A BANNER FOR YOUR MAILBOX OR STREET
WHEN: One week before the event
WHAT YOU NEED: Muslin or jersey fabric, family logo,
fabric transfer sheets, or label paper
Transfer your family reunion logo to an 18- by 30-inch
piece of jersey or muslin fabric, or a piece of bedsheet
using iron-on transfer sheets. You can add text, such as
the family name, the word Reunion, or simply a phrase
like The Party's Here.
Again, fabric transfers will look best, but sticky label
paper is an acceptable substitute. An 8H- by 11-inch logo
is fine, but for maximum effect, use the tiling feature
in your drawing or paint program to print a larger image
to several transfer sheets. Tiling lets you create a
large printed image by breaking it up into tiles that you
print on standard-size paper. You then line up the tiles
to create the oversize image. In our case, the banner was
tiled into six 8H- by 11-inch sheets. The trick to making
this look neat and professional is to trim and place all
the transfer sheets at once, before you iron. Then heat
the iron and transfer the sheets in sequence, being
careful not to touch the iron to places on the cloth that
have already been transferred. For a longer-lasting
banner, use pinking shears or turn the edges of the
If you live in a rural or suburban setting, consider
draping the flag over your mailbox. The fabric we used is
15 by 40 inches; you may need to size yours
proportionally for your box. Turn the narrow ends back to
form pockets three inches deep, to hold small weights
that will keep your flag in place. Apply a transfer to
each end of the fabric, which hangs like a saddlebag over
CREATE A FAMILY TREE
WHEN: At the party, as the guests arrive
WHAT YOU NEED: Family photographs, scanner, family-tree
software (either Family Tree Maker from Broderbund or
Family Gathering from Palladium)
Remember those photos you asked all your guests to bring
to the reunion? As the guests arrive, help them scan in
their photo and fill in information in either Family Tree
Maker or Family Gathering. Guests will need to enter
their birthdates and indicate who their parents and
children are. You can also get them to add an anecdote or
memory about the family if they've got the patience (and
a story worth telling). You can either print the entire
family tree at the party or "doctor it up"
after the party and send a copy to each guest as a
memento. You can add to the family tree during the course
of the year.
WHEN: Before the party
WHAT YOU NEED: White or light-colored T-shirts and plain
hats, your family logo, iron-on transfer paper
Putting your family logo on T-shirts and hats is a great
way to create lasting party favors. If you get two colors
of T-shirts or hats, you'll also be able to use them as
team markers for your family reunion games. Instead of
defining teams by family membership, try to equalize the
sizes, ages, and skill levels of the teams -- teaming
young kids with a parent or big brother or sister will
guarantee fun for all. Iron-on transfer papers make it
relatively easy to print your logo onto many kinds of
fabric objects. The idea is to print the logo on the
iron-ons and then iron them onto the T-shirts and hats.
Reunion games are a great way to shake off the effects of
all-too-good eating. Remember all the favorites? Capture
the Flag, Blind Man's Bluff, Red Rover, Simon Says, Red
Light/Green Light, Mother May I? Kids love the movement
and activity of these classic games.
If you want to add an official look to your games (from
wheelbarrow race to sack race to three-legged race), add
a special touch with those big pin-on numbers that
marathoners and bike racers wear. You can use any word
processor. Just select an easy-to-read font like
Helvetica and the largest point size your word processor
can produce, up to 400 point. Type in a number, and
surround it with wingdings, mini-logos, or other
decorations. Save the file and print in black and white.
Select the number, replace with another, and print again.
Use safety pins to attach the numbers to the game
If you're tight on time or budget, just make badges or
name tags with your family logo and forgo the T-shirts
and hats. Use your logo and print the badges on two
colors of card stock, one for each team. Seal the card
stock between sheets of Avery self-adhesive laminate. Use
a paper punch to make holes, and use large brass safety
pins or diaper pins to fasten the badges to hats (the way
you do fishing licenses) -- or pass the badges out for
people to pin where they choose.
