Editor’s note: At a recent Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment meeting for the sisters in my ward [local congregation], the theme was “Creation,” using a beloved talk from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf as the foundation of our evening. We had a lovely dinner, and then heard from a couple of women about simple ways to create in our own lives. One of these women, Jane (known to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as “The Party Grandma”), shared myriad ideas about creating memories and moments with family — trying to encourage us to also be creative with our own families, in simple, fun ways. She kindly agreed to share her ideas with us here. Enjoy! ~Michelle
“Harmonious Homes, Family Memories & Flowing Laughter”
You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before–colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter. -President Dieter F. Uchtdor, “Happiness, Your Heritage“
Some of the things I do with my family:
Back to School Parties
I have a circle with numbers written on the sidewalk like a cake walk. Children walk around the circle while the music is playing when the music stops they must be on a number that is called out to get a prize. The prizes are pencils, paper crayons and other school supplies. We play musical chairs with the same supplies given out. Everyone gets the same gifts–no one is left out, the games are just to facilitate the giving out of the prizes
We Decorate pumpkins, no cutting, just drawing and pasting. We have apple dunking, pizza and Jell-o to eat.
Easter egg hunt giving out a basket for each child to gather their own eggs for candy and money
Other Family Parties
There are birthdays, baby blessings, baptisms, weddings, [baby or wedding] showers. We also just get together because we like to get together. You don’t need matching plates, silverware, or cups to have fun and laughter. You come to enjoy family not all the decorations.
Every Thursday grandchildren would call and I would pick up the phone and they would say, “Grandma…” and I would say, “Yes you may sleep over.” They would say, “How do you know what we’re going to ask?”
Every Friday night was sleep-over night. This is a wonderful time for cousins to get together and enjoy each other. Grandsons and granddaughters that have grown up together, have stayed close because of this early associations. Grandsons as adults even play together on the same ball teams because they still enjoy each other. Sleep-over morning I served scrambled eggs, toast and jam. Grandpa would serve colored French toast. Grandpa would let the grandchildren put curlers in his hair and style it. [Jane explained how he was always the ‘softy’ of the family.] There is always lots of fun and laughter.
Worthington Summer Ideas
Picnics: When my children were young I would gather them and the neighborhood kids. Tell them we were going on a picnic, make peanut butter and jam sandwich, pile in the car (this was before seat belts) I would drive until I would see a park and that is where we would stop and eat and play. I found many parks that way. You can even have a picnic in your own backyard.
Drive-in-Shows: I’d have my kids go out and get the kids in the neighborhood who would like to go to the show. We would load them in the car (this was before seat belts) and head off to the show, it was $3 a car.
Spending evenings alone with my older children: While my husband was doing his bishop [congregation leader] duties, I would talk with my older children. I found out how things were going in school and in their social life.
Go on family trips and brings others with you: When I was down to two children at home I told them they needed to go out and invite someone to go with us, we’re not used to going with so few children.
One summer I had fourteen children staying at my home. I thought my fridge was broken. I made sure it was plugged in and called the repair man. After checking he asked how many children were at the home and when I told him. He said, “Lady there isn’t anything wrong with the fridge, just make sure when the children open the fridge they know what they want. The door isn’t closed long enough to keep things cold.”
Every three months, I get together with my children and their spouses to have dinner. They rotate homes where the dinner is served. Every three months I have a pot-luck dinner with everyone at my home, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have door prizes and other surprises for them to enjoy. I have the young-adult aged grandchildren over for dinner and give out door prizes and play games. I have individual families over for Sunday dinner. We love Thanksgiving dinners. Our Christmas parties rotated yearly to a different child’s home. My husband always would sing “White Christmas,” even though he has passed away we will still sing it as a tradition. [I think she said they have a recording of him singing this, also.] The yearly General Relief Society Meeting is a special time for me to take all the girls 18 and older to dinner after we listen to the conference. We’ve been out to dinner and we have had others stop by and wonder what we were laughing about but we were just enjoying each other.
This reunion has been going on for 47 years in the same place. This is my extended family reunion. My immediate family are the only members of the Mormon Church. I started having family home evening one night during the week and even now when I get there the kids will ask “Aunt Jane,” which is me, “when are we having family night?” Even though we have boats and all the water gear the first thing they want to know is when we are going to have family home evening.
Some of the games we play are:
-Money in the sand: We take a small pool and put sand in it and bury money (don’t use pennies they’re hard to see). Children put one hand behind their backs and with the other reach in and grab for the money. It helps to have someone standing behind them with a sandwich bag to collect the money for them.
-Sling shot game: Flexible surgical tubing with a pouch in the center filled with candy or water balloons is shot out over the sand for the children to pick up and gather. When playing other games the children are given tickets for participating.
– Then they use the tickets as money to pick gifts from things I have bought at the dollar store. You should see how big their eyes get when selecting what they want with their tickets.
What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. Have fun with your family. Have love and laughter. My family is kind of like the show “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” My one son-in-law when first married into the family couldn’t believe all the conversations going on at the same time. We told him if he didn’t like one conversation he could go to another.
My grandchildren and great-grandchildren call me “the party grandma.” You can have a party for anything anytime! Just enjoy your family.
My children always ask me, “How are you feeling?”
I tell them, “I’m great.”
“No really, Mom, how are you?”
I tell them, “I’m great.”
I feel if you say this long enough, in time, you will be great!
Life is great so enjoy your family!
What things do you like to do to create memories and opportunities for fun and laughter with your family?