Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fun and games help create family traditions this holiday season

(ARA) - Ah, the holidays are nearly here once again -- a busy time when most homes are bustling with visiting friends and family, shopping, cooking, parties and present-wrapping. Although parents have many things to check off on their to-do lists, they continually look for ways to navigate this hectic time and keep family at the top of the list. This is often done by finding affordable activities that bring the whole family together and fostering traditions that can be carried on year after year.

This is a time when keeping things simple will yield the most positive results. Tradition doesn't have to mean outdated or boring, and many annual rituals now have a modern twist. An afternoon walk or a game of touch football gets everyone active and outside.  A day of cookie baking and decorating is fun, delicious and creates lasting memories. Many families enjoy watching annual holiday television specials like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman" and "It's A Wonderful Life." This year, the iconic holiday favorite, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," comes to a fun and interactive DVD board game that will be the perfect activity for a family game night.

The benefits of holiday activities are boundless, and time spent together as a family is priceless. All of these suggestions promote communication, working together, fun and building annual family customs that can be enjoyed every holiday season.

The first step to make these activities a success is to get the family excited. Let the majority decide what they want to do. Next, if cookie baking is the activity of choice, assign age-appropriate tasks for each family member. If everyone is going to sit down and play an interactive game like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the DVD Game," "Scene It?" or another classic like "20 Questions" or "Charades," designate a start time and give everyone a role. Perhaps the youngest child chooses the snacks and the oldest sets up the gameboard, cards or DVD player. If there is a large age-range, team everyone up with a partner who can help. Be sure to get rid of distractions, let phones go to voicemail and don't allow PDAs.

Set aside a specific amount of time for the activity. Making sure to end a game or sport before kids get bored or frustrated is key, and that gives parents a set time to resume errands and projects. Also, be flexible whenever possible. Bend the rules a bit if it makes family games more fun. Don't worry about a mess in the kitchen until the baking is done, and let kids help even if it means the project takes longer.

No matter how you choose to keep everyone entertained during the holiday season, the most important thing is to enjoy being together. These are the memories that will last the longest, no matter what the season brings.

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