Category Archives: Life’s An Event

Insight into everyday events.

Creating Fabulous Family Reunions

by Rose Hoene

As the long winter months settle in around us, it’s the perfect time of year to start making plans for activities next summer. Hosting a family reunion, whether it is a one day picnic in a local park, or a long weekend at one of the many great resorts in our area, can be highly rewarding and the highlight of next summer’s activities.
As a 25 year “veteran” of organizing successful family reunions, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that I hope will inspire you to get started on creating your own fun family gatherings…

Don’t Do it Alone, “Delegate”
One of the first things that helped me be successful at planning my own family reunions was drawing on the ideas and strengths of my relatives by recruiting a few volunteers (but not more than two or three!) who were willing to be the “Planning Committee.” This process, in an of itself, can be a “mini” reunion where you can gather a variety of ideas and, often, get reacquainted with, family members you may have lost touch with. As the saying goes “many hands make
light work” and, having a small core group of people willing to work cooperatively together to get things done is truly essential for making your family event a success.

Start Planning Early
Many venues, including parks, campgrounds, hotels, and resorts, require reservations far in advance. In many instances, you will need to plan your reunion up to a year in advance. A year, or more, may seem far away, but you will be amazed at how fast time will fly and, before you know it, all your planning and organizing will pay off. Having enough advance notice is also important for many families
due to the distance they may need to travel, the money they may need to save to make the trip, and getting enough time off from work and other summer activities in order to attend. Having enough advance notice also gives you the opportunity to really promote your event by building up the momentum and anticipation that will keep everyone excited and interested in attending.

Location Matters
Take some time to think about what type of location would be best for your family gathering. Make sure that it is accessible and affordable as much as possible. Help people plan by providing them with a list of lodging possibilities in the area and setting up rides for people who may need them. Whether you decide to go to an amusement park or a remote camping area, make sure to consider who may want to attend and do all that you can to include everyone’s interests and needs into your plan.

Keep it Simple
Although creating lots of fun options for activities during a family reunion may be tempting, experience has taught me over the years that there’s a lot to be said for not over-planning to the point where your family members don’t have lots of time to “just be” together. If you are having a one day event, having a few interactive games and a barbeque may be just enough or, if you are planning a
longer event , having just one main activity each day, such as a fish fry in the afternoon or a banquet or dance at night, can work very well for most families. This allows ample time for everyone to meet and greet, reminisce, relax, and “hang out” together. This “free time” is often what will add new memories and spontaneous fun to your family reunion.

Odds & Ends
Here’s a short list of miscellaneous things (in no particular order) my own family has done at our reunions that you may also consider doing: Have a “50/50” raffle, hold an Art Show or Auction to raise money for the “Reunion Fund” for the future, have a “check in” table where people can get an agenda of activities, ask people to wear name tags (at least for a while!), wear per-assigned colors to identify various family branches, hire a photographer to take a Family photo, play “capture the flag” and have a balloon toss, hold a talent show, hire a DJ or local band for a dance, set up a “hospitality room” and hire a couple of well recommended “baby sitters” for little ones so parents can have a bit of fun on their own if they like, plant a memorial tree to honor those who have passed away and take time to honor them and welcome the new members of your family too, sing together, tell stories around a campfire, have a religious service (or make a list of local churches for people who may want to attend), create a family email list (or website) for future communication, take the kids fishing for a few hours and tell lots and lots of stories!

How to Make Easy Human Ghosts for Your Halloween Party

UntitledMaterials you will need :
• Wire cutters
• Scissors
• Wire Hangers
• Chicken Wire
• Glow in the Dark Spray paint or old sheer curtains

These light weight ghosts are perfect for any Halloween party, haunted house, or even to simply scare a group of trick-or-treaters! They can be seen flying in a tree, standing on the porch, or laying in the grass.

Wherever they are, these ghosts are bound to frighten whoever comes across them!

Step 1:
Cutting the Chicken Wire to the appropriate size for the
head of the Ghost It may be a safe bet to wear work gloves while cutting this wire. Cut around a 24 inch length of chicken wire for the head

Step 2:
Form the head of the Ghost
Shape the chicken wire around anything head – shaped (ie: volleyball, basketball, etc.), or over the head of a mannequin (if you have one) . Begin shaping the wire around the head. Take the excess wire towards the back of the object, and cut any wire you do not want visible.

Step 3:
Form the body
• The body will consists of an inner and outer layer to give the ghost more support in certain weather conditions. You
can form the body any way you like.
• Cut around 40 inches of chicken wire for the outer layer of the ghost and about 30 for the inner layer.
• Use extra chicken wire to keep the inner and outer layer stable. You can do this by twisting the inner and outer layer

Step 4:
Form the arms & legs of the Ghost
• Cut an appropriate length of wire for each arm and leg of the ghost.
• Form two cylinders for the arms and pinch at the elbow and wrists to create a more real look.
• Form an additional two cylinders for the legs

Step 5:
Attach the arms and the legs to the body
Using excess wire, attach the arms and legs to the body. You can do this by twisting the wire or using an old wire hanger
to keep them attached.

