What to Watch on Family Movie Nights

Movie nights with the family can be more of a hassle than it is worth, if everyone has different tastes in movies. The kids may be interested in the latest superhero sequel, while mom would prefer a comedy, and dad has his eye on an older James Bond flick. There seems to be no middle ground here. The family could spend half an hour or more arguing about which movie to watch, and go through the endless list of choices available for online streaming or on-demand.

Just when it seems like everyone is happy with the selection, one member of the family complains, and then the whole process starts all over again.
Why Not to Always Let Kids Choose the Movie

In these situations, what usually ends up happening is that one member of the family gets to choose the movie, and everyone else accepts it, along with more or less silent suffering. More often than not, kids get this privilege, since they are the ones with the least capacity to sit through anything. If that system doesn’t work, the family may give up on movie night altogether. This is the situation more and more these days, since everyone can just watch what they want on their own computers or tablets. The drawback, of course, is that family time gets sacrificed.
Try the ‘Pick System’

There is one system that works well for some families, and avoids all the problems mentioned above. I like to call it the ‘pick system’. The pick system is surprisingly simple and effective, and it even has the bonus of teaching some good lessons to the younger members of the family. The system works like this: each member of the family gets one pick, and movie night rotates, so that each member’s pick is shown on a movie night before the rotation is reset. The only hard and fast rule is that, if it isn’t your pick, you must sit through the movie that’s showing, without complaints. When it is your pick, you can choose whatever movie you want, and you know that the rest of the family will have to watch it with you. Depending on the specific needs of your family, you could include a few other rules related to kid-friendliness, subtitles, or other very broad regulations.
Learn Some Positive Life Lessons
When it’s described in writing, the pick system seems so obvious, that it sounds a bit silly, but it’s a proven method that eliminates all the arguing and agonizing, and makes movie night fun again. There’s a bonus which you might not see coming: if you have kids, it will teach them a lesson in consideration and patience. Using the pick system, you will be surprised to find that your kids will start choosing movies that they think will be crowd pleasers. The reason this happens is simple. Imagine it’s your pick, and you choose a movie that everyone in the family ends up loving. They will praise you for having made such a great choice. These words of praise are powerful positive reinforcements-it feels great when the people we love tell us that we did a good job. Of course, sometimes, there will be a movie that someone really, really wants to see, no matter what the others think. The beauty of the pick system is that, that’s always okay.
It Really Works!
In my family, the pick system revolutionized movie night. We used to avoid watching movies together, because it would take ages to find something everyone wanted to see. Now, we watch movies together on a regular basis, because we like sharing our unique tastes with each other, and it’s fun to see what the others will come up with on their turn. We also add a twist to make it exciting: whoever has the pick, can’t tell the others in advance what the movie is-it’s a surprise!

Unique Ideas to Celebrate Parents’ Day

Parents are a source of joy, hope, stability, security and love for their children. They play an important role in imparting values, and there is no doubt why there shouldn’t be a day to revere them.

Parents’ Day was formulated in 1994 by the then President Bill Clinton, who declared the fourth Sunday of July as a day to commemorate the role of parents and to promote ideal parenthood. According to the National Parents’ Day Council, it is not just a day to honor Moms and Dads, but also a day when parents can rededicate themselves to their children. The idea behind the concept of Parents’ Day is to celebrate a day of unconditional and true love.

The Roman Catholic Church venerates 26 July as the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church dedicates this day to parents and grandparents the world over. Considered to be the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne are venerated as exemplary models for all parents. According to the American Catholic organization, 26 July is celebrated as the ‘Feast of Grandparents’. It is a day to remind grandparents of their responsibility and it also acts as a foundation for future generations. It is a day to remember the role of parents in each one’s life.

As the world gears up to celebrate Parents’ Day with gifts and cards, you can make this day extra special for your parents in a unique way. It’s a day you get to honor your father and mother in a way that you have never done before. After all respecting parents is one of the commandments given by God. Take a look at how you can make this day a special occasion for your parents.

10 Ways to Make it a Special Occasion

“There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child.” – Henry Ward Beecher

» Happy Wanderers
Pack your backpacks and wander off together as a family. Take along some eatables and some games too and have a wonderful time bonding with your parents. Knapsacking as happy wanderers is a good way to reminiscence your childhood days.

» Dine Out
Surprise your parents by booking a table at a nice little restaurant and treat them to their favorite cuisine. If you are capable enough, reserving a table in a plush multi-cuisine restaurant won’t do you any harm. You can add a little bit of charm by asking for some special music, or better still, surprise them by playing a song or two yourself.

