So Now What? Corona Virus and Your Family Reunion

germs | Fozia Saeed

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! 

Handprint Quilt

An Idea  to be Treasured

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I had never heard of a handprint quilt until one of my piano students asked me to add my handprint to her quilt.  I love this idea and feel some regret for not creating a quilt for my own children when they were growing up.

My student’s quilt will include handprints from  people that have made a difference in her life.  I considered being asked to add my handprint an honor and it meant so much to me.

To collect my handprint, Kit and her Mom  brought a large ink pad to my house which we used to make my print.

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My print was added to my student’s book of handprints and will eventually  be part of her quilt of memories. 

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For many of you, the thought of creating a handprint quilt may seem overwhelming and way out  of  reach, but I  found  a resource that can help  with  that.  The quit  pictured below is from an Etsy shop called PrettyCraftybyLinda.  After collecting all of your handprints, Linda will create your quilt for around $300.00, depending  on the size of course.

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Making a handprint quilt could be a really wonderful part of your family reunion.  You could collect the handprints at one reunion and auction  the quilt off at the next reunion.  A quilt full of grandchildren’s handprints would be a wonderful anniversary gift for grandma and grandpa.  There are so  many options, but what it really comes down to is a quilt full of memories to be treasured.

Plastic Egg Moon Rock Hunt

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My husband and I do an Easter Egg hunt on horses every year for family and friends.  As I was doing some online searches in preparation for the hunt I stumbled across this fun idea for my space reunion- a Moon Rocks Treasure Hunt! 

Kids love treasure hunts and it’s a pretty easy activity for a family reunion.  This  is the  perfect time of year to gather supplies for your space rock treasure hunt. 

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Purchase round plastic Easter eggs and fill with space themed candy such as Milky Way, Mars bars and Starbursts.  (If you can’t find round eggs you can use egg shaped eggs but they look more like tin foil eggs then moon rocks.)

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Wrap eggs with tin foil that you have scrunched up so that it looks like a “moon rock”. 

Then the fun begins- hide eggs around your reunion site.  You can do this hunt inside or outside. 

This is a great time to get the tweens in your family involved in the reunion fun.  Put them in charge of filling eggs, wrapping them and hiding the rocks.  They’ll love being in  charge of something and it’s just one less thing you have to worry about. As “payment” for their help, give your helpers a full size version of your space themed candy bars.

Space Camp Family Reunion

Name Badge Designing

My favorite part of planning a family reunion is designing the name badges, invitations, water bottle labels and anything else that gives me a chance to be creative.  I decided to create my name badge first and hopefully, in the  process, come up with some sort of logo for the entire reunion theme.

The challenge with  this name  badge is that I can’t use copywrited images. At some point I’ll add a Space Camp reunion theme to my store and  I can’t  do that if I use copywrited materials.  That means I can’t use anything NASA and  that really makes this space camp theme difficult.

I’ve been playing around with some ideas but haven’t settled on a favorite. Take a look at my rough drafts.

I like the simplicity of this name badge but  I’m not  sure it would  be  that exciting for  the  kids in  our family.  I don’t know if I like  the “Space Camp” logo on the top or the bottom of the  badge.

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Here’s an example of the logo at the  top with “space camp” on  the  planet- I really like that.

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This is my  attempt at adding an  astronaut to the  badge- since we’ll be “astronauts in training”. Just not sure I have the “right” astronaut.

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I don’t think I’ve nailed down the right  name badge yet.  If you have  a  comment or a suggestion, let me know. 

Where, Oh, Where?

Choosing a family reunion location

One of  the most difficult things about finding a family reunion is finding a location.  If your family holds reunions at a hotel or on a cruise ship the process is pretty easy- just do an  online search, but if you’re looking for someplace different, and perhaps cheaper, the task gets a little more daunting. The BIG challenge is finding a place large enough when you have a BIG family.

On one side of our family, we need to accommodate about 35 family members.  We love holding our reunions in Bear Lake, Utah.  It’s pretty easy to find a cabin that will accommodate 35, but as our family grows it will get more difficult.

Reunion locations for large family groups

My daughter has married into a family that plans for reunions of about 200  people. Many of them come from all across the country, many flying to the reunion.  There are locations that cater to these large groups but the cost gets pretty high.  This family has a lot of experience planning for these large reunions and they have a couple of great ideas for keeping costs as low as possible.  Their reunion is held every other year and they schedule their reunion during the middle of the week when rates are cheapest.  My daughter has been surprised at all the people that show up for these reunions considering that most have to take off work to be there.