Step 6:
Use an old wire hanger to keep the head of the ghost and the body in place.

Step 7:
Add any excess wire to keep the Ghost in place

Step 8:
You can either spray the wire with Glow in the Dark spray paint , or use old sheer curtains to give it a more “Ghostly” look!

Wicked Halloween Bash

Trick or treat! What is that you hear? Yes, that is the good ole sound of children longing for handfuls of candy in exchange for their cute smiles and character impersonations. Remember those days? Humor me by reflecting back on your most memorable Halloween as a child. What did you do? Who were you dressed as? How did you feel? If you were to
ask a millennial today, their response would respectively be different.

What makes it different, you ask? The answer is simple… it’s due to the advancement of technology and progression of trends throughout generations. As the years continue to progress, there has been a significant rise of involvement from all eras. With the collaboration of each generation, this iconic holiday continues to gain popularity. A great way to relish in this social occasion is to simply take advantage of all it has to offer. From pumpkin carving to trick-or-treating,
there is an interest for all ages.

Here are a few suggestions to make this years Halloween one that is notable amongst everyone’s social circle:

Be the Party Fairy
Throw a pumpkin-carving bash with close family and friends one-week prior to the event. Doing so would confirm that there would be fabulous decorations for the main event.
It’s also a good way for your guests to feel apart of the party
by seeing their artwork on display.

Have a party the day of, the week prior, or weekend after.
This is the time to decide whether it is going to be adults only
or kid friendly, and what the theme will be.

If all goes well, you could become the annual event
fairy who brings family and friends together for a good time!

Design a Luscious Spread
Yes, this is your time to shine with creativity! Including but certainly not limited to festive nibbles, a bloodcurdling main dish, wicked treats & chilling brews.

Disguise your Haunted House
This echoes the theme you’ve chosen. Whether your party is enchanting or frightening, it is important that you recognize your audience first before you decorate. Don’t forget to illuminate your home with fall aromas that will get your senses tingling and craving those fresh baked goodies.

Spine Chilling Entertainment
Offer Spine-Chilling Entertainment based
upon your event’s theme.
• DJ’s or a live band
• Clowns
• Characters-great for children’s parties
• Photographer or picture booth
• Contests
• Games

Find Your Mask
Costumes on the rise in popularity
• D.I.Y.
• Family Costumes
• Couple Costumes
• Pet-friendly Costumes
• Capture Celebrity Moments
• Movie Characters/actors
• “Punny” Costumes

So there you have it, here is a crafted timeline of ideas for you to get a jumpstart on your fall party planning. If you’re
going to be the genie of the moonlight, then presentation is vital for success. My advice to you is to first craft a plan,
choose a theme and then run with it. It’s not all about the goblins and ghouls, so let’s make this years’ Halloween one to masquerade.


Building a Blowout Bonfire

Bonfires are laid back and fun get togethers that are perfect for a summer evening under the stars. Here are some must haves to make sure that you have everything you need to host a successful bonfire.

    • A great spot.
      Whether it’s your back yard, the beach, or at a campsite, make sure it’s safe (no dry grass nearby, overhanging trees), has enough space, and that the fire can be enclosed in a pit, fire ring, etc.
    • Enough kindling and dry fire wood.
      You don’t want the party cut short because you run out of wood.
    • Seating.
      Lawn chairs, benches, etc. for everyone to sit around the fire.
    • Beverages, it’s also a good idea to have some coolers with to keep those thirst quenchers cold and refreshing.
    • Roasting sticks.
      S’mores are a bonfire staple. Be sure to have some sticks to roast your marshmallows on.
    • Snacks.
      Tame any evening grumbles with some easy to pass snacks such as chips, fruit, roasted hot dogs, and of course those s’mores mentioned earlier.
    • Blankets.
      It might be a fire, but blankets help when the sun goes down and the chilly night air rolls in. Plus they are great for getting cozy by the fire.
    • Music.

Throw together a great playlist and make sure to bring a speaker or park your car close by so that you can have some great background music.

    • Bug repellent.

Let’s face it folks, the mosquitoes and biting flies in this area are relentless. Make sure to have some repellent on hand so that you’re not swatting all night long.

  • Lighting.
    Help guests get to the bonfire with lanterns, tiki torches, or solar lights.


