by Blake Herzog
Winter holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are presumed to be perfect occasions to gather with family, but it can be easy to go with that assumption without putting enough thought into it — serve the turkey, put up the tree, light some candles and just add relatives.
But if you don’t want to spend all your between time together watching football or Hallmark movies, it helps to plan some activities:
This is a great way to be together around the holidays without having everything be about the holidays!
Just dig out your favorites from long ago and add a few new ones to the mix, either before or after gifts are exchanged.
Card or board games are best at encouraging interaction, but if video games have a better chance of holding your audience’s attention they can certainly be added as part of the fun.
Cooking and baking
Food is woven into the traditions and fabric of most winter holidays, making its preparation ideal for bringing multiple generations together.
The youngest children can help decorate cookies and cakes while those of school age can wash, measure and stir ingredients. As they move into the tween and teen years, children can make batter, either on their own or with the advice of parents or grandparents.
Older teens who are really getting the hang of it can take the lead on desserts or sides while elders who may not get to make a lot of big meals anymore can step back into the ring if they choose.
If you have a tradition of singing holiday songs together, or even if you don’t, you can buy or rent a karaoke machine and let everyone bring their inner star out for the holidays.
Songs of this season are sentimental and emotional, a lovely way for people of all ages to express how they feel to each other. And when it’s time to lighten things up you can break out Frosty the Snowman or All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth or to get everyone dancing and humming along.
Families get to spend a lot of time exchanging gifts with each other this time of year, and they can also practice gratitude by looking for chances to help others in the community. Volunteers are needed throughout the year, but don’t pass up the chance to share the experience with extended family.
The Salvation Army, Maricopa Pantry and other nonprofits need extra assistance in organizing and distributing the extra donations that flow in this time of year. You can also serve or deliver meals together and spend time with people who don’t have any family of their own in the area.
Holidays draw neighborhoods, communities and even wider groups together, as well as families. Don’t miss the chance to share this year’s light parades, tree lightings, choral concerts, seasonal plays and musicals and other festivities listed in our Pinal NOW section on the next page!