Regardless of whether you see the winter break as a religious festival, a commercial activity or simply a school holiday where you have to find things to keep the kids occupied, there will probably be a family get-together at some point. A little planning ahead can ensure that the occasion is a success for everyone, regardless of age.
Inevitably, there will be differences in what people want to do. The older members of the family often just want to talk about ‘old times’, the younger family members may prefer to watch TV or play video games and, if it’s at your home, you’re probably feeling at least a little stressed trying to keep everyone fed and comfortable.
Get the family on board and talk to children about putting together a ‘wish list’ of what they’d like to do – and what they think other people in the family would like to do. If they’ve had a hand in the plan they’re much more likely to help make things go smoothly on the day.
If they’re studying home economics, ask them if they have recipes that might fit into your menu and encourage them to make it.
If you have younger children, choose at least one recipe that they can get involved with. This might be biscuits, fairy cakes or creating a good old-fashioned ‘hedgehog’ with cheese cubes, olives, cherry tomatoes and cocktail onions on cocktail sticks, anchored in half an orange or half a small melon for a larger gathering. They’ll love being able to boast to Gran or the Aunties that ‘I made that’.
Ask the older children to help with the organising, setting up, looking after younger guests, keeping an eye on who needs another cuppa, the plates of sandwiches or snacks passing or someone to talk to.
Things to do
Try to have some things that everyone will enjoy. This might be Monopoly or teams playing Trivial Pursuits. It could be Jenga or another dexterity game, but make sure there’s a flat surface available with room for the tower to fall without pieces vanishing forever under the furniture. Choose something in which everyone can participate, or at least enjoy watching.
Start a story telling round. Choose the youngest person and get everyone to reminisce about what life was like when they were that age. Or get everyone to relate the naughtiest thing they ever did as a child. It’s a great way to share memories and the younger members of the family often get a new view of their older relatives.