The Holidays are normally a time to de-stress, take a break, unwind and reconnect. This year feels a little different though as we are on this pandemic roller coaster. Families are still feeling stressed. Kids are still struggling. Parents are carrying a LOT.
Our team has come together and we are here to help families take time this holiday season to find fun and playful ways to connect. Many of these activities we are sharing are very simple, low energy, low expense and focus on mindfulness, playfulness and reflection.
Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt
Head out for a walk in your neighbourhood to enjoy the decorations. Bring some hot chocolate or snacks. Depending on the ages of participants, set objectives for your scavenger hunt. Get input from each member. For example: How many of each did you spot: candy-canes, Santas, snow-people, polar bears, coloured lights etc. Later on, recall your favourites (and doing this you’re not only exercising your mind; you’re also remembering who you were with and connecting again about a shared experience).
Practice mindfulness, being in the present moment, get out of the house and get some fresh air (good for our bodies and brains)
Boots, toboggan, car
Holiday Song Re-Write
As a family, choose your favourite holiday tune and rewrite the lyrics to express something meaningful to you. Afterwards, gather around, and sing it together! Hand the new lyrics on your fridge as a reminder of the time you spent together, and as a reminder of the things that are meaningful to you and your family, as expressed in the new lyrics.
Connection, playfulness, reflection
Your favourite holiday tune, paper, and writing utensils
Music & Imagery
As a family, create a playlist of music that brings you a sense of peace or gets you into a mindful state. Gather around your table and begin listening to the music together. Hand everyone a piece of paper and spread out the art supplies. Spend time reflecting on the sounds of the music and how you might reflect the feelings that come up from the music, in the artwork you create. Once everyone has finished their creation, you can each show each other what you created, and discuss the feelings and thoughts that came up for each of you!
Mindfulness and creative exploration
Paper, various art supplies and a playlist of songs
Family Slumber Party Under the Tree (or in a blanket fort)
Watch a Christmas movie together or play a family game, and spend the night sleeping underneath your Christmas tree. Alternatively, you can do this same activity in a fort or tent built in your common areas.
Exploring something new and fun, connecting, intentional time spent together, sharing the moment, creating memories they’ll cherish forever
Pillows, blankets, everyone in pyjamas, a movie or game
Winter Park Blogger
Go out on an adventure to a new park that you have never been to before. Pretend you and your crew are journalists for a magazine who are reviewing this park and they want you to blog about it! Rate the park on its level of “entertainment”, amenities, criticisms etc… take notes and pictures too! After this, head back home and write up an article. After you are done you can share it with your “readers” (family and friends).
Tip: Keep an open and non-judgmental mind of the joys and struggles of the activity!
Build family/friend connections, practice mindfulness (what skills: observe, describe, participate), and be in the present moment
Notebook, writing tools, device to take pictures. Remember to dress appropriately, and bring snacks and water bottles
Hot Chocolate Walk + Gift Delivery
Take a stroll in your neighbourhood. Bring a hot beverage if you’d like, and deliver candy canes to your neighbours’ door steps while walking by and enjoying the scenery. Later, discuss what your favourite parts of the walk were (a specially decorated house? A sighting of an animal?), and why. Notice if any family members chose similar homes or moments.
Mindfulness, fresh air, movement. Building community and bringing joy to others, knowing that your effort and gift will be noted and appreciated
Warm beverage, small gifts or candies/candy canes
This activity comes from the World Vision website. Place each person’s name on a piece of paper and have each family member draw a name. On a sheet of paper or notepad, write three things you love about this person, or three things you are grateful for about the person you picked. Have each member read aloud what they wrote, and the rest of the family tries to guess who the card is about.
Gratitude, connection, focusing on positives, engagement and fun
Paper, something to write with, photos (optional)
Christmas Gratitude Book
Draw names and write a letter to your chosen family member and share with them what they mean to you. Later, seal these letters in an envelope and place them on the Christmas tree to open during the holidays. These can be kept for years and later turned into a gratitude book. Alternatively, keep the notes from the Gratitude Game activity and collect them for the same book.
Focus on gratitude, connect with family members, share openly your thoughts and feelings (and know that receiving letters like this is heartwarming and meaningful for everyone)
Paper, something to write with, envelopes
Ice Rink Map
For those who enjoy skating, map out a number of outdoor ice rinks or public natural skating areas. Make an effort to visit as many as possible through the season.
Physical activity, balancing (good for our brains and emotional regulation practice too!), fresh air, challenge and risk taking, relying on family for support, fun
Skating gear, appropriately warm clothing, map (printed or drawn), markers to check off places visited
Snow Fort Hang-Out
Build a snow-fort by making a huge pile of snow (like from driveway shoveling or in an open space) and letting it harden overnight. After the snow has hardened, hollow out a tunnel and space inside. Use this for storytelling, snack time, or simply for hanging-out in. For more directions, check out this link to ScoutLife or google “quinzee.” That this is an extended activity and can take a couple days to complete – it can be a great project over the holiday break.
Note: Quinzee is a word of Athabaskan origin, and although we have come to know it through outdoors circles, we want to acknowledge the many indigenous peoples who lived on this land long before settlers arrived, and have shared their knowledge of survival in snowy and harsh terrain
Outdoor time, interacting with the elements and nature, building and using both mind and body to create something awesome. Putting in sustained effort and work, delaying gratification. Connecting with family and creating together
Snow gear, shovels, a good attitude and perseverance
Some of the clinicians who have contributed to these activities include: Alicia, Marsha, Ben, Tamara, Sarah, Chrissy, and Anna. To learn more about our team, please visit the Meet Our Team page.
Wishing you all a safe and fun holiday season!
If you take part in any of these, or have your own fun activities to share, tag us on IG @acorncounselling!