Whether you object on principle the gift-centric nature of the holidays or find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of time and money you’ve spent finding presents, by mid-December you may be thinking, “there has to be a better way.” If you’re searching to refocus your holiday on family, friends, and spending time together, consider the following ideas for inexpensive, low-stress activities that encourage connecting.


We often fall into the trap of thinking that special memories have to come from an event of some sort. While cookie swaps, wrapping parties, and tree trimmings are excellent ways to share the work and the enjoyment of the season, the truth is even the most “casual” of events can leave you feeling frazzled.

The Family Dinner Project is an organization devoted to “food, fun, and conversation about things that matter” in everyday settings. In this month’s newsletter they hit the nail on the head, “once you reach a certain age the gift-giving of the season is really for the kids. What adults are looking for…is more of the intangible stuff: More time together, more memories, more peace. This December, they call for all the “stressed-out, overcommitted adults out there to give themselves the gifts of time, connection and peace (or at least, relative peace)” starting right at the dinner table.

Their fantastic website offers easy recipes for weeknight dinners as well as ideas for sharing food prep and lists of thought-provoking conversation starters and dinnertime games. They have age-appropriate suggestions for families with and without children and meal planning for every budget, including SNAP recipients. Take their four-week starter challenge, then use a texting program like Go2s discussion feature to keep the conversation going the next day.


StoryCorps’ is an oral history project whose “mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” They invite people to use their free app to interview the people in their lives and submit their stories to be archived at the Library of Congress. Talking about holiday memories and traditions with older family members would be an excellent place to start. Check out the StoryCorps’ website for other great interview questions. Use Go2s audio/video call feature to conduct online interviews with far-away loved ones. Even if you skip the formal recording part, you’ll still have some fantastic memories.


Work together on a family tree. You can draw one or use one of the many templates available online. One of my favorites: the free-form fingerprint tree that lets you celebrate all the different people it took to build your family without the strict parent/child format or the need to dig up lots of dates, places, and other genealogical data. Capture fingerprints whenever you meet with friends and family. When your tree is full, you’ll have a beautiful piece of art for your walls.

However you celebrate, let Go2s be a part of keeping you close to the people and things you love best. Here’s wishing you a wonderful, meaningful holiday season!