Family time. The holidays are full of it. But sometimes, it’s hard to know what to do with it all.
Do you ever find yourself there?
The kids are home from school, the relatives are in from out of town, family abounds, but the thought of family time isn’t just wowing you? You aren’t super excited about all the time you’ll have together, not because you don’t want to see them, but because… well, what do you do with it? You’re either too busy or too bored.
Can I be honest and say I’ve been there?
I love Christmas. But sometimes family time becomes a chore. Something I feel like I fall short at. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, but I when we attempt it it looks nothing like what you see in the movies. Can you relate?
Well, maybe it’s just me, but on the off chance I’m not alone, I put together a list of three ways
you we can enhance our family time this Christmas. I already started putting some of these into practice over Thanksgiving and I am so excited to share. So, without further ado, here they are…
3 Ways to Enhance Your Family Time This Christmas
1.) Play Together
Play games. Think, games that get you talking. Not just games to pass the time, but games that build relationships and make you laugh.
The newest edition of Life has great action cards that go with it. Some card games are good for this, but others aren’t. My family loves Uno. There’s never a dull moment when we play.
Another of my family’s favorite games is Forbidden Island. It’s a game based on team work. You all have to work together to recover all the artifacts before the island sinks.
One of my favorite holidays growing up was when my cousins and I all got together to play a game of football in their backyard. So don’t count out sports. If you are athletic, touch football and basketball are great family games and team sizes can be determined by the number of people you have.
Beyond games, just play. Play in the snow (if you are so blessed). Play with toys. Play make believe if that’s the age your children are. Play video games. Play volleyball. Play horseshoes or yard darts. Just play.
2.) Make Yourself Available for Family Time
It’s so easy to fill every minute of your holiday schedule. It’s easy to stay busy doing “stuff”. Whether you are working in the kitchen, cleaning the house, finalizing plans, it seems like there is always something that us moms can be doing. And our kids would love for us to just be.
Thus, one thing I do is just make myself available to them. I am not good at sharing my kitchen. It’s small and I’m usually on a schedule, so if I don’t plan for help, I usually won’t accept it. So during the holidays I know I need to plan for it sometimes. And when I’m not in the kitchen, I try not to stay super busy. Believe it or not, I don’t even do a lot of reading over the holidays.
We usually pull out the card table and dump out a puzzle (we did this one over Thanksgiving). My mom and I will sit and visit, and piece it together. But rather than being busy, or having my nose in a book, if the kids want to spend time with us they can join in or invite us to do something else. We aren’t unable to walk away. We’re available.
If it weren’t for our puzzle table, I would find something to do. Even if it were just reading a book or watching a movie, it would be something I wouldn’t be able (or willing), to walk away from as easily. Puzzles may not be your thing, but making yourself available is huge. We also go on walks and make sure everyone is invited. Sure there are times when the kids do there own thing, and I need a little quiet time, but I do want to spend more time with my family during the holiday break than I get to when they are in school all day.
3.) Conversation Cards / Discussion Time
Every Sunday at dinner, we go around the table and share one thing about the sermon that we liked, learned, or that made us think. For me, the holiday season when the whole family gets together is like Sunday dinner on steroids, only it’s no longer about the sermon (sorry, Pastor).
Lately, we have been using the Table Thyme Discussion Cards. I got them as part of a review kit and my kids LOVE them. We sat at the table for over an hour after dinner one night over Thanksgiving break because they wanted to keep doing more, and it’s really hard to tell your teenage son it’s time to stop talking to his parents. “Let’s do another one, Mom.”
I’ll be honest, while these cards were the whole reason I signed up for this review kit, I did not expect my kids to love them more than I did. Talk about being blindsided in a positive way.
