gathering by a fire
November 11, 2019

Forget the Shopping Frenzy: Get Together with These 5 Holiday Activities

Between the endless doorbuster deals and the stress of finding the “perfect” gift for each person on your list, it’s easy to forget what the season is really about—slowing down and spending quality time together. So, instead of spending the infamous last weekend of November waiting in long lines or scrolling for deals online, why not focus on getting out for an adventure in real life? Say goodbye to the frenzy, and hello to sharing more time with the people you really want to be around.  After all, that is the true spirit of the season. To help you keep togetherness at the top of your list, we've assembled some new tradition-making ideas.  

Board Game Cafes 

Games are one of the quickest ways to get everyone engaged, especially if they’ve got a competitive streak. If your personal stash has gotten somewhat stale over the years, check out a local board game café. These hangouts let you try new games from a vast library, usually for a small fee, and offer a small menu of drinks, snacks, sandwiches and desserts. Before you know it, your fam will have bonded over a new game, perhaps a winner has been crowned and you’ll have started a new tradition. 

No cafe nearby? No problem - use your social networks and crowdsource game suggestions from your friends.  

Holiday Light Shows 

Holiday decorations and light displays – lovely to look at, so much work to put up yourself. Most towns have that one neighborhood that gets really into holiday decorations. Gather a crew and some cocoa and go check one out. You’ll appreciate both the time together and your neighbors’ dedication to festiveness. (And the fact that you didn’t have to untangle any cords or hunt down the one burnt-out bulb.) 


It’s important to take time during the season to count your blessings, but it’s even better to give back to others. Volunteering with friends or family helps you become closer while introducing you to organizations in your community. Idealist or Volunteer Match can help you find opportunities nearby, and you can filter by types of causes to find some that are near and dear to your heart. 

Movie Marathons 

Who says you need to go out to have a good time? Fire up the streaming service of your choice for a group movie marathon. Whether you’re tackling an entire franchise (like a trip to Hogwarts or a trek through Middle-earth) or watching a couple beloved favorites, a cozy night in will have you quoting movie lines to each other until spring. Bonus points if there’s a DIY popcorn bar to snack from. 

Cookie Exchanges 

Contrary to what you might have heard, holiday baking is very much a team sport. When the cookie possibilities are nearly endless, it takes a village. Follow these tips from the queen of hospitality herself (Martha, of course) to host a cookie exchange. The concept seems daunting at first, but it’s quite simple: everyone attending bakes an over-size batch of one kind of cookie (one dozen for every person attending, plus an extra for taste-testing). Then, you get together to sample and swap. Every attendee heads home with dozens of cookies to share. Need some cookie inspo? Bon Appetit’s got you covered