Bringing the Family Together
Where to start
Initially, you need to gain agreement from the whole family, which night of the week will be appropriate for you all to set aside. Once you have gained that agreement the key to this, is truly committing to that night because, ultimately you are committing to each other.
You've all agreed on your night, let the fun begin. No matter where you are in the world, you can create an individual family night to suit your needs. I have brought together a list of 20 ideas that you can alternate in the coming weeks, keeping your family nights fresh and fun.
The key thing with the family night is ensuring your focus on each other. Switch off the mobile phones, make sure friends and other family members know that this is your family night and for the adults no work is to impact on this night. You can make the time if you want to. Lets start organising the fun parts.
The Family Meal
Keeping it simple
You don't want to plan anything that is complicated because, you don't want to be stuck in the kitchen all night. If your having a themed night then do finger foods that are complimentary to that night. Finger buffets are great because the family can eat at their own pace and whilst you are all enjoy the activities that you've all organized.
Cold Winter nights soups and stews are brilliant. You can throw anything into a soup or a stew, these dishes basically cook themselves., Get the children involved with any of the preparation and cooking. Always remember safety in the kitchen particularly with younger children in the family.
Involve everyone with the cleaning up too, this means that no one person is separated from the group and you can make this fun too.
If you have the odd occasion where cooking might not be an option order in a pizza or have an Indian or Chinese meal.
The Fun begins
What will you do?
In these times of recession particularly, we are all looking for ways to do things with our families that are not going to cost a huge amount of money. Right now, it really doesn't matter where you are in the world, our pay cheques are not stretching as far as we would like every month.
So, here are some ideas that are cost effective and, you can make them as fun as you want them to be. There are a few treat ideas, for that occasional splash out but, still not costing huge amounts of money that will not hit the salary badly.
- A Games Night - Alot of families now have at least one games console, get a family competition going. Get the traditional board games out scrabble, cluedo, sorry, Chinese checkers, snakes and ladders for the younger children, game of life, chess, monopoly, twister, candy land etc. Card games - you can gamble for sweets or any healthy options.
- Movie Night - Get the popcorn, snacks and non alcoholic drinks on the go. Choose a family orientated movie. There are so many great movies out there now, take turns on who can choose the movie for that night.
- Craft Nights - These are great particularly if there is a seasonal event coming up, to create gifts for other family members and friends from you all. This is also a great theme to have for younger members of the family. You can create a Family calender, scrap book, start a family collection, family diary, a family tree, family collage, a time capsule and bury it in your garden for future generations to find. Learn to make soaps, candles, mosaics or clay beads etc. There are many craft shops and websites who have tutorials on how to find a craft to suit your family.
- Themed Night - You could incorporate a themed night with a movie night, for example a cowboy night and watch your favourite cowboy movies. Dress up as your favourite movie character. Have a Mexican night with Mexican food and music playing. This has infinite possibilities and fun for the whole family.
- Learn something new together - A new language, a musical instrument, sign language, morse code, how to knit, crotchet, first aid, survival skills, to swim, a new sport, learn to dance just like strictly come dancing.......there are so many subjects out there as a family you could learn and have fun together. There are a huge amount of websites out there that can teach you new skills, or point you in the right direction for facilities in your local area. My Grandmother had always said to learn something new everyday.
- Music Night - This is one of my favourites. This is where you can subject your children to your old classics, but in return they will subject you to theirs. You can embarrass them with your poor co-ordination when dancing. Again finger foods for this night is a great idea.
- Family DVD night - Get the old family dvds out, have a great laugh at all the family memories that you have created over the years. Good night for the pop corn.
- Karaoke night - You parents can have a go at singing the latest chart songs and get the kids to sing some of your old classics.There are great websites online to help with this like snapsong.com
- Family Photo Night - Pull out the old family photos, especially those ones that are not organised into photo albums and sort them out. Replace older photos that are in frames with more up to date family photos, this will also help to freshen up your home.
- Family Book Club - I love this, as this helps with extending the kids vocabulary and let them see there is more to life than text or msn speak. You can all choose either the same book to read or a different one each. Then, the following month come back, review it with the family. You never know you may even end up borrowing a book, to see if you get the same out of it. We still have plenty of libraries out there to borrow books to keep the costs down. There are lots of second hand book stores out there too, to help. You could even take the family to a local book signing. Remember knowledge is power.
- Set up a tent in the garden - Have a camping night. This is great for during the summer months. Get the BBQ going, set up a tent and if its safe you can have a little camp fire going. You can sit around the camp fire telling stories,(maybe the occasional scary story) and singing songs. The songs can be to all of your tastes.
- An Astronomy Night - Get the kids interested in the planets. Take them to a local planetarium and then for a pizza. When you guys get home you can discuss what you've learned about how amazing our planet and universe is. That could lead onto other family activities, on how you as individuals can help preserve our planet. Always keep it fun.
- Zoo night - Take the kids to see the animals at the zoo. This is a treat night but the kids will love it. Again this is a great idea for the summer evenings. You all as a family can learn so much about the animals on our planet and some who are in great need of our help.
- Museum Night - Just like the movie. Take the family along to the local museum, there is so much we all don't know, either about our local history or our national history. This can be fun. Its amazing how many museums have themed nights, to encourage and, let kids see that our history really isn't boring.
- History Night - Now this is a huge one. This could be history research on your own family, local history, your countrys' history or even another countrys' history. You could even incorporate a themed night for the period you want to look at. Bring in a movie with it too. For example if you were looking a Scottish history, dress up in kilts and watch brave heart. You can look at traditional foods for that country too. It can be a really great night.
- Paint balling - Take the kids paint balling. You can split into teams and have a really competitive fun night. You can have the loosing team doing a forfeit, a nice one.
- Create a Story or Play together - This is a fantastic one for families who have young children. You can create the play or story together, after you are all happy with it, you can act it out. This really encourages kids creative side to come out, and they will always remember this occasion.
- Create a Family Quilt together - I know that this night could be categorized into the craft night, but I wanted to give a bit more detail. This could be an ongoing night for weeks, months and years to come. This could be the start of a family heirloom that future generations could add to. This is a very different way of laying down the family history, and showing key family historical events.
- Learn to grow your own vegetables - This is another great summer time activity. This will also help teach your children and, yourselves on how to be self sufficient. It will also be great fun, and give you all a sense of achievement at creating something together. The younger children will love getting their fingers dirty.
- Art Gallery night - Take the family to your local art gallery. Show them that there is still people out there who are creating with their hands, and they maybe able to create something too. After you have been to the gallery, you can encourage your family to create their own pieces of art when they return home. Put what they have made on display in your home to make them feel proud of their achievements.
These are just a few ideas that I have incorporated into my family life, and have given us some fantastic quality time together. Each family is individual and you all can put your own slants on the foundations of each idea.
Enjoy your time with your family, as life is so short. I hope I have given you all some ideas that you can use.