I haven’t hardly been on the computer at all for weeks now. I’ve been pretty sick. Like antibiotics, inhalers, and codeine cough syrup sick. I had bronchitis, which turned into a mild case of pneumonia, which is hopefully well on its way out now. And then I was just heart-sick over the Newtown situation and couldn’t even form coherent thoughts every time I sat down to write something.
But there’s one thing I know–there’s never enough family time in our lives. Come what may, no precious moments spent with my crew are a waste. We like to make Christmas about Christ, (we don’t even include Santa in our holiday at all anymore) but we also like to make Christmas about family.
- Team Sports Equipment. Give one child the soccer ball, one child the goal, and one child several bottles of Gatorade to share.
- Movie Night. Give one child popcorn, one child candy, and one child a movie for the whole family to enjoy.
- Sweet Treats. Give one child a box of brownie mix, one child a baking pan, and one child oven mitts. (Or if you’re one of those “from scratch” bakers, split some other non-perishable ingredients.
- Game Night. We give board games as gifts to the whole family. I also recently discovered Family Pastimes games–that developed a “cooperative” game concept where everyone’s on the same team and have to use logic, communication, and teamwork to “solve” the game. I don’t necessarily have a problem with having winners and losers (everyone needs to learn to lose gracefully!), but I think this would be a nice family and sibling bonding experience for a change sometimes.
- Puzzles. Instead of giving everyone their own puzzle, how about splitting the pieces of one puzzle into separate bags and giving everyone part of the puzzle. (Don’t forget to include some for momma and daddy!) You could do the same with Legos or blocks.
- Family Recreation Equipment. Similar to the sports one above, get everyone equipment for a family adventure. Fishing poles, tackle, and life vests? Daypacks and water bottles? A tent and mess kits? What does your family like to do (or want to do in the future) together? (Just remember, by buying it, your committing to do it!)
- Pretend Play. Here’s a simple news flash–most toys are packaged for one or two kids. Walkie-talkies, for example. If you have more than one or two kids, you’ll need to get creative to encourage them to play together. But it’s worth it! Sometimes this means getting different but cooperative items like the examples above. And sometimes this means actually buying 3 of the same things so that no one is left out. We bought everyone a stick horse so they could all play together. Spy watches are another one that keeps coming up around here that we would look for 3 of.
- Family Library and Read-alouds. Have a series of books that belong to the whole family, to be enjoyed together. Either package up the start of the series, or the whole thing (sometimes buying sets is a better price!) and label it for the whole family. (We just purchased the Fruit of the Gospel set for our family library.) Another take on this is to find a book, with a good movie adaptions, and package it with some popcorn. (Some recommendations: Swiss Family Robinson, Where the Red Fern Grows, or My Friend Flicka–all have excellent family movie versions.) Both fun and a good lesson in discernment–just read the book first!
- Make and Give. Give craft projects that are meant to be given away. Christmas break from school is a great time to turn the dining room table into a craft station. Make something for the grandparents as a thank you, make something for soldiers overseas, or make something for nursing home residents and then go visit and deliver them.
- Pets. I know, I know, you think I’m crazy. Animal adoption agencies have been fighting against those Christmas puppies that no one wants 3 months later for years now. But if you’ve given full, mature consideration to the idea, then Christmas is a super-fun time to get a new pet–whether it’s a goldfish or a Golden Retriever. Nothing could involve more family time, and Christmas break is a great time to get the household into the “new pet” routine before everyone heads back to school and work.
The key is just to remember that anything that encourages family time, will require family time to execute. Not just the kiddos, but momma and daddy too. But none of us should mind more time spent loving our families!
What are some of your favorite “whole family” gifts?