We’re all familiar with the rush and busyness of the silly season, and sometimes we juggle so many things that our family takes a back seat. So, this year, the PakMag team shares 12 activities that build closeness and show appreciation for each other. Some can even be used as presents, freeing up your time while creating lasting memories; a double win!
- Personalise Surprise Christmas Cards
Organise as many christmas cards as you have family members in your household. On Christmas Eve, pass the cards around the table so that each family member can write an endearing and positive message on the card of every other family member (but not seeing their own card). No one gets to see their personalised card until Christmas morning. Before opening any gifts, hand out the cards. Watch and feel the room light up as everyone reads their messages from those they value the most.
- Volunteer for a Cause
Many charities look for volunteers this time of the year. Instead of volunteering alone, you can volunteer together, which not only strengthens the family bond but also demonstrates the importance of giving back to the community. Some volunteer ideas are serving meals at a shelter, helping to wrap presents or gift hampers with the Salvation Army, or participating in a fundraising drive for a worthy cause.
- Bake and Decorate Christmas Cookies
Baking cookies, gingerbread characters, handmade chocolates or rum balls together is always fun, especially if you get creative with the decorations. To share the joy, gift them to friends, family, co-workers and neighbours.
- Create Personalised Gift Vouchers
Make some personalised vouchers for family members to redeem over the coming year. To do this, you can use a small book of 10 or 12 vouchers and include activities and things that each family member would value. Examples include a treat to a favourite smoothie, a ‘Chore Free Week’ voucher, a movie marathon lounge sleepover, a tuckshop order, a special day out with mum and dad on your own, or a shopping day with a voucher to the value of $xx.
- Host a Christmas Party or Picnic, Theme it and Get Everyone to Bring Something to Share
Take your family and friends on a traditional picnic with all the trimmings. Let everyone pack one of their favourite foods and get the kids involved in making platters, organising drinks, or picking the spot for your picnic. Dressing Christmas themed is optional but encouraged!
- Christmas Camp Out
For this family activity, you need a tent and sleeping bags, bug repellent, and a torch. Keep it simple and cook hot dogs and marshmallows over a hot grill or fire pit. Afterward, take turns telling stories, singing carols together, or watching the stars.
- Plan Your Family Goals, Holidays, and Desires for the Following Year
Family goals can help your family develop healthier habits, build stronger bonds, and achieve your family’s vision. Sit together at the table or go out for dinner and discuss what you liked about the past year, and what you would like to change or achieve. You can also add holiday plans, and make a wish list for family activities that everyone can participate in.
- See the Christmas Lights
Decorate your car together and go for a drive to see the Christmas lights around your neighbourhood. Bring hot chocolates, marshmallows, and finger food, and pack extra pillows and blankets for sleepy little ones.
- Create a Family Newsletter and Include a Christmas Photo
Get the family together and create a newsletter including all the wonderful things you have done and achieved the past year. Ask a friend or neighbour to take a family photo for you. Silly or dressed up photos always make everyone laugh. Email or post the newsletter to your closest friends and family to show your appreciation for them and share the joy of the festive season.
- Dress Up and Head to a Carols By Candlelight Event
Keep an eye out for Carols by Candlelight events. These community events are a wonderful way to bring out the Christmas spirit in even the most reluctant Grinch, so invite your friends and family to come along.
- Gratitude Jars
Similar to a gratitude journal, it’s a jar or box filled with reminders of what you’re grateful for or any accomplishments you have achieved. You can make a family jar that holds notes about each other, and read them out once a week. You might be surprised what your kids are grateful for, and vice versa! Recycle a glass jar and tie a ribbon around the rim. Every day, write down “Gratitude Notes” and add them to the jar. This is a lovely way to show appreciation for family members, and remind ourselves of the good things we share. Hot tip-save your weekly notes into another jar and read on New Years Eve and reflect on what an amazing year you have been blessed with.
This time of year is a wonderful time to focus on spending time together and consider everyone’s input. Have all family members agree to set time aside for the activity, and establish some rules such as:
- Complete all homework before participating in the activity
- Turn off all cell phones and cease text messaging
- Don’t bring work home from the office on family night
To make the most of your family time, make sure that everyone is enjoying themselves. There are many activities to choose from, so pick the ones that appeal the most to your family’s specific interests.