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Recent events around the world have resulted in families spending more time together than ever before.
Whether you’re working from home, virtual or home schooling, or simply “laying low”… you’ve been given the opportunity to slow down and enjoy each day. To live in the moment and appreciate the little things.
Some may call it a gift.
If you’re like me, you are grateful for this time with the kids. Time with your spouse. My children are very young and I know that in a blink, they will be grown. And I won’t get this time back.
On the flipside, there are days when I feel a bit stir crazy. Frustrated. Isolated.
You may as well… which is completely understandable.
Whatever age your kids are, you may feel as if you are running out of things to do. Of ways to be creative and keep everyone happy.
If so, never fear!
In this article, I’m going to list 21 family bonding activities that everyone will enjoy. And the best part is, they can be altered to work for any age!
1. Family Movie Night
This is one of the classic family bonding activities. In fact, it’s become a weekly tradition in our house… sometimes we even sneak in two movie nights in one week. If you want to get everyone involved, you have a few choices:
- Have everyone write their selection down on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it in a hat or bowl.
- Have a behavior or chore chart and make “pick the movie” one of the rewards your kids can earn
- Have everyone research their pick and take turns presenting their case for why it should be chosen. Then vote on it based on how convincing their argument was.
- Roll A Dice. Highest number picks the movie. Caveat: the same person can’t select two movies in a row, so they are out until everyone has had a turn to pick.
The only rule with movie night is it has to be “family friendly” for everyone watching. Websites like common sense media are great resources when you’re trying to figure out the appropriate age for a film.
Once you’ve made your selection, make sure to have your favorite snacks on hand and enjoy the show!
2. Spontaneous Road Trip
Road trips can be awesome escapes. And the best part is, you can decide how much you’d like to spend and how long of a trip you want to take without much planning.
But what would make the classic road trip even better is if it were spontaneous! While you may want some idea of where you’re going, you don’t have to tell the kids a thing. In fact, you don’t even have to plan specific stops.
Simply tell them how to dress and what they may need… and get in the car.
Maybe you want to spend the day or an overnight at the beach? Pack the basics and just stop to eat, or stay over, at whatever looks good along the way.
It can be oddly liberating to have no real plans or anyplace special to go… which can also turn out to be some of the most amazing family memories you’ll ever make.
Be sure to bring your camera!
3. Board Game Night
Ever catch your family sitting around… staring at your phones, tablets or tv screens? Nobody is talking to one another, even though you are in the same room.
Some may consider this spending time together, but… news flash!
Being in close proximity doesn’t equate to family bonding. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
You are phubbing each other… otherwise known as snubbing one another by using your phone (or smart device) instead of engaging in actual conversation.
It’s a real addiction… and more of us are guilty of it than you’d think.
So why not step away from the screen for a little while with a good ol’ fashioned board game instead?
There is such a wide variety – from strategy to just plain silly – that you’re bound to find one that everyone will enjoy!
4. Arts and Crafts
Art can be extremely relaxing… whether it’s painting, drawing, coloring, sculpting. And the best part is, you don’t have to necessarily be talented to enjoy it.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to creating a work of art. It is always subjective.
By letting your creative juices flow, you are releasing stress and awakening a part of yourself you may have never known was there.
One of the easiest and least expensive family bonding activities is to have an arts and crafts night.
You can vote on a group project ahead of time, or choose to go at it alone. Then, just buy and share the supplies you will need.
If you’re at a loss for ideas, you can enroll in a live online art class… or scour pinterest for inspiration.
And if you want to make the night even more fun, try making your favorite finger foods and create a playlist to work to.
You can even judge everyone’s art at the end… and display the winner’s in a prominent place until the next time!
5. Family Video Game
Try as we might to deny it, video games are a part of many of our lives… and that’s ok.
Video games can be a welcomed distraction from reality. They can also improve hand/eye coordination, as well as critical thinking skills.
Plus, they’re fun!
So instead of fighting the urge to play, why not make it a family affair.
There are many multiplayer games available on all gaming systems. Categories include: adventure, sports, board games and trivia… among others.
6. Hiking, Nature
There is no greater food for the soul than a dose of fresh air.
Whether you are stressed, need to clear your head or looking for an energy boost… getting outside can be the perfect solution.
It’s also one of the best family bonding activities because it forces you to step away from technology… and let nature amaze and entertain you.
