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Carving Out Real Family Time

Even when the whole family is home for the holidays, it’s hard to get quality time together. You’re frantically cooking while the kids are holed up in their rooms. Everyone’s glued to their screens or out catching up with friends. Given the hectic nature of the season, it’s understandable that family members go their separate ways, but it is possible to come together. Simple activities, like crafting decorations or volunteering, can help you bond over something other than gifts. Follow these steps to make this Christmas truly special for you and your loved ones.

Decorate the house

Your kids might not share your design taste, but you can probably all agree that decorations are essential to Christmas. So why not enlist their help in making the house feel festive? Depending on your child’s age, you could help them pile seasonal items—like pine cones, glossy bulbs, and garland—into bowls or vases for centerpieces. Older kids can string popcorn garlands for the tree, or help hang lights. For inspiration, visit a crafts store or look for materials around the yard or a park together. And let your kids be creative, even if it upsets your perfect living room color scheme.

Volunteer together

There are so many ways to help the less fortunate at Christmas. Bring your kids to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter to serve meals, or find a charity organization that lets you deliver prepared dishes to seniors. Teens might be up for helping build homes for people in need, while kids of all ages can hold toy and clothing drives to donate to appropriate charity organizations. Along with quality family time, your kids may come away with a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of a community, as well as an appreciation for everything they have.

Wrap presents for family members

No matter how expensive the gift, personalized wrapping can make all the difference. Helping your children wrap presents for each other, or for their friends or relatives, is a great way to encourage their creativity and thoughtfulness, while getting one-on-one time with them. Basic items around the house can be used to create eye-catching packages. Kids can draw on paper-bag wrapping paper, for example, stencil their own gift labels, or affix paper snowflakes to packages. Throughout the process, let your kids know that imperfections only make the wrapping more special.

Take in the Christmas lights

There’s nothing quite like the sight of colorful lights to build excitement for Christmas. Gather the family together to take it all in, whether your city holds a tree-lighting ceremony, your town transforms into a winter wonderland, or nearby homes are known for their over-the-top decorations. Bring thermoses of hot chocolate to make the experience cozier, and encourage your kids to use a disposable camera to capture the scene without their phones. The point is to focus everyone’s attention on the beauty of the season, and remember how much fun it is to be together.

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