Spending time with family can be one of the best parts of the holidays, but even if you and Cousin Norbert get along famously, you still need to find activities to occupy yourselves as the celebrations draw nearer. We’ve got a list of low-cost ideas to prevent the dreaded awkward silences and keep the good times rolling!
Give Your Time
It is better to give than to receive, they say, so consider giving your time to local charities and nonprofits — together. The whole crew can participate in coat and toy drives, select gifts from wishing trees for foster kids, or visit retirement homes to share cards, cookies, and holiday music. Older teens and adult volunteers can donate their time to the animal shelter, walking the dogs and playing with the cats, or sign up to serve meals to the homeless. Feeling more spur-of-the-moment? Hand out hot chocolate and warm socks to homeless people in your town.
Burn Some Calories
Fun run, anyone? You can find 5ks, walk/runs, and charity runs all across the country during the holidays. If you’re an active family and you don’t mind a bit of a nip in the air (or a lot of nip — don’t forget Polar Bear Plunges!), joining a run will get you out of the house and help relieve any holiday-related stress that might have built up over the past month or so.
Become a Tourist
You’re a native in your own town — but have you ever looked at it through the eyes of a tourist? When is the last time you visited your local museums, zoo, and historical sites? If you’re like many people, the answer may be never! It’s amazing how we don’t get around to seeing the special sights in our own cities. Your guests are a great reason to broaden your horizons!
If you’re not normally a theater person, heading to the local production of “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol” can be a special holiday treat. A little too mainstream for you? You’ll find counter-culture productions all over, too, from “Santaland Diaries” to “A Klingon Christmas Carol.”
Get to Work
If your visitors arrive a few days or more before the holidays, put them to work! You’ve probably got last-minute wrapping, baking, organizing, and shopping to do, so share the chores. And let’s face it — when the chores are holiday-related, they generally seem like fun ways to get into the spirit of the season instead of work … right?
Give It a Rest
Of course, it doesn’t all have to be go-go-go. Factor in time for your guests to visit other friends and relatives in the area. Order pizza in one night and watch a movie. Make sure you’ve got time for a leisurely cup of coffee, a few chapters in your book, or a nap sprinkled throughout the visit. Spending time in companionable quiet can be just as rewarding and still counts as quality time.