What do your children want for Christmas? Did their most precious wish make it on their Christmas list this year or is it unexpressed? This IKEA commercial expresses so well what all children really want for Christmas- be sure to watch the responses to the last question!
Your children want time with you more than anything else! That's exactly why we won't be giving a whole bunch of new toys for Christmas this year. How in the world do you gift wrap time?
Family Fun Packets
Make Family Fun Packets! Come up with 12 ideas that you can do with your children this year. They can be things that cost money or completely free- that part doesn't matter. Write each of these ideas down and put it in a month specific envelope. Then wrap the envelopes so you'll have something to put under the Christmas tree. As you give your children these 12 envelopes, you're really giving them guaranteed time with you each and every month. These family fun outings can't be taken away as punishment or pushed to the side because life gets too busy- they are must do activities no matter what else is going on.
Family Fun Packet Tips
Open the next month's envelope during the last week of the current month. Enjoy the surprise and excitement as your children open another gift from you then put it in your schedule immediately! DON'T WAIT. If you wait, you'll be tempted to let life take over and never accomplish what you planned. Once you schedule it make sure that no matter what you fulfill that commitment. Say no to new requests, work late the night before so you can get off early the next day, do whatever you can to protect that time.
Give yourself a reminder of what the next month's activity will be. Put it in your phone and give yourself a heads up.
Divide and Conquer. If you can schedule a special time for each individual child, do! If you can't, don't feel guilty- come up with a new strategy instead. We split our kids by age this past year. The oldest 3 got to do things with me and the younger 2 did things with Dad. They loved it! It was their special time with a special parent. This next year we'll switch.
Make birthdays extra special. During your child's birthday month, put a couple of ideas down and let him pick which one you'll do. Have 2 birthdays in one month? Plan 2 special outings.
During the busy months, plan something simple. The goal of these family fun packets is to enjoy one another's company, not stress about doing it. If you have a super busy month, pick something low key like going to the park together. It won't stress you out and you'll still get to have fun together.
If your activity is going to cost money, budget it in now. Put money in the envelope when you make them. This way you don't have to worry about budgeting it in later; it's already done.
Allow some flexibility. There were a couple of times when we realized that another month's activity would actually be better this month. Our kids never knew but we switched a couple of the activities before they opened the envelopes. It's another reason that it's a good idea to remind yourself in your calendar what next month's activity will be so you can make those adjustments. (This is also why I prefer a binder now instead of envelopes)
Family Fun Ideas
Need some ideas for your Family Fun Packets? Here are a few activities we've done in the past and some we're planning on doing this next year. Remember, these activities don't have to be super complicated or expensive. They only need to include guaranteed time with you.
Dinner at a fast food restaurant- Take advantage of that $1 menu
At home Princess Tea Party- Get the fancy plates out, put out mini finger foods, and dress in some fancy clothes.
Monkey Ball Time- Play Monkey Ball on the Wii and make Monkey Bread
Hammer Time- Build something at Home Depot. They have free building events!
Donut Day- Head to the grocery store or your favorite donut shop and pick out a couple. Eat it there or go somewhere special.
Fondue Night In- Make a fun cheese fondue and a chocolate one. Everyone gets to pick 2 dippers to share that night. Enjoy while watching a favorite movie or drawing questions from a conversation jar.
Planned for You Date Nights- Make your life easy and get a year of planned for your family date nights from The Dating Divas.
Girl's Night- Have fun doing each other's hair, nails and makeup then turn up the music and have a dance party.
Lunch Date Out- Pick your favorite restaurant (or picnic food) and enjoy time out together.
Camp in the Backyard- This one is perfect for those summer months... just remember to turn the sprinklers off!
Paint the Town- Head to Hobby Lobby and take advantage of those 40% off coupons! Buy a pack of canvases for everyone to create their own masterpiece. You could even take a class from Craftsy together as you learn a new skill.
Movie night- Get a Redbox code ahead of time (or Amazon) and include it in the envelope for the month. Save yourself some time and browse the movies online to check where's it's available before you go get it.
Let's Go See a Play- Take your children to your local theatre or a nearby high school production. They can be so much fun!
Park Playdate and Picnic- Go explore a new park and bring a picnic along with a few extra treats. Remember your Adventure Pack!
Board Game Night- Stay in and play everyone's favorite game. Need a new one? Here's some of the best.
Bowling- One of my all time favorites. If you don't go regularly, ask around to see what alley people prefer. We found a great one with excellent lighting and friendly staff.
Karaoke Night- Download some favorite songs from Amazon Prime Music and belt some songs out!
Laser Tag- Will you be on the same team or go against each other? There are also Nerf Wars places popping up that would be lots of fun.
Take a Hike- Head out to nature and explore!
Play at the Arcade- Save those quarters and go have some fun together. We are lucky enough to live next to a Nickel Arcade. My boys got to play a ton of Skee Ball for 5 cents a game. Ask around and see what arcades are in your area.
Head to a Local Museum- Do you have Children's or Natural History Museum nearby? Many even have free nights or you can find discounted tickets at Groupon.
Play Mini Golf or go to the Driving Range- If you're playing outdoors be sure to plan this one during good weather.
Batters Up- Head to the batting cages!
See a Movie in the Theater- We have so many on demand options now, remember to take the opportunity to go out and see something together.
Go Geocaching- There are some great apps to help you go geocaching even in your own neighborhood.
Classic Movie Night- Educate your children on all your favorite movies.
Library Date Night- Pick some new books out and see what else your library has to offer. They have so much these days!