If family nights have you slumping a little lower in your seat from guilt and that mental screen shot of your calendar, never fear. If they make you want to inspect your split ends in boredom or pop in another DVD out of sheer desperation, help is only a paragraph away! It’s a month’s worth of easy, creative family ideas. Repeat with us: I think I can. I think I can.
1. Have a family talent show.
2. Hold a family Olympics.
3. Take pictures of each other at a park or downtown. Grab disposable cameras for the kids; a few crazy hats, sunglasses, and capes or other zany props like large, open photo frames to look through.
4. Race the clock on a crossword puzzle, word find, or jigsaw puzzle, or compete against each other in groups.
5. Meet at a park after work for an evening picnic—and maybe a game of Ultimate Frisbee.
6. Decide on a service project together, from babysitting for some parents of young children to doing yard work for an infirm neighbor. Tip: If the kids choose and get to administrate a little, they’ll be more invested in your project!
7. Choose a room makeover project. Choose a room, give the family a budget, hit the home improvement store, and get to work!
8. Have a fondue night. Let the kids help with melting the chocolate and cheese.
9. Gather supplies for a cookie-decorating night—or a cake that you all work to frost together. Look on the web for ideas, and get creative!
10. Play a family night of Hide-and-Seek. Older kids may like a more challenging venue, like a park.
11. Have a board game tournament. To take it up a notch, play for small prizes like treats, who gets to choose dinner, or a day with no chores.
12. Haul out the home videos and old photo albums. Younger kids love watching themselves!
13. Make individual pizzas in cake pans or pie plates.
14. Camp out in the backyard. Don’t forget the s’mores!
15. On long summer evenings, fly kites before it gets dark.
16. Let the kids make your kitchen into a restaurant for dinner, with only one or two simple entrée choices. Give them tablecloths and notepads—maybe even candles—having them set the table and make menus. They might even dress the part of waiters. Put on your best manners, everyone!
17. On cool fall or spring evenings, grab blankets and hot chocolate and go star-gazing on the lawn.
18. Hold a cooking contest.
19. Create a large nest out of cushions, pillows, and blankets. Then cuddle up for a marathon story time—about birds, perhaps?
20. Have a “family hunt” for older kids in the mall: how many family members can they find in an hour? Celebrate in the food court when it’s over.
21. On hot summer nights, battle it out in a water fight!
22. Make ice cream sundaes; let everyone pick a topping at the store. While you chow down, talk about some of your favorite family memories.
23. Have a family reward night, like going out to eat together, when the whole family has accomplished a goal (a home improvement project, memorizing a passage of Scripture together, finishing a great soccer season or service project day, a week of zero fighting, etc.).
24. Create obstacle courses in the living room with cushions, pillows, stools, chairs, etc.—or do it in the yard. Grab a timer, and have everyone compete against their best time. Then change it up and try it again!
25. Purchase some small, inexpensive art canvases. Let the kids paint them as artwork to hang in their room—and create an instant keepsake and memory.
26. Play Nerf tag. For an inexpensive version (with a little more prep), cut narrow PVC pipe in 2-foot lengths to make your own blow guns for Nerf darts! Mini-marshmallows work, too.
27. Have a scavenger hunt.
28. Create impromptu plays on the lawn—favorite religious stories, storybooks, plays from the kids’ imagination. Your theater can be as elaborate as you choose, with tickets, costumes, and set design. Tip: If you have a clothes line and a set of sheets, you’ve got a stage!
29. Bring out the lawn games: bocce ball, badminton, or croquet.
30. Use Plaster of Paris to make casts of the kids’ handprints.
31. Collect washed food containers, utensils, and a couple of watering cans. Head to a park to make a giant sandcastle together.
32. Bonus: Purchase some plain T-shirts, flip-flops, hats, or totes, or use some from home. Make ‘em snazzy with fabric paint, tie-dye, buttons, or whatever you can find.