It’s never too early to make a plan as a family in case something happens. Emergencies happen and natural disasters happen and we all need to be prepared for it. As a family, make a plan to know what to do if an emergency arises. Go out and put together an emergency kit with all the things you’d need. Let every family member be apart of it, let your little brother pick the color of flashlights that you need, let dad pick what size backpack you’ll put everything in. Make sure everyone takes ownership of your family emergency kit. Sit down together and make sure everyone knows the plan and know you are prepared.
There is so much hope in the future, but there is also hope in our present. Find an air tight container and add family memories, mementos, newspaper clippings, CDs of your favorite music, letters about your hopes/dreams, photos and whatever else you’d like to add. Decide as a family what you want in your family time capsule and find a place to bury it, decide if you’ll open it as a family years down the line or leave it for someone in the future to find.
We are all different, some of us are as different as night and day. Explore the night as a family with a full moon night hike! Connect with nature in a new way by taking a guided night hike. Contact your local Audubon Society or nature center about hikes in your area. The same trail, mountains, trees and animals during the day becomes a completely different experience at night when the stars come out. Open your eyes to a whole new world, open your ears to hear the calls of wildlife, engage all of your senses, check out constellations and discover planets in the night sky. Bring along some wintergreen Life Savers, chew them with an open mouth, and watch as you create flashes of light! This sparkly phenomenon, known as triboluminescence, can only be seen in the dark.
We can all help make our community, school, street and home a better place for everyone by serving others. Pick a day to hit the town to find ways you can serve others as a family. Before heading out, create a BINGO board filling in blank spots with ways you can serve others throughout your day, make one for each family member, making sure to mix up the spots and service projects so no one has the same game board. As you are out finding ways to serve, mark off each box that you accomplish. Keep serving until everyone has gotten a BINGO! Not only will everyone have fun, but you will definitely make an impact in your home and community by lending a hand to help someone else.
Bingo spot ideas:
Help sibling clean bedroom
Do the dishes
Clean up after pets
Donate clothes to a charity
Donate food to a soup kitchen
Bring in grocery carts at a store
Pick up trash at a park or beach
Bring cookies to a neighbor
Give gift card to fire station/police station
Walk a friend’s dog
Volunteer at church
Visit a retirement home
Donate blankets to a dog shelter
Smile at someone
Hold a door open for someone
Pay for someone’’s gas
Wash a friend’s car
Bring someone a meal
Visit an elderly shut in
Bag someone’s groceries for them
Help carry groceries
Pay for someone’s coffee
Give someone a compliment
Bring flowers to a nursing home
This outing is almost like playing a game, the whole family will love getting to choose the adventure. Pick an afternoon to get outside and go for a walk/hike. It can be in your neighborhood, a park or even a hiking trail. Pick one family member to be “the leader”, they decide which way the family will walk, how far, when to stop then start again and even how fast! The leader can also have the family walk silly, skip or hop. The leader can decide to have the family do something on the walk, like find rocks, look for leaves and even roll down a grassy hill. Decide as a family what the “leaders” time limit will be. Once the time is up, pick a different family member to lead. You may be surprised to find new places in your neighborhood or adventures in your local park!
It is always better to give than receive, isn’t it? Let’s celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas a little differently this year. No, there won’t be any gold rings or french hens this Christmas. Instead let’s give to others. As a family work together to do something everyday for 12 days for someone else. No matter how big or small the act of kindness is, you will be blessing that persons Christmas! There are so many needs in our communities that we can meet if we just put our mind to it. Here’s 12 ideas, but feel free to come up with your own!
-12 ideas to show others Compassion-
1. Bake cookies for a neighbor.
2. Bring hot coffee to a fire house.
3. Donate clothes to a Foster Care closet.
4. Clean up trash at your local park/hiking trail.
5. Bring dinner to a family friend.
6. Give out candy canes to people looking at Christmas lights.
7. Serve at a Christmas Eve service at your church.
8. Bring blankets and animal food to your cities animal shelter.
9. Bring school supplies to your school.
10. Help shovel snow off a neighbors driveway/Mow their lawn.
11. Buy toys to donate to Toys 4 Tots.
12. Offer to wrap presents for a friend or neighbor.
Chose a place to serve together as a family this month, you can do so much more TOGETHER. Make sure it’s something you can all cooperate and do together. Check out The Children’s Hunger Fund toy wrap or food backing days, volunteer to sort toys for Toy’s For Tots, help serve food at a soup kitchen, sort can goods at a food pantry, or partner with a ministry at your church that’s already serving in your community. Whatever you do, do it all together because no matter how big or small the family member is, you can all do more together than you can alone.
The holiday season is around the corner and instead of making a list of all the things we want, let’s find things we can give away. It’s time to clear out those closets and pull out the things that you no longer use or don’t need anymore. Make sure parents are clearing out stuff too!
As a family take the toys, clothes and maybe even canned goods to a local shelter, group home, soup kitchen or local charity. Make time to serve together there as well. Serve a meal, help sort clothes/toys in a foster care closet, offer to stock shelves at a food bank or help in any way you can there together
Dress in dark clothes, and head out to the backyard after dark. Give each family member a flash light. Play hide and go seek with one family member being “it” and the others hiding. Instead of tagging someone when you find them, you turn on the flash light and “tag” them. As players run away to dodge the light continue to try to tag them with the beam of light. Take turns being “it” and enjoy hours of laughter and fun as your family takes the initiative to make new strategies on how to dodge the light and stay in the game. This would be even more fun if you invited another family over to play. The more the merrier!
Check out the Stars. Wisemen have followed the stars for thousands of years. Buy a star chart to get started. Then choose one spot in your yard that affords a clear view of the heavens, and venture out after dinner to watch how the night sky changes hour to hour. A little fresh air before bedtime can really help your kids sleep later too.
Head to the party store and get a dozen balloons filled with helium. Have each family member write a word that builds confidence in a person on each balloon. Head to a park and pass out the balloons to kids and make someone’s day!
Joyful, kind, helpful, spirited, tenacity, loving, smart, caring, giving, etc.
Build confidence with giving your kids responsibility. Head out to your favorite gardening center and let your kids pick out vegetables or herbs they want to grow. Spend the day outside planting a garden, they will learn confidence when their hard work reaps real food! Make a responsibility chart with a list of things to do to care for the plants ie: water, pull weeds, remove dead leaves and steams etc. Remember to celebrate each step of the way, when you see new growth, a flower bloom, the first sign of real vegetable. Then enjoy using your garden fresh veggies and what your kid’s confidence grow.
Instead of going out, let’s stay IN. Make a special family movie night and watch the classic Disney movie Pinocchio. Pop popcorn and get everyone’s favorite candy. Make sure to put all those phones away and enjoy family time unplugged. After the movie, talk about honesty, why was it hard for Pinocchio to tell the truth, how the movie would had been different if Pinocchio had chosen honesty from the beginning, and how we can be more honest in our lives.
Waiting is hard, especially if you’re waiting to go someplace fun. As a family choose a place you want to go: A theme park, beach pier, fair, arcade, latest movie, or bounce gym. Make a jar that family members can add loose change, money and allowance to. Set an amount you’ll need to be able to go on this family outing. Wait patiently as a family as you save for the outing, talk about how close you are getting and how exciting it will be to finally get to go. Once you’ve reached your goal use the money from the jar to pay for the day. While out enjoying what you’ve waited for, talk about how it was worth the wait and the hard work it took to get to where you wanted to go.
Set aside a day to find peaceful places in your community. Everyone’s idea of peaceful is a little different, talk about what brings you peace and where you might like to go to feel peaceful. Then pick one of the places to visit together as a family. Some people feel peaceful at the beach, in the mountains, at a park, near a river/stream, listening to music or visiting an art museum. Decide together what would be the most peaceful place to go and spend the day. On your way home talk about how being there made you feel, try to set aside more time to find peace places as a family.
It’s time to be kind as a family. Look up a local, animal shelter and find out if they need volunteers for a day, have fun walking/playing with dogs who need some extra love. Or find out if they need food, blankets or toys for the animals in the shelter, collect those things from friends, hit a thrift store to get blankets etc. Spend time as a family giving back to those who can’t give you anything in return. And you never know, maybe you’ll end up with a new four legged family member!
