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

Pool Party Kit 2 Elements (2)

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.  

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.

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 her 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 super easy.

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 plan on using 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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Family Reunion Helper Is Having a Sale!

Start the reunion season off right with a family reunion theme  package!

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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 June 1st.

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

The Latest Trend in Family Reunion T-shirts

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I LOVE family reunion T-shirts!  They are the ultimate “party favor” or “souvenir” that family members can take home with them after the reunion fun is over. Reunion T-shirts are a  reminder of the good times had at that years family reunion. 

There’s a new reunion T-shirt trend going around and I think it’s great!  We used to take family pictures at our reunion  like the one  below (we used paper plates  with  numbers on it). 

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But now, families are  having fun applying this idea to t-shirts. Each family has a different color, and each t-shirt gets a number on the back representing the order you joined the family (through marriage or birth).

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You can have each generation be a color and the in laws all have their own color as well. Then, every person is either numbered according to birth order (by generation) or by when they married into the family.

If there are people at the reunion who aren’t yet married into the family, you can give them a shirt with a question mark on it as in, who will be the next lucky member of the family?”

When it comes to  figuring out what  number everyone  is your  most valuable resource will be the matriarch of the family. Make a list of each  family member and when they became part of the family.  You may want to ask your family to email you their birthdates and anniversary to make  sure your list is accurate.  Email  the completed list to your family so they can double  check your  numbers.

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A  common design for  the front of the shirts is  a  fun idea.  You may  want to have a  t-shirt company  print the  common design on the front  of each shirt  and then apply the numbers yourself, especially if you are doing multiple  colors.

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Of  course, you’ll  want to  take a  family picture.  Take  a picture with everyone facing forward and then do a second photo of  the  back of the shirts. I  just love  this latest trend in family reunion t-shirts. If you decide  to do this at your  reunion, send us  a photo and we’ll feature your family on our  website. 

PSYCH! A Multiplayer Game For Your Phone and… Your Family Reunion

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I recently attended my nieces wedding,  luncheon and reception. Everything was beautiful and I loved being part of the festivities but like most weddings and such there is a lot of downtime for those of us who are basically spectators.  During one of these downtimes my brother introduced us to  a fun  game you can  play on your phone that involves everyone.

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The name of the game is Psych!  Choose from a variety of fun categories in which each player makes up fake answers to real trivia questions.

According to the games own  description-  the idea behind the game is to get together with a bunch of friends and answer ridiculous trivia questions. The catch is, the multiple choices you’re given include the correct answer as well as a bunch of incorrect answers which are provided by the other players. So, say for instance the question popped up of “Who is the Editor in Chief of TouchArcade?” “Eli Hodapp” would be in there somewhere, along with whatever else anyone playing decides to toss into the mix as possible answers.

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Anyone who knows me will understand that, after playing a few rounds of Pysch! with  my family, my “reunion” brain kicked into gear and I immediately began to think of ways to use the game at a family reunion.

Can you imagine how excited the teenagers in  your family would be if you asked them  to get their cellphones for a game they would be playing. Psych! is a clever way to get family members that just  can’t seem set their cellphones  down to join in  a game or activity to participate with the group.

Psych! is also a pretty fun  way  to get to know family members that you see only once a year at the  family reunion.  Some of the  game options give you a real opportunity to see into your cousin’s psyche.

“PSYCH!” is the perfect app for game night, road trips, or even waiting in line. So grab your phones, gather ‘round, and get ready for a gaming experience unlike anything you’ve ever tried!

NOTE:There’s in-game ads as well, which can be removed for $2.99. If you’re just downloading the game to play with a friend (who might have bought a ton of stuff in-game), it’s totally free.

Mashed Potato Bar

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What’s a Mashed Potato Bar?

I had never heard of a “Mashed Potato  Bar” until recently   when my daughter came home from a family function with her husband’s family and they had hosted a mashed potato bar. My daughter raved about how delicious and fun the mashed potato bar was.

