Family Celebration Fun for All Ages
The Holidays are coming up, and that means family gatherings. If you are in the empty nester era, you undoubtedly have to deal with trying to please people of all ages when it comes to family gatherings. Here are some suggestions and hacks that have worked for our family:
- Cover a card table with a roll of brown or white paper, and sit a can of colored pencils, markers, or crayons in the center. When kids sit at the “kids table” for the meal, they have something to do while they are waiting for the food.
- Offer a good family movie and popcorn in a room away from the Game Day sports.
- Put a craft out for the kids to make together.
- Kids love food activities! Make caramel apples, decorate sugar cookies, dip pretzel rods in chocolate – you name it!
- Play family games that are fun across a range of ages. Play guys vs. gals in team games, to keep the generations mixed.
- Our favorite group games include: Catch Phrase, Taboo, Beyond Balderdash, Pictionary, Scattergories and Apples to Apples. We also like Heads Up, which is an app on a phone.
- If the family is particularly crazy, we recommend Quelf, Pie Face, or Cranium.
- If you have a group who wants to spend some time playing a board game, we recommend Settlers of Catan, or Ticket to Ride.
- If you have a group who wants to be outside, we always enjoy Kan Jam and Cornhole.
- You might want to ask young people to turn their phones upside-down during game time, to keep them from looking at their devices when it isn’t their turn.
- Always offer to include the family elders in any of the activities. They will let you know if they aren’t interested.
- Make sure there are opportunities to have quality conversation during the day.
- Make sure the TV is tuned to the most exciting football/basketball games available.
- Suggest to everyone that the dinner table is a TECHNOLOGY FREE ZONE, and that we all engage in conversation over a family meal.
- Get everyone together just before or after the main meal, before they scatter. It only takes a few minutes, and everyone loves seeing what they looked like five years ago. Photos bring the memories back.
- Make sure to take a few general shots to tell the story of the day.
- Be sure to get a good close-up of each person at some point during the day.
- Take group shots of each family unit. If guests are present, make sure to have them take some of the family unit photos. That way, you’ll have some shots without future “exes” in them.
- Consider digging through your closet and costume box, and setting up a “Photo Booth” in the living room or outside for some extra fun.
Starting a New Tradition:
- Consider having a prayer circle before dinner. Everyone is encouraged to name a “grateful,” or share a blessing, or say a sentence prayer.
- Place a large pumpkin front and center, with a couple of black Sharpies. Ask everyone to write something they are thankful for on the pumpkin. Keep it sitting in a visible spot.
- Make up a “Minute-to-Win-It” or a “Family Feud” competition with a crazy trophy that teams try to win annually.
- Start a stone jar. Use a clear biscotti jar with a lid. Offer a bowl of attractive river rocks. Each person who wants to tells about a meaningful experience or a blessing from God that they received during the past year. As they share the story, they place their rock into the jar. The jar is brought out each year until it is full.
- Make sure to include the expected family favorites. You can branch out with sides, or a smaller secondary meal later. Rather than trying the new stuff on Pinterest, hit up Grandma’s recipe box.
- Don’t be afraid to ask family members to bring something to contribute to the meal. Most people are happy to help.
- Fill the kids’ food plates first, so they can get settled and start eating. Then Mom and Dad can enjoy themselves.
- Set the food up buffet-style for family to fill their plates initially. Then pass everything around the table for seconds.
- Consider having a food “bar” as part of the buffet: a baked potato bar, and ice cream sundae bar, a chocolate fountain with dipping goodies, etc.
- Put out fruit, cheese and crackers for small plates late in the day. Offer warmed-up leftovers, as well.
Buy ingredients ahead of time for next-day leftovers. 13 Bean soup tastes great with remaining ham. Turkey casseroles are a good way to use that turkey!
Susan and Kathy