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.

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.

My New Favorite Reunion Recipe

Biscuit & Gravy Casserole for a Crowd

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Uncle Steven attended a camp out with about 90 youth this past week.  When he was telling me about the camp he said his  favorite thing to eat was the Biscuit and Gravy casserole they had for breakfast.  It sounded delicious and so I  contacted  the camp cook and  she shared her recipe and I tried it out on  my family.  Kids and adults thought it was delicious  and it was very easy to make.

Biscuits and Gravy Casserole Recipe

I made 2 cake pans (9×13) of this so I doubled the recipe.  I used 1 lb sausage and 1 lb ground beef.

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Ingredients

1 lb bulk pork breakfast sausage or ground beef

1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Southern Homestyle refrigerated Buttermilk biscuits (8 biscuits)

1 pkg of biscuit gravy mix (should make 1 quart of gravy)

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook sausage/ground beef until browned and thoroughly cooked.

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Using another pan, cook gravy according  to package directions.. Combine thickened gravy and meat. Spoon into a 9×13 dish.

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    Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Cut each biscuit into fourths. Top sausage mixture with biscuit pieces.

    Sprinkle with a little cheese if desired.

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    Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and biscuits are golden brown.

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    Serve & enjoy but don’t plan on leftovers.  I will use this recipe to feed family at two reunions this year. I think I’ll cook the meat and  make the  gravy in advance so I just need to assemble the casserole a couple of hours before we eat.

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Fool Your Family With These Family Friendly Pranks

Our top 5 April fools tricks and treAts

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When my kids were little, it became tradition at my house to have “funny” food for one of our April Fools Day meals.  For many years I made “Flannel” pancakes.  I don’t know why but I fooled my family for probably 5 years in a row with my flannel pancakes. 

Now that my kids are grown  with kids of their own we continue the tradition but have added additional pranks- my favorite being my delicious Aprils Fools Brownies.  Actually  they are BROWN- E’s.

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To make my delicious Brown-E’s  I put a bunch of brown capitol E’s in my  special brownie pan and cover it with foil. At the end of  dinner I ask everyone if they still  have room for a brown-E.  This prank has been going on for about 3 years and I’m afraid this year the older grandkids will remember this trick.DSCN4341

For Sale Sign

Another fun way I’ve fooled my grandkids, which all live with a 1/2 mile of my house, is to put a “For Sale” in my front yard. They didn’t that was very funny and fortunately, neither did our good neighbors.

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Frozen Breakfast

Put cereal and milk in a bowl and let it freeze overnight. You can freeze it with the spoon in it or not. The next morning right before breakfast, take the bowl out of the freezer and pour a little bit of fresh milk on top.When your hungry kids try to dig in, they’ll find that their cereal won’t budge.

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Flannel Pancakes


When cooking pancakes put a piece of white flannel, about 3”x3”, into each pancake and cook as usual. Flannel makes pancakes impossible to cut and eaters will become quite frustrated until they realize they’ve been fooled. This is an easy trick to do when serving many people. Put one flannel pancake on a plate with two or three other pancakes.

Non-drinkable Juice


What you’ll need:
Clear drinking glasses, Jell-o, Straws

The night before make some jell-o in clear juice glasses.  Use a flavor that matches the juice they drink – such as grape, orange etc. Fill the glass about ¾ full and after it starts to set, insert a drinking straw. Once it is set, it will look like a normal glass of juice with a straw in it. Simply set it at their place at the breakfast table.  Provide spoons so they can eat the gelatin when they realize they can’t drink it.

And here’s one more fun idea.  Take a few quarters and Gorilla glue them on the sidewalk or walkway leading up to your house.  When the grandkids, or your guests, try to pick them up they’re stuck. Warning- the glue will leave a dark spot on your concrete when you pry it off.

Cute Christmas Treats for Your Family Party

Perfect Treats for Your Family Christmas Party

Simple to make and delicious to eat!

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These cute reindeer and snowman  stole the show at our family Christmas party last year.  They are simple to make and delicious to eat. You can make them  yourself or use these goodies as an ice breaker activity when your family first arrives at the party.

