7 Fresh Ideas for Family Night Slideshow
1. Family Movie Night
When it's cold outside, nothing beats a low-key movie night at home. Create your own concession stand with popcorn, jars of candy, and a mix-your-own healthy soda bar (juices, sparkling water, and fruit for garnishing). Pick out a few of your favorite movies — make sure the kids choose first — and turn those cellphones off for a night that beats the theater, and will have the whole family clambering for a spot on the sofa.
2. Little Chef Dinner Party
Mom and Dad cook for their crew every night — so why not change places for once? Assuming your kids are old enough to navigate the kitchen on their own, put your feet up, order up a drink, then let the children cook dinner.
Request a simple menu like grilled cheese sandwiches or spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and ice cream to keep the cooking challenge at a minimum but the enjoyment level high. Young ones will love taking charge of the kitchen and showing off their culinary prowess over a family-style dinner.
3. Pizza Party
Making your own pizza is easier than you think, especially if you opt for ready-made pizza dough. Give everyone a place to work (and a crust) and have each member of the family create their own top-secret pie. Then, up the ante by holding a pizza contest, judging each pie on creativity, unusual use of ingredients, and best flavor combination (it's safe to avoid naming a "best" pie of the night). Everyone loves pizza, and tucking into a spread of slices that you made yourself makes it taste that much better.
4. Winter Scavenger Hunt
Everybody loves a good adventure, and a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood or backyard provides just that.
Load up the slow cooker that morning with ingredients for a hearty stew for dinner while someone else hides clues (and the treasure) in a predetermined order. Working in teams (perhaps mother-son and father-daughter), set out mid-afternoon, complete with a map and flashlight (and perhaps a thermos of hot cocoa to stay warm) for your adventure. By the time all have finished, it'll be time to return home and dig into that warm meal waiting for you.
5. Family Slideshow Dinner
If you've made photo albums for your kids over the years, then you know how much fun they have looking back over all the experiences you had hiking, going on trips to the beach, and throwing parties. Now that it's 2012, it's time to go through your favorites from years past and pick out which you should frame. Over a dinner featuring comfort food favorites, like chicken in patty shells or pot pies, screen a slideshow with a selection of memory-makers from childhood, up to those that are most recent — it's sure to be a new tradition that is here to stay.
6. Family Paddle Tournament
It's just the thing to bring out the competitive side of aunts, siblings, parents, and cousins. Set up a ladder of games to be played, along with snacks inside the hut for refueling and some hot beverages to keep hands warm. Award a prize — perhaps a gift certificate to the movies or ice cream shop — and then head back home for a chili party, complete with two kinds of chilis, all sorts of toppings, chips, cornbread, and more. (Don't play paddle? Any game works, be it Foosball, ping pong, or bowling.)
7. Family Sleepover
For young kids, sleepovers can be unsuccessful when mom and dad aren't there. Change that all by inviting mom and dad to come, too! Clear the couches out of the family room and set up sleeping bags in a row. Turn out the lights and play cards by flashlight, or show a movie. The next morning, prepare a campfire-worthy spread of pancakes, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and hot chocolate that won't have sleepyheads sleeping in too long.