We’ve all been hunkering down with the family a lot these days, so making that time feel more quality this season will lead to those moments your kids will remember when they’re grown. You don’t have to make big gestures either—focus on the simple pleasures and each other with small things that don’t require too much planning. The important thing is that you’re wholly present (which means time off the screens). Ready to make memories that stand the test of time? Scroll down for 5 ways to bond with the fam this season and maybe even start a new tradition this year.
Featured photo via @oak.hill.farms
Holiday baking is the best kind of baking via @_alovelylittlelife
Bake holiday cookies
Choose a recipe and grab the cookie cutters, sprinkles, and everything else you’ll need, and have some fun together making a mess in the kitchen. Get your supplies at Shore Cake Supply in Ocean Township, NJ, now offering curbside pickup. If baking from scratch isn’t your thing, there’s no need to cross this one off your list—make do with store-bought refrigerated sugar cookie dough and some add-in ingredients to make your cookies taste like they’ve been in your family for generations. Mix in a blend of ground and candied ginger, ground cloves, and cinnamon for the perfect gingerbread cookie, or try one with chopped walnuts and dried oats for your version of an oatmeal cookie. You can also slice and bake the cookie dough as is and add a finishing touch to it when cool. An easy to do favorite? Melt white, milk, or dark chocolate and dip half the cookie in it before rolling it in crushed peppermint sticks. It’s the perfect seasonal treat. While you’re at it, double or triple your batch, divide the cookies up, and pack them in festive tins before dropping them off with friends and neighbors who can use a little extra love.
Take a stroll through town
Bundle up the kids, and take a stroll in a town that’s got lots of holiday decor to admire. Under normal circumstances, Victorian Cape May is one of the prettiest towns around, but it’s even more charming when it’s decked out in seasonal finery. This year, the whole town is getting in on the action thanks to Light Up Cape May, a town-wide contest where prizes will be awarded in four “Best of” categories. You will want to see it all and weigh in on your favorites before the winners are announced on December 23rd. If this is too far, almost every town has decorations along its main streets. Check out your town, or one nearby, by walking around at dusk when the lights are on, stopping to get steaming cups of cocoa, and admiring all the decorations along the way.
Put on a family talent show
A talent show can be a fun night and an excellent way for kids to develop their skills and build confidence while having a blast. A week before the main event, give your kids a heads up about what will be happening so they’ll have enough time to plan and practice their performance. For littles, offer guidance as they choose what they’d like to do. You can encourage them to sing, play an instrument, do a dance routine, or try their hand at being a comic or a magician. They might want to put on a puppet show, act out a skit, or recite a poem that they’ve written. Make sure you get in on the action, too. Kids like to see their parents strut their stuff just as much as we enjoy watching them shine. Once everyone has figured out what they’re going to do, they can create a costume with that costume box you have in your basement that will help them get in character. On the morning of the main event, create a theater area in your home and make it as simple or elaborate as you desire. Use string lights, balloons, or banners to set the stage. Break a leg!
Find the best Christmas lights
As soon as it gets dark outside, grab some candy canes, pile everyone into the car, crank up the holiday music and head out to find the best Christmas lights in town. Plan out a road map based on your local neighborhoods. If you need a cheat sheet of where to go, check out christmaslightfinder.com, which finds the most ornate and twinkling lights near you—plug in your zip code to find the closest decorated homes, businesses, and parks. You can also make a game of it by having each family member take a card to vote on their favorites and talk about why it should win, crowning a winner based on popularity and creativity. If you’re looking for something more organized, check out these drive-through light shows in NJ.
Watch a Favorite Holiday Movie
Whether it’s a classic, steeped in nostalgia movie such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or more modern like Home Alone or Elf, snuggling up on the couch for some screen time is a great way to celebrate the season. But now, more than ever, you’ll need to make it memorable: Set up a little snack stand similar to a movie theater’s concession stand — put out bowls of buttery, salted popcorn, and include some popular movie snacks like M&Ms, Twizzlers, Sno-Caps, Milk Duds, and Gummy Bears. And who says you need to save the Christmas Eve PJs for one night? Change into cozy ones before the movie starts (bonus points if you match), You can find Family Pajamas in matching plaids at Macy’s stores and online. Then turn out the lights, snuggle up under some cozy blankets and enjoy the show.