» Bring the Restaurant Home
Set up a nice little tent in the backyard or the garden and decorate it with drapes, wind-chimes or beads. Then cook a nice meal and dine out in the open along with your parents. To make it even more special, ensure you include the things they love to eat, or maybe try out a dish that they have never tried before. You can ask an older relative to help you out with your preparations.

» Organize a Theme Party
Get your family together by organizing a theme party. It would be fun to revisit the good old childhood days when you and your siblings wore matching ensembles. Only this time match your outfit with that of your parents’ so it would be ‘like father like son’ and ‘like mother like daughter’.

» Book a Yacht
If you are capable enough, you can book a private yacht for a day and set sail with your parents. If this seems too costly an affair, opt for a day cruise which will allow you to spend quality time with your parents. You can spend the day catching up on good old memories.

» Book Tickets for a Show
Present your parents with tickets for a concert or a theatrical or even for a movie that they like. You can even book tickets for a game that they enjoy. You would have to ensure that you keep spare tickets for yourself to make it even more special. Try to rope in the entire family for the event to make it a day for the entire clan to remember.

» Plan a Nice Little Holiday Together
Seems too far-fetched an idea, but if it brings a smile on your parents face, it would be worth the effort. The amount of time you spend with your parents, no matter how old they are, the better their day is bound to be. You could drive down to a place they would love to go to, or hiring a caravan could do the trick.

» Organize a Surprise Potluck
The greatest gift for a parent is to see all their children spending happy moments together. You can do your bit by organizing a surprise potluck party in honor of your parents. Get each of your siblings to prepare a dish that your parents enjoy. Then get together and see their happy smiles when you shout “Surprise!”.

» Gather Memorabilia
This would require a little bit of hard work on your part. Gather all your childhood pictures, prized possessions and trophies that have made them proud of you in the past and display it in your garden. Invite your parents to visit a museum and surprise them with a mini-museum right in your backyard or attic. This would be a true walk down memory lane for your parents and the best possible way of showing you are grateful for all those memories.

» Make a Promise to Keep
Put on your thinking caps and come up with a handful of vows that you promise to keep for your parents. They can be simple ones like ‘I promise to be there for you’, or ‘I promise to spend a day in the week with you’. Whatever the promise, remember to diligently follow it. Dedicate your time, energy and love for the people who never cease to love and care for you. Time is the only supreme gift that you, as their child, can give to your parents.

Ideas for the Perfect Parents’ Day Gift

Time and love are the only gifts your parents will be satisfied with. However, you can show your love and gratitude for all they do for you with a present or two as well. You will never go wrong with some of these personalized gift ideas.

Say It with a Scroll » Prepare a scroll by artistically sewing or painting a good quote or an excerpt that expresses your love. Display the scroll once your parents have gone off to sleep, so the first thing they notice on Parents’ Day is the beautifully done up scroll.

Gift a Frame » Create a collage of all the best pictures of moments spent with your parents and put it together on a chart. Do remember to personalize it with a few splotches of palm prints, or fingerprints and a few phrases to complete it. Present this as a memoir of the best days of your life.

Quotes Diary » Compose a nice little poem, or gather some of the best quotes on parents and fill up a few pages with them. Present this diary as a sign of gratitude for all the sacrifices they have made to keep you happy.

Photo Album cum Scrapbook » Recollect all the best moments you have spent with your parents and compile them into a scrapbook. Add your personal touch by describing each captured moment the way you remember it. Presenting a scrapbook is a good way of remembering the old days.

Become a Music Jockey » Hunt for the songs that your parents love and put them together on one disc and present it to them. You could even record few of these songs with the help of a few friends and compile a disc and present it to your parents.

Say It with a Card » A homemade card makes a nice gesture to show your love for your parents. Make it even more special by pasting their pictures along with a few of yours to remind them how much you love them.

Cakes, Chocolates and a Bouquet » Flowers have the capability to put an instant smile on anyone’s face. Think of the many ways you can decorate the house with flowers; for a more ethnic touch, prepare a garland and present it to your parents. Chocolates are known to be heart warmers and have no age bar to enjoy. Take along some cake, chocolates – and there you have it – you can make the day the most special day ever.

Finally, tell your parents how much you love them with a nice bear hug. And if you’re still not satisfied, say a prayer for your parents, that’s one of the best gifts you can ever give them this Parents’ Day. This hymn should be able to sum up all your heartfelt gratitude for the gift of your parents “I thank my God each time I think of You, and when I pray for You, I pray with joy.”

Interesting Activity Ideas for Families

Spending time with the family is very important in today’s hectic life. This time, spent happily in the company of people you love, acts as one of the best stress busters. This time is really necessary in today’s fast-paced life, where keeping in touch regularly with your entire family is seldom a job not done. Quality communication with our family members is also decreasing drastically. The different ideas mentioned in this article will give you a chance to enjoy some great time with your loved ones.

Unique Games
A riverside trip, with a small picnic that calls for the entire family to be together, is a great way to catch up. What’s even better, are the several games you can play as a family. Keep board games for your time indoors; instead, indulge in a game of Frisbee, play stickball or hopscotch, and learn/teach to fly kites.

Something to Learn …
If you don’t have a day’s time, you can visit the nearby zoo and spend some quality time with your children. Museums are another great option, specially if you have children old enough to understand the items on display. Museum visits are a great way to introduce your children to history, which otherwise seems a boring subject.

Art and Craft Activities
Though craft activities are usually meant for children, participation of the entire family makes them more enjoyable. Making a collage is a nice activity to pass time on weekends. Painting murals, vases, etc., are some of the other activities that you can try your hand at. Making a decorative piece for your home is a good way to get everyone to work on the same thing.

Outdoor Activities
Together with your family, you can go camping, hiking, bike riding, cycling, etc. As an everyday activity, you can take up gardening with your children. Another great idea is to sit around a campfire and narrate stories and legends. Revive a ritual our ancestors followed, and let your children learn life lessons through these stories. Visit the countryside and get in touch with natural surroundings. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, these trips are a welcomed change.

Some More …
Attend concerts together; not all concerts are meant for grown-ups. Visit a famous library and talk to your children about its heritage. Watching movies that educate us about a particular incident/person is also a good option. Take your children out to the local charity center and tell them how charity benefits society as a whole.

Start spending time with your family before it’s too late. The pace at which we live our lives is so exhausting that we don’t realize what we’re missing out on. Plan every activity with the consent of all members. It’s your time together, and together, everyone should be happy.

Family Fun Night Ideas

The hectic lifestyles we lead these days, simply eats away our family time. While the parents are busy working and managing the house, the kids are busy with school work, etc. Planning a family night, has become a necessity today. It’s a day when family members make sure they find time to spend as a family. To make the night interesting, games and different activities can be incorporated. Let’s take a look at the different ways one can spend a family night.

Dinner Time = Fun Time
The family dinner can be a lovely place to start. Prepare a lovely, exotic meal, preferably a cuisine you’ve never tried before. To make things even more interesting, make little costumes for the kids, and ask them to come dressed for dinner. Read about the history of the cuisine, and some fun facts about it, and share the information over dinner. This will even help improve their general knowledge.

Game Fun
There are scores of different board games you can play as a family. While Scrabble helps build vocabulary, Pictionary helps improve creativity. Uno is also a fun card game that your family can play. Remember, games help increase interaction, and even help break the ice. It also builds team spirit among the siblings. Moreover, children learn to embrace failure and success better. Games needn’t be confined to board games, but can involve role plays, treasure hunt, memory games, etc.

Hobby Time Fun
Share hobbies like listening to music, reading, dancing, or even carry out some craft activity together. Build something, cook something, paint something… anything that your family will enjoy doing. Explore different hobbies and find out how you guys fare. The same old hobbies can get dull and boring, so make sure you look for hobbies that your family has never tried before.

Outdoor Trip Fun
Children love the outdoors, so give them what they want. Pack dinner in a lovely picnic basket, and go for a drive. Depending on where you live, take them to the beach, lake, etc., and have your dinner there. You could also catch a burger, and watch some animated movie in a drive-in.

There are umpteen things you can do with your family, and the list will stop when you stop taking the initiative. No more excuses about time, fatigue, or money. If there’s a will, there’s a way! Enjoy this time you have with your family.

Things To Do Before Spring

If you live in a northern climate where the winters are snow covered and barren, you may be hoping that spring is right around the corner. You’re not alone. Thankfully you can help alleviate the dreary feeling of winter, by getting a head start on your planning.

