Perhaps a tradition worth starting is having a “theme” every year. Firstly, it is important to get your kids to buy into the “quality” not “quantity” idea. Do your kids get high on Christmas because progressively over the years they get MORE and MORE? Are they Dudley Dursleys? This, of course, is not sustainable because, those of you with teenagers know, when they hit the teen years, their presents become very expensive as microchips are introduced. A “theme” Christmas can encourage family engagement, curb the GIMME monster and help with that budget.
Purchase measuring cups, spoons, large mixing bowls, wood spoons, and all the gear to make your own aprons (after you open the presents) for every person. Additional items can include cookie cutters, a couple of rolling pins and some ingredients for yummy baked goodies. Perhaps even something unusual like manual pasta makers and pizelle cookie makers might be fun, too. No doubt your kids will post the photos of your kitchen with the 3 lbs of pasta hanging to dry. (looks like a Pillsbury Dough-boy crime scene) The items you purchase will be used all year for Family Home Evenings, making treats for others, and weekend nights when new recipes can be tried. (NOTE from contributor) *Get them started early to love LOVE to help in the kitchen, as they get older they sometimes look at cooking as a chore*
( GO MO says “One of my new favorite YouTube channels is 18th Century cooking.” I’m sensing a year long FHE project)
Buy hydration packs for each person in the family, get their name put on it (not expensive) and a year Nat’l Parks or State parks pass and hiking/wind jackets for everyone. Make sure you “DO” something each month to use these gifts, if your goal is quality family time. I don’t know of a state in the US where there aren’t hiking or outdoor opportunities. If you live in a big city, then you can hike downtown, take the train or subway. *4 years and up*
All kinds of board games—cards, Settlers of Cataan expansions, Ticket to Ride and expansions (try the dinosaur and alien additions), Bible Taboo, Twister, etc. Even Candyland can be fun for the older kids. Since there is no skill involved, it will drive older kids crazy when they lose! And, this might be the perfect opportunity to go on Ebay and find vintage games that were really fun, and on Ebay, cost about what new ones cost. Some Vintage ideas? Alien Autopsy (like Operation, except you operate on an alien) Which Witch, King Oil (10 and up) and Creature Castle. Come on, you remember some, too! Old games like Backgammon and Dominoes will, no doubt, become your kid’s favorite games. Again–the point is to have more time playing together as a family or to invite other people to join you. *make sure games fit ages of family members*
Tons of books on Kindle?Nook (or even buy the e-readers if you don’t have them), several classical sets of books.*age appropriate books* Now that books can be found for pennies at Goodwill and thrift stores, you can load up on real old fashioned bound books. When you are done, just donate them again!
Everyone gets a pole, bait, and some kind of other gear, like blow up life preservers or net. Even in the coldest of states, there are fishing opportunities. If you have money, consider purchasing a small paddle boat for lake or pond excursions. Get licenses and fish monthly throughout that year as well. I’ll bet there are even some ice fishermen in your ward that could show you how THAT’s done.
Buy supplies of all kinds. Research and find good YouTube videos for completing an art project. You know, “today we are going to paint a bird from start to finish.” Making sure projects are doable and get completed will have kids overwhelmed with pride at a job well done. Find documentaries on artists. Even younger kids can watch some well made documentaries on interesting folks, like Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, DaVinci. If they fall asleep, there are excellent documentaries out there on art THEFTS and those are really fun to watch.
Buy gear–volleyball net and ball, soccer ball and goals, badminton, tennis gear, passes to local rec center. If you are lucky to live close to a pro, semi-pro or college team, make a night of it. Tickets to a college football, baseball or soccer game can be the biggest event of the year. Singing “Take me out to the Ball Game” during a 7th inning stretch with thousands of other people can be an ethereal experience for kids and teens. Practice on the way to the game “Yes, kids, we aren’t kidding everyone sings this song, just you wait!”