Family connection during a most unusual Christmas –  Some ideas to enjoy family time in new ways this year

The events of 2020 have us now approaching a very unusual festive season. With much travel still restricted, and health protocols in place for the travel that is available to us, many of us will find ourselves celebrating in a new way, and perhaps doing more reflecting on what matters to us, than we would usually have time for.


There are certainly challenges in being apart from loved ones and not being able to maintain all our family traditions this festive season. Perhaps we are feeling disappointed that we will not be able to spend the break in our favourite holiday destination or concerned about how the kids will be kept entertained with limited options or funds. Whatever our situation, it will be somewhat different this year, and it may be a little more challenging.


Many people have commented this year that life being simpler has been a positive change – one that they want to retain the spirit of, moving forward. Perhaps you are planning a smaller family gathering on Christmas Day, or you are going camping or on day trips instead of the usual itinerary of several weeks’ travel. Maybe family connection has become an even more important focus, and perhaps everyone (especially our Year 12s and their parents!) need a really relaxing, restful break.


As things are likely to be less hectic these summer holidays, we thought we’d share some ideas of ways you can bring the family together and enjoy time with each other as the central focus of your holiday.


Time to talk


Meal times and picnics can be a great time to talk, but during times when everyone is stressed out and tired, the conversation can quickly go downhill! There are many fun conversation-based games that you can find online, or pick up a pack of family-friendly conversation cards from a games shop or newsagency. It’s a great way to change the conversation, have a giggle, and maybe even learn something new! Check out ideas, guidelines and benefits to family conversation games at this useful site.


Old-fashioned fun


Board games played together can still be a lot of fun, though the challenge can sometimes be making it easy for all members of the family to engage, no matter their age or abilities. Games that work for everyone (even if the rules need adjusting for some!) may be simple, old-fashioned games like a tug-o-war, a treasure hunt, or putting on entertaining skits for each other! Or you could problem-solve with the kids and invent a family game that everyone can play.


Giving back


Volunteering as a family can be a magical experience to share with each other, as well as contributing positively to those less fortunate. You could organise a family hamper or collection of gifts to donate, or really shake up your experience of Christmas by volunteering on Christmas Day, such as for Mission Australia’s Christmas Lunch in the Park.


Fun for the whole family (wherever they are)


We are sure there will be some creative online festive season celebrations this year! While we may be a little over Zoom, there are always new ways to use online resources to connect with each other. One great way to ensure there is opportunity for individual connection as well as whole group fun is to move family members into breakout rooms of 2 or 3 so that they can chat together, before coming back to the ‘main room’ on Zoom or your preferred platform. While organising family discussions online may seem strange, a little forethought to how they will be structured will ensure everyone feels connected and some quality conversations emerge. How can you apply online discussion structures that have worked this year at school or at work, to get the most out of your long-distance family conversations?


More ideas for long-distance, online family fun:

  • Organise a long-distance Secret Santa, then open your presents during your Zoom meeting.
  • Choose a focus question that everyone must answer during the video call (e.g. What has been the hardest thing and the best thing for you this year?)
  • Take each other on a virtual tour around the Christmas table or party, to feel a bit more like you are in the room with each other.
  • Write warm fuzzies for each family member on slips of paper, pop them in a jar and then gather online to read them out.
  • Create short videos documenting an activity each day of the summer holidays, and send them to a special someone in your family, day by day.


We at My Academy wish you a joyful, safe and connected festive season and a happy and healthy new year!


More resources

Check out our previous articles on making the most of holiday time  (activities that allow the brain to ‘wander’ and rest) (what to do instead of spending too much time on devices)


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