Family fun jar — a gift that keeps on giving

A couple years back, I was talking to a friend about how I really wanted to give my children memories and love at Christmas, not just “stuff.” She told me about something that she and her husband give their children every year – a Family Fun Jar.  The Family Fun Jar has now become one of the most anticipated gifts our children get on Christmas Day – and it’s a gift that keeps on giving all year long.

Here’s how it works:

On Christmas afternoon, we sit down with the kids and brainstorm activities that would be fun to do together as a family during the upcoming year – sledding, bowling, ice skating, swimming, arcade games, game night, camping, hiking, bike rides, all sorts of possibilities. (And yes, there are some activities suggested that have to be vetoed or adjusted due to expense or feasibility.)

Then we pass out ten slips of paper (in our case, each child gets two slips of paper since we’ve got five children) and each person writes down the activities that they’re most excited about on their papers (younger kids assisted by older kids or parents). Once all the papers have an activity on them, we read off what we’ve got. If there are repeats (and there usually are some), my husband and I insert our picks for activities in place of the repeats.

Once we’ve got ten papers with ten activities that everyone’s excited about, we fold up all our slips of paper and put them in a jar (ours is pretty simple but you could make something super cute if you’re good at that sort of thing!).

On the first Sunday of each month (other than July and December when we’re usually traveling a lot and having plenty of family activities going on), we take turns drawing a slip of paper out of the jar and put that activity right on the calendar for that month (of course, if we draw “camping” in January, we’ll put it back for another month and draw something else).

The kids just love this gift that gives them the chance to do a lot of activities they love but that we often don’t make time for. It’s nice that the expenses involved in these activities will be spread out over the course of the year and we can find coupons and save up to make everything quite affordable – plus we try to make sure that quite a few free or super-cheap activities end up in the jar – hiking, picnic in a park, bike ride, an at-home movie night with homemade popcorn and treats, a game night, etc. My husband and I love that this gift ensures that we all prioritize fun family activities throughout the year and have quality time together.

Click below to print out a brainstorming sheet to help you make your own “Family Fun Jar” this year.

family fun jar brainstorming sheet

Family Fun Jar Brainstorming Sheet

QUESTION: What are your family’s favorite activities to do together? What are some activities you mean to do together but just don’t get around to? How can you make sure you’re spending quality time together as a family?

CHALLENGE: Make your own Family Fun Jar and see what it does for your family.

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