No More Boring Family Gatherings

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The November and December holidays are almost here. 2016 is nearly over and it’s hard to believe. For my family, it is now the countdown to family gatherings, lots of food and keeping off that extra five pounds. But recently I’ve found that our family gatherings are somewhat boring – make food, eat food, talk, depart, repeat. Here are some ideas we’ll be incorporating this year to make it a smidgen more interesting (I hope!).

“My favorite song”

One of my favorite radio shows on SiriusXM is My Favorite Song on Radio Andy (channel 102). The host, John Benjamin Hickey, himself an acclaimed actor on stage and screen, invites celebrities to complete his list of their favorite songs. Sarah Jessica Parker picked “At the Ballet” for her favorite Broadway song, Wyatt Russell picked Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” as his favorite love song while Ethan Hawke picked “I Want You Back” from the Jackson 5 as his favorite dance song. I can’t wait to try out the list with my family on Thanksgiving!

Holiday Lists

Every year I try and scale back my partner on our holiday spending. With five children between us (and our exchange student this year) it can get pretty hefty if we don’t nail down our budget! This year I aim to give each child a maximum dollar amount that we are spending on them. It’s up to them to give us their list by a certain date and to stay within budget too. I don’t care if it’s one big gift or a few smaller gifts – or, hopefully, that they want to gift some of their budget to a charity – but this is a great way to get kids involved in both holidays and financial budgets.

Inclusion of Other Traditions

With Mariana, our exchange student, here over the holidays, this is a great time to include her family traditions into ours. This could mean anything from traditional Brazilian food, a different way to decorate the house or cultural traditions. I’m excited!

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

While this activity does not need to be just around the holidays, this will be a great experience for the kids to understand how blessed they are while they are doing a selfless act.

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Need I say more?

Give Thanks

Are there family members who cannot make the gathering this year? Have the family members present call the absent family members in a video chat or FaceTime. The kiddos can write messages to them, which can either be sent via snail mail or held up at the screen while talking.

Watch the Thanksgiving Parade Together

Gather everyone on the couch and watch the show! Bonus points if you do the parade bingo game that the website Family Education has available!

Cookies Galore

Each year since my oldest nephew was two (he’s 23 now!) our family has made hundreds of yummy cookies at someone’s house. We plan to carry on the tradition this year too.

What do you like to do at family gatherings?

Jennifer Dyer Helton

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