The holidays are here, the kids are home from school, and there are hopefully a few blissful days off in your future (unless you work retail- in which case I sincerely apologize and wish you the best of luck). So make the best of the time you have without breaking the bank.
Cook Something Together
The rest of the year, mealtimes can easily become a hurried frenzy of trying to get something on the plate. But the holidays are one of those magical times of the year where the actual process is almost, if not more important than the end result.
Cooking with friends, loved ones, family, and, especially, with kids. Spending time together, even if it takes twice as long as normal to make the meal, is the part that people will remember. It is also a great way to explore new recipes, try new things, and introduce kids to the kitchen.
Go to the Beach
One of the greatest parts of living and growing up in South Florida is sending pictures of yourself at the beach in December to relatives in Minnesota who are more than likely buried in the snow.
A few years ago, it was 92 degrees on December 24th. It was glorious. Other years I can fondly remember building sand castles and complaining about it being cold when the temperature crept towards the low seventies. The best part is that the sand-scape is usually empty, as if the ocean and its waves are there just for you. Perfect for family, couples, or even just friends looking to enjoy a nice afternoon together.
In our Alternative Gift Guide, we mentioned books or book exchanges as phenomenal and surprisingly low-cost gift options. In some countries, the days following the winter holidays are spent exclusively reading the books that you have been gifted. Ideally while snuggled up next to a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa in hand…
… in Florida that cozy scenario is more likely spent hiding in the air conditioning with a cold drink, but still.
Setting up reading as a family tradition is easier than it sounds. Gift yourself or your loved one’s books they have been wanting to read (as well as the kids) and, once the hyperactivity of gift opening has faded somewhat, kick back with your own book and start to read. Ask the kids if they want to join you, but don’t push. If they ask to do something else, they have to wait until you’re done with reading time (30-60 minutes). Take a break at some point for more family fun, but repeat ‘reading time’ later in the day as well. You can’t force kids to enjoy reading. But you can show them how much you enjoy it.
Bring out the Board Games
Board Games are one of those staple items that every family should have a few of. You can collect them over the years, adding slowly as skill level and interests change. We have a lifetime ban on Monopoly in my house, but that’s because it takes a lifetime to play.
Must have classics include: Hungry Hungry Hippos, Candy Land, Snakes and Ladders, The Game of Life, and Clue. Themed versions of all of these are available. Additions and originality are always encouraged. Settlers of Catan has Kristen Bell’s seal of approval, and that’s more than enough for me. And Cards Against Humanity is always an amazing 21+ option (the themed expansion packs are hilarious).
Camp Out in the Living Room
You don’t need to be 10 to want to build a pillow fort in the middle of your living room (but it does help).
When I was younger we had a pop-up tent – it was set up in the living room or back porch for holidays, sleepovers, or just long weekends. When I babysat the girls would drape blankets over the dining room tables and chair backs. Sheets hung from the ceiling create capsules of private intimate space that can create an almost magical effect. Add in some twinkling lights or electric tea candles, every pillow you have ever owned in the entire house, a few light blankets (it will get warm in there) and you have a magical time ahead of you.
Try one of these, or try all of them! However you choose to spend the time you have with your loved ones, make the moments count, and make the memories while you can.
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