Cook/Bake together. Make dinner time an interactive event. You can have family members of almost all ages help by creating their own individual pizza. Prepare in advance by asking each person what kind of pizza they want.
You can also have some of your loved ones help shop for the ingredients. When it’s time to cook, have your guests help roll out the dough (which you can buy pre-made), chop ingredients, and create their own pizza.
Try to extend this idea of involving guests in the cooking at other meals too such as with tacos or waffles etc…You can also make a big batch of sugar cookies that guests can shape and decorate in a variety of ways.
Play games. These can be card games or board games, or even a combination of both if multiple age groups are staying with you. Consider having a monopoly or scrabble tournament if you really want this to take up a lot of time. The winners could earn a prize such as exemption from dishes after the big Christmas meal.
Arrange an outing. Use Facebook to your advantage and keep tabs on what events are happening around your community. (For example, our local historic mansion is offering a family day for just the cost of a Toy for Tots. So we get to all tour the Victorian mansion for a very low fee and then vote on our favorite of their decorated Christmas trees.)
Check your local library and bookstores for author visits or storytime crafts. Hardware stores sometimes have free demonstrations or build-your-own sessions. Is there a holiday parade in your town? Or a downtown shopping event?
Put out a puzzle. Some people are really drawn to puzzles. My daughter, mom, and I find them addicting. We can spend hours working on one. I suggest starting with a 300 piece puzzle if there are kids around. And a small puzzle won’t seem like such a commitment, which means adults will be more inclined to wander over and try a few pieces. Before they know it, they’ll be sucked in too.
Arrange a family volunteer opportunity. Check with local community programs to see how your family can help with things like filling food boxes or such. Or maybe you can shop together for a local family/child in need.
Have a movie marathon. Choose a movie with sequels and make it more fun by making snacks to enjoy with it. You could add to the fun by also declaring it a pajama day. Order take-out to be delivered so you don’t have to stop the fun in order to cook meals.
Decorate together. If it’s holiday time, enlist your guests to help with the decorating. Go over the top with it so you can give everyone a job. Maybe even start with a craft people can make that will then be a part of the decorations. Some ideas include stringing popcorn and cranberries, decorating pinecones, making a paper chain countdown.
Get Outside. Go for a walk to collect pinecones and greenery to decorate with. Play some football. Go ice skating. Or play in the snow (sledding or building forts) and then have a hot cocoa party afterward.
Have a Gingerbread house decorating contest. In our family we always decorate two houses; one for the boys and one for the girls. Then we call on other relatives or friends to vote on the winning house (usually over Facetime)
Tour Christmas Lights. We pile as many people as (legally) possible in our vehicles and then caravan around the city looking at Christmas lights. You can even find some bingo cards online to print and take with you turning the adventure into a scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to bring some hot cocoa and candy canes along for the ride.
Attend a Holiday Performance. This time of year is ripe with performances from fancy to casual. Consider events such as the Nutcracker ballet, Handel’s Messiah, school holiday programs, and church performances. These kinds of events are great for the entire family.
Sing Christmas Carols. You can have family and friends over for some punch and Christmas tunes. Got any talent in the family? Maybe someone can play the piano or guitar for added merriment.
Or you can go caroling through the neighborhood. Make it even more fun by dressing festively. This list is not exhaustive. There are more than twelve ways to entertain house guests at Christmastime. Use your imagination.
With a little creativity and a little advance planning, your guests will have a blast and no one will have time to get bored and restless. Have fun and Merry Christmas!