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Life and Religion

Holiday fun
Tips on spreading cheer for entire family
Published Thursday, November 15, 2012 10:27 am
by Wesley Carter D.M.

This year is our family’s turn to host Thanksgiving dinner and we will have guests for several days. What are some creative, but inexpensive ways to engage family members of various ages?

Wesley Carter D.M.

The objective of holiday gatherings should be to create happy memories and maintain enjoyable traditions. Focus on those activities that bridge age and gender gaps. Take special care to be inclusive to ensure that everyone shares in the festivities.

Encourage the family to share healthy activities. Get outside and play games. Go on family walks. For those family members unable to participate due to health issues, put on a classic movie. “The Color Purple,” “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” “Miss Evers’ Boys” and “Cooley High” are just a few titles.

Ask the children to pick an elder to interview and arrange an after-dinner event to allow each child to share what they learned during their interviews.  Create an interview form to guide the questions. Include demographic questions such as age, birthplace, birth order, and where they grew up. In the next section of the interview form, include 5-10 questions and ask each child to identify at least 3 questions for their interviews.

Include questions for the elders such as 1) the funniest thing that every happened to them, 2) the most famous person they ever met, 3) their proudest moment, 4) what they wish they had learned earlier, 5) their favorite pastime as a child, 6) their favorite teacher and why, 7) their first job, 8) what age would they be if they could be a child for one day and why, 9) three things that they would improve if they were president and how, and 10) their favorite vacation as a child and why. Make up other questions at your discretion.

Purchase a large container of inexpensive paper plates, tape, and markers. Divide the family into teams with an even distribution of ages and gender. Give teams 5 minutes to build mouse hotels using the plates, tape, and markers. Take a vote on the most creative hotel and capture the works of art with your camera.

Create interesting dinner conversation by asking each family member to complete a sentence. For example, you could start sentences such as, “I dream of...,” “I miss…” or “I love…” Go from person-to-person and ask the same question. If a family member cannot quickly provide an answer, move on and come back to them at the end.

Pass the newspaper around and ask everyone to identify one article to read and share with the family. The object of the assignment is to engage the family in a collective learning exercise. This activity can be repeated every day.

Ask if anyone knows a cool trick or a funny audience-appropriate joke. Visit your local library and check out books on magic tricks and jokes. Be sure to choose a book with instructions on creating tricks using common products such as coins or household objects.

Visit your local doctor’s office and library and ask if they would be interested in donating old magazines to you. Ask family members to cut up the magazines and make collages representing themselves and their interests. Post the art around the house for all to enjoy.

You should also visit a used bookstore and purchase an assortment of books for your guests. Choose books from various genres to increase the possibility of identifying those that would be of interest to various ages and interests. Encourage guests to take any unfinished books with them at the end of the visit.

Buy a thousand-piece puzzle for the family to work on over the holiday. If you have not already started, create a tradition of playing family games. Divide the family into teams and play charades, cards, or other engaging activities.

These are just a few suggestions. Enlist the support of your family in creating new and interesting ways to engage. Ask your family members for suggestions of activities to share.  Enjoy the holiday and be sure to take plenty of pictures.

If you would like a free copy of the Kids by Carter Family Interview form, please email info@kidsbycarter.com.

Wesley Carter D.M., founder and CEO of Kids by Carter, provides guidance to parents. Submit your questions to wesley@kidsbycarter.com Visit www.kidsbycarter.com and follow on Twitter @kidsbydrcarter.


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