’ when  playing marbles.  There is one in  each bag, so I’m currently looking for a good resource and price for 1 inch  shooters.  I’ll let you know  when I find them.

I loved playing marbles as a kid and so we plan to teach and play marbles with our kids at the end of our planet fun. 

Marble planets are going to be great for the older children at your family reunion but for the toddlers you might want to consider these Universe Stress balls.  They’re $9.99 at Oriental Trading for all 9 balls.

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Pick Your Present!

My New Favorite Way to Give Gifts

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I have 2 sons and a son in law and this year I tried something new for their Fathers Day gifts- I let them pick their own gifts.  Well, not totally, I put together 3 boxes and after the boxes were  filled with surprises and wrapped, then they got to pick their gift.

Each box was different- I had a technology box, builder box and a snack box. Each box contained a gift card and then a couple of things to go along with it.  Value of each box was about $30.00.

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I wrapped all three gifts in plain old newspaper- nothing fancy about it and with no clue to what was inside.

Crafty Holiday Gift Wrap - Craft Critique

We had a little competition to see who got to choose their  present first but you could do it oldest to youngest or by roll of the dice etc.

The $20.00 Bill

Just as the guys were about to pick their  present, my husband put a $20.00 bill on the table and gave them the option to chose the cash instead of a box.  There were no takers- everyone went for the boxes.

This is also a fun way to give out  prizes at family reunions. Just wrap a variety of prizes and let the winner  pick the prize they want from the pile- they get a prize but it’s a little more exciting and  extends the fun a little longer. 

How Sweet It Is- Candy Bar Games

Two pretty sweet printable gams- and they’re free!

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If you’ve decide you can’t just eat chocolate while quarantined, maybe you’d like to play a couple of chocolaty games.

Whenever I plan a  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.

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Do you think you’d recognize your favorite candy bar without the wrapper?  Try this game and see if you’re right.  I got the Almond Joy bar right off but there were a few bars that proved quite challenging.  Now, don’t  peek at the answers until you’ve made you’re guesses.  You can find your free printable here-

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Answer Key

  1. Snickers
  2. Butterfinger
  3. Baby Ruth
  4. Milky Way
  5. PayDay
  6. Whatchamacallit
  7. 3 Musketeers
  8. 5th Avenue
  9. Almond Joy
  10. 100 Grand

So Now What? Corona Virus and Your Family Reunion

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First of all, let me say that this- I’m  writing this blog in April 2020. The things I write in this blog today could possibly be a lot different than what I will write in July of this year.

At the very beginning, before we all began  staying home so that we can stay safe, I believed  that in a couple of weeks life  would get back to normal and come Memorial Day family reunion season would be moving full steam ahead but now what….?

Family gatherings are difficult right now.  For example, how was your Easter?  All of our children and grandkids live within 20 minutes of us and we invited them out for a Easter  visit with these rules:

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Everyone scheduled a one hour block of time to visit and they had to leave before the next group arrived. We practiced social distancing with Grandpa and Gramie staying to the side. We had Easter cupcakes for all to enjoy.  They jumped on our trampoline and played in our horse pasture and worked on a simple 100 piece puzzle… and we sanitized.  It was good to see them all but they all left with no hugs or kisses from Gramie.

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Our first family reunion is in  July.  At first I thought we would be safe  to go ahead with those  plans but I  received an  email from the  reunion  planner asking for ideas on how to do an  online family reunion. Since that email I’ve learned that the big air show in our area, scheduled for the end of June, has been  canceled and then, two of the huge “Pioneer” day celebrations in our state canceled.  The possibility of a family reunion in July “is getting more and more remote.

Our last family reunion is scheduled for Labor Day weekend.  That’s the one I’m in charge of.  It’s a space reunion and I’ve got tons of fun ideas that I can’t wait to do  with  my family.  Will it be safe to  bring 100 plus people together for a reunion the  end of August? 

I don’t know, you don’t know and nobody can say for sure and that’s the problem.  How can you hold a family reunion that excludes family members because they don’t feel safe?  How do you plan  a family reunion that puts so many people that you love at risk- AND- will they be at risk in August?  It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. 

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So now what? The “what” in “now what” is that I’m moving forward with my space reunion planning.  I have my doubts  about a reunion during the three day Labor Day weekend but if we do, I’ll be prepared.  If we don’t then just think how prepared I’ll be for our 2021 reunion- it will  be the  greatest family reunion ever! 

St Patrick’s Day Party Games

GAME IDEAS FOR YOUR IRISH PARTY

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Whether celebrating St Patrick’s Day or considering your Irish roots at your next family reunion here are a couple of fun Irish game ideas.

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Musical Shamrock Game

Make very large green shamrock shapes about  2 feet square.  They don’t need to be fancy just simple shamrock shapes.  The ideas is similar to “musical chairs” game- you want to have fewer shamrocks than players. Scatter shamrocks over the playing area.  Explain that as the music plays all the players must keep moving but must stay off the shamrocks.   When the music stops players run to a shamrock.  However, each shamrock must have three players on it. Those with only one or two as well as those that have nowhere to stand are eliminated.  Remove a shamrock or two after each round.  (You always want to have fewer shamrocks than players)  Winners of the game  are those who have not been eliminated when only one shamrock remains.  Give out green lollypops, cupcakes or stickers for prizes.

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Irish Scavenger Hunt

Divide into teams, giving each team an identical list of green items.  Tell each team that they must stay together when searching for their green items.

