Brownie Hack for Reunion Pot Lucks

The secret to cutting brownies

I’m not sure what this has to do with family reunions, except that a lot of brownies show up at family reunion pot lucks, but here’s my hack for cutting brownies.

IMG-9407

I hate when I’m cutting brownies into squares and the knife pulls pieces of the  brownie into clumps that stick to the knife. It helps when the brownies are cooled but they still look so messy.  The solution is simple- cut your brownies with a PLASTIC knife. Plastic knives are naturally non-stick and won’t tear up your brownies as you cut them into squares.  Your brownies will have straight edges and look as good as they are to eat.

Family Reunion is Having a Sale

Family Reunion Helper Is Having an Etsy Sale!

Posted on September 7, 2020

Whether or not you had your family reunion or postponed it until next year, at Family Reunion Helper, we’re celebrating surviving the strangest  family reunion season ever by offering 20% off our reunion theme packages.vista

Typically, Labor Day is the “official” end of family reunion season. We were only able to attend one of our family reunions, a smallish one- just 35 people but cancelled our Labor Day  reunion of over 100 family members.

We’ve decided to look forward 2021- no cancelling reunions just postposing. For all of you that are looking forward to next year with us, 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 . Here’s to next year!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/FamilyReunionHelper?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

Reunion in a Pandemic

No space for our Space family reunion

IMG_9410 (1)

Labor Day weekend is traditionally the holiday the Stewart family gathers for their annual family reunion. We’ve been gathering without interruption for 37 years but what do you do during a pandemic?  Well, in our case, we cancelled our family reunion.  I’m not even going to get into the whys and why nots we hashed  over to make our decision, but one huge reason we cancelled is that the campground we usually hold our reunion at put a limit of 50 campers at the site.  The Stewart family is over a 100 people strong now so instead of trying to find a new location and dealing with masks and social distancing… we cancelled.

But our Space Reunion was planned and ready to go.  So hey, we’re ready for next year and who knows how many great ideas we may come up with and extra 12 months to plan.

Fun Breakfast for Your Family Reunion

Fruit in a waffle cone!

IMG-8913 (1)[12]

My sister in law made these fun waffle cone fruit bowls for breakfast at our family reunion.  They were a light and delicious way to start a hot summer day.  They were simple and easy to put together for our reunion crowd. There really isn’t a recipe, just add an even amount to strawberry yogurt to each waffle bowl, fill each bowl with seasonal fruit and serve immediately.

IMG-8914

Fruit suggestions are sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, pineapple, mandarin oranges, kiwi and grapes.  We used Kroger brand waffle bowls. Waffle bowls can be very fragile and even though they are packed quite well it is likely you will have a couple that are broken.  I recommend buying an extra box of waffle bowls to replace the broken bowls you might have.

IMG-8919

IMG-8913 (1)

Nature Scavenger Hunts for Your Family Reunion.

How to Plan a Scavenger Hunt | A Healthier Michigan

I love scavenger hunts! I remember the first scavenger hunt we did at a family reunion.  The kids in our family were little then so Uncle Brad had a big rope and made all the kids hold on to it as they hunted together.  Times change and now those once little kids are all grown up and they enjoy more challenging activities.

I was recently made aware of a website with some great nature hikes and scavenger hunts and I thought I should share it with you.  If your family reunion is outside you’ll want to read some of their wonderful ideas for nature scavenger hunts for kids with free  printables.  The site is called My Open Country and can be found by clicking on the this link-

 My Open Country

The folks at My Open Country will take you through the nuts and bolts of an outdoor scavenger hunt for kids, from the initial prep and planning right down to the itty bitties of ‘treasure’ selection. They want to help you find a fun, safe and healthy way for you and your kids to get out and enjoy your time together.  The “search” feature on their site is great!

Nature scavenger hunt

You can find lots of fun scavenger hunt ideas at familyreunionhelper.com by clicking on the following links.

https://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2016/04/the-ultimate-guide-to-treasure-hunts-and-scavenger-hunts/

https://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2013/08/treasure-hunts-and-scavanger-hunts/

How Sweet It Is- Candy Bar Games

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

guess the candyz_edited-1

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.

How Sweet It Is! Answer Key-1

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-

candy bar game5

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

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:

IMG_7839

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.

IMG_7849 (1)

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. 

space camp badge 1

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! 

Plastic Egg Moon Rock Hunt

Moon rook treasure hunt

Outer Space Elements (13)

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. 

Package of 12 Easter eggs basketball image 0

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.)

foil

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.

Out of This World Family Reunion

Coming in 2020

Image result for planets

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.

NAME-BADGE-HALLOWEEN-COSTUME-PROP-NASA-ASTRONAUT-IN-TRAINING-MAGNETIC-BACK

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!

5 Things Reunion Planners Should Stop Doing-Now!

Stop Sending Invitations Through  Snail  Mail

circus invite 5x7 final_edited-1

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

DeLoy and Marilynn Stewart family - Copy

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.

IMG_0077 (1)

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.

cruise camp 2012

 Stop spending your own money

auction

auction2

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

wells bear lake2

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

DSCN2924

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.