The holidays offer the perfect opportunity to slow down from life’s hectic pace and enjoy family bonding with your loved ones. The magical spirit of the season makes way for family games and thoughtful conversation starters and gives your clan the time and space to indulge in some of the experiences on your bucket list to create cherished family memories. Read on for 25 awesome ways you can connect as a family this holiday season.

photo: Nicole De Khors via Burst

1. Volunteer as a family. Spend time doing kind deeds for others. Go caroling at a nursing home, buy toys for kids who are spending the holidays in the hospital, volunteer at an animal shelter, package meals at a local food pantry.

2. Start a new holiday tradition. Create family rituals that become annual traditions. Your kids will treasure the memories and may even pass them on to their own children. Click here for fun ideas they’ll love.

3. Travel near or far. Family vacations are life-changing and nothing teaches kids about the world like travel. Whether you fly to an exotic locale or take a day-long road trip to a nearby town, your family will bond over newfound perspectives and shared adventures.

4. Have your kids write a list of things they want to learn from you or a close relative. Spend time each day teaching them something on their list. Whether it’s guitar lessons, how to sew, how to make a homemade wreath or changing the car’s oil… it’s an invaluable learning experience and priceless time together.

photo: Sarah Pflug via Burst

5. Wear matching holiday pajamas and watch family videos. Get teary-eyed watching your eldest’s first birthday party video or cheer all over again at your daughter’s first steps. Reminisce about your family’s precious moments captured on film.

6. Look through old photo albums to teach kids about your childhood and their relatives. Ask extended family and grandparents to bring their photo albums over so your kids can learn about their family tree and hear the stories that comprise their ancestry.

7. Take your own family photos. You can either book a family photo shoot with a professional photographer or have a DIY session using these unique and creative ideas to get snap-happy.

8. Watch holiday films and family movies and eat popcorn and drink hot cocoa. Nothing beats cozying up and watching Elf on a cold winter afternoon.

photo: Marisa Howenstine via Unsplash

9. Build an epic indoor fort or super cozy pillow fort land. Have a living room campout with sleeping bags. Watch movies and play flashlight games.

10. Have a family sporting event. Put teams together and have a friendly game of basketball, softball, flag football or soccer at a local park. Have everyone bring a dish to share for a potluck after the game. Not feeling sporty? Go on a family bike ride instead!

11. Break out the board games, cards, LEGO and puzzles. Play classics like Monopoly and Clue or teach your kids a card game they don’t know yet. Put together a 500 piece puzzle over the course of a day or week as a family. Build a LEGO kit creation or model car or airplane together.

12. Teach kids a new life skill. Gather the kids around during meal prep and let them take turns doing age-appropriate kitchen techniques. Teach them how to change a bike tire or hammer a nail to hang stockings. Involve them in the daily tasks of making the holidays come to life so they can learn new skills.

photo: Annie Spratt

13. Go on a nature walk. Explore Mother Nature and get some exercise in the fresh air while enjoying the cool temps. This is an ideal time to have meaningful conversations and really listen to what’s on your kid’s mind.

14. Unplug from technology. Decide on realistic parameters for your family and take at least one afternoon and evening off where all members turn their phones, computers, tablets and TVs off and tune in to their immediate surroundings to be fully present with one another.

15. Get dressed up and go out to dinner. Put on your finest threads and go to your family’s favorite fancy dinner spot. Extend the fun by going to the theater to see a play or musical or to see The Nutcracker ballet.

16. Learn the art of mindfulness and meditation as a family. This can either mean fully committing to a meditation practice each day for a set number of minutes or simply allowing for meaningful pauses throughout the day to connect with a long hug, hand holding or other ways to make your family feel truly seen.

photo: Ethan Hu via Unsplash

17. Build a snowman! When life gives you snow, make a snowman. Bonus points if you watch Frozen first and try to create Olaf. No snow outside? See our super ‘cool’ ideas for indoor snowy sensory play.

18. Read a chapter from a chapter book aloud together at bedtime every night. Pick one of your favorite books as a child: Charlotte’s Web, Matilda, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and read it aloud to your kids each night. Watch their imagination soar while you connect over a timeless tale. Find book inspo for kids young and old here and here.

19. Get crafty. Decorate the house with handmade wares. These cute Christmas crafts will keep little elves entertained and put a sweet spin on your holiday decor.

20. Turn into Mad Scientists to Keep from Getting Cabin Fever. From walking on eggs to making slime, these science experiments will have you all giggling and captivated when hunkered down indoors.

photo: Monika Grabkowska via Unsplash

21. Host a cookie exchange. Bake up a dozen or two of your favorite cookies and ask friends and family to do the same. Then have everyone bring their goodies over and give everyone a cute holiday tin to fill with all of the yummy cookie selections. See our favorite holiday cookie recipes here.

22. Teach kids how to make a prized family recipe. Even if they’re too young to cook, walk your sous chefs through the making of their favorite savory dish. If they’re old enough to help out, have them make the dish under your supervision. Who knows, maybe they’ll cook dinner on occasion from there on out!

23. Make homemade gifts for kids to give out in appreciation. Cookies in a jar, sundaes in a box, cinnamon vanilla body scrub … we’ve got the scoop on easy DIY gifts that will delight grateful recipients from teachers to the postman.

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24. Climb aboard an enchanting holiday train ride. Dazzle your kids with one of these magical train rides that are full of holiday spirit.

25. Build a gingerbread house. Use these ingenious gingerbread house building hacks to construct a sweet abode with your sweeties.

––Beth Shea

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