You can choose to do a hike or a bike… kayaking or fishing… snowboarding or skiing… camping or glamping… picnicking or bird watching.
Even if you’ve never done something before, there is no time like the present to get out there and give it a try.
Your mind, and body, will thank you for it.
7. Play Your Own Version Of 20 Questions
Life can sometimes leave us feeling as if our family is a bunch of ships passing in the night. Especially if you have older children.
Different schedules, deadlines and other obligations can often make it hard to connect with each other… to check in and see what’s new.
But making time for this is so important.
If there is no room for regular heart-to-hearts on your weekly agenda, then incorporating it into your family bonding activities may be the way to go.
And a personalized version of 20 Questions can be an effective and fun way to get it done.
Pick a time to play and put it on the family calendar. Then ask everyone to prepare 20 questions for each other beforehand. There should be a few questions for each person playing.
Make sure some of the questions are about their current mood and feelings, such as:
And to keep it light, make sure to include some fun questions, such as:
Finding a balance between “serious” and “silly” is a surefire way to make sure nothing falls through the cracks when it comes to keeping tabs on one another.
8. Watch Old Family Movies
One of the best gifts the technology gods have given our generation is the ability to upload, save and share videos using our computer or smart devices.
We are also able to upload home movies via HDMI recorders and cables directly to our television sets.
If you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet, a number of companies offer video transfer services for home movies that were once recorded on older formats (such as 8 or 16mm film, VHS or Mini DV).
Basically, there has never been a better time to host a home movie screening party.
You will laugh, and maybe even cry, over all the good times… which is a great reminder of the very meaning of family, and the unbreakable bond you share.
9. Look Through Old Photo Albums or Camera Rolls
If you’re like me, you likely have thousands of pictures of your family stored on your cell phone or in the cloud.
But why keep them there?
Spend some time casting them to your television for everyone to watch. Or you can go old school and have them printed via an online service.
Then sequester the kids to help you fill a photo album.
10. Host a Karaoke night
You can try and deny it… but karaoke is fun!
Whether at a bar or a friend’s house, karaoke is a great way to let loose… not to mention one of the simplest family bonding activities to pull off at home.
Start off by having everybody contribute to a playlist.
You don’t necessarily need a karaoke machine for this, either. There are tons of options, thanks to cloud sharing, online streaming services and YouTube.
In fact, many karaoke versions of songs are available for on-demand viewing on YouTube.
11. Have A Dance Contest
Ever feel like you’ve got moves, but never have a chance to showcase them?
There is no better time like the present to engage your tribe in a family dance-off.
You can select your songs ahead of time… or give it a little twist by having your family select the song for you, last minute!
It’s a guaranteed laugh-fest if you’re game!
12. Play Hide and Seek
Who said hide and seek is just for small children?
In fact, the hiding spots and “scare factor” get even better as you get older. I promise.
So set a few boundaries and head outside for some adrenaline-induced fun!
13. Have A Friendly “Fight”
Check your manners at the door for the night and have at each other… in a friendly battle of your choosing.
It’s a great and harmless way to get aggression out… and just unwind! And you’re likely to have plenty of laughs in the process!
14. Let The Kids “Drive”
If you have smaller children, chances are they will be thrilled with this family bonding activity.
Have your kids pile into the car and tell them they are “driving”.
While in reality they are not… they will be navigating.
Let them tell you which way to go. Every turn to make… even if it means driving in circles!
And if they say to stop someplace, just do it.
Who knows? You may stumble upon a new favorite location!
15. Turn Your Dining Room Into A Theme Restaurant
Who said you need to dine out to have fun?
Sure, it’s nice to have people wait on you and clean up afterwards… but it’s really about spending time together when it comes to family bonding activities.
Lucky for you, turning your dining room or kitchen into a theme restaurant is a cinch.
First, vote on your cuisine of choice.
Then shop for decorations and table settings to set the stage (this can be done online if you choose).
Finally, call your favorite restaurant and order take out or delivery.
Your theme restaurant is ready for business… and clean up will be minimal!
For added ambiance, play music (like songs about family love) in the background and have traditional beverages on hand for all to enjoy.
16. Go “Off The Grid” For A Weekend
When it comes to our cell phones, many of us like to make the excuse that we can’t be without them… in case of an emergency.
Well, that’s just not true.
