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Seasonal Fun For The Whole Family

Southern California may not be a winter wonderland, but long holiday breaks, and longer nights will certainly keep your family indoors this winter even if the weather doesn’t. Keep the focus off of screen time and beat the early sunset blues by brainstorming a list of family activities and spending your time cultivating more meaningful connections. Below are 20 suggestions to get you started:

  • Have a movie marathon. Pick a theme – holiday movies or your own childhood favorites, for example – and, better yet, make it a pajama day.
  • Take a winter hike. Use your downtime to learn more about your local landscape. If you have a state or local park website, use it to research native flora and fauna to see what wildlife you may find along the trail. If allowed (remember, many parks have a “leave no trace” policy!), save some items as you walk and use them to make a collage or scrapbook when you return. Consider writing stories or poems too!
  • Build a fort. Take all the pillows, blankets, chairs, and boxes you find in your home or apartment to your living room and challenge each other to a fort-building contest.
  • Host a game night. Break out the board games and cards – play some old favorites, or learn how to play something new.
  • Family yoga. Find family-friendly yoga videos on YouTube for the younger ones and engage in some mindful movement. Older kids and teenagers may prefer more advanced videos from Adriene Mishler, Jessamyn Stanley, and Paula Lay.
  • Volunteer. Your local food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, and humane societies likely have increased demand during the holidays. COVID regulations may impact these organizations’ ability to host new volunteers, so after checking to see which one may fit best with your family, take a day (or two) there to serve your community.
  • Have a cookie-baking contest. Invite your neighbors and their families over to put their signature recipes to the test. Kids make the best judges.
  • Host a family clothing drive. The holidays give us plenty of time to go through our closets to find what we forgot we even owned. Spend a day cleaning out your wardrobe or other cluttered areas of your living space. Pay special attention to the coats and blankets you find, and try to donate directly to shelters or those you know who may need them rather than to thrift stores.
  • Make greeting cards. You can send cards for every winter holiday to family members, to nursing home residents who may be quarantined from their friends and family, or healthcare workers who may need a morale boost.
  • Catch a free holiday event. Chances are, there’s a family-friendly event near you this weekend! Check the Riverside Community Calendar or local events on Eventbrite for inspiration, but local libraries and park systems are two other spaces worth looking into for free programming.
  • Take a family tour of holiday lights. Odds are, if you don’t know the best place in town to look at neighborhood light displays, someone else does! Ask around and, once you have a few street names, go for a neighborhood walk or pile the family in your car and check it out.
  • Create a scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are a great way to keep kids busy. You can create one of these activities from scratch for almost any occasion or setting – your home, your town, your favorite museum or your backyard, to name a few. Consider leveling up to a photography scavenger hunt with disposable cameras.
  • Make a scrapbook or time capsule. Find your preferred way to document family memories. If your kids want to make a time capsule, agree on a date when it should be opened, and write it down so you don’t forget!
  • Cut a string of paper snowflakes. Cutting snowflakes is the quintessential winter activity – use them to decorate your home or apartment, too.
  • Have a picnic. Indoors or outdoors, your choice (just don’t forget the blankets).
  • Find a pen pal. Do you have a family member you haven’t seen in a while? A friend your kid hasn’t been able to visit, or someone who speaks a language you want to practice? If no one comes to mind, you can investigate a multitude of pen pal programs to see which matching service fits your needs.
  • Have a craft day. Do you or your family members knit? Cross-stitch? Woodwork? Draw or paint? Make a day of it.
  • Go stargazing. Is there an area near you with little or no light pollution? If you have a smartphone, download a free app that will help you identify the planets and constellations you see there.
  • Cook a family meal. If you’re feeling adventurous (or have older kids who know how to handle a hot stovetop), put one family member in charge of each course.
  • Set New Year’s resolutions. If you’re the type of family to set resolutions, do it together! Your family members can be built-in accountability buddies, especially if you set measurable, time-bound goals for yourself.

Your family time certainly isn’t limited to this list, however – just keep your kids’ interests in mind as you plan activities, and if one doesn’t go as planned, there’s no harm in trying something else. Remember that connecting with the ones you love improves mental health and creates lasting memories for both you and your children.

From all of us at Riverside Medical Clinic, we wish you and yours a happy, safe and memorable holiday season.