Of course, I’ve eaten  at lots of baked potato bars and for any years a potato bar was our  go to meal at family gatherings but a mashed potato bar is a fun new twist to that traditional and rather over  done family  reunion  meal.

Here’s how  you  put a Mashed Potato Bar together for your next family reunion or party.

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Of course,  the main ingredient is mashed potatoes.  You can make your own (see recipe below) or  you can use already prepared potatoes such as the ones Costco carries.

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Mashed Potato Bar Toppings Ideas

Serve your  potatoes in large crock pots to keep the potatoes warm and set  out various  toppings.  I’ve listed a few of our favorites but use your imagination to  customize  to your needs:

Sour cream
Chopped green onions
Mushrooms
Olives
Crumbled bacon
Finely shredded cheese
Steamed broccoli
Chopped Ham
Shredded chicken
Whipped butter
Sour cream
Frozen Peas
Ranch salad dressing
Grilled zucchini and summer squash
Caramelized onions and peppers
Freshly grated Parmesan
Tomato salsa
Tomatoes
Jalapenos
Grilled tri-tip sliced thin
Onion crisps
Country Gravy (I like to stay away from gravy, it’s the obvious choice and people aren’t’ as creative if they have gravy as a choice)
Salt and pepper

The Idaho Potato Board has their own list of ingredients for a Mashed Potato Bar which you can find by clicking on the link below.

  https://idahopotato.com/recipes/mashed-potato-bar

Serve on plain plates or bowls or fancy things up a bit by using goblets as your dishes.  You can  always find a miss-matched assortment of goblets and wine glasses at your local DI or Goodwill.

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A good basic mashed potato recipe includes just a few ingredients. Note: Baking and Russet potatoes tend to be heavier and starchier than Yukon Gold potatoes.

Basic Mashed Potatoes Recipe

  • 8 Potatoes
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk ( I melt my butter in a bowl with the milk for creamier potatoes.
  • Salt
  • Fresh Pepper
  1. Peel and dice potatoes and put in pot of boiling salted water. Cover and simmer until potatoes are fork tender (20-30 minutes, depending on quantity of potatoes). Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or a hand mixer.
  3. Add butter and milk

While doing research for this article I found this cute Mashed Potato Bar sign on Etsy.  The name of the shop that offers it for sale is the TheDoodleCoop.

Potato Bar Sign, Mashed Potatoes Sign, Make Your Own Loaded Potato Printable, Wedding Reception, Sweet Sixteen, Birthday Party, Potato Bar

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Be sure and sign up to receive a copy of familyreunionhelper.com’s FREE reunion cookbook HERE

Tried and True Recipes

 

 

 

 

Badminton the Unappreciated Sport

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Badminton is the official sport of our family.  We love it so much that my children gave me a “professional” net for my birthday.  (We were tired of the poor quality of nets we purchased from retail stores.) 

Badminton has an interesting history dating back to 18th century India where it evolved from two children’s games, battledore and shuttlecock. In these games, a shuttlecock was kept in volley across a line using small rackets.

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Recently we held the “Stewart Invitation Badminton Tournament.”  My son and I even found a trophy with two “birdies” on it at the local thrift store to use as a prize.  Everyone came dressed in their best badminton “uniforms”.  We ate dinner and then began the tournament. 

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Because we had quite a few teams in our so called tournament we played best 2 out of 3 games and only played to 15.

The objective of badminton is simple, that is to hit the shuttle over the net so that it lands in your opponent’s court before it can be returned.

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You can hit the shuttle fast, slow, high, flat or low. You can smash it with maximum power or “dink” it gently over the net.

Badminton would be a fun game to set up at your next family reunion and have a tournament that is ongoing during your reunion.  Put up a bracket and make teams responsible for playing each other. If you have a large family make it a single elimination tournament.  Play the championship game at the end of your reunion.

