How to Make the Most of Family Time During the Holidays

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Holiday movies always portray the holiday season as a magical time full of family, love, and happiness. But for many, the holidays bring a lot of stress. It’s hard to coordinate travel plans, meet end of year deadlines at work, and meet the financial burdens of gift giving. In reality, the holiday season can feel a little less than magical. 

If you, like many parents, are hoping to get a little more “quality time” in with your family this holiday season, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our favorite ideas for making the most of family time during the holidays.

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For Families With Kids: Turn off Devices 

Young children today get more screen time than ever before. While screen time used to mean morning cartoons or the occasional after-school special, kids now play games, watch television, talk to friends, and even learn on screens. Studies show that too much screen time may lead to behavior problems, educational problems, and more. 

When it comes to making the most of family time during the holidays, it’s time to turn off those screens. Don’t just plop down in front of the tv and turn on a holiday movie. Instead, choose an activity that’s engaging and interactive to encourage conversation and create memories. Here are a few of our favorite holiday activities for young kids: 

  • Teach kids to cook their favorite holiday foods
  • Decorate the Christmas tree and tell the story behind each ornament 
  • Create homemade holiday gifts for family and friends 
  • Don your best shoes for walking and take a stroll around the neighborhood to see holiday lights 

For Families With Teens: Choose Traditions Together 

As your children grow, you’re probably finding that they’re less interested in the family activities they used to love. While they once got a kick out of caroling, they may now drag their feet through the neighborhood while you belt out holiday songs. 

If they’ve outgrown your family traditions, it’s time to make new ones together. Rather than prescribing updated traditions for your family to share, include them in the decision-making process! Allow your teen or pre-teen to add their input and be open to their ideas. Their suggestion might not be your cup of tea, but the time you get to spend with them will be invaluable, no matter what you do. Remember that the point of family traditions isn’t the activities themselves; it’s the time spent with the entire family. 

For Families With College-Aged Children: Set Expectations Ahead of Time 

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Once your kids leave home, the holidays take on a whole new meaning. While holidays were once a change of pace in your child’s school schedule and home life, they now might be the only time each year your child returns home. 

While you may want to spend every precious moment with your child, they’ve likely got their own priorities, too. They may want to visit with childhood friends, favorite teachers, and others they no longer see on a regular basis. For many families, this can create a lot of conflict. 

If your child has limited time home and a growing list of obligations, it’s a good idea to set expectations on family time ahead of time. If you have certain days or nights that you’d like them to be home, let them know. Better yet, have a conversation about scheduling. Work with them to schedule obligations that are flexible and inform them of any no-questions-asked requirements. While you may have to sacrifice a few dinners with them, you’ll likely find that the ones you do share are free of arguments or tensions. 

For Families With Grown Children: Honor Loved Ones 

By the time your children begin to have children of their own, you’ll find that a few faces may be missing from the dinner table. While grandparents and loved ones may no longer be physically present at your holiday traditions, it’s important for the whole family to keep their memory alive. 

Make some of their favorite foods to share at the dinner table. Tell their stories to the newest generation. Share photographs and memories. Their warmth will fill your home, and their stories will live on for years to come. 


With these tips, you can say goodbye to anxiety and enjoy a fun, fabulous holiday season!