Back in 2020, during a brainstorming session to come up with some special rituals for our family, Paul and I fell in love with the idea of creating a designated weekly “Family Night.” We decided this could be something fairly simple to implement and easy to “age-up” as our kids get older. So we picked Fridays as our night, started it that week, and have done it ever since! This is especially fun for us during the holidays because there are so many ways to level up our fun!
Here’s what we do: Each week we rotate who gets to be the “main chooser” for the evening. That person gets to pick the kind of pizza we order (or if we want to make homemade pizzas!), the movie we watch, what dessert to eat, and what fun activity we will do before bedtime. We start looking forward to them early in the week, building anticipation by asking the “chooser” what they think they will want to do for the night and planning accordingly.
Ideas for leveling up family night with a holiday twist:
- Consider getting creative by adding seasonal toppings to your pizzas. Think red and green! (if you think you can get away with it – might depend on picky eaters!)
- Use holiday-themed paper plates and napkins.
- Add a small Christmas tree, holiday-scented candle, or other festive decorations to the table.
- Try this homemade pizza fun!
- For younger viewers we love: A Snowy Day (based on the book by Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowman, Frozen 1 & 2, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, The Grinch (all 3 versions!), Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Arthur Christmas, Polar Express, Trolls Holiday Special, The Star, Muppets and/or Disney’s A Christmas Carol, Santa Buddies, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, Prep & Landing, and Elf.
- For the more mature audiences try: Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, Jingle Jangle, Fred Claus, Scrooge, The Santa Clause, Jack Frost, The Christmas Chronicles, Prancer, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Klaus.
- Create a candy (or Christmas cookie!) buffet that includes holiday favorites for a more seasonal touch (think candy canes, York peppermint patties, Peppermint bark, Xmas M&Ms, etc.)
- Bake cookies and then decorate as a family with holiday sprinkles.
- Serve big bowls of ice cream and offer a variety of holiday sprinkles as toppings.
- Eat seasonal desserts like these holiday tree brownies or these classic favorites.
- Use Christmas cookies to create homemade ice-cream sandwiches (put a scoop of ice cream between two cookies and roll the edges in holiday sprinkles!)
- Work a holiday-themed puzzle together.
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas decorations, maybe even bring hot cocoa with you.
- Jingle bell flashlight tag (this is basically hide-n-seek in the dark but we use a jingle bell to give clues to your hiding spot!)
- Sit around the fireplace or tree reading Christmas books together.
- Decorate your house with a seasonal theme together or do a holiday-themed craft as a family.
- Have a family dance party with Christmas music favorites.
- Decorate gingerbread houses together.
- Make a blanket fort or set up a tent inside the house and make it cozy inside and watch your family movie or read books in there.
Creating these memories together, celebrating family rituals we hope will last a lifetime, and basking in the gratitude and joy we feel spending time together are truly some of the best parts of this parenthood gig. Even though our holiday schedules are full of chaos and unpredictability, family nights have helped keep us grounded and connected. We know it’s something we can always look forward to each week and it helps anchor us in this hectic amazing life of ours.