Connect and engage with the family this winter break.
We tend to gear up for the holidays and all that means: food, family, friends, sometimes travel, and gifts. We also tend to breathe a huge sigh of relief when the holidays are “over” at the end of Christmas Day. We can now begin the clean up and getting back to “normal.” Most families are still together until after New Year’s Day, however. Here are 10 winter break family activities to connect and engage with each other.
So old school! I have found that having a puzzle available answers a lot of current “problems.” Puzzles can keep hands busy. They are also easy enough to do that you can maintain a conversation while working on one. I have found that many people are constantly on their electronic devices, not out of need, but out of boredom and habit.
When you ask family members to engage with out of town visitors or each other, but you give them something else to do, the puzzle for example, it is easier. Set up a fun puzzle after the holiday and enjoy time together working on it. You can get all different levels and sizes to accommodate the ages in your home. You can also have this be a regular “family” night or activity you do together.
I love board games. Our family enjoys both collaborative and competitive games. I have a list of the games we have enjoyed in our home, along with appropriate ages and why we loved them. There are many benefits to game play, both as a group and individually. This can morph into a great family tradition. Each year, buy a new family game for one of the holiday gifts. After the festivities, learn and play the new game together for a fun winter break family activity.
Get Your List of Fabulous Family GamesGames-they “cure” everything!
- Family time
- Strengthen relationships
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- 7 Collaborative games
- 15 Competitive Games
- Descriptions and Recommendations by age
3. Tour the lights
Those decorations are coming down! If you have not gone out and toured your town as a family yet, do this. You can spend an evening going around to different homes that have “gone all out” and put up a cheery holiday display. You can even extend the fun by hitting a much loved hot cocoa shop after and talking about your favorites.
4. Store windows
Many towns have holiday competitions among businesses. We have a very active downtown square. Tourists come to walk it in all seasons. Our chamber of commerce holds a competition for the best holiday decorated store front window. There are many categories for “ribbons.” By the end of Christmas Day the awards have all been given out, so we can walk the stores, see the displays, decide what we would vote on, and see who won which categories.
Whether you have this, officially, or not, you can see what the businesses have done to emphasize the holiday. This can actually turn into observing what businesses do, colors or words they use, etc to draw in business. We have a store that has a “Going out of Business Sale” every 6 months, and has for 12 years. Hmmm, something to talk about. A fun family winter break activity that doubles as an important lesson in marketing tactics!
5. Create a photo album
You have been capturing those “fabulous moments” for years. What have you been doing with them? If you are like most people, you still have all of them on your phone and have bought more cloud storage so you can save every single amazing moment. The problem is that you can never find any of them when you want to share them.
Winter break is a great time to get the family together, look at all of those photos, decide which ones are keepers, and come up with themes. For example, you could have an album of specific vacations, each family member, done by year, holidays, etc. Once you have a way you want them organized, go online and find a place that will allow you to create the album online, on their platform and then they will send you a physical copy. Now you can share all of those amazing moments!
6. Family hobby
What is everyone interested in? What are you not doing as a family now, that you can all learn to do and participate in together? This could turn into the new “thing” your family loves to get out and do once a month. Hobbies can be indoors or outdoors and as expensive or inexpensive as you want to include. Here are some ideas:
•Specialized hobbies like tying your own fishing “flies”
7. Cook together
Whoever does the cooking regularly will especially appreciate this! Having everyone’s input on favorites and what to eat for dinner, help with the preparing and cooking, and of course, help with clean up makes this huge task much simpler.
There are 6 days between Christmas and New Years Eve. Each member of the family can think of a “fabulous” dinner. You define “fabulous,” for me that means a protein, a side, and a vegetable. Then the family prepares the meal together, eats together and everyone helps with clean up! Just eating together for 6 days may be a wonderful activity during winter break if that is not something you do regularly.
8. Stream a family show
Find a television series you can all watch together. If there are multiple seasons, you can start a “TV and Dinner” night. Every Tuesday, for example, the family can make dinner together, have a “picnic” on the floor in the family room in front of the TV (this was a big deal for my boys because they were not allowed to eat anywhere but the kitchen), and watch the family show together.
Here are some places to start:
•The Penguins of Madagascar (and many other “cartoon” made series)
•Gilligan’s Island (and many other “classics” if your children will watch them)
•Monk (detective, for older children, entertaining for adults as well)
•Last Man Standing (funny)
•Myth Busters (my son loves this-most, and other great reality TV shows)
•The Proof is Out There (check out the History Channel’s offerings!)
•Outback Wrangler (check out the National Geographic’s offerings!)
This one sounds cumbersome. It can actually be fun, you can learn a lot about each other, and you can help support each other. Each person says what their one big goal is for the year.
This can lead to great talks about budgeting. If, for example, mom and dad’s goal is to have a holiday experience next year, instead of giving gifts, but they want to take the kids somewhere special, everyone needs to understand why the family needs to cut back and try to save money. Everyone is also excited to help make this goal a reality.
If you have a little one who wants a trampoline, and you have said they have to buy their own (this actually happened to my sister and I) you can discuss budgeting and how to save and earn money. We were both too young to babysit.
My sister and I actually jumped in dumpsters every time we went camping and got aluminum cans. As gross as it sounds, we loved it. We were so excited each time we got a garbage sack full to take to recycling.
Goals can look different for everyone. A big goal may be to have more connection in your life, to find a sport or after school activity that feels “right” for that child, etc. When everyone hears each other’s goals, they can be supportive and encouraging. This can be a family winter break activity that can turn into a deep bonding and understanding activity.
This is an entire article all on its own and comes out next week! There are many ways you can organize and prepare for the upcoming year. When we are “ringing out the old,” it is a great time to also clean out the clutter.
You can help your young children get rid of old clothes and toys by going through everything with your child. Help your child assess, is it beyond repair? Will it fit the next season it is worn, or could another child enjoy it? Do they really play with it anymore? If it is their books, do they really enjoy this book anymore, or can they give it to another child? Teaching your child how to asses an item is a valuable lesson. If you can give them choices about what should stay and what should go empowers your child and encourages them to take ownership of the process.
“I love the idea of using this special week to go through photos. Get out those digital devices and “share” to one device. Delete the grainy or just plain bad pictures. Delete the ones that are really similar, keeping just one that is really great. And store the photos in folders that are named so that you can easily find them. You can eventually label them and create photo albums out of the photos.
“Create a photo album” is one of the family winter break activities, but it definitely counts towards organization as well! We all have so much digital “junk” on our devices. Starting with photos is great to do as a family and brings up great memories. You can venture into the less fun activities like emails, cleaning out downloads, and random “stuff” on your google drive on your own.
The “warm fuzzies” you and your family experienced during the holidays do not have to end when Christmas does. You have an entire week with the family from Christmas to New Years Day. Here are 10 winter break family activities to keep boredom at bay, start new traditions, and build family closeness.
“I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here – my family.” Lou Lou Who, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas