By Kyla Groves

At this time of year many families get caught up with gift buying, food making, and scheduling of visits for holiday gatherings. The busyness of the season can take over. Oftentimes, families forget what really needs to be focused on: Time Spent with Family.

Families can be stressed both with making sure the holidays run smoothly and with making time to spend together. Not only do you want to make sure you spend time together, you must keep in mind that it is an expensive time of year. Here are some cost efficient and fun activities to do as a family this holiday season.

Christmas Movie Marathon
Gather everyone in the living room, serve some popcorn (or other favorite movie snacks) and bundle under some blankets to watch your favorite holiday movies.

Holiday Light Tour
This can be done in your own neighborhood or by traveling around to different neighbourhoods in the city. There are many festive places and houses within the city. The Parliament Buildings have a light show in the evenings. Beginning on December 5 through to January 7 there will be a multimedia show on Parliament Hill called “Christmas Lights across Canada.”

Arts and Crafts
Whether it be holiday themed or some of your favorite crafts to do as a family, this is something that everyone can do together. Some fun ideas include making popcorn garlands, creating ornaments, wreath making, building with playdoh, or even just coloring.

Holiday Baking
Grab mixing bowls, spoons and ingredients and start baking. There are many ideas for great recipes that can be found online or maybe you have some traditional recipes? Spending time in the kitchen is a way to bond with your family. Maybe you can build a gingerbread house together and bake gingerbread people to go with it.

Outdoor Activities
Skating on the canal, going sledding or walking outside in the forest can be done on a warmer day. Even staying in your own backyard to build a snow fort together can be fun and challenging. After being cold outside, head inside to warm up with some hot chocolate and marshmallows together.

Indoor Activities
If the weather is cold and snowy there are many activities you can also do inside over the holidays. Go to the public library or visit a museum. All of Ottawa’s museums have certain days or times that are free–just visit their websites.

Family Game Night
Have each family member pick out their favorite game from your collection and take turns playing them all!

Volunteer or Donate
As a family you can volunteer or donate to a charity that you choose together. Many organizations will welcome your family and your gift of time. Giving as a family is a wonderful opportunity to bond. Volunteering is something meaningful, not only your family but to many other families within our community.

Remember that at this time of year with all the lights, seasonal music, and holiday activities, make sure that you spend time with those closest to you. Whether it is your partner, your parents, your children or the special people in your life, dedicate some time to spend together. Your holidays will be much more joyful.

From all of us at Serenity Renewal for Families, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.

Kyla Groves is the Youth Program Coordinator at Serenity Renewal for Families. Due to popular demand, Photovoice for adolescence will be offered again in the New Year. This program allows youth to have the opportunity to explore their feelings through photography. Our organization provides services for people struggling with addiction, their children and their families. To learn more or to donate to families in need, call 613-523-5143 or visit