Most family celebrations tend to revolve around food – birthday dinners, celebratory meals, barbecues, picnics, pool parties, you name it, they tend to be focused on food first. So how do we flip the script and focus family gatherings more on activities and fun than on what we’re going to eat?
“There are endless great ways to spend time together as a family without focusing on food and eating,” says clinical psychologist Melissa Jones. “You may need to put a little more planning and creativity into such events, since food-focused events are the norm, but it is definitely possible and enjoyable!”
The benefits of having fun together as a family run deep – quality time helps strengthen interpersonal bonds, reduce individual stress levels, and has a positive effect on children’s behaviour.
“You can play board games, card games or outdoor games,” Jones suggests. Activities like these allow “families to spend time together and actually interact with each other. Unlike watching movies, watching television or eating, playing games allows families [to] participate with each other in an active, shared activity.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean food should be off the table at family gatherings, but you can put the focus more on what you’re going to be doing at the gathering, so what’s on the menu becomes just one part of the event.
“Families can picnic at the park with [healthy] snacks, such as fruits and vegetables,” says Jones, adding that the open space can be used to play kickball or to have a relay race, or everyone can just simply go for a walk in the area.
Another idea to put the focus more on activities is to schedule a family gathering at locations other than local eateries, says Jones.
“Maybe [families] can choose the local mini-golf or laser tag facility, rather than a local restaurant. Maybe they can schedule family bowling nights with the extended family at the local bowling alley or plan an afternoon at the local pool.
“Truly, the options are endless! Put on your thinking cap, pull out your creativity and get planning!”