The reality is that the people in our household are typically the most important people we’d want to keep in touch with… our spouses and our children.
So what if you were to venture out together and go “off the grid” for a weekend? Leave the cell phones home (or at least turned off).
If something happened, you’d be with each other.
And believe it or not, other people have phones you could borrow if you left yours behind. In fact, there are still landlines at local businesses that you can use in case of an emergency.
If you can get past the initial shock of not checking your social media, texts or emails for a few days… I guarantee this will be one of the most liberating and relaxing family bonding activities you’ll ever embark upon.
17. Have A Cook-Off Competition
Does your family wish it had more time to cook homemade meals together?
It’s a nice thought, but in reality it’s not always easy… especially during the week. That would require planning.
Weekends, on the other hand, are a possibility.
While you may still have obligations on Saturday, they don’t typically go into the night. And Sundays have traditionally been lowkey for most of us… which makes it an opportune time for a family cook-off competition!
Agree on the menu at least a few days before, to allow yourselves time to shop for the ingredients.
Then come up with some rules – such as time limits, courses and ingredient usage.
You can all make the same dish or a variety. That’s up to you. Just make sure everyone has one of each course to present.
18. Have A Blindfold Food Tasting
If I had $1 dollar for every time one of my children told me they didn’t like something I was giving them to eat… I’d be rich!
Even more frustrating is when they won’t even try it before telling me they don’t like it.
So why not use that fussy behavior to create another family bonding activity?
Set aside one night for a blindfold dinner tasting.
Make whatever you’d like… whether it’s something your kids have never tried before, or something they have tried and claimed not to like.
Just be sure to mix in some things they do like, to keep things honest and your kids guessing.
Have them try and identify the food and award points for correct answers.
And if you get any pushback from the kids on this idea, tell them you’re willing to play as well… and let them pick your palette teasers!
19. Go Camping
Camping is a great way to leave the everyday distractions behind and connect with your family.
No phones, no internet, no tv.
Let nature, and conversation with one another, entertain you… even if just for a little while.
If you’re thinking you’re not the “outdoorsy” or camping type, never fear. There are plenty of “glamping” sites to make your experience a bit less rugged.
Staying in a cabin will still allow you to enjoy the simplicity of camping, while offering a few of the cozy amenities of home… such as hot water showers, private bathrooms, a stove and beds.
If your looking for similar activities, check out our list of family hobbies you all can do together.
20. Go On A Scavenger Hunt
Now matter how old I get… I still love a good scavenger hunt!
And I’ve wager many of you feel the same.
Think about it, there are businesses built around the very idea.
Ever hear of an Escape Room? The very idea is to lock yourself in a room with other people and try and solve clues to get out before time expires.
You can opt to take part in one of these with your family? Or you can simply create your own at home.
Assign a clue master and everyone else will be divided into teams. The first team to solve all of their clues wins! You can even invite other families if you’d like to make it more interesting.
21. Volunteer Together
As a mother… all I want is for my children to be happy, healthy and kind.
The latter is not something they are born with, but rather something that is taught.
We lead by example and our children follow. They mimic our behavior and attitude… whether we realize it or not.
That is why volunteering together is one of the greatest family bonding activities you can do.
Volunteering not only makes you feel good, but teaches your children gratitude and empathy.
You can easily find local opportunities through a church, local government office, school, social media or online via sites like volunteermatch.org.
Final Thoughts On Fun Family Bonding Activities
Family is everything.
Sure, you may disagree at times… or find you need your space every now and again.
But at the end of the day, your family serves as a support system. You build each other up… and are there for each other when you fall.
Family accepts us for who we are. They want to see us succeed and grow.
And in order to grow, the relationship needs to be tended to like a garden.
Family bonding activities are the perfect way to remain engaged and involved with each other, no matter how busy life gets.
It’s a way of putting family first and making sure you’re all moving in a positive direction.
Life may not always go as planned, and hard times are certain to affect us all… but if you make family time a priority, you’ll be on the same page when it comes to tackling things head on.
If you're looking for more ideas, here are some things to your kids can do with their friends online and here are some staycation ideas to consider. Or if someone's birthday is coming up, here a list of possible things to do to celebrate a birthday.
Finally, if you want to level up your parenting skills, then check out this resource that will show you how to get your kids to listen WITHOUT yelling, nagging, or losing control.
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications, and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization, and product reviews.