The Snowmen are easy to make using Hostess Sno balls.  Just keep your eyes open for them because they seem to only be available at certain  times of the year.

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Use a little white frosting to glue an orange candy like an M&M or Skittle or Sixlet to the Sno Ball. You can also just do a dab of orange frosting. Use black frosting gel in a tube to make the eyes. Cut a paper straw in half and press it inside of the Sno Ball.

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Reindeer

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Making the reindeer are a little more complicated though once I figured out the process,even my little grandchildren were able to make their own reindeer.

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Purchase a package of Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls.

First you will need  to cut two small slits on each side of the Swiss Roll and gently place one pretzel on each side. 

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Put a dab of white frosting where you want the eyes to go and  carefully press the point side of two white chocolate chips into the Swiss Rolls to make the eyes. Use black gel to make the dots for the eyes.

Put a dab of white frosting to glue a red M&M nose below the eyes. Cut a paper straw in half and press it inside of the Swiss Roll.

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HINT: Be very careful when placing the antlers and the eyes.  If you push to hard your reindeer may look  like this…

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Halloween Ghost Cake With Flaming Eyes

Ghost Cake With Flaming Eyes

Posted on October 18, 2015

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When I was a young mother I attended a workshop that included some fun holiday cooking ideas.  The most memorable idea I came away from the workshop with was this ghost cake with flaming eyes.

The best thing about this ghost cake is that you get maximum effect for minimum effort, so, if you are a busy mom or grandma, you can whip this cake up very quickly but the “wow” factor is huge!

To make the eyes flaming you place a lemon extract-doused sugar cube inside of a clean eggshell for each eye and then you light the cubes on fire. When presenting the cake turn out the lights before bringing in the cake.

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Ghost Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix, mix according to package directions
1 (7.2-ounce) package fluffy white frosting mix or make your own 7 minute frosting. (No Cook 7 Minute Frosting Recipe)
2 sugar cubes & 1 teaspoon lemon extract
Licorice string, chocolate chips, m & m’s- whatever you want to make a mouth

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan.

Prepare the cake mix as directed on package. (When you break the eggs, crack each in the middle and pour out the egg. Then save the 2 best shell halves. Wash these halves and turn upside down to dry.) After mixing, pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. When cooled, you can remove the cake from  the pan and put on a sturdy piece of cardboard or a tray so that you can trim your cake to look more ghost- like.  I just left my cake in the baking pan and felt like it looked ghost- like enough without the extra work to decorate it.

Frost the cake. Place the 2 egg shell halves round sides down on cake for eyes. Place 1 sugar cube in each shell half. Make a mouth of licorice string.

Just before serving, pour 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract over each sugar cube. Light the eyes and amaze family and friends!

Lemon Jell-O to Feed a Crowd

A Favorite Family Reunion “Side”

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I  love this salad, it’s inexpensive to make, quick to put together (it takes awhile to set  though) and everyone loves it.  I’m not really sure that you should call it a salad, there’s  no  fruit in it,  let’s just call it a “side”.   The fun thing about this side dish  is that it  separates and looks like you’ve spent a lot of time working on layers.  In  reality, it just makes the layers  all  by itself.

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Lemon Jell-O for a Crowd

3 (3 oz.) pkg. lemon Jell-O
4 c. boiling water
1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade consentrate
1 (12 oz.) container Cool Whip
1 (12 oz.) container Cool Whip- for the top layer

Mix Jell-O and water until Jell-O is dissolved.  Add lemonade and stir. Refrigerate until syrupy.

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Fold in the whipped topping to the Jell-O and pour into a clear glass  dish (I used a 10 x 15 Pyrex glass dish) and refrigerate until  firm.

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In  the above photo you can see the layers  beginning  to form even as I’m folding in the whipped topping.

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Spread a top layer for whipped topping over the Jell-O when set. 

You  change this recipe up to make it a fun side dish for using orange Jell-O with a can of orange juice and serving at your  Halloween or Autumn gathering.

