The Intentional Family


Plan your family fun these holidays…

Creating Memories

Think back to a favourite Christmas holiday memory. Was it one of those simple, spontaneous moments, or was there some planning involved? Usually there is at least some forethought whether to plan a trip away, or simply spend a day at the beach, and for every child’s treasured memory of opening up presents under the Christmas tree, there are is someone who lovingly searched, bought, wrapped and placed them there.

It might seem counter-intuitive for those of us used to thinking of holidays as ‘doing nothing’, but planning our holiday leisure time is probably one of the best things we can do to provide spaces for spontaneous fun and help create the kinds of memories which form a family’s sub-culture.

Highlight experiences often bring a lot more happiness than the most popular or expensive Christmas present. There’s the pleasure of planning and carrying them out, as well as savouring the memories afterwards.

This year consider being a bit more intentional about what experiences and memories you would like to create for your family. Perhaps save a bit of money on presents and keep it for some fun experiences which are a little bit different, or something special you’ve all been wanting to do for a while.

To help you do this we at CathFamily have come up with 11 activities (books, movies, things to do or make) to help you get into the spirit of Christmas 2011 and plan your free time over the holiday break.

Eleven things to do these holidays

  1. Book: The Christmas Mystery | Jostein Gaarder
    Count the days till Christmas with this delightful Advent story that you can read together as a family. When a young boy finds a faded, home-made Advent calendar, instead of chocolates behind the little doors, he discovers a story that takes him back through time and place to Bethlehem and the birth of Christ. For more suggestions for Christmas season books, see the Literacy, Families and Learning Blogspot
  2. Christmas Lights
    Pack a picnic or pick up a pizza and go for a drive to see the Christmas lights. Check the local newspaper for the notable streets near you. Take money for the ice cream vans which are usually around. Visit life-sized nativity scenes, such as the one in the forecourt of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.
  3. Jesse Tree | Family Tree
    You’ve probably heard about a Family Tree, but did you know that we call Jesus’ family Tree, the Jesse Tree? There are some wonderful Jesse Tree traditions that honour the ancestors of Jesus from the Jewish scriptures. You can make a Jesse tree and use it in your family prayer in the weeks before Christmas. You may also like to hang photographs or drawings of your own family members on your tree. CathFamily is your one-stop site for all your Jesse Tree needs.
  4. Christmas Cards
    Want something a bit different to the usual mass-produced greeting cards and gift tags? Try our environmentally-friendly Christmas card-o-envelope for a nifty way to make a card and envelope from one piece of A4 paper. For gift tags, check out our designs which have a second life as a bookmark after Christmas Day.
    Click here to download the CardClick here to download the Bookmarks
  5. Gingerbread House Party
    Invite the neighbourhood children or cousins over for a day of cooking and decorating. You can purchase pre-made gingerbread kits, or create your own. For a different twist, why not make a Gingerbread Nativity scene. And don’t forget to keep the icing sugar for Christmas Day, when it will surely be so cold that snow falls in your gingerbread town!
  6. Movie: The Nativity Story | 2006 | PG
    Curl up on the couch for an easy night with a movie to lift your spirits. This beautifully presented interpretation of the Nativity story, begins with the Annunciation and goes through to the flight to Egypt.
  7. New Year’s Eve | Old Year’s Farewell
    New Year’s Day is an important Catholic feast – the feast of Mary, Mother of God; a simple village girl who became the mother of our Saviour. Mark the New Year and honour Mary by sharing your favourite family memories from the past year. Break out the photo albums, or make a digital or scrapbook memento together.
  8. Star Gazing
    Summer is the perfect time to take in the glory of the heavens. Read the story of the Epiphany (Jan 6) and be inspired by the Three Magi, following the stars and marvelling at God’s creation. You could also visit your local observatory for an evening session or invest in a telescope.
    Download the ‘Skywalker’ app (iPad) or visit for tips on what to look for.
  9. Backyard Campout
    You don’t need to leave home to create a fun camping experience. Pitch a tent in the backyard, roll out your swag (aka sleeping bag) and boil a billy. For apartment dwellers, convert the kitchen table to a tent by draping a sheet over the top.
  10. Fireside Chats
    There’s nothing quite like a fire to get the conversation rolling. Invest in a brazier from the hardware or BBQ store and get ready for some wonderful evenings. Young children LOVE fire, but do teach them how to manage it safely. Teenagers are drawn like moths to a setting like this, so plan for company. Want some help getting the conversation started? Download Table Topics.
  11. Movies by Moonlight
    For a fun night in, borrow a data projector and set up an outdoor movie theatre. You can hang a white sheet or roller blind for the screen. Break out the beanbags and picnic blankets. Bring on the popcorn and choc-tops, and snuggle in under the stars for serious family fun. Not sure what to watch? Check out for reliable media reviews.

From the team here at CathFamily, we wish you a serene Advent, a Joyous Christmastide and a hope-filled new year!

This Article was featured in the December 2011 Edition of the CathFamily e-Magazine.

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Marilyn Rodrigues

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