Neighborhood BBQ

Last spring my husband and I struck neighborhood gold. As first time homeowners, we quickly learned that our neighbors – neighbors to the left, down the block, across the street, and all over- were more than willing to lend a helping hand, a very appreciated hand, as well as a hose, a nail gun, and even a lift into the window when I locked myself out. I didn’t know any of them, but by the beginning of summer, we were beginning the adventure of getting to know our neighbors as family.

As a kick-off to the neighborhood kids being out of school, the welcoming of new neighbors, and the creation of new friendships, we held our first annual Creekside Barbecue Smoke Fest. Whether it be a family, or a neighborhood barbecue, living in our beautiful northland we are lucky to have all of the perfect materials at our fingertips to put together a memorable gathering. Here are some Creekside Barbecue tips to creating your own barbecue that will leave everyone cheering for seconds, refills, and looking forward to the next annual get together.

So here’s secret number one. Competition.

Not just any competition either. This one determines who can smoke the best meat. Immediately, you might envision burley mountain men with beards, dragging a fresh meat kill. But fear not! This is a talent that can be acquired by anyone. No beard required. However, I hear a beer belly is in your favor. There are two things that are deeply rooted in the genetic make-up of men, their strong desire to win and their love of cooking meat. A neighborhood barbecue is the perfect opportunity to strike up some friendly competition that leads to well-respected bragging rights. Being new we were caught off guard, but heads up Creekside, not only have we upgraded our talents from grill to smoker, but we also found the honey pot of markets, Stokke’s Meat Market. Just reading their selection on the website gets your mouth watering and your soul itching for summertime grilling season. Their selection is vast, and their staff can lead you to barbecue victory with their own recipes and tricks if you’re a newbie to the scene or looking to try something new. Strike up some competition that leads to a delicious, well-enjoyed meal.

In addition to having the finest meat selection at your barbecue, procure secret number 2, beer.

Be sure to stock up and present your guests with the richest of brews. The Northland has been gifted with phenomenal craft brew geniuses. From Fitger’s El Nino IPA and Bent Paddle’s Venture Pils pilsner lager to Lake Superior Brewing Company’s early summer brew, North Shore Wheat, you will find the perfect match to your smoked goods. Here’s a bonus tip. Nothing tops off a fabulous neighborhood barbecue better than frosted pint glasses. Stock your freezer the night before and worry about the dishes later. Trust me.

So while the adults are busy battling it out with the smokers, roasters, and grills with brew in hand, organize something for the kids to enjoy, which is secret number three to pulling together a successful barbecue. The trick with this one is to find something that takes little time to set up, maintains their attention for as long as possible and is fun for all ages. Try this one: tie-dye water wars. All you will need are some water guns and/or sponges, buckets, generic food dye, water, and a timer. Simple enough right? Here’s the game aspect: first, dye buckets of water with the food coloring and place them around the yard. Have the kids wear light colored clothing (white works best) that you don’t mind getting dirty and possibly stained. Next, hand out water guns and/or sponges and set the timer for five minute intervals. Once the timer starts, they’re free to soak each other! When time runs out, whoever has the most color on them sits out for the next round. Having music as the timer can add another level to the game, each round ends when a song ends. Disclaimer: kids will be soaked, exhausted, and tie-dyed after this one. With a few new tricks up your sleeve, you will no doubt be well-equipped to execute the perfect neighborhood barbecue. Harness your inner meat loving, beer drinking, entertaining, party planner and prepare to impress the neighbors…and maybe even yourself. Enjoy!

Everyone Loves a Parade

By Robyn Anderson

Signs of spring are showing in the Northland. The craving for a glimpse of sunlight to shine through the clouds and kiss our skin, gets stronger as the week goes on. I’m sure each of you can relate and are all experiencing the need to shred some layers and let your freckles shine. Since summer is rounding the corner, it is time to get your calendars ready and coordinate your family’s summer activities!

Summer is the ideal time to enjoy vacations, family time and community involvement. What better way to incorporate all of these elements than a community parade?

You might be asking yourself, how could I coordinate a city parade? Well, like anything it takes confidence, time, event knowledge/experience, and initiative to produce a community event. Below are a few recommendations in order to lessen the disarray and to enhance the overall attraction to the event.

Coordination ~ Overview

    • Choose a theme, time, route and place for spectators
    • Acquire a parade permit from local police
    • Decide on a budget
    • Draft a safety plan
    • Set entry deadline
    • Seek parade sponsors
    • Decipher who can participate
    • Draft up parade guidelines
    • Promote

Who Should Participate?

  • Community Dance Teams (High School, Colleges, Studios)
  • Baton Twirlers
  • Marching Bands
  • Businesses
  • Colleges
  • Public/Private Schools (k-12)
  • Community Organizations
  • Clowns
  • Animals
  • Community Artist/Band
  • Local Performers (Plays)
  • Sports Teams & Mascots

The Lineup

Have a big opening act. Attract your audience from the get-go and make them want more! To keep your viewers interested, be sure to have a variety of participants. With variety it can be easy to forget the importance of lineup, so be sure to separate musical entries and similar acts to keep the flow.

