Keeping family and friends entertained

Holiday Gatherings

by K.M. Praschak

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Plan Ahead for Holiday Meals

Company's Coming!

Although my family has a tendency to migrate to the TV after a big holiday meal, we could try a few more entertaining ideas for our holiday gatherings. Family and friends don't necessarily need us to spend a lot of money to entertain them, though. Try one of these ideas if you've had enough of the sports and reality shows:

1. The Holiday Night Movie Club

Pick a theme, then head to the video store or your local library to borrow some titles. If you need snacks, stop by the dollar store for deals on popcorn and candy. Add pitchers of tea and lemonade for drinks that cost a lot less than what you'd pay at a theater. For movie ideas, try the ones you enjoyed as a child, mixed with some contemporary favorites for the younger crowd.

2. Video Game Tournament

Lots of families love video games. If you don't have a console yet, ask one of your visitors to bring theirs. Rent games locally from a video or game store or ahead of time from a vendor like (though you'll need to become a member). You can also find discounted games at stores like Walmart or Target, or used games at GameStop or Blockbuster. Other sources for used games are eBay and Craigslist.

3. Get Crafty

Share your talents for scrapbooking or making bracelets by hosting a short workshop. Another crafty idea is to make decorations for the dining table; paper flowers or birds can be simple and inexpensive to make. Drop by craft supply stores like JoAnn or Michaels for more ideas that don't cost a bundle.

4. Picture It

Have everyone snap some pictures, then head to a photo site like Snapfish or a drugstore like Walgreens to make your own book. You might be able to customize your book with captions, backgrounds, and more. An 8 x 11 photo book can cost as little as $19.99.

5. Blue Ribbons

A friendly competition can bring out the best in your friends and family. Who can make the best side dish or dessert? Is someone a master jam maker? As an alternative, put on a talent competition; your Uncle Chad might surprise you with his ability to belt out the latest hits.

6. Quiz Show

Even if you're not sure who starred in this year's Oscar picks, you might be able to pull off a win in a trivia contest. Appoint someone quizmaster, then have that person pull questions from the newspaper and news websites. Split into teams and compete for first crack at dessert or give the losers a choice of chores after dinner.

7. Go on Tour

Your new in-laws or friends who haven't been to town before might get a kick out of seeing your old school, local attractions, or even just your favorite place for coffee. Don't forget to point out the best place to snag regional goodies and souvenirs.

8. Charity Drive

Sometimes, it's more fun to give as a family. Round up donations for a coat drive together. Collect personal hygiene items for a homeless shelter. Walk dogs at an animal shelter, or make great blankets as a team for a charity like Warm Up America! or Project Linus.

As you can imagine, I'm not willing to spend my next holiday gathering staring at defensive ends and wacky princesses. I'm going to have fun with my friends and family.

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