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Baking pies with your mother. Sledding on Christmas day. Listening to Grandma's stories of Christmas during the war. All of our sweetest holiday memories are tender moments with our families. But every year, the stress and materialism of Christmas threaten to crowd out what we really want most from the holiday; a strong, loving family.
How can we give meaningful gifts that build stronger families? Here are 5 gift ideas that will strengthen your family — and won’t need to be returned!
1. Give a family snowshoeing expedition
Bundle up your little adventurers, fill the thermos with hot chocolate and head up one of our beautiful canyons for a snowshoeing expedition. Spending time working towards a goal together — like snowshoeing to reach a destination — is a great way to foster teamwork and trust within your family.
Snowshoeing is an easy, safe way to get outside and enjoy our winter wonderland, and snowshoes can be rented from any outdoor recreation outlet. The Millcreek Canyon Winter Road is a wide, flat, easily accessible trail just outside of the city. Dogs are allowed in this canyon, so you can bring the family pooch.
Turn this outing into a special treat by packing along a big thermos full of hot chocolate to share at any of the picnic sites along the trail!
2. Take a parenting class with your spouse
To borrow a phrase, strong families are not born — they’re made. Like building a house, building a loving family doesn’t spontaneously arise out of good intentions. It’s built through the deliberate cultivation of strong relationship skills.
Active listening, cooperative parenting, and emotion coaching are all valuable relationship skills that are taught by Georgia Anderson from knowhowmom.com, a Gottman-trained relationship educator. Whether it’s a one-time class, weekly date nights, or a weekend retreat, she regularly hosts courses on both parenting and relationship skills. And unlike the latest techno gadget, these skills will stay with your family for decades. Click here to see a list of upcoming courses.
3. Set family-specific New Year's Resolutions and share them with each other
One of the most important aspects of goal-setting is accountability. One study found that people who shared their goals were twice as likely to achieve them than people who kept their goals to themselves. So this year, try a new tradition: Make specific goals that relate to your family, like telling your teenager that you love them every day, or promising to listen to them for five minutes straight without interruption. Then, share that goal with the person it affects. Ask your child to hold you accountable. You might be surprised to one day find your struggling teenager approaching you saying, “You need to tell me that you love me today!”
4. Go on a couple's weekend retreat
As busy parents, it can be hard to take a child-free weekend away without feeling guilty. But investing in a healthy marriage is one of the best things you can do for your children. Take a weekend getaway with your spouse to Bryce Canyon or San Diego with knowhowmom.com where couples experience the Gottman Seven Principles program in the outdoor splendor that promotes friendship and fun together. This isn’t a course for couples with serious relationship issues; rather, it’s for everyday couples who want to learn more about each other’s communication styles, how to avoid gridlock and enjoy each other’s company more.
More than just a vacation, it’s a way of investing in your marriage that will enrich your entire family. Click here to see a list of upcoming courses.
5. Let your children choose a family project
Usually, holiday gifts focus on giving a finished product — like an iPhone or a fully assembled toy. This year, choose something your children wants and give the gift of building it with them. Working on projects together is a time-honored parenting tradition for a reason — it works. It gives your kids an unpressured, relaxed environment to open up, as well as teaching them (and you!) new skills.
Maybe the younger kids want a playhouse or a swingset. Let them help draw up the plans and choose the materials. Maybe your teenager wants a standup paddleboard or the cardboard faux taxidermy they saw on Pinterest. Offer to accompany them to buy the supplies as part of your gift. Make it unique to you and your children’s interests.
This Christmas, give the gift of stronger families, and you can enjoy the benefits for years to come. To learn more about upcoming knowhowmom.com activities and classes, sign up for email notifications here or follow @knowhowmomtips on Instagram.