As we begin the new year it’s a great time to dedicate a goal for your family. It’s time to schedule family bonding time.
Oh, sure. I know, deep in your mind you want to believe it will be more meaningful if it’s spontaneous. You want to think family bonding should just come naturally. You want to hope that everyone will just get along and love like family is supposed to.
And, maybe for your family that’s the case. But, families these days are busy. From sports, to co-ops, to field trips, not to mention schooling.
Plus, your husband has work commitments, and perhaps you do too. Then, there are the weekly worship and Bible classes as well.
And, while all of those things are good. And many are absolutely necessary. The reality is that we get so caught up in the day to day of life that we fail to see that we’re missing out on enjoying our time as family.
Which is why it’s important to make time for family bonding.
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52 Ideas for you to Schedule Family Bonding Time for the Whole Year
Many of these ideas are free or low cost, with only a requiring planning ahead in the family budget.
Week 1 – Read a Book Together Aloud
Too much screen time happening in your family? Turn off the screens and instead enjoy a short story together. Books like, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling can be read in just 1 to 2 hours.
Make it fun with altered voices, or let each family member take a turn.
Reading aloud reignites imaginations and creates a unique shared experience that will only exist in your own family.
Who knows you might just start a new family tradition.
Week 2 – Go Out for a Day at the Arcade
If you are a homeschooler, the weekdays at the arcade are the best! There aren’t many people there and so everyone can enjoy whatever games they feel compelled to play. Maybe dad could take off of work for the morning and join you.
Grab a pizza lunch from the concession, and just laugh and have fun.
If you are not a homeschooling family, you can schedule your family day for an weekday evening. The weekends, likely, will be super crowded and while you can still have fun, you might find it to be more tiresome.
Week 3 – Minute to Win It Game Night
An awesome way to spend an evening with kids. These challenges are simple in their design, but can be difficult in their execution. Which is why everyone has so much joy giving it try.
Week 4 – Make your own pizza night.
This fun night everyone gathers in the kitchen. Everyone is given a crust, the sauce, and cheeses, and from there the sky is the limit. You can likely bake 2-4 pizzas at a time depending on the size of your pizzas.
The fun part is letting the kids form their own dough shape and choosing their ingredients. NEVER, say “no” to an ingredient. You just may find your family’s newest, greatest pizza pie ever!
Like, maybe pepperoni and pineapple with canned corn really does taste super awesome!
Week 5 – In the House Glamping (or call it a family sleep-over)
Clear the living room floor. Pull out the sleeping bags, pillows and blankets.
Then everyone piles up for a night of indoor glamping. Turn on flashlights, light candles, or flameless candles, maybe use cool lanterns, but turn off the other lights.
Enjoy s’mores, tell ghost stories, eat popcorn and simply enjoy the fun of being together with no distractions. You can go all out by setting up a tent, or hang some sheeting for making a fort.
Oh yeah, don’t forget to unplug all the devices.
Week 6 Go for a Family Time Winter Walk
If it’s colder temperatures where you live, bundle up. Head outdoors and soak up some sun.
To make it a fun event, grab this winter scavenger hunt and have the kids search for wintry nature items.
When you return home, heat up some cocoa and pass out the mugs.
Week 7 – Make Your Own Icecream
I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream! You can make your own with little effort these days. Just get an electric ice cream machine, or use a freezer attachment to your stand mixer.
Stock-up some favorite ice cream mix ins such as, Reeses Cups, chocolate chips, peanut butter for swirls, brownie bites, marshmallows, nuts, or other favorites and let everyone decide together what goes into your unique family blend of rocky road style ice cream.
Week 8 – Stage Your Own Play
Remember in Little Women how Jo, Meg & Amy would recreate Jo’s story in the attic. This is kind of like that. One of the kids can write the play, or you can simply choose one of their favorite story books.
Everyone takes a part and they have fun play-acting the story.
Week 9 – Host a Mystery Party
It can be a murder mystery, or a wizard mystery. Whether your family is fans of Sherlock or Harry Potter, discovering who done it can be a fun adventure.
Week 10 – Paint Pottery
Find a local paint your own pottery business. Call ahead and let them know how many will be joining you, and ask about their standard pricing. Choose your day, and take the whole family.
It’s a fun way to build family treasures and family memories.
Surprise the kids by joining them for a video game marathon. Kids love to play video games. Imagine how much more fun it will be when you say… “Hey let’s have a whole family Mario Kart race.” Or, whatever your family’s favorite games are.
