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Much of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season comes from hunting for the perfect gifts to give the special people in your life. But this fast and chaotic pace can sometimes get in the way of something at the very heart of this time of year: connecting with those special people. This year, alongside any physical gifts you may give, consider slowing down a bit and giving the priceless gift of spending time with your loved ones. These experiences not only are memorable, but also help strengthen the bonds that matter most. Let’s explore some practical ideas for incorporating the gift of time into your holiday celebrations.

Family spending time together playing a game.

1. Plan a family game night

Gather your loved ones for a night of laughter and friendly competition. Choose a variety of games that appeal to different ages and interests. Whether it’s classic board games, lively card games, or entertaining rounds of charades, the goal is to create an atmosphere of fun and togetherness. A family game night not only provides entertainment but also allows everyone to showcase their competitive spirit and share moments of joy.

2. Cook a meal together

Spend a day in the kitchen preparing a special meal with your loved ones. Cooking together is not just about creating a delicious dish; it’s an opportunity to share culinary skills, exchange family recipes, and foster teamwork and communication. From chopping vegetables to stirring the pot, every step in the kitchen becomes a shared experience that creates lasting memories and strengthens the bonds within the family.

3. Host a movie marathon

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Choose a selection of favorite movies and dedicate a day to a movie marathon. Create a cozy atmosphere with blankets and snacks and enjoy a day of cinematic indulgence. This shared experience not only is enjoyable but also provides a chance to discuss favorite scenes and characters. From timeless classics to a binge-worthy series, a movie marathon is a low-cost way to spend quality time together, wrapped up in the magic of storytelling.

4. Give the gift of learning

Consider enrolling in a workshop or class together. Whether it’s investing in your relationship through one of HRC’s free healthy relationship workshops or attending a cooking class, art workshop, or dance lesson, the experience of learning something new side-by-side creates a unique and enriching bond. The gift of learning is not just about acquiring new skills but also about the journey of discovery and growth you share with your loved ones.

5. Volunteer together

The holiday season is a time for giving, and what better way to give back than by volunteering together? Choose a cause that resonates with your family or friends and spend a day making a positive impact in your community. This shared experience of contributing to a greater good can strengthen your connections, create a sense of fulfillment, and remind everyone of the true spirit of the holidays.

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6. Get out into nature

Head to the great outdoors to relish the simple pleasure of each other’s company. Take a walk, plan a picnic, or go stargazing. The tranquility of nature provides a perfect backdrop for meaningful conversations, quiet contemplation, and unique and unforgettable experiences.

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7. Create a DIY craft day

Unleash your creativity by organizing a do-it-yourself (DIY) craft day. Gather art supplies and engage in a collaborative project, whether it’s making personalized holiday decorations, crafting handmade cards, or even trying your hand at simple home decor. The shared effort in creating something beautiful fosters a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.

8. Organize a book club for two

Select a book that interests both you and your loved one and create a mini book club for two. Read the book independently and then come together to discuss your thoughts, opinions, and favorite passages. This intimate literary experience allows you to connect on a deeper level and share the joy of exploring new worlds through the written word.

This holiday season, in addition to (or even in lieu of) the exchange of gifts, include moments spent together with your loved ones. By choosing experiences that foster connection and laughter, you not only create a deeper bond but also make memories that last longer than any material possession.

Want to learn more ways to strengthen your relationships this holiday season? Check out HRC’s free workshops here: r3academy.org.