10 Fun Activities For Kinship Families

February 24, 2022 | 6 min read

As a kinship family, there is a chance that you and your children have different holiday traditions. Navigating these differences and finding ways to create lasting memories can be a tricky thing. You want to respect the older traditions of the children in your care, but you also want to be sure to create some new memories and traditions that they can look forward to in the future.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things you can do to create lasting memories with your kinship family that extends beyond just the holiday season. 

1. Talk about the children’s past traditions and incorporate them into yours.

Everyone celebrates holidays in their own way and understanding the traditions and memories of the children in your care are crucial to helping them feel heard, valued, and important. One thing that many children in kinship care or foster care experience is the expectation that they need to mold to the traditions and customs of their new family and forget their old ones. This can make them feel unaccepted or unfamiliar with their surroundings. By taking the time to learn about their traditions and incorporate them into your holiday celebrations, you can show that you respect and care about the beliefs and customs of the children you are caring for.

@NEChildrensHome is here to help you and your family create special memories! Check out their list of 10 activities you can do as a #Kinship family:Click To Tweet

2. Take goofy pictures.

Part of the fun of any holiday is getting to dress up and spend time making silly memories as a family. Whether it's spring, summer, fall, or winter, there is always a way to create a memorable tradition with you and your children. As you and your family grow up, these pictures are a great way to look back on how you’ve changed over the years, as well as share a few laughs at the old memories.

3. Make some special memories by baking or cooking together.

Working together as a family to make a special meal or treat can help you create a long-lasting memory. Passing down recipes, or trying out a new dish that is special to your children is a great way to incorporate their culture and family traditions into your new family. Take this time to get your hands dirty and get messy! Baking and cooking should be something fun you can all do together, and it is a great chance to build a deeper bond.

4. Do a silly gift exchange.

Often, people think that giving one another a gift is something that only occurs around birthdays or holidays. But, this doesn’t have to be the case! What is more fun than having an unexpected gift exchange in the middle of the summer for no reason beyond finding or creating gifts for one another?

These little activities are a fun way to show that you and your family care for one another, and can help to add a bit of cheer to your lives year-round. What’s even better, is that it can be a cost-effective way to let your children and family shop for one another. As a group, head to the store and set out a determined budget. This could be $5, $10, or more, depending on what you’re comfortable with! Sometimes the most thoughtful gifts don’t cost a cent. Look around the house for things like toilet paper rolls and empty boxes and challenge everyone to create something special to give another family member.

5. Spend time talking about your specific holiday beliefs.

Each family is unique in its own way, so it makes sense that each family has different holiday beliefs and traditions. It is important for you to share these beliefs with the children in your care to pass down your traditions and teach the children you care for about why they are celebrating these holidays.

Pro Tip: Talk about your beliefs as a story to help keep the children engaged and interested! Rather than just telling them what you believe in, paint them a picture they can visualize in their heads.

On the flip side, it is equally important to give the children in your care the platform and space to discuss their own beliefs. Ask them what they had been taught growing up, or if their birth parents had ever told them the meaning behind a particular holiday. Give them the time and opportunity to educate you on this topic. By letting them take the reins and you sitting back to just listen, you can demonstrate that you value their input and beliefs.

6. Bond by giving back to the community.

Volunteering as a family is a great way for you to get involved in the community and help children feel connected to what may be a new city. Together, you can decide what activities you want to do to spread some love and cheer around your city. This could be serving meals at homeless shelters, volunteering at community fundraisers, raising money or awareness for impactful causes, or more.

As a parent, this is a great chance for you to talk about the importance of helping those around you. Ask your children what causes are most important to them. See how you can incorporate these into your volunteerism, and start instilling a love for helping others at an early age.

7. Decorate your home as a family together.

The fun thing about holidays is that many offer you the chance to decorate your house in preparation for the special occasion! Enlist the help of your children when it comes to decorating. Spend some time together making homemade decorations that you can use year after year. Set your table in a fun way for important meals or holiday gatherings. Whatever holiday you celebrate, and however you celebrate it, there are always opportunities for creating unique traditions.

Bonus: The homemade decorations you make are a great way to create a lasting memory and have something special to look back on each year. Break out the arts and crafts and get creative!

8. Jam out together, or swap some stories.

What gets you in a cheerful spirit more than singing along to songs as a family? The answer is nothing. Hop in the car and queue up your favorite songs so you can scream them at the top of your lungs. If you don’t feel like driving, you can sing along and dance around your house, too!

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Are you more inclined to be a storyteller than a singer? That’s great! Swap stories as a group, and be sure to give your children the chance to share their own stories. Whether these are old memories you discuss or stories you make up, this activity offers everyone the chance to share and talk about their favorite tales.

9. Enjoy spending time outside.

Spend some time as a family getting some fresh air and exploring your community. It’s always a good idea to get active and spend time together getting exercise. Some fun activities you can do are walking through a park, wandering around on a scavenger hunt for the brightest color flower you can find, or searching out every puddle you can and stomping around in it! Something that many people tend to forget is that great memories don’t need to be centered around a large or costly activity. The simple moments where you can spend time together laughing are ones that will stick for years to come.

10. Leave space for reflection.

The holidays can be a challenging time for kinship families.  Children might find it difficult to process being away from the people they love or have celebrated holidays with in the past. As a kinship caregiver, you might be experiencing some of these complex feelings of loss yourself.

Remember — these feelings are entirely justified and are completely normal. Don’t shy away from having discussions about how you all are feeling. Creating a safe space for everyone to talk through their emotions and working to understand where they are coming from leads to a more honest, transparent, and supportive relationship.

Part of the joy of a kinship caregiving family is that you get to not only create new traditions and memories that will last a lifetime, but you also get to incorporate past traditions from both you and your children. The combination of this leads to a beautiful, inclusive family dynamic.

And, as always, remember that you don’t need to spend significant amounts of money to make a holiday or memory worthwhile. Sometimes, the best memories are ones that don’t cost anything at all but instead are the moments you get to spend together as a family. For more tips and advice for kinship families, check out our blog or reach out to our Kinship Navigation staff.