You guys know I love the internet, and I’m a big fan of my iPhone. I’ve confessed before that one of the pieces of marriage advice that I tend to ignore is taking time to “unplug.” But on Thanksgiving Day, I made a pact with my 18-year-old brother to spend the afternoon unplugged (he’s actually “worse” than me). We agreed the day before and decided that we would go 1-7PM without using our phones or computers. We only used our cameras and the dictionary to look up words for Quiddler (see below). And guess what? It was pretty great, and we didn’t really miss it at all. I know we’ve all been in situations where you’re in a group and everyone is just looking at their phones. It’s a little ridiculous, and why waste precious time with your family doing that??
I think it’s a good idea to decide with your family how much time you will spend unplugged, and if you need to, you can collect phones and put them in a basket. But I think it’s best if that’s done voluntarily.
Here are my ideas of some things to do during the holidays with your spouse & family mostly without using your phone or the internet. They are also mostly free! Yay! Some things you might have to look up on the internet for directions beforehand, so do a little planning! Mostly, they just require a good sense of humor and one person to be willing to do a little organizing and hyping!!!!
Let’s start with an easy one:
- Look at family photo albums. There were albums before Facebook!! Crazy, I know! Check out that advent calendar behind us (we called it “pockets”). MY MOM TOTALLY HAD AN ADVENT CALENDAR BEFORE PINTEREST.
- Devise a DIY family relay — (or triathlon, biathlon, decathlon!). Our family once did a relay race from my parents’ house to my brother’s house (about 19 miles) before Thanksgiving Dinner. This was before Hannah was even in XC!! We could really dominate now!!
- Go to a park. Even my father-in-law can’t resist a good climbing wall.
- Go ice skating! I’m from Minnesota, and I’m convinced that ice skating is a life skill! You should probably practice more!!!
- Create a photo scavenger hunt. Here’s an example of one I did for my sister’s birthday a few years ago. I bet I could come up with a really fun Thanksgiving/Christmas one as well. Bonus: you can print the photos later or create a photobook online (shutterfly, prinstagram, whatever!).
- Cook or bake something together. Some family members might take more cajoling than others, but we even got my 18-year-old brother to make a lemon meringue pie for Thanksgiving. It was quite hilarious watching him do it while mom sat on a stool in the kitchen reading the directions.
- Whitewash someone. Preferably someone who won’t cry. But crying always makes for a great family memory too. Kevin & AJ might not agree since they’re the babies of the family. But I’ve been whitewashed many, many, many times (right, JOE?!?!?!) and lived to tell about it. Alternative: have a snowball fight. Yes, everyone will get all wet and track mud into the house. But it’ll be worth it.
- Play Quiddler. I picked this up from Kevin’s side of the fam. We’re all tired of Apples to Apples, right? This is a fun game that anyone who can read can play, and we play a pretty relaxed version where we help each other figure out words. I can’t believe I lost though… Also — it’s one of the few fun games you can play with only two people!! Bonus: mint truffle kisses are the best!!!! Other great family games you may not have tried: Reverse Charades & Funglish. Reverse charades is so hilarious…. We’ll never forget Kevin trying to pantomime riding a bike!!!!!!!
- Go take a hike. Over the river & through the woods. Wherever.
- Play the piano, instruments, or sing! Even YouTube karaoke!! (though that’s not technically unplugged… close enough!). Bonus: make up some new songs with some ridiculous lyrics. Zero musical talent? I’d pick up some kazoos and come up with some creative holiday medleys.
- Go around the table & roast each family member. Roast = good-natured ridicule! We did this at Thanksgiving, and it was super fun!!! Not every family could handle this, but we have some good stories in our family that we never tire of bringing up. AJ & the escalator. Hannah & the cardigan. Josiah being a smartypants with the librarians. Or just have everyone tell their most embarrassing moment of the year.
- Just dance! We had an “old-fashioned barn dance” at our wedding, and it was so fun dancing with everyone there! Of course, you probably won’t be able to get EVERYONE to participate, but trust me, they’ll still have fun watching. And maybe you CAN get everyone. Joanie paid Josiah $10 to dance with her…. haha. Here’s the instructions and a video on the Virginia Reel. Alternative: make a playlist and have a dance party. We used to do that as kids, and we called it a SingALongAThon! Except back then we were using cassette tapes…
- Play SPUD! Not that you need an excuse to throw things at family members. Here’s how to play SPUD. We always played with a Nerf football though! Alternative: play a little HORSE or PIG basketball. Or try to bat a whiffle ball over the roof (the prize is that you get to go to DQ!).
- String something. Popcorn. Cranberries. Bubblegum.
- Ask couples in the family to tell their “how we met” stories. Here’s ours! My parents were college sweethearts — awwwwa!! Bonus: print off some of these conversation starters and put them in a jar.
- Read books to the kids (or have them read to you)!
- Do an Advent Bible study together as a family. For believers, the Christmas season is an opportunity to recount together the mercy of God in the coming of Christ. Within the church, this time of year is traditionally referred to as “Advent,” a name derived from a Latin word that means “coming.” We celebrate Jesus’ first coming in lowliness and look with eager expectation toward His second coming in glory. Here’s a great study available online.
A few more:
- Build something together out of your old Legos, Lincoln logs, etc. Before there was Candy Crush, that’s what we did.
- Prank phone call someone. You have to teach kids how to do this!! Another important neglected life skill now that everyone has caller id. A great one is to call your mom and ask for yourself. I’m not sure why that’s so funny, but it TOTALLY IS. By the way, my parents don’t have caller id… I can give you their number…..
- Braid someone’s hair. Or let them braid yours… always special.
- Challenge the kids (or everyone) to come up with a drama or skit. Better yet, make it it a skit competition. Let the lazy people be the judges.
- Drink more coffee.
- Go sledding or snowshoeing. Sledding is dangerous though. I haven’t gone since I ripped an entire layer of skin off my face when I was about 15. It was a little icy.
- Pillow fight.
- Foosball or air hockey. You can find these at neighborhood rec centers if you don’t have one available. The rec center drop-in fee in Denver is only $2 for kids!
- Free Day at museum or zoo. Colorado Free Days! We’ve been to Science Museum and the zoo during Free Days when we’ve had people in town.
Which of these ideas would you like to try with your spouse or family? What’s your favorite active/unplugged activity to do during the holidays?