Mister Spiffy Picks a Theme

Theme – n. A subject of discourse or discussion.

Mister Spiffy Says: "Yeeeeeeee - Hawwwwwww"

A family reunion doesn’t have to have a theme, of course, but the Reunion Doctor says that it can add a whole lot. A theme allows you to use your imagination when deciding on the food, games, activities, invitations, and just about every aspect of the reunion. Okay, so Mister Spiffy admits that it makes everything easier to do, too. You can even have family members dress the part.

Plus, a theme can act as an icebreaker for attendees who don’t know each other ("Well, now, that’s an interesting table decoration, don’t you think? What do you suppose these people were thinking when they ordered all this?" "I haven’t the foggiest. Oh, by the way, I’m George." "Bob.").

Birthday Party

The birthday of a special family member (everyone is special, of course, but Mister Spiffy means someone like Grandma or Grandpa) can be a great theme for a family reunion.

  • Location – This can be held almost anywhere – a home, a park, a roller skating rink ("Wow, look at Grandma go!"... "Whee! I feel like I’m 90 again!")
  • Invitation – "You’re invited to a birthday party!" Not too hard.
  • Food – Ice cream and a big birthday cake, of course (with lots of candles for grandpa).
  • Activities – Have a clown or magician provide entertainment. Do a "This Is Your Life" for the honored family member.
  • Games – Pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, piñatas, and other birthday games like races and things like that.
  • Dress – Party hats and whatever else you wear to a birthday party.
  • Decorations – Balloons, streamers, crepe paper, and other birthday decorations.
  • Awards – Oldest and youngest family members, most creative birthday present, most creative wrapping, "Face-stuffing" Award for the cake-eaters of the group.


Everyone loves the circus, right? Mister Spiffy sure does. While you won’t have trained lions at your circus (at least, I doubt it), your family is sure to be able to provide an interesting sideshow/freak show for you to laugh at and enjoy.

  • Location – You can have this one in a large backyard or a park. You might even be able to go to a real circus if you time your reunion just right.
  • Invitation – "Come see the greatest show on earth," or something corny like that.
  • Food – Hot dogs (or corn dogs), cotton candy, popcorn, et cetera.
  • Activities – Have a clown or magician provide your entertainment, if you want to hire one. Mister Spiffy recalls one circus reunion where some very talented pets entertained them with a few interesting tricks.
  • Dress – Every circus needs a ringmaster and a few clowns. Hint, hint.
  • Decorations – Balloons and other circus paraphernalia.
  • Awards – Clowns. They’re all a bunch of clowns. Acknowledge that.

Family History

What better theme for your family reunion than the history of your family? Actually, Mister Spiffy can name a few, but I told him that some people like learning about their family. He’s not making those snide remarks anymore.

  • Location – A family homestead or the basic area where your ancestors lived.
  • Food – Food that your ancestors would have eaten (crickets, haggis, horse meat, crispy and crunchy live cockroaches – on second thought, maybe you ought to just pretend that it’s what your ancestors would have eaten).
  • Activities – Create a wall chart of your family so everyone can see how they are related. If you don’t have all the information, leave a marker out and ask family members to write on the chart to fill in the blanks if they know anything you don’t.
  • Games – Trivial pursuit, with questions about your family and ancestors. It would probably be very hard, but go for it.
  • Dress – In the ethnic costume of your ancestors.
  • Decorations – Display historical memorabilia from your family and ancestors. Anything you have, display it.


Make a run for the bord... oops, I think that's trademarked. Anyways, pull out all those chili peppers stacking up in your cellar (most of you don’t, but Mister Spiffy insists on putting that in there – just in case).

