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10 Fun Ways to Disconnect (From Screens) and Connect (With Your Family) Over the Holidays!!!

a man and woman assisting a girl while jumping

With school and our social lives moving online we’ve all been spending too much time on our electronic devices these past few months. 

We at the Masada Homes Occupational Therapy Department are here to help with ideas about how to disconnect from your screens and connect more with your loved ones over the holidays. 

Below are some suggestions for activities you can do with your family to help everyone put their phones down and enjoy each other’s company.

christmas lights on a house

1. Take a Family Walk to See the Holiday Lights.

Bundle up with a sweater and bring a mug of hot cocoa.

Leave the phones in the home or car and take a stroll through your local neighborhood which puts on the best lights show.

Here’s a guide to nearby holiday light shows. 

Benefits: Engaging in the activity will facilitate family interaction and engagement in physical activity.

Bonus idea: Take pictures of your favorite decorations and recreate them with items in your home.

picture of a pillow fort
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2. Build a Cozy Fort with the Family

Grab the blankets, pillows, and chairs and work with your children to build a fort. Lay a comfy blanket inside and read with each other or listen to your favorite music while you relax. 

Benefits: This activity helps to teach skills surrounding planning and completing tasks as well as increasing calming strategies.

Bonus idea: Roll up 10 socks and launch socks between two forts at each other. The first person to get hit by a sock three times is out!

picture of sugar cookies
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3. Bake and Decorate Tasty Sugar Cookies

A creative and tasty way to enjoy the season by bringing the family together! Highlight the fact that engaging in this activity ends with a tasty treat. Try making your favorite TV characters using frosting.

Ingredients: Easy bake sugar cookie dough, frosting, and M&M’s.

Benefits: This activity helps to teach skills surrounding planning and completing tasks as well as meal preparation and clean-up.

Bonus idea: Buy extra Graham crackers and use frosting and M&M’s to make a cheap and easy confidence-building gingerbread house.

paper snowflakes

4. Cut out Diy Snowflakes and Use Them to Decorate the House

Creating DIY Snowflakes is a holiday classic that uses materials readily found in the home! Creating DIY Snowflakes can help to add a festive decoration to the home for the holiday season.

To get started, you’ll need computer paper, scissors, and tape. Watch the video below and follow the steps for folding the paper.

Benefits: Engaging in this activity will increase social participation and the exploration of leisure activities. This activity will also facilitate the engagement of motor and processing skills.

family game night
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5. Plan a Family Game Night

Spend a night connecting with your family over your favorite game whether that is Loteria, Monopoly, or Uno. Make your favorite cozy snacks and treats to add to the fun.

Make the decision of which game to play by presenting two or three games for family members to vote on by raising their hands.

Benefits: Engaging in games with the family will help to facilitate social engagement and the development of sequencing strategies that can aid in completing tasks.

woman holding cell phone

6. Hide the Phone Games

Having trouble getting your kids to put down their phones – why not make it a game? Try these fun games to get even the most phone attached child to spend some time without their favorite device.

Screen down power hour: Sit around the table. Put everyone’s phone face down. Whoever breaks and looks at their phone first has to do a chore.

Hide the phone and play hot and cold to find it. If they move further away from the phone say cold and if they move nearer say hot to help them discover where it’s hidden.

Benefits: Scheduling time for the family to spend away from their screens can facilitate social engagement and increase transition skills.

7. Holiday Minute to Win It Games

A fun way to challenge yourselves and promote laughter among family members. These challenges will have the whole family giggling and enjoying themselves so much they will forget to check their phones.

Check out these games from Happiness is Homemade, and work as a group to decide which games to engage in!

Benefits: Engaging in games as a family group will encourage communication and social engagement.

minute to win it christmas graphic
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picture of people wearing ugly christmas sweaters

8. Make a Fun Family Holiday Photo

Staging a funny family photo is a great way to bring the family together and create a lasting memory!

Have a mini family meeting to decide the tone and theme of the holiday photo. Will it have a funny dress theme or will it celebrate the successes of the family from the previous year?

Working together to stage a fun family holiday photo will lead to increased family engagement and memory making.

Here are some theme ideas to get you started:

  • Ugly sweaters
  • Funny faces
  • Beach trip family photo
  • Pajamas
kids working on a scavenger hunt
By Harvard Law Record from Cambridge, USA - 1L-LLM Scavenger Hunt, CC BY 2.0

9. Family Scavenger Hunt

Plan a fun indoor activity by creating a list as a family for items to find around the house. Once the list is complete, work together or individually to find items that match the list!

Instructions: Work together to create a list that can include finding objects that:

  • Are a certain color
  • Remind you of a family member
  • Make you grateful
  • Start with the same letter


Benefits: Completing a family scavenger hunt will aid in the development of new family holiday habits and routines.

picture of paper plate snowmen

10. Rocking Paper Plate Snowmen

Complete a fun holiday themed arts and crafts activity with the family utilizing materials found in the home. Each family member can put their own spin on decorating their own snowman!

Gather the following materials:

  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Orange and black construction paper

Follow these instructions.

Benefits: Engaging in arts and crafts aids in developing self-regulation and calming techniques. This activity will also encourage individual creative expression!

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