by the fire

Let’s face it…we live in a fast-paced world. The hustle and bustle of everyday life, combined with modern day technology, can detour us from spending a good amount of quality time with our families. Can you think of the last time that your family gathered together–holidays and meal time excluded–away from the television, without cell phones and free of outside distractions?

This winter, consider cozying up as a family by the fire. Here a few fun and meaningful things to do together:

Watch old family videos. There’s nothing more fun than taking a walk down memory lane–and to do that, you don’t even have to “take a walk.” Pop in some of your favorite old family videos, sit back and have a few good laughs together. And don’t fret if all your old videos are actually on videotapes. Companies like iMemories® enable you to set up an account and ship your old videotapes to them. They will digitize and preserve the tapes and then send the videos to you to view online. From there, you can watch, share and customize your own DVDs and the company even ships you back your original VHS tapes along with DVDs that you’ve customized. This is an easy, efficient and affordable way to guarantee some family fun!

Roast some hot dogs and smores. You don’t need a formal camp out or campfire to do some good old fashioned roasting with your kids. You don’t even need to brave the chill outside! You can roast hot dogs and marshmallows safely in your indoor fireplace by using a Smore and Hot Dog Fork, similar to this one by CobraCo.

Ladle up some homemade hot chocolate. Kick those packaged hot chocolate packs to the curb and whip up your own homemade hot chocolate. Add 1.5 cups of heavy cream, 1 can (14 oz.) of sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups of milk chocolate chips, 6 cups of skim milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into your crockpot. Mix well, cover and cook on low for two hours, stirring every thirty minutes. This recipe serves 12.

Make scrapbooks. Have your children pick out some of their favorite family photos, organize them and then glue them to construction or scrapbook paper. They can make their own albums and take turns sharing their scrapbooks with each other, explaining why each photo was chosen and what memory it brings to mind. Or, your children can create an album together. Either way, this is a fun, intimate opportunity to reflect on the fun things you have done together as a family throughout the years.

Write celebration letters. While the old adage “actions speak louder than words” may ring true, it’s also true that our words have a tremendous and meaningful impact on each other. According to, “Sharing also helps you to get closer to people you care about and who care about you.” Draw names from a hat and then write a letter that celebrates the family member whose name you drew. Or consider having each family member list out three of their favorite things about the person whose name they drew. Then take turns sharing.

Play a good old fashioned game of charades. What screams creativity and brings about the use of your imagination like the game charades? This game is a real crowd pleaser, especially for younger children. outlines some easy to follow directions to help level the playing field.

No matter how chaotic your family’s schedule is this season, remember that the best present is often your presence. Be proactive about spending time with your friends and family–so you can enjoy the real spirit of the holidays.

Thanks for reading!

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