Week 12 – Air Hockey Tournament
Who doesn’t love a good game of air hockey? It’s a fun, non-athletic way of having some good competition in the family. If you don’t have your own hockey table, head out to the local arcade mid-week so you avoid the crowds.
Pull out some brackets (you know those are readily available this time of year) and fill in the names of your family members, then play through until you can crown a winner!
Kids love this sort of thing. Come, to think of it, dads do too!
Week 13 – Solve a Jigsaw Puzzle Together
Start this project during a family gathering time. But, it will likely become an ongoing project. Find a large jigsaw puzzle that everyone can work together and imagine the thrill when it’s finally completed.
You can set it up in an out of the way place, like a sideboard in the dining room. Watch with delight as kids stop by to add in a piece or two before flitting on to something else.
Week 14 – Make and Bury a Time Capsule
Let everyone decide what they will put into the capsule. Get a waterproof time capsule container and place everything inside. Choose a date in the future when you plan to open it. Perhaps it will be when your oldest child graduates, or when the last child leaves home.
The fun will be documenting your own special time in history.
Week 15 – Go Rock Climbing
You have a few options here. Depending on your family’s adventurous spirit you can find a local park that offers rock climbing with safety harnesses for kids.
But, if you aren’t that adventurous, find a gym or local rec center that has rock climbing walls. It’s great exercise and even if you don’t want join them on the ropes the kids will have a blast and expend a ton of energy.
Week 16 – Break Out of an Escape Room
Imagine the thrill of being locked in a room with your family and with only your wits you have to work as a team to escape the room.
This one’s not cheap! You will want to book in advance and know your cost going in. Be sure to set aside enough funds, and depending on the rules at your area options, you may need to invite guests to join your family adventure as some facilities require a minimum number of participants.
Week 17 – Go Stargazing
This website will show you the best times of the year to go stargazing. The 17th week of this year is a great time for a meteor shower. Grab blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and spread them out on the deck.
Then grab some snacks, drinks, and binoculars, or a telescope and wait for the light show.
Week 18 -Hit the links. The miniature golf links, that is.
This classic family game night is still as fun as ever. Little ones enjoy just getting to hit that little white ball and they don’t even care what direction it goes.
While older kids will enjoy the thrill of trying for a hole-in-one. Don’t forget to sneak a kiss or two with your beloved as you move through the course.
Week 19 – Take a Night Time Hike
Often, local nature centers will offer night time, full moon, hikes to look for nocturnal animals or celestial events.
Week 20 – Go Geocaching
With the free Geocaching app, your car, and an adventurous spirit you can discover a world of hidden objects. Take an afternoon and pick a general location, follow the geocaching prompts and before you know it, you’ll find hidden treasure with your kids.
It’s so fun, you just might find that your kids want to do this every time you are in the car.
Week 21 – Play Capture the Flag
Divide up into teams. Invite the kids friends over if you need more players. Set up two areas with flags. Each team then works together to capture their opponents flag, and defend their own.
Be sure to set boundaries for the playing field. Use a chalk line, by spreading flour around your playing field.
If a player is tagged, he sits down and waits until the next round to participate.
A fun twist on this timeless game, is to make flour ‘bombs.’ Simply cut-out squares of pantyhose nylon material. Fill with a couple tablespoons of flour, then close and secure the bombs with rubber bands.
Each team is given a bucket of “bombs” which they toss at their opponents. When struck with a flour “bomb” that player is then out.
Week 22 – Strawberry Picking
Find a U-pick farm in your area where you can pick strawberries by weight. Watch your kids excitement when they see row after row of fresh, juicy, ripe strawberries laid out before them.
Spend a couple hours, most kids can’t handle more than that, picking this luscious little fruit. Then, go home and make strawberry jam to preserve.
Week 23 – Go out for Banana Splits
OK, so it doesn’t exactly have to be a banana split. But, ditch your traditional supper of meat and potatoes and instead go out and get ice cream for supper. A banana split or sundae with fruit and nuts and other great toppings is filling!
While, no, I don’t recommend this for every week of the year. Once or even twice is a memory building experience. So, ditch the meat and potatoes and go bond with your family.
Week 24 – Go Carts
Who doesn’t enjoy a little racing competition? It’s all in good fun of course!
Week 25 – Backyard Camping
Pitch a tent, grab the blankets, light a fire in the fire pit, roast marshmallow. These memories are one’s the kids will recreate with their kids when the grow up!
Week 26 – Nerf War
Pull out the Nerf guns and start an epic neighborhood battle! Kids from all over will run, hide, play, laugh, and just have a huge amount of excitement.
