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Newsletter: December 2021

Beat the Supply Chain with “Small” Holiday Family Bonding Ideas

The news this holiday season is full of supply chain warnings and price mark-ups. It feels as if last year’s cautions about staying home and keeping things simple were a lifetime ago; this year, people are eager to shop, gather and feel more “normal.” But in our rush to return to a fast-paced, gift-laden season, do we risk losing some of the holiday family bonding many of us gained in 2020? Maybe there’s a happy medium to be found for 2021.

Last year, about a quarter of Americans planned to gather with extended family and friends for holiday celebrations. This year, the numbers are up to about fifty percent. Whichever half you fall into, consider making this year’s celebrations more about going “small” for big rewards. You could shop “small” by supporting local businesses, create homemade gifts for a “small” environmental footprint, and spend more time enjoying “small” simple pleasures and family bonding experiences rather than going “big” with extravagant outings. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Share a story. Set aside some time each night — even at family dinner! — to read aloud together. You might choose something seasonal from a list like this one, pick a book that covers a theme or topic your family would find meaningful, or ask family members to make a list of old childhood favorites and bring one out each evening. Make the read-aloud even more special by inviting friends and family to join in, either in person or virtually.
  • Have a contest. Ugliest sweater? Best decorations? Cookie bake-off? Holiday singalong challenge? Whatever you choose, a friendly and festive competition can add tons of fun to the season. And again, this kind of family event can be arranged online as well, so everyone can join the fun no matter where they are!
  • Make outside the place to be. There are lots of great reasons to be outside this season, whether for extra safety in gatherings or to remember to appreciate nature in all kinds of weather. Even in cold climates, you can make outdoor parties the next big thing! Try serving a hot cocoa bar with all kinds of fun toppings (with insulated cups, of course), hold a nature scavenger hunt, use food coloring for snow painting, decorate trees with homemade ornaments, or play a round of cold weather “What Can You Do With…?” using winter items like sleds and snowball makers.
  • Create a “Giving Tree.” (Or wall, or jar, or tablecloth…!) Each day during the month, challenge family members to give to others. Remember: Gifts don’t have to be material! We can make gifts of our kindness, our help, our presence, and our talents. At dinnertime, have each person share what they did to give to someone else that day. Write the answers down and display them on a holiday tree, post them on a wall, add them to a jar, or even use fabric markers to write them on a tablecloth that can then be used for future holiday meals together.

We’ve got even more ideas for “small” family bonding with a big impact you can try this year. Check out our 31 Days of Family Fun printable calendar for daily doses of inspiration, or snuggle on the couch with one of the family movies from our Holiday Dinner and a Movie collection. And of course, you can always take the giving spirit further with family-friendly community service ideas from our #GivingTuesday resources. Let’s end 2021 with a spirit of connection, caring and kindness!


Great for homemade gifts or just for filling up the cookie jar, this 3-in-1 cookie dough recipe from GoodCook is quick, versatile and delicious!

3-in-1 Cookie Dough


Get ready for the New Year! These Mad-Lib-style resolutions are a fun — and funny — take on tradition.

Wacky Resolutions


Try these Giving conversation starters to keep the focus on generosity and kindness this season.

Giving Conversation Starter Printables