As we discussed on Wednesday, the holidays do not need to be a time of anxiety and suffering. While a “perfect” holiday may be unobtainable, we at The Gottman Relationship Blog are determined to provide you with some innovative tips for making the holidays less a source of stress and more a source of connection with those you love.

In this spirit, today we share all kinds of affordable, family friendly activities to get you thinking. (We feel that many of these are actually more fun than unaffordable family friendly activities.)

If you’d rather not see The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol again this year, this list is your friend. Below are some examples of ways to connect with those you love over the holidays.

Ways to connect:

  • Attending free concerts
  • Attending sing along shows
  • Going to fairs and festivals
  • Participating in or watching community parades
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Decorating things – the house, presents, each other
  • Going to workshops
  • Checking out holiday story-time at local library
  • Having your own holiday story-time
  • Playing games at home
  • Going to an ice skating rink
  • Making gingerbread houses
  • Looking at the holiday lights and decorations in the neighborhood 
  • Visiting extended family
  • Getting together with family friends
  • Taking a road trip to the mountains
  • Marveling at the beauty of nature
  • Making favorite holiday foods
  • Watching favorite holiday movies

Don’t be afraid to do your own thing and make up your own rituals. One of our readers, for example, shared with us their holiday tradition of getting together and baking cookies for family friends and extended relatives. Rather than buying everyone commercial gifts, they are able to use this fun activity as family time – and simultaneously show the recipients of their homemade cookies how much they care! A gift with a personal touch is always appreciated. Another reader shared that their family follows the modern Jewish custom of going out for Chinese food and a movie on Christmas day. Regardless of religious persuasion, families all over the world can enjoy partaking in the holiday spirit – celebrating love, friendship, and togetherness.

In short, we recommend that you make the holidays your own this year. Color outside the lines! Celebrate whatever makes you and your family feel good. Don’t feel obligated to stress out. Take this time off as an opportunity to get together, make music, play games, and enjoy each other’s company!

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

We'll deliver the blog to you
Get our tips straight to your inbox, and master your relationships.
We never spam!