If queuing up a movie has become your default family night activity, it's time to shake things up. Here's a list of fun ideas you can do without dealing with the freezing weather outside.
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Set up a homemade hot chocolate bar.
Give your cup of Swiss Miss an upgrade by going all out. Use milk, cocoa powder, sugar and a pinch of salt to brew a batch of hot cocoa on the stove and put bowls of various toppings out on the table. Some ideas: crushed chocolate mint Oreos, caramel crumbles, mini marshmellows, red and green sprinkles and of course whipped cream. Sipping your warm drinks together will give your family a chance to simply talk and hang out. If your family is too busy during the week to share meals together, this time will feel extra meaningful.
If the board games you have seem a bit tired, try Shake Up, which Real Simple magazine deemed "the new Sorry." In this dice-rolling game, players try to be the first to get their pawns through the "safe zone holes." Each round only takes about 15 minutes, allowing time for multiple games - and winners.
Fill a photo album together.
Instead of relying on Facebook to hold all your family memories, create some actual, physical albums. Before family night, go to fotofriend.com to get your Facebook photos printed, as well as other pics you are relying on your phone or computer to store. They'll be shipped straight to your house. Go photo album shopping with your kids so they can help pick out the albums. Then, you're ready to get started. Your family will have a great time laughing together and reliving your most special memories. And at the end of the night, you'll have a priceless keepsake.
Learn something new together.
Whether it's getting everyone in the kitchen to cook a new dish, building a model, painting a birdhouse or learning a new foreign language through a video series together, everyone in the family will get something out of this family night idea. If you choose to go the cooking route, give your child ownership of a task - like getting all the ingredients to and from the fridge if you have a young child or making a side dish if you have an older child. It gives a feeling of accomplishment that makes the meal that much yummier.
Write letters to extended family members.
Your kids' grandparents or favorite aunt will love getting an unexpected surprise in the mail, written by you and your kids. Helping your kids think of their recent accomplishments will make them feel proud. It's also the perfect time to tell your favorite family stories, making your kids feel valued and happy to be apart of the fam.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence