Here are two unusual activities that have proved unexpectedly successful in my family circle at Christmas:
1) Creative Writing Exercise
Equipment: pencils, paper, a writing surface, some prep time for planning.
Plan one or two Creative Writing exercises for the whole family to try. One easy-ish one to prepare that I’ve used is this: write a list of 10 words not usually associated with Christmas (on my list were words like Marauder and Waterfall). The assignment is for each family member to write a short piece (they don’t have to finish it, but they should try) using all 10 words on the list, and the theme of the piece is The Night Before Christmas. Give ’em a set time, and give extra time or not based on a consensus of group members. I am a writer, but my parents aren’t, and they loved it! Plus, their pieces were AWESOME. I bonded more with them doing that than in ten Christmases of caroling.
Not that there’s anything wrong with caroling.
2) Ghost Story Reading Roundtable
M.R. James’ A Warning To The Curious was what I selected for this one. We read it aloud, and people asked when they wanted to take over the reading for a while. It rocked. And the ghost story is/was (I don’t know if the custom is still current) a big part of Christmas in England. It is a tradition that needs either reviving or importing, whichever term is appropriate.