I’m not a great food photographer, I’m more of a, “I’ve got 80 people to feed how do I do that easily, inexpensively and deliciously” type of person.  This lemon “side” is the answer for our family reunions and parties.

Build Your Own Pizza Party

Build Your Own Pizza and Team Pizza Building

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Most families like pizza and for many families, pizza is part of their Friday night fun,  but skip ordering take out and try one of our pizza party ideas with a twist. 

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Pizza Bar

A favorite pizza activity of our kiddos is making their own own pizzas-  This is a great way for kids to create their own  custom  pizza and you know they’ll eat it because they get to choose their own toppings.

The only tricky part of a Build Your Own Pizza party is choosing the crust you want to use.  You can make your own pizza dough or buy a  premade crust.  Pictured below are some options.  We have also used English muffins, French  bread or  pita bread, left whole, for crust.   If making your crust from scratch be sure to keep each crust “personal” pan  size.

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Set out popular pizza toppings.  To get you started, the 10 most popular pizza  toppings are listed below and are a good place to start:

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Mushrooms
  3. Onions
  4. Sausage
  5. Bacon
  6. Cheese
  7. Black olives
  8. Green peppers
  9. Pineapple
  10. Spinach

Our family would include barbeque chicken and Canadian bacon to that list. You might also want to consider offering a white sauce and a red sauce as options for your pizza bar.

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Pizza Making for Teams

To add some suspense to a traditional pizza party, divide your family and friends into teams.  Give each team a premade pizza crust, a jar of pizza sauce and a bag of cheese.

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Wrap pizza toppings in gift wrap or newspaper and let each team pick 2 or 3 of the wrapped toppings.  These are the toppings that they must use on their pizza.  They won’t know what toppings they have picked until they unwrap their packages.  Decide if trading toppings will be allowed.

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After all the teams have “decorated” their pizzas and baked them, set them out for all the teams to try.  Cut pizza in small slices so there are lots of samples.  You can even give prizes for the most delicious pizza creation.

The challenge with any pizza party is getting them baked.  Individual pizzas are great because you can fit more that one pizza in your oven  at a time.  As pizzas bake you may want to play an ice breaker game to keep your guests entertained.  You can find some our favorites HERE.

The $2.00 Dinner Challenge

Making Dinner Fun!

A funny dinner tradition for your family

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When my children were little we called it the $1.00 dinner challenge- you could buy a lot more for $1.00 back then.  Now call it the $2.00 dinner challenge but  we still have as much fun as we did in the days when a dollar could actually buy something.

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I’m not even sure where the idea came from,but the dinner challenge became a tradition that we would do  when a cousin came for a sleepover.  This is not a tradition for a huge group of people such as an extended family reunion but it’s a ton of fun for a more manageable group of aunts, uncles and cousins.

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Here’s how it works-

Give everyone in your family $2 in cash. (Or whatever amount you feel is appropriate) As a family, go to your local grocery store. Walk around the store and look for food that you can purchase for $2. When you’ve looked around a bit, choose the item you want to serve for dinner, pay for it and wait  for  everyone in  your family to finish shopping.  (You want to keep your purchase a secret from the  others but it is best to shop in teams especially if you have younger children.)

Our grandchildren are 10 years and  younger (mostly younger) so we had each child team  up with an  adult.  They put their money together so each team had $4.00 to spend.

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Our grandkids get so excited about what they have  purchased they can hardly stand the car ride back to the house to prepare their food.  We have to juggle time in the kitchen mixing, baking and microwaving but eventually everyone is ready and we all sit down at the table to our $2.00 challenge feast.  Even the pickiest of eaters will find something to eat at this table- because they choose it!

Some helpful  hints and a funny story- Set some  guidelines such as, Can  two people put their money together? Can you purchase a dessert item? How long do you have to prepare  the food when  you arrive home?  etc.

One year my niece choose  Jell-O for her food  item.  It would’ve taken hours for the Jell-O to set up but we prepared it anyway and ate  it for a  late night snack.

Does your family to take the $2.00 Challenge?