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Family Files

Building traditions as part of a "family night in"

family playing a game

The holiday season is approaching, and many families are feeling the pressure building.  How can everything get accomplished?  Do I have a low-fat recipe for pumpkin pie?  Instead of trying to do it all, set aside a “family night in” to enjoy the season.

In previous articles, I have shared lots of ideas for a “family night in.”  A “family night in” is doing something together at home that everyone in the family can enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be a major event.  In fact, simple things are often the most fun and relaxing. Here are some great tips for a November night in from retired Illinois Extension Educator, Debbie McClellan:

  • Families may be traveling to get together during the holidays.  Talk about all the different ways you can travel.  Explore what it would be like to travel by bus, train, plane, stagecoach, hot air balloon or other methods of transportation.
  • Think about harvest time.  What crops are grown in your area?  How many things can you think of that are made from corn?
  • Check out a book or research online for articles about the early settlers in your area.  Take turns reading and talking about the ways they are similar to you and the ways they were different.
  • Collect persimmon seeds or woolly bear caterpillars to determine what the winter weather forecast will be.  This can be a fun intergenerational activity.
  • Plan a family hayride.  Sing camp songs together.
  • Turn down the lights and draw silhouettes of each other.  Get out the old photos and see who has Uncle John’s nose or Grandma’s ears.
  • Talk about the things you are grateful for.
  • Have each person identify something special they really like to do each year as a family.  Plan to do it!

There are few rules for your family night in.  Just make certain everyone in the family gets a chance to actively participate.  You don’t need lots of preparation or planning. Little things done over and over can start family traditions.  Traditions can build a feeling of closeness and belonging.  Extended families can be connected through the traditions.  Children will know, “This is the way we do things in our family.” 

Source:  Debbie McClellan, retired Illinois Extension Educator