Eat Out…Way Out. As a family make a plan to try something new. Pull out a globe, map or google and pick a nations cuisine you haven’t tried before: Thai, Indian, African, French, Polish etc. Read about that culture and find a restaurant near you that serves that cuisine. Go to the restaurant early, before the evening rush begins, so your family can really take in the atmosphere. Ask questions to the staff and be willing to go outside your comfort-zone. Make this a fun family tradition to try new things in the New Year, the kids will look forward to picking another country and trying new things.
The holidays can be stressful for anyone, and especially on a family with a new little one. Trying to make the holidays special with a baby isn’t easy. As a family be generous with your time and offer to babysit for a family with little kids. Because of your generosity they can have a night out together or maybe get some last minute gift shopping done without babies in tow. Make sure you take care of everything for them, offer to babysit at your home so they don’t have to worry about their house being clean. Make sure to take care of dinner for the kids so they don’t have to think about feeding them before they leave. Offer to wrap presents for them or help in any other way you can. Giving a new family a night off will be HUGE in their lives, and with your whole family pitching in the evening shouldn’t be too hard! (you’ll probably be thankful for your big kids!)
Put on your coats, grab a basket and head outside to enjoy the crisp autumn air. As you enjoy a walk together as a family, collect leaves. Try to find the largest flattest leaves you can. Find enough for each member of your family to have a least ten. Have fun trying to find all different color and shaped leaves. Once home sit down together and write who you are grateful for on each of the leaves. Go around the table and explain why you are grateful for each person you wrote down. (save leaves for craft project)
As a family take some time to think of a specific need locally or globally and brain storm a way to use YOUR resources (what God has given you) to help meet that need. Then as a family choose what would be the best way to help, then begin working together to meet the need. Suggestions: Go through clothing to donate to homeless shelter, clear out pantry and donate can goods to a soup kitchen, bake cookies and visit a retirement home, make a meal and bring it to someone who’s experiencing a hardship, have a bake sale/lemonade stand and donate the money to Hurricane Relief in TX/FL. It’s important that you work together as a family to choose what you will do and to use YOUR resources to meet a need to make someone’s life better.
As a family choose a friend to surprise. Find a time when your friend will not be home and decide to decorate their front door with some love. Using left over birthday party/holiday decorations, poster board, balloons and confetti, decorate their front door. Write words of love and encouragement on poster board and tape to front door, hang decorations and add some balloons. This “Just Because” surprise will make your friends day!
Put on your walking shoes, bring a trash bag and gloves, then head into your neighborhood. As you walk look for ways to show respect to your community and neighbors. One of the biggest ways to show respect to your neighborhood is to keep it clean. It might seem like a little thing to clean up trash, however it’s a big deal, small acts of respect make a big difference. It’s important to respect where you live and have pride in your community. Talk about how we should always leave a place better than how you found it.
Pick a day for your Difference Making Outing, jump in the car as a family and start driving. You can’t come home until you complete three random acts of kindness, to make a unique difference in your community.
Random Acts Of Kindness Ideas: Giving quarters to people at laundry mats, bringing all the carts in a parking lot to the store, pick up trash at a park, bring a meal to a fire station, pay for someone’s coffee or meal behind you at a drive through, give a postal worker a cold drink, bring flowers to a retirement home, bring in someone you know trash cans, donate clothes, deliver donuts/cupcakes to a friend who needs a pick me up, leave a generous tip, bring dog/cat food to a local shelter, and anything else you and your family can think of.
It’s time to get creative with your typical family night/day out. Shake it up and start with dessert! Go out and get ice cream, a Slurpee or get a treat at a bakery first thing. Talk about how fun it is to start your outing off with dessert instead of ending with one. Then go to the movies or play at a park for a while and finish off your outing with a meal out. Maybe try ordering breakfast for dinner! Just shake it up and do things differently from how you usually do. Talk about how everyone felt about getting creative with the order of how you did things as a family today, maybe the kids will suggest always starting out the day with dessert!
Kids love helping and working on tough tasks together, is a great way to build determination. There is such satisfaction associated with creating something with your own two hands. Find a family project to work together on outside. Maybe build that long awaited tree house, hang that tire swing in the front yard, paint the back fence, fix the gate, organize the garage, plant that garden… this list can go on and on. Be determined as a family to finish whatever task you’ve chosen. Encourage each other when it get hard and when others want to quit. Make sure to celebrate when you’re done! Maybe ice cream from the Ice Cream truck, Slurpees or head out for frozen yogurt. You did it!