Get Outside
Even though winter is still with us, and will be for a few more weeks, warm days may still be in the forecast for your area. Many places have warm days towards the end of February and the beginning of March, so take advantage of them. There is nothing like a brisk walk to lift your spirits. So, put on your boots, grab your gloves along with a warm sweatshirt, and head out to your favorite trail. Don’t live in a rural area, where trails are readily available? Drive down to your nearest town center, and hit the sidewalks. Grab yourself a coffee or hot chocolate, and window shop. Sometimes just getting out of the house can help put us in a better mood, so don’t let winter keep you inside. Go out and explore.

Plan Your Summer Vacation
One of the great things about spring is that summer is just around the corner. Get yourself in an adventurous mindset, by scouting out places to visit this summer. You don’t need to take an expensive tropical vacation to have fun. Many states have local landmarks you can visit, that would make a great vacation for the whole family. Start searching the Web or picking up brochures at your local visitor’s center to find new places to visit this summer. This will no doubt give you something to look forward to in the months ahead.

Redecorate Your Home
Still have winter decorations hanging in your home? Take them down, and replace them with items that remind you of spring. Put vases of fresh cut flowers in various rooms throughout your home, and change the color scheme of your curtains. Throw rugs and other decorative items to reflect the soft natural colors of the season. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery, to remind you that spring really is on its way.

Start Your Garden Early
Ok, so maybe the ground is still frozen, and maybe you can’t start planting until mid-May, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t start planning your summer garden. Many flowers, herbs, and other plants can be started from seeds right inside your home. If you’re not sure what to plant, ask around at your local garden center, and search the Web for plants that do well when started from seeds. Next, think about the garden space you have around your home, and draw a map of where you want to plant each item. This will not only help lift your mood, but you will also have a plan for your garden already in place, when the time comes to put your seedlings in the ground.

Take Out Your Spring Clothes
If you’re like me, you have all of your winter clothes readily available during the cold months, and have your other clothes packed away in a closet, just waiting to be taken out for the warm weather. Don’t wait until the weather turns warm to go through your clothes; pull them out now, and get the process started. Not only will this inspire you, it will also give you an idea of which clothes you need to replace, and which can be worn for another season. By the time spring arrives, you will be ahead of schedule and ready to get out and enjoy the season.

Go Shopping
Now’s the time to take advantage of sales on warm weather items. Retailers start early when it comes to planning for spring, so take advantage of the sales by going shopping. Plus, now that you know which clothes need to be replaced, you likely have a better idea of what you need to buy to spruce up your wardrobe. You don’t have to shop only for clothes either. If there are decorative items for your home, or gardening tools that you will need this year, get out and shop for them too.

Winter is a tough time of year, especially if you live in a cold climate. The short days and long nights are enough to depress anyone. Curb your dull mood by preparing yourself for spring. Before you know it, warmer days will be right around the corner, and you’ll be prepared to enjoy them to their fullest.

Family Games Can Help Ease Tensions

Psychologists have long studied ways to enhance family harmony and interrelations. Some of the most widely suggested therapies to increase harmony between family members, are to develop good communications, be honest and approachable, and enter into every relationship with openness and a pleasant demeanor.

All three of those suggestions can easily be combined into one simple enjoyable family therapy session with a good game. For young children, board games are an excellent way to develop positive thinking skills, creative competition, and healthy attitudes toward winning and losing. Whether playing sports or a board game, everyone involved wants to win, and parents should encourage and teach their children, the ways of winning. But it is equally important for family members to learn to lose gracefully. In every game there is at least one winner, but there is also one loser.

The psychology lab at North Carolina State University recruited a group of families to take part in a study of family relations, playing a game called Life Stories. “Every family has issues, so we asked them to engage and talk about some of the issues that matter to them,” said Dr. Amy Halberstadt, an associate professor at N.C. State. Halberstadt wanted to know how different families respond to serious issues in the home, so they developed the study to research how families respond to issues raised during games they play.

Halberstadt believes that games themselves can reduce stress in the home, and improve relationships between family members. She calls the process the 5-to-1 ratio. “So if you can boost your positive conversations, compliment, positive experiences; to have 5 of those for every one conflict or negative experience, that really seems to benefit families,” said Halberstadt.

The Life Stories game is a typical roll-the-dice board game, where you move a character around the board and draw cards. But the questions on the cards get players talking about their emotions, values, and issues in family life at home. The issues that arise while playing the game give Halberstadt clues to how the family handles issues in their own lives. Using the game, Halberstadt is able to help families discuss “shared goals” as a way to reduce conflicts.