Why Badminton?  Anyone can play, almost anyone.  At our tournament we had players from 6 to 60, pregnant players, and players with chronic illnesses.  We had players that would dive for the birdie and players that had to step over the line to serve.  But no matter what the skill level everyone had fun- at least until the sun went down and it got dark.  Guess the next thing I  need for my badminton court is- lights!

Aunt MO

Planning for Food Allergies at Your Family Reunion

Ten ideas for “accommodating” those with food allergies at your family reunion or party
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Allergies to gluten, eggs, milk, seeds, nuts, peanuts, and more make it impossible to eat "normal" family reunion food. In our family we deal with life threatening food allergies every time we get together for a family reunion or party.  Below is a list of things we have found make a difference when planning family reunion food around food allergies:

  1. As the family reunion chairman make sure you know about any food allergies or other food restrictions. 
  2. As a family member with allergies be specific when you let the reunion food committee know about your allergies.  Don’t just say “gluten-free crackers,” but suggest a brand and where to purchase it.  No one is going to be as concerned about food allergies as you are. They may not consider some things that you feel are obvious so speak up.
  3. If you are planning a potluck meal for your family reunion make a note of food allergies in your family.  For instance you could add,  “Please remember, no nuts” (Be specific) on your invitation.
  4. Some meal ideas that make dealing with food allergies at your family reunion a little easier is salad, taco or potato bars.  Family members with allergies can take only those foods that are safe for them.  See Aunt Mo’s blog on “Belly Up To The Bar” for more food bar ideas.  However if the food allergy is life threatening you must be aware of cross-contact when eating at buffets or food bars.
  5. If you have food allergies, it is often safest to bring your own food.  Instead of planning meals around the entire family consider doing some meals “on your own”. 
  6. Offer to bring safe food so that you know there will be something there that you can eat. 
  7. If you’re on the food committee consider keeping the original boxes and packages for food you’ve used so that parents can read the packages for themselves.  Even though you may think you’ve taken all the precautions only those with experience will know for sure.
  8. If  you are on the food committee for your family reunion don’t let those with allergies feel like a burden or annoyance. Let them know that you are want them to be safe and enjoy the reunion food just like everyone else.

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My sister-in-law, Lisa, has a couple of children with food allergies.  Over the years she has developed her own ways of coping with food allergies at family reunions and parties.  Lisa added her own suggestions to the list I made:

  1. Often food is given as prizes and treats at family reunions. Lisa suggests bringing your own bag of treats.  Make sure the treats for those with allergies are “cool” treats like Pop Rocks or fruit snacks.
  2. Lisa also carries fast to fix food for her children like cereal, instant oatmeal, Cup of Noodles and instant mashed potatoes for when surprise situations arise. 

Lisa says, “It’s nice when people make an acceptation for my kids but I don’t plan on it or expect it.”  When talking about her daughter’s sensitivity to dairy she says, “It’s my job to take care of it and I plan ahead for unforeseen situations.”

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One of my nieces, McKell,  is a vegetarian and we accommodate that at our family reunions by reserving a serving of Dutch oven potatoes before we add the bacon etc.  She loves vegies and we always make sure there are several choices for her.  McKell’s uncles like to tease her about her food choices but in the end they all respect her and work to make sure she can eat with the family.

When it come to food allergies any food allergy can be life-threatening. As the Aunt to several children with food allergies, I try to be a meticulous label- reader and remove all nut- containing foods when I’m in charge of the food at a family reunion or party but honestly, I’m never going to be as good at identifying problem foods as Lisa or her children. Lisa has taught her children to accept some responsibility for the food they eat.  They have learned to ask questions before they eat foods that may be  a problem for them.

Sometimes those with food allergies have apologized for being a problem and for the extra work it takes to accommodate them.  Honestly, ensuring safety for family members is not being "accommodating", it is being responsible and loving- and that’s what families do!