Parade Lineup Sample:

  1. Parade Official
  2. Marching Band: Bring the celebration from the get-go through the sound of cheerful music
  3. Local Company Float
  4. Dance Team
  5. Kindergarten Float
  6. Clowns
  7. Local Sport Team & Mascot
  8. Baton Twirlers
  9. Marching Band
  10. Community Organization Float
  11. Local Performer Skits
  12. Community Artist/Band

This is just a sample of what your local parade lineup could look like. Notice how there is a separation of performers and a variety of
community involvement.

Organization of the Lineup ~ This is KEY!

Parade Order:

This is previously determined, but to ensure that every participant understands, hand out a pamphlet that includes:

  • Diagram of the lineup and route: Label where every participant needs to stand in the lineup
  • Timeline of events: When to arrive, when to be in the lineup, etc.
  • A list of participants: Complete guide of everyone who is participating

Parade Rehearsal:

Designate a mandatory meeting time with one representative from each parade participant group. This will be the time to get the kinks out before the actual performance. It will also ensure that everyone understands what is required of them, meeting times, the lineup and to answer any questions that they might have.

Parades are a great way to bring more exposure to local businesses, organizations, and the community! I hope these tips have given you the courage to take the lead, because with a little strategy and organization, you could successfully coordinate a great kickoff event to summer. So let’s launch this upcoming summer season with a fabulous parade that brings joy and excitement to our local community.


Make it to the Party

By Angie Simonson, blogger

For the second time this winter one or more of my kids was invited, with many others, to another child’s party. They
ended up being the only friend(s) to attend, and it made me wonder: how often does no one show up to a little one’s party?

Before Christmas, the mom of a birthday girl pulled me aside when I came to pick up my daughter and thanked me for letting her come, saying even the girl’s best friend, who said she was coming, didn’t show up.

In late February, our whole family was invited for an afternoon of snowmen and sliding fun, on what happened to be the most perfect winter day, and we were the only family to make it. Luckily, when my family shows up and does our clown car exit routine, where four little people jump out one door of the vehicle one after another it seems like the party arrived. The little host was happy to see her friends, got to show us around, and when it was time take a break from playing she showed us where to get hot cocoa and proudly handed out her homemade cupcakes. It was a wonderful afternoon.

I could ask why people don’t show up, but I already know. Of course, some have other events, school sports and work keeping them busy – but even for those who don’t, it’s hard to find time in the day to chauffer your kids to and from parties, in my rural area it’s not uncommon for it to be a 50 minute round trip. It’s also hard to give up a weekend afternoon, even in the name of family fun. The laundry is piled up, the living room needs dusting, you’ve got errands to run, and the couch and a new book are calling your name. All these “reasons” to not go crossed my mind too. People have a knack for filling their waking hours to the minute, we’re busy, we’re productive, and we’re proud of it.

You can’t read a women’s magazine or watch a show like The View or The Doctors without hearing how we “need” to make more time for ourselves, we need to learn to say “no”, and “me time” isn’t selfish, it rejuvenates us to handle all the other chores in your day. But when our crammed calendars or well-deserved relaxation time leaves a child alone and sad at their own party, well, that’s nothing to be proud of.

Imagine if no one came to your kid’s party, how do you explain that? How do you fix their heartbreak, and your own? What’s going through that sweet kiddo’s head? They spent days planning, and hoping, and being excited for a party that didn’t happen. How could “they” do that to your child? Have you done it without even realizing? Most kids won’t turn down a party, so it’s us busy, selfish parents that are the party poopers.

The next time you find a little envelope in your child’s school folder, with their name written in shaky elementary penmanship, imagine that little party planner spending an afternoon writing out those invites, looking to see how to spell their friends names and carefully sealing every envelope before proudly and excitedly putting them in their backpack for distribution.

The laundry can wait, the errands can be done later, and you weren’t really going to dust the living room anyway, take an afternoon to make a little kid’s day. “Me time” is overrated, being generous with your time feels so much better. Your kid’s attendance will make their friend’s day. And, hopefully their busy parents will return the favor when your kid has a party.


Home Thrown Parties

By Angie Simonson, blogger

Santa has too much to do to plan your party, so it’s all up to you.  After shopping, wrapping, decorating and checking your list twice (or a hundred) times, planning a holiday party can seem overwhelming, even if it is just for family and friends.  With a few ideas and a little insight from this mom of four whose made home-thrown parties her hobby, you’ll knock your guests’ reindeer-jingle bell socks off. Continue reading