31 days till the New Year, 31 family activities

Creating quality family time is crucial to the development of children and positive family relationships. It helps to build self-esteem, positive connections, morals and bonds that will last a lifetime.

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Below are some of the great low-cost projects already featured


Create holiday cards with your family

Help inspire creativity, learn about sharing, thanks, and the holiday season with homemade holiday cards. You can decorate with drawings, handprints, stickers, glitter and anything else your heart desires!
Celebrate the season of light

Take small brown paper bags and fill with three inches of sand. Place a flameless tea light inside and watch the bag glow. Flameless tea lights can be found at most dollar stores. Please do not use real candles. For added fun, cut holiday shapes and designs on the bag.

Activity courtesy of Prevent Child Abuse America
Take the family to a local holiday event.

During the holidays there are always opportunities for families to get together and enjoy their town's celebration. Many of these events are free or low cost. Shared experiences are a great way for the family to bond and create positive, lasting memories.
It's snowing in Florida!

We might live in the land of the sunshine, but making snowflakes is a great way to have some fun decorating with the family. To make, cut large circle out of a piece of paper. Fold the circle in half, then in half again. Use scissors to cut out small pieces. Open the paper to see your beautiful design!
Make leaf imprints

While taking a walk with your family and friends, gather different kinds of leaves in a bag. Put a piece of paper over the top of a leaf and then using the side of a crayon, rub over the leaf until you see its imprint in the paper. These illustrations can be posted on the wall as a bit of holiday art or even made into holiday cards.
Cookies.

Bring cookies, muffins or homemade holiday cards to your local fire department or police department and thank them for helping your community. It is a great way to set an example for your kids.
Grant a wish.

Florida families can make foster kids’ holidays a little brighter by getting them a much-needed present during the holidays. Contact your local foster agency for information about ways your family can help. www.fosteringflorida.com/contact.shtml
Make placemats for holiday dinners.

Making placemats can be easy and fun way for your kids to be a part of your holiday traditions. Creating art is a great way for kids to build resiliency, it helps them to use their creativity, problem solve, increases self-esteem, and helps them to begin creating a sense of self.
Plant a garden.

Depending on your location in Florida, it may be too late in the year to plan a garden outside, but you can do one inside! Take a root vegetable like a potato, carrot or onion and stick toothpicks in the middle of the vegetable to keep it half way out of the container. Fill the glass with water and place it near a window. Check it each day with your family as it grows sprouts!
Singalong.

Know every word to Jingle Bells? Sing it out! In the car, at the house, in the park, what better way to get in the holiday season than with a holiday song? See who in your family knows the most words!
Baked with love.

The kitchen is a great place to bond with family and friends. Try out this recipe from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that is a great alternative to cake pops, strawberry pops! They are inexpensive, easy to make, festive and a great holiday activity.

Watch Elisa Cramer from DCF and Justin Timineri from Agriculture and Consumer Services make this simple recipe on WCTV 6

Game night!

Time to pull out Candy Land, Monopoly and Scrabble. Better yet, make your own board games, cut up and glue pieces of paper in a path on a piece of cardboard. Fill in items just like you would see on traditional board games. Use small toys from around the house to serve as playing pieces. Let the creativity begin!
Volunteer.

Contact your local homeless shelter or food pantry to see if you can volunteer during the holiday season. This is a great tradition to start that can get the entire family involved.
Make sock puppets.

Have socks that seem to lose their match every time they get out of the dryer? Create fun characters out of those lost "soles." Creating sock puppets is easy and inexpensive and allows for you and your child to use their creativity to develop a world in which these characters live. Use markers, stickers, glue, felt, yarn or other art materials to give your puppet personality. Developing magical worlds and fantasies helps children build important protective factors that shield them from stress and develop a more positive perspective when faced with stress.
Get some state park on ya.

Most state parks are open 365 days a year and are free or very inexpensive to go to. The parks have a ton of activities to do. Take your family for a walk on a trail, a swim in a lake or build sandcastles on the beach (it’s good to be in Florida in the winter!). You could also kayak, go tubing, camping, attend events and a wealth of other activities. Florida state parks has a list of statewide events at Statewide events. More information about the parks can be found at www.floridastateparks.org .
Go on a scavenger hunt.

Take your family out on a walk around the neighborhood or drive around town to find this list of great holiday fun items. You might have the most fun doing this in the evening once holiday lights are turned on a tour of lights!
  • Pine tree
  • Pine cone
  • Snowman (even an inflatable one will do!)
  • Reindeer
  • Menorah
  • Candles
  • Holiday lights
  • Star (real or decorative)
  • Ribbons

Read a story together.

The Florida Department of Education recently released their 2012 Recommended Holiday Reading List. Check it out to see if some of your childhood favorites are on there. Here is a video of First Lady Ann Scott reading part of The Polar Express, a great holiday story to read together: http://youtu.be/sxX8Z6gdPW8.
Listen to tradition.

Take time to learn about your family, traditions they had, where your ancestors are from. If you are spending the holiday with friends, ask everyone to share about their own holiday traditions.
Make treats for feathered friends.

Put peanut butter on a pinecone, and then roll it in birdseed. Tie a piece of yarn or strong to the top of the pinecone and hang from a tree outside. You'll be amazed by how many birds will show up!
Family tree.

A great tradition is to have all visitors to your home during the holidays trace their hand on paper and write one thing about their visit, how they are connected to your family, or an inspirational quote. Make them into a collage or tree to keep the memories alive after they have left.
Make handprint pictures.

Brush paint on your hands and make handprint designs in the shape of a wreath, tree, flower bouquet or butterfly use your imagination! Use finger prints and markers to make the details of your art work come alive.
Have a dance party!

Turn up the holiday music and jam out! Younger kids will love showing off their break dancing moves, and are sure to cause some laughs. Tired of holiday cheer? Use kid songs or radio tunes and play freeze dance, freeze when the music stops!
Make a holiday dinner centerpiece.

Creating a holiday centerpiece is a way to get kids involved in the traditions of the holiday season. Creating art stimulates our minds to increase fine motor skills, creative thinking, and attention/focus. Art also reduces anxiety, depression, and increases our self esteem. Get materials like baskets, plastic flowers, paper, etc. at a local arts or dollar store. Add a bit of glitter or sparkle for an extra kick!