More Family Bonding Time Ideas
We’re halfway through the year. Keep going. I know with summer it’s easy to fall into stepping away from the commitment, but summer is also a great time for family bonding activity.
Week 27 – Canoe Trip
If you live near a river, chances are you can rent a canoe for a morning, or afternoon and spend the day floating as a family. Don’t worry about your car, these rental companies generally drive you back to the starting point.
It’s good exercise. You’ll breath fresh air, enjoy the sunshine, and laugh together as it takes a bit to get the hand of it. Don’t forget to pack a lunch, some water, and snacks.
Week 28 – Play Kick the Can
You need at least four people. The child who is IT starts by kicking the can and counting to 100 while everyone else runs and hides.
The IT player sets the can upright and shouts, “Ready or not, here I come.”
He then goes to find the others.
When he finds one, he yells the player’s name and races back to the can, trying to be the first to knock it over.
If the IT player fails, the game starts over. If the IT player succeeds, the hider must stand near the can while the kicker searches.
Other hiders can free captive players by kicking the can before being spotted. If they succeed, everyone hides again. And everyone yells, “All-ee, all-ee, outs in free.”
When everyone has been captured the game is over.
Variation: Tin Can Alley
When I was a little girl this is the game we played. My dad was famous in our town for playing this and many other games with the kids.
3-5 Tin Cans
(I realize most can’s today are made from aluminum, any three soup or vegetable cans will work).
A person is chosen to be IT. (There are no clear directions on how this position is chosen.)
- The IT person stacks the cans one on top of the other. Then, one of the other players knocks them down. (The goal here is to scatter them.) Then everyone runs and hides.
- The IT person has to stack the cans before he/she can search for the hiders. Once the cans are stacked then the search can begin.
- When the searcher finds a hider they yell. “1-2-3 on Suzie. (child’s name)” Then Suzie or whomever is out and goes and sits down.
But the IT person has to watch his back. Any hider can sneak up and knock down the cans again. Once they are down then he has to stack them before he can continue searching.
Play continues until all the hiders are found or seen trying to sneak to knock down the cans.
Once all the hiders are found the next IT person is the first person out of the game.
Week 29 – Water Gun or Balloon Fight
Fill the balloons, fill up some buckets and grab the water guns. It’s time to head outdoors for a water gun showdown. You’ll laugh, you’ll run, enjoy the sun, and more importantly each other. Everyone will have a blast!
Week 30 – Family Picnic at the Lake
Pack up simple finger food ingredients like pepperoni slices or summer sausage, cubed cheeses, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, add some bottled water, and napkins to a picnic basket. Pack a blanket as well. Find a lake, pond, or even river with a sunny place to lay down your blanket.
Lay out your noshing spread, and relax. Yes. Relax. Let the kids eat, run, play, jump in the lake if they want. Set aside your worries, cares and concerns, and just BE with your family.
Week 31 Backyard Movie Night
Turn your backyard into a movie theater. Hang a white sheet, or use the side of your house as a screen. Spread out pillows, blankets, or folding chairs. Pop some corn, make fun festive drinks for the kids, kick back, relax and enjoy the show.
You might find neighborhood kids wandering over to watch too. That’s totally cool! Don’t you want your home to be the place where everyone gathers?
Week 32 – Go Zip-lining
Soar above the tree tops as a family. You’re going to love the thrill of zip-lining with your family. Listening to their squeals of laughter and excitement is fabulous.
Week 33 – Go to a Baseball Game
If you are fortunate enough to live near a MLB team, then get tickets for the family, set in the stands, buy some peanuts, crackerjacks, or hotdogs. The excitement of the game and being in sync with all the fans around you is thrilling.
Even if you aren’t near an MLB team, many mid-size cities have minor league teams. Or, simply enjoy the local little league teams as they step up to the bat.
Week 34 – Giant Slip N Slide
Get some plastic sheeting, a bottle of dish soap, and the water hose. It’s super easy to set up a huge slip n slide in the backyard.
Then, invite the kids out back, better yet, invite the whole neighborhood over for some splashing, playful, fun. It’ll be a memory your kids will never forget, and, they’ll want to repeat year after year.
Week 35 – Listen to an Audio Book
Turn off the TV and instead turn on an audio book player like Audible. Curl up together in the bed, or on the couch and let imaginations fly as you listen to a great story like, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe, or Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Week 36 – Drive-in Movie Night
Let the kids have the experience of driving in for a family friendly movie. Get some popcorn, pop, and candy from the concession stand.
While this one is truly an oldie… it’s still a goody.
Week 37 – Go Apple Picking
This is such a fun fall activity. The air is starting to turn crisp and cooler, so it won’t be too hot in the orchard. The sweet smells of ripe apples, the bright sunshine, all make for happy hearts.
