As my first full week in 2016 comes to an end, I keep thinking about all the fun I had during my 11 day Holiday break and wish I had more time off! This past Holiday Season, we stayed local and I made sure I made the best of my time with my family and my daughter: we went to both of our families Christmas parties, spent some time exploring in San Francisco & Sacramento, went out to dinner with my parents to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary and celebrated New Years Day with my Father-in-Law’s family for a traditional Japanese feast. I’d say we were pretty productive! So, I wanted to share with you, the 10 fun things I did during the Holidays that you maybe could do next year too!
# 1 – Dress up
Yes, it’s very simple. The holidays can be a stressful time so what better way to liven up any party than to dress up! Each year for the last 5 or so years, my family has decided to dress up in theme. We’ve gone from ugly Christmas sweaters to onsies (PJ’s), Santa hats to sports theme (as seen below) and now this year, Super Heroes. (Even my 93-year-old Grandma got into the spirit and wore a Superman shirt).
Even Dahlia, Tajia & Bella got dressed up!
# 2 – Remember to take a Group Photo
This was my husband’s goal for the entire evening at his family’s Christmas Party. We now understand as parents the importance photographs can have. They create everlasting memories of the people in our lives and we want Dahlia to remember everyone in ours. Just set up a camera on a shelf and set the timer!
And for my family party, my mom actually gifted selfie sticks (even though they are sooo 2014), but it any case, it did the job and everyone was able to get into the photo. CHEESE!
This one is for the same reasons as #2 more or less and it’s fun! Who doesn’t love a photo booth?! And you don’t have to set up some fancy one either. Here’s how we did ours: My cousin Jessica, a budding photographer, set up her camera on a tripod, she put up wrapping paper for the backdrop and she even made props made out of paper and popsicle sticks and Voila!
We had fun and got through taking these quickly as she was only ‘open’ for a certain amount of time during the party. (You can also leave your camera there if you want and give instructions to your family as to how to use the timer setting as well. I’ve posted here on how you can set up your own DIY Photobooth in a previous blog post.)
A Holiday Party should always have at least a game or two to break up the day and get everyone off their phones for some good ol’ fashion fun! Here are 5 fun & inexpensive games you can play too!
Game 1: DIY Headbands (Similar to the one seen on Hollywood Game Night/Ellen)
What you need:
- Index Cards with words on them (I printed out Christmas Charade words here via Childhood101.com)
- 4 sweatbands/headbands
Here’s how you play:
In teams of 4, everyone gets a headband and you put a card on top of their heads. Player 1 faces the 3 other players that are in a line. Player 1 describes the word on Player 2’s head and they have to guess the word. Once they guess, Player 1 goes to the back of the line and Player 2 begins describing to Player 3 and so on. This goes on for 3 mins.
This was so much fun and everyone got a kick out of watching, especially when my parents, aunties and uncles went up to play.
Games 2 & 3: Minute-to-Win-it Games
What you need:
- Game 2:
- Paper Plates
- Game 3:
At my husband’s family party, they are very competitive and decided to do Minute-to-Win-it style games that were fun to watch!
Here’s how you play:
They did the M&M transfer game (shown below) where you had to suck an M&M with a straw and transfer it from one plate to the other.
They also played the penny stacking game where you had to stack as many penny’s as you can in a minute.
Game 4: “Snow Shovel”
What you need:
- Blindfold (we used my Auntie’s scarf)
- Cotton Balls
- Serving Spoon
OK, so I made up the name for this game that traditionally is played at baby shower games, but I had fun watching this game at the last baby shower I went to so I had to make it winter appropriate for my family game 🙂
Here’s how you play:
Blindfold the player and hand them the container and spoon. Spread the cotton balls around below them and time them for a minute. Watch them “shovel” the snow & be prepared to laugh while cheering them on at the same time. This is best done on hardwood floor. We did this on carpet and the cotton balls kept unraveling, er, maybe it’s just the Target brand 😐
Game 5: Paper Game – Word Scramble
What you need:
- Paper copies of your favorite word scramble (I found mine here via Pinterest)
Really, you can do anything for time & your friends and family will have fun as mine always do!
#5 – Have a Contest Before the ‘Big Party’
We all know that time is of the essence during the Holidays so another brilliant idea to spark creativity out of your friends and family is to have a contest and bring a pre-made item (i.e. DIY ornament, DIY Christmas tag, etc.).
My husband’s family has done this the past few years and for me it’s always fun. This year we did ‘best gift wrapping’. It’s fun because you get to see what everyone comes up with and you’re not using up precious family time either. We all do an anonymous vote and three winners are always chosen.
Here are some photos of the wrapped gifts:
# 6 – Do ‘Fun’ and ‘Funny’ Gift Exchanges
White Elephant exchanges are all the rage. Why not change it up and do some funny ones separately. Most times the funny and real gifts get mixed together so make one that’s only funny gifts. It’ll definitely get some laughs out of everyone.
Check out what my sister got from our funny “re-gift” exchange, glasses to match her Deadpool outfit.
#7 – Go on a Group Outing
Yes. This is a must! Most of my family does live in California but a bunch came from out of town: people came up from Southern California, one cousin came from Ohio, where she goes to school, and another came from Florida, where he works and lastly, I have another cousin who leaves to Arizona very soon for post-bacc schooling. That said, it’s always good to get out and enjoy family while on an adventure, and a cold adventure we had, in Sacramento at Global Winter Wonderland. It was also nice to have an outing because I’m not sure if all of us will get together again & if we do, it probably wont be until the Holidays come again or we could all go visit our cousin in New York who just had his baby 😉 (Congrats, Mike!)
#8 – Explore Where You Are
What’s nice about living near San Francisco is there is always something to explore. While my husband was working, Dahlia and I trekked over to the Embarcadero to check out the Exploratorium. We had so much fun and really enjoyed the food options they have in their on-site restaurant as well.
- Kids 3 and under are FREE
- There’s plenty of street parking if you go on a weekday
- They have an 18+ night on Thursdays from 6pm – 10pm
- They have online discounts for Bay Area Residents
- If you have a Discover & Go Library Card, 2 people can be admitted for FREE (check dates).
#9 – Eat out!
During a regular week, we usually cook at home, but during the Holidays, we eat out more and while we are out we love trying out new restaurants. I was lucky enough to have been given a Gift Certificate to a fun contemporary Indian restaurant in Burlingame called Rasa that is a must to try if you are in the area! Service was exceptional and they always kept our Dahlia in mind during the service. I also guarantee you’ll have something here you’ve never tried before.
Here is a glimpse of the delicious meal we had:
Drinks & the Winter Salad
Truffle Dosa, Butter Chicken & the Classique Uthappam
#10 – Do something special for the kids & yourself!
Spending quality time with my daughter is always something I want to do and for New Year’s I wanted her to feel like she got to celebrate because I knew she would be asleep at midnight. I checked out all the local sites and found a Noon Year’s Eve celebration not too far away at the Millbrae Library & best of all, it was FREE!
It was super cute as they had a craft for the kids to do (decorating their 2016 glasses) and passed out cookies. We counted down to Noon time and watched the fireworks display in Australia. Last, they played a movie for all the kids to watch! Lastly, while the kids are off to bed or nap time, don’t forget to do something for yourself. My husband always gives me time to myself and vice versa. Sometimes the Holidays can be just as hectic & it’s always nice to go and get a pedicure or do something. Well, that’s just what I did.
My feet are now ready to go back to teaching dance 5 days a week.
Cheers to you & your family and have a blessed 2016!