  • Location – Mexico. No, ha, ha, just kidding. Basically anyplace you can turn into a Mexican fiesta. A Mexican restaurant would be a nice place, but I don’t know if they would appreciate piñatas and the Mexican Hat Dance.
  • Invitation – You could go with the basic "You’re invited to a fiesta!" or you could go really wild and throw a little bit of Spanish in there, like, "Hola! You’re invited to a fiesta! Ole!". Mister Spiffy took German, not Spanish.
  • Food – Enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, tacos, tacquitos, other various Mexican dishes. Of course, you could always make normal food and disguise it as Mexican…heh, heh, heh…
  • Activities – Piñatas, of course, that’s a given. You can really do anything that involves saying something in Spanish, and let’s not forget the Mexican Hat Dance. Just get a big sombrero, turn on the music, and have at it.
  • Games - Tortilla toss. Throw it like a frisbee for distance. Mister Spiffy points out it's not as easy as a real frisbee!
  • Dress – Mexican, silly.
  • Decorations – Sombreros! Sombreros everywhere! Mister Spiffy loves sombreros. Give people sombreros when they arrive – if you can’t afford a sombrero for everyone, just print out a lot of copies of pictures of sombreros, and tape them to people’s forehead as they arrive. And don't forget the hanging chilis you dragged out of the cellar.
  • Awards – Most authentic Mexican dress, biggest sombrero, brightest sombrero. Also have awards for the Mexican Hat Dance.

Hawaiian Luau

Can’t afford to go to Hawaii? Well, Mister Spiffy can’t either, so don’t feel bad. The Hawaiian Luau family reunion is the next best thing. This reunion works best if you have access to a swimming pool, or some other place you can get yourself moist.

  • Location – Someplace with water – a swimming pool, a swimming hole, a mud puddle. Whatever works.
  • Food – Pig roast, pineapple, coconut (with half shell coconut glasses).
  • Activities – Swimming, hula dancing
  • Games – How low can you go? Let’s limbo!
  • Dress – Hawaiian shirts for those who have them (they’re "in" now, Mister Spiffy noticed), Bermuda shorts, grass skirts. Have someone pass out multi-colored leis (along with a kiss on the cheek) as people arrive.
  • Decorations – Fresh flowers, straw huts, glowing volcanoes, lots and lots of fruits.
  • Awards – Wildest shirt, best hula dancer (complete with the hip swinging), limbo master.


Plan your family reunion around a holiday that has special significance to your family. Since many people get off work for some of these holidays, that provides an added benefit. Some holidays include: St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Fourth of July, Oktoberfest, Thanksgiving.

Outer Space

Now here’s a place Mister Spiffy is familiar with. If you have some relatives that have trouble fitting in, here’s a great way to give them an excuse.

  • Location – Mars, Jupiter, Neptune – any of the basic nine will do. Actually, a good place would be somewhere you could have black light. That luminescence of white and brightly colored clothing adds quite an extraterrestrial effect.
  • Invitation – "They’ve finally come to take the ___________ family back home!" or if you don’t like that suggestion that you’re less than normal, "Convene together and learn the hidden truth…the New Mexico cover-up – revisited!"
  • Food – Ah, food. For outer space you could probably throw anything together and say, "It’s a recipe from the Martians. Don’t look at me." But that wouldn’t make you too popular, so try some of those things that look weird but taste good – you know, like tuna fish.
  • Activities – So many activities. You could play just about anything under a black light and people would find it as enjoyable as something new. Musical chairs, for example. Or just give the kids light sabers (Star Wars is popular nowadays) and let ‘em run around.
  • Games – Laser tag is fun. Anything that involves Kill-O-Zap guns or something like that will be perfectly fine for most kids.
  • Dress – Like aliens. You know, those oval-shaped green heads with eyes the size of manholes? Those have become popular. Just wear all black and put circular tubes of duct tape around your joints (shoulders, elbows, knees), and wear a mask.
  • Decorations – Flying saucers, glow in the dark stickers, some wall hangings that do that illuminating thing under black lights. Throw in a palm tree and see if anyone notices.
  • Awards – Give a prize for the person who would probably fit in best with a feast of extraterrestrial beings. Then give a prize for the person with such a bad costume that they would end up being the main dish. Try to choose a person with a sense of humor.


Everyone likes being chased by lions and tigers, and fighting with mosquitos the size of cats. Well, get as close as you can by having a safari reunion.

