“And, going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down
and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” ~Matthew 2:11
It’s easy to forget the reason for the Christmas season in the midst of holiday stress. And for many people, the most stressful part is getting along with guests visiting from out-of-town. A little planning can go a long way to help you have a smooth and enjoyable Christmas visit with your loved ones!
One of the best (and worst) things about inviting out-of-town family members to stay with you during the holidays is you get to spend some quality time with them. It’s an extended visit with people you don’t see much throughout the year. It’s exciting for some and dreadful for others, but most out-of-town folks only visit during the holidays.
Once you have time to talk and catch up on the latest, “what’s new” with the family, and comment on how much the children (yours and theirs) have grown and matured – then what?
Well, the best way to keep your out-of-town houseguests entertained during the holidays is to keep them busy – so busy that they tell everyone they see that they had a blast this holiday season. But, how? By adding lots of fun, interesting, and challenging activities to your holiday plans.
The great thing about activities is they provide a distraction, so you don’t have to be “on” the whole time. In other words, it gives you a break from personally entertaining your loved ones. So, before family members arrive at your home for the holidays, ask them what kinds of things they like to do.
Don’t forget the children! Then, look for activities that will excite and intrigue all of your guests. Try to select “family friendly” activities that are easy and fun for everyone, regardless of their age or mobility (for the younger and older guests).
Also, try to stick to activities that don’t cost a lot – for you or your guests. The truth is there are plenty of activities in or close to your home that cost little-to-nothing, so consider them. Holidays are already pricey, after all. And, if your out-of-town family members are staying at a hotel and/or flying or driving a long distance, they probably won’t want to spend a lot of extra money on activities.
If you do select an expensive activity make sure you tell your family members in advance, so they can save up (or decline gracefully) if it’s just not in their budget. If you select activities outside of the home, make sure you also have activities for those, who stay behind. Some relatives may not want to do much of anything, but rest, watch television, and gab, so don’t be offended if they decline to go.
The good news is there are ways you can entertain your out-of-town family members during the holidays – all it takes is a little creativity and this trusty article, of course! Happy Holidays!
Ways to Entertain Out-of-Town Family Members During the Holidays
Listed below are easy and fun ways to entertain out-of-town family members during the holidays:
A Candlelight Service
A great way to entertain your loved ones, while celebrating Jesus’s birthday, is to attend a candlelit service at your church or one nearby. This is especially uplifting for families who are religious. The best thing about this activity is it helps you and your out-of-town family members remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Christ! It also helps bond you together, not only as human beings, but also as a family. So, check your church’s website for Christmas church service times, and bundle up your loved ones and head-on out to Jesus’s birthday party!
An activity that almost anyone can do is board games. Remember those? Well, it may be time to dig them out or purchase some newer board games to entertain your out-of-town family members during the holidays. The great them about them is they are fun, interactive, inclusive, and festive. Your guests will definitely have a blast playing Monopoly, Clue, Pictionary, Candyland, Life, Chutes and Ladders, and/or Trouble.
Another fun out-of-the-house activity for holiday houseguests is shopping. I mean, who doesn’t love to shop?! Well, maybe not all of the men, but it’ll be a ton of fun for the women in your family. If it’s before Christmas, you can shop for your loved ones – the best thing about Christmas is giving to others, after all, so why not spend your hard-earned cash on something that really matters.
And, if it’s after Christmas, you can spend the gift cards you received on the “things” you’ve been wanting or needing all year long! Either way, it gets your family members out of the house and provides them with a ton of fun!
Rather, stay-in instead braving the long shopping lines and unpredictable weather? How about a “movie night” with your out-of-town family members? It’s easy and entertaining! Poll your family members before they arrive at your home on their favorite holiday or any day movies.
Make a list of their responses and pick a couple of family-friendly movies, toddler/little kid movies, and adult movies (for when the kids are asleep). Then, order some movies from Amazon, select movies from your cable premium channels, or turn on streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, or Disney Plus.
Possible selections? For Kids – Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, The Polar Express, and/or A Charlies Brown Christmas. For Families – A Christmas Story, Elf, A Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, Jingle All The Way, and/or Christmas with the Kranks. For Adults – Krampus, The Night Before, Bad Santa, Scrooged, Trading Places, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Black Christmas, Gremlins, and/or The Children.
