Communicating with someone who is on their phone—texting, answering email, or scrolling through Instagram—can be like talking to a brick wall. The last thing we want when our family comes together is to spend the day in awkward silence or broken conversation while cousins, aunts, and uncles are busy on their mobiles or work computers.
This year make an effort to put down the phones and have some quality family time, the kind you’ll remember for years to come. Check out these creative ideas to engage everyone in some non-digital togetherness—at least for a few hours.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
If you’re hosting a holiday party this year, bring out old photo albums, family videos, or slideshows. These fun visuals are a great way to get everyone together to laugh, reminisce, and spend some time together without distractions.
Remember that time Uncle Rich caught the biggest fish of his life—but the line broke? Or when Aunt Sue baked an entire birthday cake—without yeast? Telling stories can build connections between generations, help us remember where we can from, and provide hours of family bonding—not to mention tears and laughter.
This year ask family to think of some of their favorites to tell when you’re together. Or, have a few of your own ready to go during dinner, to get things going.
Make It a Game Night
Bring games like Apples for Apples or Scattergories to play with your family. Or, try trivia games, like Trivial Pursuit or Smartish. It may be hard to get everyone on board (pun intended) right away, but once you do, it’ll be hard to pull them away.
Set up a craft booth at your family gathering. It may begin with the kids, but when they see and hear all holiday cheer and imagination going full-steam, the whole family will want to get involved. Stock up on construction paper, markers, colored pencils, stickers, and kid-friendly scissors to build a decoration station that everyone can enjoy.
Who knows what the weather will be like come the holidays, but if it’s not too intense, get your family to bundle up and get outdoors for a friendly game of touch football, soccer, catch, or, if there’s snow, building a snow family.
If you’re not afraid of things getting a little messy, buy the fixings to make gingerbread houses, or find pre-packaged kits, and have each family on a team to build theirs. To make it a little more engaging, have the teams compete for a prize.
Whatever you decide to do this year, the most important thing is to enjoy the time spent with family, friends, and loved ones, and appreciate a little time away from our daily distractions. And if you or a loved one need help keeping your screen impulses under control, we’ve got some tips for that, too.