When your family’s big holiday gathering finally arrives – after months of planning, anticipation and activity – the magical mood and festive spirit can easily be dampened by a lull in the dinnertime conversation or a child who feels too shy to talk to a relative they haven’t seen in a long time.
That’s why these family-inspired crafts aren’t just a fun activity for the kids. They’re a tool to help everyone in the family engage with each other – and maybe even start a new tradition or two.
What You’ll Need
- Empty Bounty paper towel rolls cut in half (or Charmin toilet paper rolls)
- Colored craft paper
- Colored yarn (match your family members’ hair colors, if possible)
- Craft glue
- Assorted washi tape
- Self-adhesive googly eyes (and any other fun crafty adhesives)
- Pen or pencil and writing paper
How it Works
Step 1: Make a List (and Check it Twice)
Write down the names of everyone coming to your holiday dinner and gather recent photos of them. If you don’t have printed photos, online ones will work. Go through the list and pictures with your children, and let them help you pick out craft supplies to match – orange yarn for redhead Aunt Lisa, brightly colored paper for Cousin Dan who always dresses in vibrant hues, and so on.
Step 2: Get Crafty
Set aside time to create your cardboard-roll people together with your kids. Have fun making them look as much like the family member as possible. As you make each one, talk with your child about that person. Explain how they’re related to you, where they grew up and what makes them unique.
Step 3: Give Them Something to Talk About
For each person, take a piece of paper and write down a funny or memorable story about them or a few open-ended questions that will spark interesting responses. Avoid anything embarrassing or private – the goal is to help connect with one another, not to poke fun. Roll up each piece of paper and put it inside the person’s cardboard roll.
Step 4: Get the Party Started
When you set the table for the big holiday meal, use the crafts as place settings. Everyone will be delighted to find a little mini version of themselves on their dinner plate. Then, once dinner is underway, go around the table and give everyone a chance to read their story or answer their questions. If someone isn’t comfortable in the spotlight, don’t press the issue. Just let them listen – chances are, they’ll end up sharing something in a one-on-one conversation later.
This could become a fun tradition for your family, or it might be the perfect one-time activity that sets the stage for many memorable holidays to come. Tweak and fine-tune the details of it to fit your unique family.
However it works for you, don’t forget to give yourself a big pat on the back (and maybe even an extra slice of pie) for helping bring the family together to make lasting memories.