Some ideas to search for:

  • Something that grows green
  • Something you are wearing that is green
  • Green crayon, green colored pencil, green marker
  • Find a plastic item that is green
  • Find something soft that is green
  • Something hard that is green
  • Find something you can build with that is green
  • Green snack
  • 3 leaf clover
  • Fruit that is green
  • Vegetable that is green
  • Pop Can

Irish “Road Bowling” Game

Croquet is supposed to have come from a game called Crookey in Northern Ireland but another fun “real” Irish game is “Road Bowling”.
Road bowling is an unusual version of bowling that is particular to Ireland. It is played with a steal shot, (or use your own idea for a ball of some sort) which is tossed under arm by the player down a twisty road. The player who gets to the finish line with the least amount of throws wins.

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Why should you never iron a 4-leaf clover? You
don’t want to press your luck.

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

Bottle Rockets- an “Out of This World” Reunion Activity

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When I decided on a space theme for our 2020 family reunion, there were two activities I was sure I wanted to do.  The first was moon stilts (I’ll write that bog when  I get some good photos) and the second, was water  bottle rockets.

Our family has a big party every Independence Day and one our traditions is making and launching water bottle rockets.  We invite all of our guests to make a water bottle rocket and bring it to the party but,  for our  reunion, I’ll  bring the supplies, poster  board, duct tape, markers and bottles and let reunion  goers make their rockets on site.

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Basically, to build a bottle rocket, you start by rolling a piece of paper into a cone shape and attach it to the bottom of an empty 1 or 2 liter plastic bottle.  To help your rocket fly, you need to cut out 4 cardboard triangles to make your rocket fins. (There are lots of videos  on YouTube to walk you through  this process.)

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At our Independence Day party, our seasoned rocket builders come up with some pretty creative designs for their rockets .  Most add parachutes  to soften the landing and some even include small,  plastic toys that they send into  space.  No  matter what the design, spectators love to watch the rockets blast off and their landings can be quite exciting.

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For safety reasons, we  only let adults operate the launcher.  We have a homemade launcher and  one  we  purchased from Amazon.  Both work great but, keep in mind when planning your reunion, that you need to have a water source and hose available to fill the rockets with  water.

AquaPod Bottle Launcher

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At our reunion this year, we will give  prizes for best design, most unusual design and most creative design.  We will also give an award to the  rocket that stays in  the air the longest which we will determine by timing with  a stopwatch on our phones.  At our Independence Day parties, that award  has been won by my son in law for the last 4 years.  He’s a very talented engineer and his rocket designs are quite impressive and fun to watch.

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Rocket creative award

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Out of This World Family Reunion

Coming in 2020

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My family is in  charge of our Stewart family reunion this year.  It’s been 5 years since my family has had this responsibility.  (The Stewarts rotate each year and now it’s rotated back to us!) I’m excited to take our turn again but already a little tired and yes, I’ve started planning.

I had an idea… how would you like to  follow us along as  we plan this new reunion.  Check out our progress and maybe find a few good ideas for your reunion too.

The very first thing we did was choose a theme and the theme for this reunion is TA DA- Our Family is Out of This World, a space theme.  We felt that a space theme would go along with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Also; three family members worked on the Space Shuttle, when there was a Space Shuttle program, including the patriarch of our family. Besides the picture below, we also have a photo of Grandpa with an astronaut that  we  will enlarge  for display at the reunion.

A DeLoy Stewart Machinist Thiokol (2)

We already have the date for our reunion, Labor Day, and the  location, a campground and we’ve told everyone to “save the date” so now it’s time to start gathering ideas. 

I like to keep a  file of all my ideas and a great way to do that is on  Pinterest.  I  created a Space board and add every good idea I find to that board. I like to get as many quality ideas as I can for the next couple of months and then we’ll choose our favorite ideas and start putting together  a schedule.

Take a look at these fun ideas:

This solar system necklace is so cool.  It  would be a great idea for an ice breaker activity as family members arrive or for some down time on a hot afternoon.  The idea comes from https://www.handmadecharlotte.com/make-a-stellar-solar-system-necklace/

Make a Stellar Solar System Necklace

We also need to turn our name badges into “astronaut in training” badges.

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I thought these signs would look cool on the bathroom doors. They’re from catchmyparty.com.

Family members have asked if we can do a murder mystery (I’ve written several for our reunions and they’re lots of fun) and a talent show, two activities I need to get to work on so I don’t have that last minute cram the month before our reunion. (I really don’t like that)

I hope you’ll check back often and see how the planning is going.  I’ll keep posting our planning and progress and hey, if you have a fun “space” idea, let me know!

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.

Pirate & MERMAID Family Reunion Theme

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Ahoy there, Pirates and Mermaids! We’ve just completed a major overhaul of our pirate family reunion package and now it’s a Pirate & MERMAID Family Reunion.  This reunion theme package is now perfect for everyone that attends your family reunion.

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The Pirate and Mermaid reunion is for everyone who has ever dreamed of sailing or swimming in the seven seas in search of excitement and adventure. This reunion includes everything the Pirate Themed reunion has plus tons of Mermaid printables and ideas. It’s a treasure chest full of step by step instructions, templates and printables to help you plan a family reunion.

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Pirates and Mermaids are so popular right now and there is no shortage of swashbuckling fun with this family reunion theme. Use the over 50 pages of pirate games, decorations, activities and good things to eat to help your family set sail to their favorite Mermaid lagoon or Pirate cove. Your families’ eyes will be filled with visions of gold and jewels as they discover the real treasure in life is family.

You can find the Mermaid and Pirate family reunion theme package here

https://familyreunionhelper.com/products/products.php?ProductID=33

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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.