Here’s a little bit more about the cards:
There are 365 cards on a ring that’s supposed to be self-standing. Ours does have a bit of trouble standing up on it’s own, but I think if I put something to hold the bottom flat, we’ll be golden. Anyways, I think it’s supposed to be one for every day of the year, but the Hart family doesn’t roll that way. Partly because, “Let’s do another one, Mom” and partly because there are some nights where simply don’t all eat together. I have a middle-schooler and a high-schooler. Monday night the only person who was home for supper was my husband (praise God for crock pots). Wednesday’s the kids eat at church. Our weekday evenings are just filled to overflowing. So, honestly, “Let’s do another one, Mom” get’s an “Okay” from me. If we finish the whole set over Christmas break, I’ll look for some more because these are a hit.
Any-who, what’s special about these cards that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else is that every question is followed up with “Why?” to take everyone’s answers deeper. That’s where the real conversation starts. Even a simple question such as, “What is your favorite dessert?” goes from a one word answer and moving on to the next person, the whole family gets to walk down memory lane because Apple Pie reminds them of Grandma Smith who always made apple pies with them when they came to visit. Her house always smelled of fresh baked pies and she gave the best hugs when we walked in the door. Sometimes, however, the answer to why is just because. If your favorite dessert is a hot fudge sunday, you are not required to have a why. I mean, it’s a hot fudge sunday, am I right? That’s what my mom said when it was her turn anyways, and I am not allowed to question my mother, I don’t care how old I am.
All that said, as much as I love these cards, you can probably find some great conversation starters online. I know IF:Gathering puts some together each month for IF:Table that you could use if your family is full of adult believers. But you could also google “conversation starters” and just write a few down that appealed to you. And these don’t have to be used just at meals, any time you have family time is great for conversation cards.Check out these 3 ways to enhance your family time this holiday season. Click To Tweet
Bonus: Do A Family Project
Doing stuff together is a great way to enhance your family time. Beyond games and discussion, and just being available, having an end goal and actually working together can be an amazing thing. One Fall my family built a PLINKO game for our churches Fall Festival. We had more fun building it than we did at the festival. Not that the festival wasn’t fun. But the festival lasted for an hour, and it took us all week to finish it. We go to the festival every year, but the memories we made building the game stand out.
The important thing about family time projects is that they have a beginning and an end. A clear-cut plan for completion. Otherwise they end up like the tree house we’re building in our backyard… A measured pile of good intentions.
So maybe it’s best to start small.
We have a Family Honor Plate that we plan to paint over Christmas. I got a free kit to review and we really wanted to do it sooner, but with everything going on with my migraines, my husbands back, and everything else, it just hasn’t happened. We did drag it out tonight, but although it claims the kit has everything you need to complete the project, you have to clean the plate with rubbing alcohol before you can paint it, and I am just plain out.
So, I don’t have any pictures to share, but I can tell you that my kids are super excited about it and are working on coming up with their own designs for the plate. I told them we will have to work together and all agree, so they have a few weeks to hash it out. Here’s a picture that came with my review material…
What I love about the Family Honor Plate is that it has the fruits of the Spirit listed in a circle around the inside edge. It’s more than just a family keepsake, it’s a parenting tool. It can help us teach our children that honor is about character. And good character is defined by Jesus.
The woman who designed the Family Honor Plate suggests that you use it as a positive reinforcement tool by letting the child who displays good character use it for dinner. However, it is fragile. I definitely would not hand this plate to a toddler, and with four children, even about to all be in the double digits, our house is a little rowdy to have it out at every meal. The kit came with a plate stand, so I will probably just end up displaying it and maybe using it on special occasions.
Other families like to volunteer together over the holidays. That has always appealed to me, I’ve just never known how to make it happen. But there are a ton of ways you can work together with your family over the holidays. Either at your home, doing volunteer work, community service, or making a family keepsake. Any of those are a great way to enhance your family time this Christmas season.
What About You?
How do you make the most out of family time during the holiday season?
Do you have a game, activity, or project you do or would recommend? Any tips for making yourself available? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!How do you make the most out of family time during the holiday season? Click To Tweet