Have you ever noticed that it’s the little things you and your family do together that you remember as the most fun: a hike in the woods before the snow is completely gone, an evening around a fire toasting marshmallows and talking, projects such as building an outdoor fireplace or making a birdhouse?
Of course, there are the usual outings, such as bowling, picnics, camping trips, and visits to amusement parks, but some of the happiest times are often spent doing things that are so ordinary that we almost overlook them. Can you imagine sons or daughters away from home remembering watching television? They remember mom’s apple pie or the popcorn on Sunday nights with the family gathered together—little things.
Days slip by so quickly that the time to do things together is now.
Here are a few simple things that a family can do together. They are fun, they are inexpensive, and they are wonderful memory makers.
1. Make and keep a family scrapbook. Include such items as yearly pictures of everyone, clippings and data about special honors and events, and postcards from outings and trips. A scrapbook is fun to make and can become a family treasure.
2. Learn a new game or skill together. This could be anything from badminton to skating to chess. Everyone should get in the act—even Mom!
3. Have a “my most wonderful experience” night. Give everyone a few minutes to think about this, and then tell them to write down their most wonderful experience and share it with the others. Younger members of the family could draw a picture of their experience and “show and tell.” It’s a surprise to see what experience someone will choose, and sharing helps you to know each other better.
4. Have a “pioneer evening.” Plan old-fashioned games topped off with a taffy pull. You may have to hunt a bit to find recipes for taffy, but some cookbooks still have them.
5. Visit some local sightseeing places. Learn the history of your town or area and really explore it. It’s surprising what beauty and folklore are right under our noses.
6. Write a group letter to someone far away. How about a serviceman or missionary? If there is none in your family, write to a neighbor or friend who is away; a long letter from the home town will look wonderful to him.
7. Have an evening of music. Include a variety of types, from “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to pop and Beethoven.
8. Have a hobby night. Work on hobbies and compare notes. Get young family members started on interesting hobbies.
9. Go as a family to a special movie. (“G” rated, of course.) Then come home for milk and cookies and talking it over.
10. Have a sliding party. If it’s summer, how about using a piece of cardboard to slide down a grassy slope? And in winter, tubes, toboggans, or sleds can be used.
11. Have a kite-making and flying contest. This is for a windy day any time of the year. Let the house cleaning go today, Mom—it will be there after the kids are grown.
12. Have a “count your blessings” night. This is perfect for Thanksgiving. Give a little prize for the longest list.
13. Start a family project. This could be anything from planting a flower garden to building a picnic table.
14. Make a “get away.” Pack a lunch, fishing poles, swimsuits, books, magazines—whatever each person wants—and head out to no place in particular. Stop whenever and wherever you feel like it: just get away, relax, and have fun.
15. Greet the morning by all watching the sun rise. Dress warmly, feel the wonderful spirit together, and then come home to a special breakfast.
16. Have a pancake party. This is fun for Sunday night. Have several toppings so each has a choice. Pancakes in different shapes add to the fun if there are toddlers.
17. Have a “new horizons” night. Everyone set some new goals—mom and dad, too.
18. Visit a secondhand shop. Give everyone a dollar and see who can come up with the most unusual treasure.
19. Read a book together. Stop to discuss the text and to look at pictures. This is fun on a stormy evening, especially if topped off with hot chocolate and popcorn.
20. Do a good deed together. Do something nice for someone, such as raking the lawn for an elderly neighbor, baking cookies for a family whose mom is sick, or cleaning up a playground.
21. Spend Christmas Eve together. Make it a family tradition. If teenagers have dates, invite them too. Read the Christmas story from the Bible and give everyone something to do to add to the spirit of the evening—a poem, song, etc. Sing carols together, and then finish off with special Christmas treats.
22. And always, of course, go as a family to Sunday School and sacrament meeting. When this becomes a habit, you will find that it adds a deeper purpose to life and a special closeness in being together.
You can think of other things to do that fit your family’s likes and interests—things that are especially yours and that will draw you closer together. Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week or next year. Our children are with us only a short time, and there are many tempting and exciting pastimes in our world to draw them away from us. Use every opportunity to keep all members close within the loving family circle. One of the happiest ways is to make time for family fun!
Sister Harvey has been a member of the Church for twelve years and has served as branch Primary president for ten of them. In addition to being a free-lance writer, homemaker, and mother, she now serves as YWMIA president and visiting Relief Society teacher in Barre Branch, Vermont District, of the New England Mission.