You don’t have to take all day, just enough to fill a basket or two. Set one on your dining table for an autumn centerpiece and quick grab-n-go snacking. And, then make a family apple pie together with the other basket of apples.
Week 38 – Family Pillow Fight
Grab all the pillows in the house. Yep, all of them. Pile them up in the living room and start a family pillow fight. No one can stop laughing during a pillow fight.
When everyone is worn out, you can all just plop down together and spend time talking, giggling, telling stories and just being happy together.
Week 39 – Plan a Family Weekend Away
Take advantage of the off season pricing and plan a family getaway. Create a unique experience that could become a family tradition, such as a weekend at a lake, or a family trip to a national park.
Week 40 – Photo Scavenger Hunt
Take everyone out to your town square, divide into teams, hand them a scavenger hunt list.
Find tips for How to Run Your Photo Scavenger Hunt from Mom of 6.
Week 41 – Family Hay Ride
Ok, so it’s hokey and old fashioned. But, so what!
Find a local farm that offers hay rides, apple picking, and maybe a campfire dinner. The point is to spend the day together! And, while it might seem hokey to YOU. Your kids will be experiencing this fun for the first time.
Week 42 – Plan a Scavenger Hunt
This can be a simple nature hike where you print things from nature to watch out for. Or, it can be a bit more exciting with a scavenger in town or at the mall. Get creative,
Beach Scavenger Hunt at Natural Beach Living
Week 43 – Back Yard Bonfire
Light a fire and gather round. Whether you just spend the evening chatting and enjoying s’mores or you venture into other bonding activities is up to you. Here’s a few ideas.
- Roast potatoes in the coals, have a nearby table with toppings such as cheese, shredded meat, sour cream, etc., and you’ll have a nice supper.
- Family sing along. If someone plays a guitar or violin, let them set the tempo.
- Pop corn over the fire
- Tell ghost stories
Week 44 – Play the game, “Wearwolf, or Mobster”
This narrative party game
You can find simple instructions online, or you can get a card set like this one: Stellar Factory Party Game Werewolf
Week 45 – Take a Family Road Trip
Pack up the car, don’t tell the kids until the very last minute, and then say, “Everyone jump in the car we’re going on a road trip.” Have a general idea of where you want to end up, but don’t make too many plans. Half the fun is discovering hidden gems on the journey.
Week 46 – Be a Tourist in Your Hometown
How often have you said, “One day we need to go to…”? Well, it’s time to do that thing. Find a touristy thing in your town and pretend you’re a visitor. Head out, and tour a museum, or tour the downtown area. Read the statue plaques, visit the courthouse, stop by the town history museum.
Week 47 – Cookie Baking Night
Let everyone choose their own favorite recipe. And take turns mixing, and baking these luscious treats. Be sure that you have plenty of butter, flour, eggs and sugar, as well as cookie add ins like M&Ms, Kisses, or Marshmallows and Walnuts.
How long have you lived in your home? Have you taken the time to get to know your neighbors? Is there a new neighbor you haven’t had a chance to meet? Choose a family, extend an invitation, and work together as a team to get everything ready for your new guests.
Week 49 – A Night of Bowling
A game that everyone can love, and have fun doing. This classic game can challenge mom & dad. Put up the rails for the little ones to have fun rolling balls as well.
If you have teens… they’ll be thrilled to try and BEST their parents. And, everyone loves getting pizza, snacks, and drinks delivered lane-side.
Week 50 – Go to the Symphony, Ballet, or Opera
It will be so memorable when the whole family dresses up to go to a live event. It’s exciting, educational, and might just serve as a inspiration for a future career.
Ok, so you could also go to a rock concert if that’s your family’s jive.
Week 51 – Make a New Holiday Tradition
Everyone knows that this time of year is full of holiday activities. There are so many traditions, so many things everyone, everywhere is doing. But, imagine how much better a tradition will be when you decide as a family to make a new tradition. Something different, unique, and that no one else is doing.
Week 52 – Go sledding or skiing
If you happen to live in a northern area it will be a lot easier to have a family sledding day. If you don’t, take a trip. Seriously, find a place that’s got at least 6 inches of snow on the ground, spend the weekend sledding.
Warm up with hot chocolate, enjoy fried chicken for dinner, and have fun.
That brings us to 52 weeks worth of family bonding activities that can keep your family having fun and growing closer all year long.
What are your favorite family bonding activities? Did I include them in this list or do you have other fabulous activities? Share your family fun ideas with us in the comments below.