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

 

 

 

 

Reunion Buddies

A Getting to know you activity before the reunion even begins

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Get the family reunion started early!

If you’re looking for a fun ice breaker activity and a way to generate interest in your upcoming family reunion try “Reunion Buddies” and get the  party started before the  reunion even  begins.

Reunion Buddies

About four weeks before your reunion make a double sided copy of the “Reunion  Buddies”  printable using the same  information on each side of the paper.

Match family members up into buddies making sure everyone, young and old has a reunion  buddy. 

Write one buddies name on the line that says “My Name Is” and write their buddies’ name below it on the line that says “My Buddy Is”.  You will need to do this on both sides of the  paper but reversing the information.

Send a copy of the reunion buddies printable to one of the  “buddies” with  the  instructions to fill out their  personal information and then mail the  completed  form to their buddy. Be sure and provide an address and if your reunion has the funds, a stamped envelope.

The buddy they mail the form to will complete the form and return it to back to their buddy.

Encourage buddies to spend some time with each other at your family reunion  perhaps even bringing inexpensive gifts (such as their favorite candy bar) to share.  You may even ask some family members to share what they learned about their reunion buddy.

The idea behind  “Reunion Buddies”  is to  make long lasting friendships  between cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.  Get a new buddy every year!

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How to Pay For Your Family Reunion

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We’re blaming it on the economy but whatever the reason, our family reunion fund raising auction last year was not as productive as in years past so we are faced with some new money challenges this year.  How are we going to pay for our family reunion?  We always joke about plugging our “money tree into the “currant” bush but this year I think we’re going to need some new ideas.

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To find a solution to our money concerns, I  talked to everyone I knew and did a lot of research on the internet and these are the ways I found that you are paying for your family reunions:

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Hold a Family Auction

A family auction is a pretty typical way that families pay for their reunions. We’ve been holding reunion auctions for about 15 years now. Everyone brings something to donate to the auction. Some family members work all year to make a quilt or other special item for the reunion, some offer services such as haircuts and some bake cookies, brownies or bring produce from their garden. The best sellers at our reunion are always the crocheted dishtowels Grandma makes ($40.00- $80.00) and the hand-stitched heirloom quilts that Grandpa makes ($200.00- $400.00). Other popular items are restored and framed photos of ancestors and photo memory books- anything with sentimental value. No one counts the items someone brings or judges them on how much they bid, everyone does the best they can, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Divide Up the Costs

Divide all expenses equally (save receipts), or have everyone pay individually for expenses as they incur.

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Family Recipe Book

Collecting recipes and producing cookbooks and many other publishing projects such as directories, scrapbooks, and history books to sell at the reunion.  Many will purchase family recipe books to give as gifts to neighbors and friends during the holidays.

Pass The Hat

Pass the hat- let family members donate what they can to your reunion fund.

Fund Raising Sale

Food, beverage and white elephant sales. Food sales can net a nice profit if you consider carefully your reunion customers. A bake sale could feature desserts to eat right there as well as whole bakery specialties to take home.

Reunion Yard Sale

Family yard sale- hold a yard sale either individually or collectively, perhaps as part of your reunion.  Money raised goes in the family fund.

Personalized Family Products

Order personalized (imprinted) products such as t-shirts, caps, coffee mugs, pens, pencils…and many more items to sell.

Charge a Reunion Registration Fee

Charge a traditional registration fee to families. Some families charge per family unit and others charge different prices based on age and family size. Average cost families are charging for their reunions are adults (ages 13 and over)- $70.00, children- $40.00. Pay electronically or elect to pay with a bank check or money order.

Provide A Services Alternative

If some families can’t afford to pay then give them opportunities to provide service in exchange for paying fees- for instance could type in recipes for a family cookbook, maintain a family website or do family history research.

Cut Back on Reunion Time

The easiest way to reduce reunion expenses is to cut back on the time your reunion lasts. If you normally have a three day reunion cut back to two or just get together for a Saturday afternoon and evening. Make your meals potluck and enjoy the time, however short, that you have with each other. With finances in mind, some families opt not to have reunions every year.

Family Reunion Dues

Ask for reunion dues and ask family members to send a portion of their dues on a quarterly basis so that it isn’t a one-time large payment.

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Reunion Raffle

Hold a raffle of donated items from companies or family members during the reunion. Plane tickets or electronics are good money generating items.

Donations

Collect corporate donations or pledges for a fundraising event like a bike or 5K race. Corporations sometimes donate to large reunions where knowledge of the company’s name and contribution reaches many people.

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Family Reunion Pocket Change

Ask family members to save their pocket change during the year and bring it to the reunion. Count money by hand or take to a counting machine. Announce the grand total at your reunion.

Reunion Gifts

We are fortunate that we are able to go camping for our Stewart reunions and on the Wells’ side of the family we stay at the family condo. Location can be a huge expense but even that can be taken care of creatively.  My parents rent condos or motel rooms for family members instead of buying Christmas gifts- they’re giving the gift of family.

