Tips for enjoying the holidays together

  1. Rent or stream a holiday movie and watch it as a family.  You can even turn it into a game.  Pop a bowl of low-fat popcorn and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  Every time Jimmy Stewart appears in a new scene, eat a kernel of popcorn.  Or watch the Wizard of Oz (a holiday favorite in my home) and stage a sing-along, assigning each family member a character.  Afterward, start a family discussion.  What would you do differently if you made the movie?
  2. In addition to presents, give each other home-made gift certificates.  Give your daughter one that says, “I will play one board game of your choice,” and give one to your son that reads, “I will read you one extra story at bedtime.”  Your kids can give Dad a gift certificate that states, “We will help you do two loads of laundry.”  The one for Mom can say, “I will help shovel the front steps.”  Make up your own.  Get creative.  You can even make silly ones like, “I will do a funny dance to wake you up in the morning.”
  3. Download a holiday-themed book online or from the library and listen to it in installments in the car on way to school or sports practice.  You can get your local librarian to help you choose a good one. 
  4. Start a new family tradition.  Make a brand new healthy holiday meal or start a holiday decoration contest.  Pick a story to read out loud every year, or spend a night sipping hot peppermint tea and looking at old photo albums or slide shows on the family computer. Share your "highs and lows" of the year or of the season to nurture reflection. 
  5. Spread the spirit - for every toy that comes in to the house (remember, these gifts can be used too), your kids can choose an older toy to donate to a local non-profit or give away to a friend.

Most of all, make sure the season is more about giving than getting.  Make sure your family understands the best gift of all is getting everyone together, happy and safe.