By now we are all familiar with the variations on “The family who _____________’s together (fill in with your favorite activity) stays together.” But family activities are more than that. They are an opportunity to teach appropriate socialization, to develop habits of conviviality that are proactive and nurturing, and to have fun together. My favorite fill-in-the-blank for that old cliché is “The family who has fun together, stays together.” If you associate good times with family get-togethers, you are far more likely to participate when parents or grandparents invite you to traditional gatherings. Here are three things to do together that build relationships and enjoyment of each other’s company.
Three Interrelated DIY Activities for Families
Board Game Night
Go to local yard sales, second-hand stores, and even your local department store. Develop a collection of board games. Add some home-made goodies, such as pulled taffy, popcorn, and popcorn balls, or home squeezed cider, and you are set for an evening of fun.
Pulling taffy can be a chore, but shared is can be sticky fun, that ends with an edible product that most everyone loves.
The basic taffy recipe (based on All Recipes’ Grandma’s Taffy) is 2 cups sugar, 1.5 cups water, 4 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Add 2 tablespoons vanilla, and other flavorings to taste, food coloring, if desired. Have some waxed or pastry paper on hand to cover surfaces and to cut into squares to wrap the candy pieces at the end. Add all ingredients except the butter, flavoring and food coloring to a large saucepan. Place on a cooktop over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Add the butter, and mix thoroughly. Heat to 275 F. or until drops tipped from the spoon spin a soft thread. Remove from heat, add the flavoring and coloring. If desired, divide the batch into two containers so you can have more than one flavor or color. As soon as it is cool enough to handle, divided into lumps. Pull the lumps until the mixture loses its shine. At this point, cut it into bites or into cane sized lengths. Make bite-sized pieces, or twist longer lengths into canes. Spread on waxed paper or parchment paper to cool. Wrap the finished pieces in waxed paper. Makes great gifts.
Make your own board games
Tired of the same old games? New games too expensive? Try making some of your own. Purchase a large piece of poster board, or cut open a cereal box for a flat game surface. Visit your local library and look up games in the encyclopedia. It will give directions for old-fashioned games such as Parchesi, Chess, Checkers, Fox & Geese, and Backgammon. Or make up your own game. Using a compass, protractor and a ruler, draw the game board on your poster board or cereal box cardboard. Use markers or crayons to color the game board. You can use dice for games that need a number of players to advance, or you can make a spinner using a nail tacked to a piece of wood. Mark off a circle with numbers and maybe one or two “surprises” such as an extra turn or go back to start. Glue it to the wood block, and add an “arrow” made of cardboard. Flick the arrow with your finger, and you are off on your board game journey.
DIY family fun is as varied as the tastes and interests of your family. If you love doing something, share it. If it is fun, do it twice, and then three times. At that point, it becomes a tradition that your children will share with their children. Happy crafty sharing!