The gifts are all opened. The baking is finished. The holiday parties are over. But your college student is still home for a couple more weeks. They are bored and you aren't done making memories. So now what?
Here are some ideas of things you can do together to keep making special memories until they return to school.
If you are living in a winter wonderland, bundle up and take a snowy walk, go skiing at a local ski lodge, or go snow tubing. Last winter break, we took our young adult kids snow tubing and brought along a thermos of hot chocolate for a fun winter adventure. The smiles on their faces made the day a huge success (and I stayed warm by the fire pit after a few fun slides down the hill myself). If the weather is warm where you are, a hike is still a great option, just with less layers! Or find a local ice rink or skating rink if indoors is more your thing. This is also a way to burn off some of those Christmas cookies everyone devoured over the past few weeks and a great way to start on some of those New Year's resolutions a bit early.
Try A New Hobby
Have you or your college student talked about starting a new hobby? YouTube means no craft project is out of reach with a trip to a craft store and some patience. Hand knit a bulky blanket they can take back to their dorm or leave in their room tat home o have waiting for their return, make a string art design (this is a fast and fun project you can often do with supplies on hand), or paint rocks you can leave along your walking trail or local park for others to find. If you need a little more guidance, local pottery painting shops or taking an art class together could be a fun experience.
By this point you've probably watched all your favorite holiday movies, but there are still many great options for a themed movie night! This is a great time to gather as a family in pajamas, pop some popcorn, and watch a family favorite. This activity works well if you have younger kids home as well or if there are grandparents staying with you. We bought a stove top popcorn popper and experiment with fun popcorn toppings to add to the fun.
If you're as taken with baking shows as we are, cupcake wars is a fun family activity that ends with getting to enjoy dessert - a win win! Take that inspiration from your favorite show and come up with a few recipes and decorating ideas to try out. Each family member gets to plan their flavor and design, and the winner gets bragging rights. Besides the inevitable kitchen mess, this is such a fun activity our family has enjoyed for years.
Break Out The Photo Albums
As our children get older, they become more interested in family history and looking back at past vacations and holidays. Especially when there are loved ones no longer with us, this is a great way to share memories of the past and laugh at the way we have all changed through the years. I'm always amazed at how much fun my college aged kids have with this. Some of the photos might even give them ideas of activities they would like to do that they haven't done since they were young.
Act Like a Tourist
Last winter break we decided to pull up a list of top touristy things to do in our town that we had never tried and picked a few. One day we did a comedy bus tour that had us laughing for hours and looking at our town in a new light. The next we went to a tourist attraction (a local pinball museum filled with old machines you can play all day for one price) and then walked through the Christmas lights at the arboretum with hot chocolate at night. It brought out the kid in all of us and gave us new fun memories in our town that we had never experienced before. We still talk about those experiences and the fun new memories we made.
Take a Day Trip
Have your college student help pick an adventure within driving distance and make a day of it! We are lucky to have a small regional theme park within 2 hours from our house and take an annual pilgrimage there when the kids are home on break. It's a tradition we've been doing for over a decade and we have so many memories of this special park thorough the years. We often allow them to bring a friend on these day trips which adds to the fun (and gives them a roller coaster buddy so my husband and I can keep our feet on the ground). We play all day and then save money by driving home and crashing in our own beds at night. Plus the drive time is perfect for talking.
Do A Good Deed
This is one of my favorite things to do, especially after Christmas when so much focus is placed on excess and extravagance. Volunteer at a local animal shelter to walk dogs and play with them, pick up trash along a local river, donate gently used clothes and toys to a homeless shelter, sign up to deliver meals to elderly members of your community, or do yardwork or chores for a neighbor or older family member that could use the help. The possibilities are endless and most non-profits would love for you to reach out and volunteer where they have a need. This can also be a great opportunity for your student to gather some volunteer hours if they need them while making a difference in the community and can become a great family memory you will want to continue year after year.
Whatever your family dynamic, time together is precious and having planned activities can help develop new memories and bonds with your college aged student as the relationships change as they grow and start their own lives. It can be challenging for a Momma's heart as the things they enjoyed doing as little kids no longer interest them. But they are never too old to create new family memories if we are creative and understanding and provide a loving place they still want to come home to each year.