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         What to do when the whole family gets together: have some fun!

We’re approaching the time of year when families gather for fall barbecues, football game days, reunions, and Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers. While board games and card games are lots of fun, it’s also special to plan some activities that are new and different.

Here are some ideas for special things to do together and that all ages can enjoy. So gather the gang and feel free to laugh a lot as you make new family memories.

Have a Silly Dance Contest. Gather the family, create teams and give each team thirty minutes to come up with their own dance to present. Be sure there is a source of music such as an oldies dvd, a tape deck or an ipod loaded with some of your favorites.

Memory Sharing. Create eight or ten theme ideas, write them on pieces of paper and place them in a jar. Have each family member choose a strip and then share their memories related to that theme. Theme ideas may include “my greatest day ever,” “my scariest experience,” “the funniest thing I ever saw,” “the naughtiest thing I ever did,” or… you can think up more of your own. Be sure to tape the sharing as the family will want to remember this one.

Plan a Kids’ Talent Show. Have the adults coach a child and help them practice. Then create a stage area and let the show begin.

Create a Family Treasure. Draw a group mural on a theme, create a hand print wall hanging, do a quick quilt commemorating the gathering, do individual drawings and put them together into a mural, etc.

Do a Volunteer Project together. Volunteer to clean up a park, serve a meal at a local shelter, pack lunches and distribute them to the homeless, visit an old-age home and sing, or another project your family will enjoy.

Have a Trivia Team Night. Purchase trivia cards or make your own. Divide the family members into teams with equal placing of young and old. Make up some fun prizes or silly prizes for the winners and losers.

Have a Joke Fest. Check out joke books before arriving at your destination. Give individuals time to gather their favorite four or five jokes and then let the laughing begin. You may want to keep score by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to each joke delivered. Bonus points for great timing and presentation.

Do a Keepsake Art Project. Purchase ceramic mugs or plates and decorate them using permanent markers. Bake for thirty minutes in a 350 degree oven. Or purchase premade art projects that can be drawn and sent in to the company, creating a finished product.