Gathering the whole family in one place for a get together is an important social event. Not only does it offer an ideal opportunity for all generations to bond, but it also provides the chance for family heritage, stories and traditions to be shared. But how can you ensure your family get togethers are enjoyable for everyone?
Whether you’re getting together for a key event, such as Christmas, birthday’s, to celebrate an anniversary or for a christening, or just to spend some quality time and catch up with everyone’s news, it’s good to have some form of structure in mind – even if it’s vague and completely flexible. It’s particularly helpful when you’ve got children attending – especially young children – as you need to ensure everyone enjoys the day, is clear about what’s happening and doesn’t get bored and fed up.
Children are obviously the main contenders for getting fed up, especially if they’re at someone else’s house, haven’t got anything to do and are outnumbered by older generations, but you can do your best to ensure they’re kept happy and amused. To avoid boredom you could, for example:
- Take games along for them to play on their own.
- Give them time to play outside.
- Allocate someone to take the children for a short walk, a bike ride or to a local park to use up some energy.
- Involve everyone in playing games with the children. This helps everyone bond and integrate more, and children will feel part of the family, rather than left out.
Get togethers offer the ideal opportunity to share traditions, family stories or tales of old. Many children love hearing about life when granny was growing up, what it was like in the war or where everyone used to live. They also enjoy seeing old photos, which really help to put everything into context. Take time to share stories with children and make them involved in the past and present history of their family. Traditions, such as always meeting to celebrate Aunt Mo’s birthday or always doing something mad – like having a picnic outdoors in the middle of winter – on a certain relative’s birthday are also a fun way of getting everyone integrated.
Christmas is a great time for celebrating and it’s common to have traditions at this time of the year. Some families, for example, always meet up for a meal on Christmas Eve, gather to open one present each on Christmas Eve, see each other on Christmas Day and see other relatives every year on Boxing Day. As there are Bank Holiday’s at this time of year, there are no excuses for people not having time to meet up.
For those without any tangible family traditions, why not get your thinking caps on and start creating some? It can be based around any theme or idea, any time of year and any excuse for wanting to meet up. What’s a new tradition now, may become a long celebrated family speciality in the future.
If you don’t currently see your family very often, it’s worthwhile trying to arrange times to meet up when you can. It’s nice for children to get to know everyone in their family, especially as it provides them with a greater sense of identity, and can help crucial bonding of various relatives and between the different generations. Even if you’re only meeting for an hour a two, make the opportunity to schedule it in and enjoy the chance to see everyone again. After all, it’s sad if the only time you all get together is at funerals, when it’s too late for some to be a part of it.