This is Blacks Fork River Lodge in  Wyoming.  It’s a beautiful location that can accommodate large family groups.

 

Blacks Fork River Lodge

 

Blacks Fork River Lodge is ideal for Family Reunions, Corporate Retreats, or any large group use, situated on 51-plus acres including a ½ mile of the beautiful Blacks Fork River. The lodge is located in Bridger Valley, Wyoming, less than 2 hours drive from Salt Lake City, Utah. The main lodge is a three-story 5,400-plus square foot lodge with 9 bedrooms, 8 baths, large kitchen, living, and dining rooms, oversized back deck, all with beautiful river views. The Lodge rental sleeps 50 with cabin and ranch house included. There is also a 3 bedroom ranch house and a 2 bedroom cabin.

https://blacksforkriverlodge.com/

The May Family Ranch in Idaho is an ideal location for your family reunion, retreat, camping, hunting or fishing trip. They can easily accommodate from 1 to 200 persons. We are in one of the premier recreational and hunting/fishing areas in Idaho. The mountains surrounding us have numerous hiking, biking, &ATV trails.

The Ranch is open year-round and they offer a variety of accommodations. The Lodge sleeps 28 and the Miners’ Cabin sleeps 14. Both are both self-contained units. They have 8-person family cabins, private loft rooms, a bunkhouse that sleeps 26, private rooms with baths, as well as many tent spaces and RV hookups. http://www.mayfamilyranch.com/

Roughing it is fun!

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The Stewart side of our family has grown to over 100 members.  We ALWAYS spend our reunions at a campground. This year we will be camping in Mantua, Utah.  For our large family we reserve two group area and may soon need to increase that to three. For our reunions we need a location for both RVs and tents.

Our Favorite Family Reunion Location- Elwood Utah

We have the greatest little reunion site It’s called Hansen Park in Elwood Utah.  It has a huge covered bowery with a kitchen, a fire pit, restrooms and even a baseball diamond and small basketball court.

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Someone must have told the good people of Elwood what a treasure they have because they have now made it as difficult as possible to reserve the park and our family has just given up trying to get it- but if you can find a friend that lives in Elwood they may just be able to help you out.

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RV Camping

If your family loves RV’ing, there’s a new online resource for finding your perfect campground.  As an avid RV’er, Mark McKinney, used to get quite frustrated with how slow and laggy many of the existing RV & campsite websites were, so he decided to create the website that he wished existed. His website is https://www.findrvparks.com.  The site is great for finding a family reunion campground.  I searched for the Mantua, Utah campground we’ll be staying in this summer and sure enough, there it was. 

If you have an RV, this site is perfect for you.  You can use the filters on the site to search for electric, water, waste and whether or not pets are allowed. You can also search for RV campgrounds that have Wi-Fi and laundry. 

Mark even wants you to contribute to his collection of reviews and photos for your favorite RV Parks by submitting photos and experiences of your favorite campgrounds.

Space Camping

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I’m glad we’ve locked down the reunion site for our Space themed reunion this year- now I just have to turn it into the “moon”  or perhaps “NASA”.  That’s one of many decisions I haven’t made yet.

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.

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…

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.

Cruisin’ Classic Party Cars

Cardboard Classic Cars Party Planner Food Serving Tray

Look at this fun party idea I saw!

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The  theme for 5th grade graduation at our school was “Cruisin’ into  6th grade”.  As a party favor”, each student was given a cardboard classic car filled  with candy.  I thought  the  cars were such a great idea and my mind started whirling with  how to use  them. For instance,  what  a great idea for a  retirement  party, “Cruisin’  into retirement”, Cruisin’ into college or these 50’s themed cars  would be great for a 50th birthday  or wedding  anniversary.

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The cars have a compartment in them for burgers and fries, candy, popcorn or even money. 

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I was able to find several resources for purchasing the  cars, Etsy, Ebay and Amazon all had  good options.  The cars aren’t  cheap, you can pay anywhere from   to $2.00 per car in sets of 12- 36.  I purchased 36 cars for $37.80 and so that’s how many people I’ll  invite to my husband’s retirement party. (Whenever that is)  Several places will sell you a single  car  for 1.99 which  would be a fun “congratulations” prize for a teenager that just  passed their drivers test.

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As I searched for “Classic” cars I also found options for trucks, Dunwoody, Hot Rod and blue & pink birthday versions.  I thought these cars were such a fun and unusual idea for a party idea- can’t wait until mine arrive.