8 ways to keep kids off their mobile devices at your holiday get-together

8 ways to keep kids off their mobile devices at your holiday get-together

It’s holiday get-together time. You’re wondering if you’ll see more of your kids or grandkids faces than their mobile devices will.

After all, Thanksgiving and Christmas are times for family and friends to reconnect, laugh, and share life together.

But technology has the tendency to captivate adults and children. Not good, especially when Grandma has been looking forward to spending time with her grandkids, or the cousins are so involved with their online games that they don’t even talk to each other.

Go beyond the menu when pre-planning your holiday get-together

If family and friends are coming to your house, explain to parents in advance that there will be plenty of time for tech fun for their kids while at your home.

But there will also be times that your home will be smartphone and tablet free.

If you are spending the holiday at another’s house, explain the same thing to your kids—there is time for technology and a time to connect with family and friends.

Set a basket on a table just to hold smartphones. Explain that during dinner smartphones will be turned off and put in the basket. (Of course, before kids and adults fill the smartphone basket, allow a few minutes for them to take a photo of the holiday spread. And a few selfies.)

Then choose several of the following activities for kids to do besides planting their faces in their mobile devices.

8 ways to keep kids off their mobile devices at your family gathering

1. Distract the kids (and adults) with an outdoor basketball, volleyball, or touch football game.

Provide pompoms for the cheerleaders in the crowd who would rather watch than play.


2. Have supplies ready for the kids to create something amazing like a gingerbread house.

You can buy kits for this with the gingerbread premade at most craft stores.


3. Host a pumpkin hunt.

Hide little pumpkins instead of Easter eggs.


4. Sponsor a skit!

Have a basket of dress-up clothes available that you’ve gotten from a thrift store or garage sale. Then ask the kids to create a skit to share with the family after dinner. Make a big deal of their presentation when the show is about to start.


5. Provide a box of tent making materials and a place to build a shelter.

You’ll need an old sheet, pillows, clothespins, and some chairs to drape the sheet over. Add in a flashlight and some interesting books for the kids to read in their tent.


6. Set out puzzles and board games for guests to enjoy.

Even the adults get into board games in our family. (Our grown kids often being their newest game to share.) Pick some that are for all ages and others that just the kids or adults will enjoy.


7. Involve the kids in helping you set the table or clean up after dinner.

Make the time enjoyable by telling stories of funny things that happened to you in holidays past.


8. Design an “Unexpected Blessings” experience

Set out pens and squares of paper. Tell each person as they arrive to write an unexpected blessing of the past year, but not to put their name on the paper.

Explain that a prize will be given to each person who participates. Read each at dinner and let everyone try to guess who wrote it. Then present a simple prize for those who shared.

One last note: Download the Screentime or BreakFree app, which allows you to set a time limit for usage on your child’s smartphone or mobile device. When the clock runs out, time’s up.

With a little preparation, you can give your guests a holiday get-together that holds warm memories for all of them.



3 Responses to 8 ways to keep kids off their mobile devices at your holiday get-together

  1. Thank you,,,Thank You,,,Thank You. Can’t wait to do The “Unexpected Blessing”. We will be having a diverse group of guests. John Sr. and his new friend will be joining us. Such a great way to include everyone. I think everyone will join in.

    Just made my gingerbread men cookies this morning for all to decorate.

    God Bless you, Tom and the family this Thanksgiving.

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