Whether they’re something to ‘get through’ or what you look forward to all year, you have the power to make them shine. Here are 7 ways to make the most of family gatherings this holiday season.
1. Embrace the Outlier
Every family has one; they slip off into the other room, stand just outside of the chatter melee, or (if they’re tricky) they head to the kitchen for “busy” work. Chances are they don’t feel like they fit in or that anyone is interested in them, so make it your mission to bring them back into the fold. Seek them out, ask them questions and then pull others into your conversation. This also works magic on any “new additions.”
2. Record a Recipe
Family recipes may seem like they’ll live on forever, but if you don’t make a point of learning how Nana makes her stuffing or Auntie’s secret to those fluffy biscuits – they could be lost forever. Head to the kitchen and pitch in. It’ll make the work less tedious and you’ll gain firsthand knowledge of those precious, heirloom recipes. Besides, Baba loves company (even if she insists she doesn’t need help).
3. Step Away
Family time can be overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with strong personalities. Carve out a little time for yourself to find some calm. Walk the dog, run out for eggs, or get up early and meditate. Focus that me-time on reconnecting with yourself, finding your gratitude and setting your best intentions. Even 5 minutes of solitude can feel like a full reboot.
4. Get the Gang Together
Big gatherings can quickly turn into a collection of small breakout groups. Plan a group activity midway through the day or weekend to bring everyone back together. Decorate a gingerbread house, take a family neighbourhood stroll, play charades, shoot a silly video or head out for a game of shinny. These are the memory-makers!
5. Dilute the Drinks
You could take this literally and water down your bar or you can create in-betweener non-alcoholic options that you circulate periodically through the day. Who wouldn’t say yes to a lovely hot cider, sparkling glass of punch or peppermint hot chocolate? And, always have a pitcher of cold water out with glasses. Making moderation easy could be the answer to keeping spirits bright (not sloppy).
6. Dig up Old Photos
We snap them and forget them. Excavate those old pictures (you remember, the printed ones sitting in a pretty box somewhere) and share. Before you know it, everyone will be reminiscing and resurrecting family history. Make it a tradition by electing someone else to bring their photos the following year. Tip: scan them and create a digital slideshow so everyone can see them at the same time.
7. Let Go
Family holidays take a lot of preparation and that results in a lot of expectation. Once the family arrives these well-laid plans have a way of popping like a Christmas cracker. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Loosen off on the reigns a bit and go with the flow because fighting it will drive you crazy and make things less fun for everyone else. Remember, there’s always a prize in those Christmas crackers.
This year come to the party armed with these tricks and you’re sure to have a holiday season that’s festive, fun and memorable (in a good way).