15 Ideas to Help Your Family Thrive This Holiday Season

Survival is more than just avoiding bad outcomes. It’s also doing what you can to thrive amidst adversity. Sometimes that can require some extra creativity – something this pandemic year has asked of us all. So we’ve brainstormed a...

15 Ideas to Help Your Family Thrive This Holiday Season

Survival is more than just avoiding bad outcomes. It’s also doing what you can to thrive amidst adversity. Sometimes that can require some extra creativity – something this pandemic year has asked of us all.

So we’ve brainstormed a list of “survival” activities for the winter holidays to help generate the feelings our annual celebrations can deliver: warmth and connection, generosity and gratitude, festivity and fun – and to spark your own creativity. Physical distancing alone needn’t fracture our sense of community, nor are Zoom, Facetime, and virtual entertainment the only ways there are to bring us together.

gingerbread trees Holiday baking is a tradition in many homes already. This year, kick it up a notch by wrapping up the cookies, fudge, and other treats you make into gifts you can deliver contact-free to friends and neighbors. Or create other kinds of care packages, with gift cards for local businesses, winter fruit and other edible treats, notes of good cheer, a gently used favorite DVD or book…Get everyone involved in making group cards for loved ones. Online tools like Kudoboard make it easy for family members to upload messages, pictures, video, and more, creating dynamic multimedia greetings to those you can’t be with in person right now.Make your own bingo game for a movie marathon or TV binge, and play along as you watch. Sites like this one make it easy to create your own bingo cards for free.Take neighborhood tours – in the car or on foot – to view the holiday lights. You could even make score cards so everyone can tally their favorites for further discussion.Discover a new board game or two for your family to enjoy – or revisit some classics. Or try your hand at an online multiplayer game like Among Us, so you can involve friends and family at a distance.feet on snowDo a little friluftsliving, “Friluftsliv” (pronounced free-loofts-liv) is the Norwegian concept that time spent in nature can be both physically and spiritually healing. The word literally translates to “free air life.” Any outdoor activities “count” – from a simple walk to cross-country skiing, and anything (and everything!) in between. If you live where it snows, build a snowman/woman/person. Or a fort. Or have a good, old fashioned snowball “fight.” No snow? How about a scavenger hunt? A game of hoops? Here are a few more ideas for friluftsliving.It takes a hard heart to resist the feels when Mary Poppins sings “Feed the Birds.” Why not feed the birds yourself by making simple feeders out of pinecones, peanut butter, and birdseed? Once you’ve made them, hang them outside near windows and then get ready for the show.Build the pillow fort to end all pillow forts – with multiple rooms and labyrinthine passages draped with blankets for cover. Gather inside and enjoy a good story read aloud. Take turns reading – or have each family member take a different character and be responsible for saying their parts.Back in the days before computers, TV, and radio, people would entertain each other – with music, singing, storytelling, recitations, and so on. So why not have a family talent night, everyone contributing an act for the “show”? Or create a playlist that each family member contributes to and then have a dance party, indoors or out!Gather together colored pencils, pens, paper, and crafting supplies, and enjoy a family art night! You could choose a theme for everyone to interpret or let everyone follow their own artistic heart.holiday decorationInterview older family members over video chat or phone. Ask them about how they celebrated the winter holidays when they were kids. Or ask the grownups who raised you to remember your first handful of holidays – ones you were too young to be able to remember yourself but that they surely do.Have everyone choose some of their favorite family photos. Together, turn them into a story about your family. You can even publish it using a service such as Chatbooks.With so many more food-insecure families right now, you could spearhead a neighborhood food drive. Contact your local food pantry to see if they have any specific needs and where to deliver what you collect. Set up a safe and protected place outside your house where neighbors can drop off their donations. Then create and post flyers or drop them in mailboxes to help spread the word.Research local groups in need of volunteers who can help either remotely or in person. . When you find an opportunity that interests you, contact them and ask how your family can help.Periodically, check in on loved ones, friends, and neighbors. A quick call and chat shows your care and can give a real lift to those who may be feeling the tougher side of solitude these days.

Those are some of our ideas. What are yours?