  • Location – The jungle. OK then, hang a bunch of fake vines everywhere. Or just have it outside where you don’t have to carry the trees there by yourself. Try an empty park.
  • Invitation – Um, something with Gilligan’s Island? How about a guy cornered by a bunch of hungry lions, then have it say, "Enjoy the thrills and dangers of safari!"
  • Food – Lion meat, tiger meat, monkey meat, tapir meat, snake meat…the usual schmo. You don't have to tell them it's really beef or pork.
  • Activities – A lion show. If you can’t get any lion tamers, go to the circus. How about a tree-climbing contest for the kids?
  • Games – You know when you were kids, and you just wandered around acting like tigers? Well, that won’t really work here. Put a little organization to it. Organize a hunt and have someone be a lion (but walking upright) and go hunting them in a copse of trees.
  • Dress – Well, there’s always the look-at-me-I’m-a-tourist ensemble – Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, black socks pulled to your knees, sandals, a visor and a camera around your neck. Or you could go with the I-know-what-I’m-doing-and-I-look-it outfit – pith helmet, khaki safari clothes from Banana Republic, a gun and binoculars.
  • Decorations – Hang vines everywhere, set up a tent in the corner, and get some wild animal stuffed animals. Don’t forget the native totem poles with shrunken heads hanging off the eagle’s wings – they’re always a nice touch.
  • Awards – Best safari dress, best tiger wrestler (in case you do get the tigers and lions), best hunter (for the game), and best tree-climber.

Under the Sea

"There’ll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans, under the sea….". Ah, the underworld. Made popular by the Hans Christian Andersen story and profitable by the Disney movie, "The Little Mermaid". Here’s some starters to help you out.

  • Location – Under the sea. Get a blue lightbulb and you could have this reunion just about anywhere.
  • Invitation – "Come visit with the Sea Folk," or something uncreative like that. Or perhaps write out the first lyrics to the Little Mermaid song.
  • Food – Fish sticks (or caviar if your family is filthy rich). And I hear kelp has some serious health possibilities.
  • Activities – Go swimming! At the beach! At a pool! And watch the Little Mermaid. It sounds lame, but even adults enjoy it.
  • Games – Pin the tail on the mermaid.
  • Dress – I advise you not to wear the seashell bikini like Ariel does – it’s kind of funny looking on you. Just try Hawaiian shirts with seashells on them.
  • Decorations – Seashells, palm trees, fish hanging by strings, and underwater castles galore. Dolphins and sharks and stingrays are rising in popularity as well.
  • Awards – Best dressed mermaid / merdude, first person to scream at the crab in the movie to stop singing, other various categories.

Wedding Anniversary

Planning a family reunion around an important wedding anniversary (a fiftieth, for example) can be a special gift to the happy couple.

  • Location – A reception center.
  • Invitation – Put two photos of the honored couple on the invitation: their original wedding photo and a current photo.
  • Food – A dinner/dance in the couples’ honor.
  • Activities – Have the couple renew their wedding vows, have themselves a dance. Mister Spiffy suggests surprising them by grabbing a microphone and announcing that they were named the Prom King and Queen. Then give them crowns.
  • Decorations – Photos and other various memorabilia of the couple’s life together.


A western theme is very popular for family reunions. You even get to dress up in cowboy clothes (this is Mister Spiffy's favorite part).

  • Location – A park, or maybe a dude ranch.
  • Food – Barbecue, baked beans (yipes! Watch out!), corn on the cob.
  • Activities – Campfire (singing around, roasting), square dancing, pony rides, a bit of calf roping (with stationary fake calf).
  • Games – Sack race, wheelbarrow race, tug of war, other old classics.
  • Dress – Flannel western shirt and blue jeans, ten-gallon cowboy hats, tall boots, big gold belt buckles with cow skulls and bandannas.
  • Decorations – Various versions of false cacti, cattle skulls, horses, those howling coyotes that are suddenly so popular.
  • Awards – Most authentic western outfit, best roper, best expectorating (seed-spitting)

Mister Spiffy’s Helpful Hints – Mister Spiffy urges you to use mysterious themes. When people receive invitations and they have a theme that seems strange, they wonder, "Well now, I wonder how they pulled something like that off?" It gets them to come. Mister Spiffy is a reunion professional. He knows these sorts of things.