7 Ideas for Quality Time with the Family

Grab your family calendar and make a firm date for some serious fun.
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Between work, school, and activities it can be hard to get your whole crew together for something more exciting than cleaning the house. The solution? Make it a date! Pick an activity that your whole family can get psyched about and pencil it in.

Show Your Talent

Set up a stage and create a lineup so that everyone gets a turn. Mom and Dad perform too -- which kids will think is hilarious or totally uncool, depending on their ages, but either way they'll be entertained. While dancing and singing are fun, you can also encourage hidden talents and skills, like magic or comedy.

Get Festive for Fall

Bundle everyone up and go for a nighttime hayride at a local farm or visit a spooky haunted house if your children are old enough. Then head home to relax with mugs of warm apple cider. Carving pumpkins is another great family activity (try painting them instead if you have young kids). Or make a collage or mobile with fallen leaves from your yard. Feeling really crafty? Go DIY and whip up some themed Halloween costumes.

Have a Screening

It may seem a little strange to suggest watching TV (especially when you're probably trying to get your kids to watch less of it). If you DVR your favorite shows and have a Friday-night marathon with popcorn or some other healthy treats, however, you can turn zoning out in front of the tube into quality together time. You'll also cut down on weekly TV watching, with the added benefit of getting to skip right past commercials and pause for bathroom breaks.

Go Old-School

Many bowling alleys and roller-skating rinks have disco or other theme nights that set the perfect scene for a retro family outing. Sure, they're a little cheesy, but that's all part of the fun, so embrace it. Even go the extra mile and dress to match the times. Use words like "groovy" and "far out" and take some wacky pictures for your family scrapbook.

Learn with Your Kids

Sign up for a group activity and challenge yourselves to learn a new skill. Try a pizza-making class, square-dancing lessons, rock climbing, or anything that interests the whole gang. Have a family member who's a whiz at tennis, photography, or painting? Schedule a lesson with your expert (bonus -- it's free!). Or if you're feeling ambitious, try a series of classes to learn to play guitar or speak French. When your lessons are over, celebrate by putting on a family concert or having a French-style dinner.

Camp In

You don't need to sleep under the stars to have a campout. Build a fort or pitch a tent in the middle of your living room and enjoy campfire snacks like burgers, hot dogs, and s'mores. After dinner, get cozy inside sleeping bags and let the games begin. Play truth or dare, make shadow puppets, and tell scary stories from the comfort of your own (warm and bug-free) campsite.

Hold a Theme Night

Pick a subject and go all out to create an authentic evening. Throw an indoor luau complete with bathing suits, homemade leis, a ham dinner, and a hula dance-off. (Remember to turn up the heat.) Or make it history night: Ask everyone to do some research and dress up as a favorite historical personality. Then you can enjoy a time-warp meal with dishes from each era as you act out what the famous figures might have said to one another over dinner.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, October 2009.


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