The holidays are supposed to be about bringing families together, right. So why does your family feel splintered and like everyone is off doing their own thing? Perhaps you need some gift ideas that encourage family togetherness.
Christmas at our house used to go a little something like this…
I’d spend tons of time making lists, shopping, wrapping, and cooking. And I would be so excited when the big day arrived because I had this image of a leisurely family day where we’d hang out together as a family and enjoy each other’s company.
The reality….the kids would tear through those gifts in record time and head off to their individual rooms to play with their new loot.
And I’d be annoyed.
I would invariably feel like I had gone to all that trouble for not much in return. What I wanted was to spend time with my kids. What I needed was to give gifts that actually encouraged that to happen.
But just because I was a slow learner doesn’t mean you can’t learn from my mistakes.
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Not every gift has to be a tangible item you wrap up in a box. Some great gift ideas the family may love are those experiences you’ll share together, that allow you to relax and enjoy each other’s company, or encourage you to get out and explore the world around you. The only limit is your imagination!
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Card games the whole family can enjoy
Sometimes it’s nice to stay home, snack, and play games. There’s nothing that says family togetherness only happens when you’re away from home.Along with some tried and true favorites are some new ones I’ve discovered recently.
We love card games at our house – always have. Age seems to disappear because a lot of these games are simple but fun.
- Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception – I actually discovered this card game a few years ago at a gifted education conference. I bought it for my classroom and the kids (all of them!) were HOOKED! I bought a set for home use and we loved it at home too. You’ll be surprised at who in your family finds the “set” first – it won’t always be the adults.
- Qwitch, The Quick Switch Card Game – This looks like a fast moving game that will test your perception and reflexes.
- These Kem playing cards are the best! My mom was a serious bridge player and she’d only use cards by Kem. They feel good in your hands, don’t stick together, and are easy to shuffle. We are still using cards she bought 40 years ago and they’re still in perfect condition.
- Blink is a new one to me but it looks like fun. You’re racing to match shapes and colors. It look like it might be a great companion to Set.
Board games for adventurers and mystery lovers
1. Covert – In this game, each player is a spy trying to achieve a mission.
2. Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters – In this game, all players are working together as a team to escape with treasure from a house that’s getting more haunted with each move.
3. Salem 1692 – It’s probably the former history teacher coming out here, but this game of social deception looks very interesting.
4. CodeNames – This game for 4 or 6 players is played in teams and gets great reviews on Amazon.
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Sporting equipment encourages family togetherness
Maybe you’ve decided that this is the year you’re all going to get in shape. If so, sporting equipment for activities you can all participate in together would make great gifts.
- This rebound net eliminates that annoying sound and potential damage that occurs when someone hits the ball against the side of the house…for times when you really can’t find someone else to play with you.
- For the serious and up-and-coming tennis players, this velocity speed gun allows someone to track how fast you’re hitting those serves. Great for friendly competition between family members or to help that family member who’s dreaming of Wimbledon.
- The power base tennis trainer will let family members practice skills individually without having to run to collect stray balls.
- Even if you can’t always make it to a public tennis court you can still have fun playing. This portable tennis net for your driveway allows several of you to create your own court at home.
Table tennis (or ping pong) table – If you want something to play indoors then this midsize folding table might satisfy your inner Serena Williams.
Games for indoors and outdoors
- Croquet is a fun games when the weather is nice outdoors. You set up your own course and family members of all ages can participate equally.
- This folding pool table is great when space is limited. We used to have a pool table and it brought hours of great fun…even if I never was very good.
- This set is for outdoor volleyball or badminton.
- Your basketball fans will love having the arcade feel of this indoor basketball game. You’ll like that it can be folded up and put away when you don’t want folks playing.
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Memories from a trip last a lifetime
Perhaps your family would enjoy an outdoor adventure. A camping trip complete with fishing, hiking, and roasting marshmallows would be a great way to spend time together and learn new things about each other. Without the distraction of the TV and computer you can enjoy nature, each other, and a break from the everyday routine.
If this sounds like the prescription for you then a few necessities you’ll need for your trip are:
- This family tent holds up to 8 people.
- Part of the fun of camping is the cooking and eating outdoors. This kitchen utensil organizer means you don’t have to raid your own kitchen when it’s time to hit the road.
- Camping lanterns are a must – and they’re versatile enough to have uses around the house if the power goes out too.
- Cooking over an outdoor fire is fun, but sometimes the weather or location doesn’t permit that. When that’s the situation this camping stove still allows you to have hot food without the hassle of a fire or having to find a picnic area with a grill.
Some families might prefer an outdoor vacation that doesn’t involve tent sleeping (count me in this group). An upgrade to a nice cabin rental might make the vacation more luxurious.
And who says that you couldn’t choose to actually spend the holidays at a nice cabin someplace. If you don’t live where it snows this might make the holidays feel more festive – and give you a chance to relax and spend time together without the distraction of your daily routine.
Or if you’ve got a summer vacation planned, you might agree that part of the Christmas gift money will be put aside to spend next summer on “gifts” you find while you’re away. This would be a great way to stretch your vacation budget and allow the kids to get souvenirs that otherwise might be out of reach.
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Places your family can enjoy together
Depending on where you live, some of these places or activities might provide a fun outing and turn your gift-giving into a gift that actually encourages family togetherness.
Consider passes to:
- the zoo
- sporting events
- the movies
- an Onmi theater presentation
- a planetarium
- the closest amusement park
- an evening spent bowling
- a friendly (or not so friendly!) game of laser tag
- a paintball course
Whatever gifts you decide on, here’s hoping that you spend the time with those you love most.