Fall break can mean a lot of different things from family to family.

Some families have returning college students, while others have younger members to tame, feed, and entertain. In any case, the holidays generally feature a full house looking for something to do. 

Now, many families will get together, feast, then head out to snag those Black Friday deals. While that could be a tradition in your family (as it was in mine), there are ways to have some family fun that don’t include waiting in long lines to fight over electronics.

Today, let’s talk about some ideas for how to spend quality time with your family over this holiday break.

1. Plan a Family Hike

I know, I know. We just talked about this last time, but hiking really is good for you. Not only that, but getting out in nature, away from all the devices you left at home, can be an excellent bonding experience for your whole family. Besides, when was the last time everyone went out for a walk in the woods? Fall is a lovely time of year just about everywhere in the continental US. Go take advantage of it!

2. Volunteer

The holidays are intended to be a time of togetherness, charity, and goodwill. But, let’s be honest: commercialization and consumerism have stripped a lot of that away.

Doing something nice for others can be a great way to reconnect with the real meaning behind the holidays. Volunteering at a kitchen for less fortunate people, for example, can put a lot of things into perspective for both students and their families. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good Black Friday deal as much as anyone. But, maybe adding a new tradition to the holiday experience will help put those consumer goals into perspective, and encourage empathy and gratitude while improving your own wellbeing at the same time.

3. Run the Turkey Trot

Another extremely healthy habit to encourage is physical fitness. Getting together for a family run (or walk, no shame) is an excellent way to bond, while also offsetting those extra calories consumed during a big holiday meal.

Turkey Trots usually occur on Thanksgiving morning. You get to get up and run the streets. Plus, you even get a free t-shirt for participating. If your family is competitive enough… maybe prizes or awards can be involved for the person who finishes first.

4. Game Night 

Of course, we need to have some activities for the un-outdoorsy folks out there, too. That’s why game nights are a fun, inclusive activity that can get everyone together without breaking a sweat or experiencing the elements.

Friends and family can get together over a ton of games, from video trivia to Monopoly. You can play a more complex strategy game like Catan, or a super-simple (yet competitive) game like Yahtzee. My family, for example, has had a masters-level Euchre tournament going on for years at this point! 

5. Go to the Movies

For my other indoor warriors, another excellent family fun plan is to head to the movies after your holiday dinner. There are ALWAYS movies to see this time of year.

What if there’s really, truly nothing in theaters that everyone can agree on right now? Well, maybe get everyone together for a family binge of your favorite Netflix or Disney show. If you have a huge family room full of people and a massive projector screen… you understood the assignment before reading this article.

Connection & Togetherness is the Point

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you and your family choose to do, as long as you do it together.

The point is that the holidays are meant to be about spending time together. No matter what your family budget or situation is, Thanksgiving isn’t about spending that time buying expensive stuff. Especially when — let’s be honest here — you don’t really need any of that stuff.

The holidays are about the people with you, and the memories you make together. 

You can buy stuff any day of the year, year-in, year-out. The memories you make with your loved ones will last far longer than any item you purchase. So… make those memories count!