CREATE THE PRIZES
WHAT YOU NEED: A word processor, desktop publishing
program, glue, paper plates
Even those of us who want to encourage cooperation rather
than fierce competition love to win "prizes."
Use the computer to create some one-of-a-kind prizes.
One idea is to create silly awards, such as
"Giggliest," "Most Energetic,"
"Most Relaxed," "Best Sport,"
"Best Party Spirit" -- whichever are relevant
to your family members. Be sure to select some categories
that kids or older partygoers are likely to
Again, use your family logo. Purchase paper plates in a
solid color, any size, to match your decor and logo. Use
your paint or drawing program to create a circular golden
medallion outline that will fit the base of the plate. If
your program has a symmetry tool, use it to make a
multipointed star or pattern. Size your logo to fit just
inside the emblem's border, and save it as a template.
Then, using a font like Calligraphic, type in
"Presented to the Most Graceful Jumper," draw a
line for the winner's name, and add your party
particulars ("Sunday, July 21, in the Year
1996"). Save the file, print it, and keep making new
awards by substituting the title for the new award each
time you print. Take each printout, cut out the award
medallion, and glue the medallion to the center of a
plate. For extra flash, take an 8-inch piece of ribbon
that you've doubled and stick it under the edge of the
medallion as you glue it on.
Create "funny money" for race and game winners.
Draw a rectangle and place the party logo in it, framed
by decorations or denominations. At the end of the party,
use the money to auction off leftovers or decorative
elements you're willing to part with -- the tablecloth,
table decorations, puppets, and so on.
Purchase preprinted certificate paper and print
ready-made awards. You can use a desktop publishing
program like Microsoft Publisher CD Deluxe for Windows95
(Windows95 CD-ROM, $74.95 street; 800-426-9400 or
206-882-8080), or you can go with less powerful but
easier-to-use programs like Print Shop Deluxe Ensemble II
for Mac and Windows (CD-ROM, $80 each; Broderbund,
800-521-6263 or 415-382-4400).
If you just want to make a few quick certificates, look
in the Borders section of your clip-art collection. Print
your selected border as large as possible on a full
sheet, type in the presentation information, save as a
template, and then re-enter just the award title for each
THE PUPPET SHOW
WHEN: At the reunion
WHAT YOU NEED: Dolls from table decoration, impromptu
puppet theater with sheets
It's time for the foam-board characters you made for
table decoration to do double duty as fantastic puppets.
For an impromptu theater, tip a table onto its side or
stretch a bedspread between trees. Suggest a familiar
fairy-tale story line to be acted out by your family
puppets -- Grandma playing Red Riding Hood and little
cousin Will as the Big Bad Wolf.
THE FAMILY TRIVIA CONTEST
WHEN: Prepare questions one week before the event
WHAT YOU NEED: A word processor, printouts of documents,
Think of some things that would really get the relatives
talking to each other and finding out things about each
other's lives. What piano piece is cousin Julie studying
now? What colleges did Harry apply to? Who's the youngest
in the room? Who's the oldest? Who's lived in the most
Type your questions on a page, leaving room for answers,
and print a copy for each guest. Give each person his own
sheet and send the guests off to find the answers. (Read
the page aloud once for young ones or pair them with a
reader.) You can give everyone a sheet at the beginning
of the party and have guests work on the answers
throughout the party, or you can set aside a specific
chunk of time to complete the contest. Make sure to
review the questions aloud once the contest is over, as
everyone will be interested in the answers. This is a
great icebreaker if your relatives haven't seen each
other in a while.
THE FAMILY REUNION RECIPE MEMORY BOOK
WHEN: After the party's over
WHAT YOU NEED: Desktop publishing software, binding tool,
Remember those recipes you asked for in the invitations?
Use them to create a family cookbook, with photos and
family anecdotes. Decorate it with clip art, too, and
take it to a print shop for professional binding. Your
family can add to it every year.