**If you and your family would rather go out, some movie theaters feature half-price or discounted movies for families, adults only, and children during the holidays. Check your local movie theater listings for details.
A Holiday Cook-Off
Another fun way to entertain out-of-town houseguests is to have a holiday cook-off! If you have a fairly large crowd, divide your guests in groups of 2, 4, or 6, then assign them an appetizer or dessert to fix. Designate one or three people to determine the winner (the group with the best appetizer or dessert wins).
If you have a small kitchen, perhaps someone could be assigned to baking cookies, and the competing teams could decorate the cookies at stations setup in other areas of the house.
Avoid picking 2 judges because you may get a tie. So, either do one judge or 3 or 5 judges (depending on the size of your party). Then, offer a low-cost gift as a prize, such a bag of candy, a $5 gift card or certificate, miniature toiletries, etc. If you want to make this activity super fun, model it off the television show, “Chopped” or “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
Bowling or Laser Tag
Have a competitive family? Well, why don’t you take your family bowling or laser tagging? It’s exciting, fun, and competitive. Who will be the victor? The great thing about bowling or laser tag is it’s not pricey. In fact, there tends to be a lot of “deals” and “discounts” during the holiday season. A win-win for everyone!
A Christmas Football Game
One of the great things about the holiday season for men (and women too) is there is always a variety of football games playing. So, grab some hot wings, nachos, bean dip, beers, and pigs-in-a-blanket, and settle-in with your holiday houseguests. I guarantee it will keep most, if not all of your family members fully entertained!
Note: If there is a Christmas football game playing in your city and your out-of-town family members don’t mind paying for the tickets, make it an “outing” for your whole family. It will be a memory your loved ones will never forget!
***Don’t forget to ask your family members to dress-up in their team’s jerseys, hats, coats, gloves, socks, and jogging suits! Team spirit!
A Dance-Off to Christmas Music
A dance-off to Christmas music (i.e. Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, Jingle Bell Rock, Deck the Halls, We Wish you a Merry Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Jingle Bells, etc.) is an activity that even little kids can enjoy! Put on some holiday music, and get to moving! Ask the younger members of your family to come up with dance routines to perform in front of their parents and the older family members.
This is not only super cute, but guaranteed to get some belly laughs. The best thing about it? It will entertain your out-of-town family members for hours! Ask everyone to clap for the best routine, and then give all of the children prizes – i.e. candy, stickers, toys from the Dollar Tree or Dollar General, or $5 gift cards or certificates.
A Traditional Christmas Play!
A cute way to entertain out-of-town family members and celebrate the birth of Christ is to put on a Christmas play. Or, rather ask your out-of-town family members if they would mind their children performing a traditional Christmas play (i.e. Nativity Scene) for your guests. If they agree, print-off “roles” and email them to your relatives. If you can’t find a skit about Mary, Joseph, and Jesus; create one based-on the Bible.
In other words, write down what you want the little ones to say (make it simple and easy to remember). Don’t forget to encourage your out-of-town relatives to have their children “dress the part” with robes and sandals. Also, don’t forget to have a little doll baby on hand to play the “role” of Baby Jesus.
Note: If you can’t or don’t have time to create Christmas play dialogue, you can find a variety of cute and spiritual Christmas skits online.
Don’t forget to take lots of pictures during the play. Then, use a couple of them for next year’s Christmas card. This is a sweet and fun way to spend time together, as a family, and remember the true meaning of Christmas!
Holidays don’t have to be tense, stressful, overwhelming, awkward, or boring! They can actually be the most fun you’ve had all year – if you plan them right. The key to making the holidays memorable for family members is to keep them busy. If they are busy with activities they’ll be less likely to get into spats with one another. They’ll also be less likely to become bored and restless. So, plan activities for out-of-town family members that everyone can enjoy. And, be prepared to hear about your “epic holiday celebrations” for years to come!
Pilato, D. (2019). 50 activities to entertain your houseguests. Spruce. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/activities-to-entertain-your-guests-1197335