Planning a Family Reunion Checklist

12 Months prior

(Make these decisions before leaving your reunion) Planning in advance will increase the odds that more people will be able to attend the reunion, which translates into more fun for everyone. By booking early, you can most likely secure better rates and/or reserve your preferred hotel or retreat site, flights and other travel arrangements. Most campgrounds and parks can be booked a year in advance.

  • Set date
    • The best of all situations is to hold your family reunion at the same time every year. Choose a holiday such as Memorial Day or Labor Day or a weekend such as the third weekend in August etc. Finally, stick to your decision. Changing dates mid-stream can create a huge amount of additional work.

  • Choose location
    • Aim for a family reunion location that is most accessible and affordable to the majority of people you want to attend. If family members are located in one area, then select a reunion location that’s nearby. If everyone is scattered, then choose a central location to help cut down on travel expenses. Most locations will need to be reserved a year in advance, campgrounds, hotels and conference centers, cruises, condos, resorts and parks etc.
    • If possible arrange an on site inspection of your family reunion site. You will be able to check out your reunion site amenities and recognize challenges you may need to plan around. At a campground or park, check for fire pits, covered bowery or picnic tables and benches. If your site is a hotel or condo you will be able to assess for yourself banquet facilities, room amenities, meeting room sizes and cleanliness of the location.
    • Contact local hotels and reserve blocks of rooms for out of town visitors

  • Choose a reunion theme
    • Creating a theme for a family reunion is a great way to interest people and make them more likely to attend. It also makes things more fun when it comes to being imaginative with food, games, activities, invitations and just about every other aspect of the reunion. Family history themes are especially popular, as are family reunions which celebrate a very special family member’s birthday or anniversary, or the family’s cultural heritage.
  • Compile a list of family members and update mailing and email lists
    • A clipboard with a list of family names can be passed around during the family reunion. Family members can make corrections and add new emails and address to the list. Be sure and assign a family member to be in charge of this list.

9 months Prior

  • Make final reservations–remember that some family members will have to cancel, and others may decide to show up at the last minute.
  • Schedule events and activities that require advance registration or booking
  • Make contact with family members by email to keep them up to date on family reunion plans. Encourage email contacts to help spread the word.

6 Months Prior

  • Have planning meeting either on phone or in person with committee chairmen/ make assignments
    • Send “save the date” cards or emails- include cost per person or family and what is included in the ticket price, if you are charging admission fees. Inform of any fundraising activities you will be having- such as a family auctions so that family members can be preparing items for donation.
    • Confirm reservations
    • Make final decisions

3 Months Prior

  • Make special assignments such as activities and games , so volunteers have time to prepare and purchase supplies for their assignment
  • Order souvenirs, T-shirts etc.

2 Months Prior

  • Send detailed schedule and assignments
    • Directions on how to get to the family reunion site.
    • Date, time, and location of the reunion.
    • Remind family members to bring their fund raising donations
    • Remind family members of assignments
  • Gave a confirmation call to caters, photographers etc.
  • Start purchasing non-perishable items: dry goods, decorations, supplies, etc. Watch for sales to get the best prices.

1 Month Prior

  • Review final details with family reunion committee
  • Confirm with relatives who are bringing food or other supplies.
  • Contact restaurants or caterers with a final guest count if necessary.
  • Order any products or supplies that must be delivered to assure timely delivery.

Week Before

  • Get chairs, tables, grills and other items
  • Buy last-minute decorations and supplies and perishable items
  • Make final preparations such as signs and welcome banners.

Day Of Family Reunion

  • Set up and decorate family reunion site
  • Post flyers with family reunion schedule for family to reference
  • Welcome family members as they arrive at your family reunion

Click here to download a PDF version of the family reunion checklist

Planning a Family Reunion- the Basics

I recently received a mailbag question from a visitor to Family Reunion Helper.  They asked,  “How do we plan a family reunion? Please give me specifics? Dates, locations, committees. How do we finance a family reunion?”

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I have a lot of respect for someone who is building a family reunion from scratch.  I did it 25 years ago and although reunions can be a ton of work they are so worth it.

Family Reunion Helper has addressed all the questions asked above in previous blogs so I though it might be a good idea to put all those blogs together to be easily accessed if someone is planning a reunion for the first time.  Just click on the link below each heading to read more “back to the basics” about planning a family reunion.

Three Keys to a Successful Family Reunion

http://familyreunionhelper.com/3_keys_to_a_successful_family_reunion.php

Family Reunion Checklist and Timeline

http://familyreunionhelper.com/reunion_checklist.php

Family Reunion Committees

http://familyreunionhelper.com/committees.php

How to Pay for Your Reunion

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2011/03/planning-to-pay-for-your-family-reunion/

Family Reunion Locations

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2012/04/location-location-whats-your-favorite-family-reunion-location/

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Family Reunion Themes

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2011/05/family-reunion-theme-ideas/

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Aunt MO