I love Philippians 4, especially verses 4 – 13. It’s full of wisdom about how to reckon with hard times. And boy, have we all been through some hard times the past couple of years. I invite you to read it and ponder how to put its teaching into practice. Consider this quick review:
Paul wrote the letter while imprisoned. He refers to his imprisonment as “suffering in chains.” Not exactly a cause for celebration. Yet he starts the teaching by commanding, “Rejoice in the Lord always!” and gives instructions for how to do this: to pray and make requests with THANKSGIVING!
When things are hard, praying and making requests with thanksgiving allows us to know the “peace of God that transcends understanding.” It will enable us to understand the “secret of being content.” Ultimately we are able to go through hard things “through Christ, who gives us strength.”
With this in mind, consider these suggestions for “Rejoicing!” this week as you reflect on the past year. For some, this might mean making a bowl of popcorn and sharing one thing you are thankful for in 2022 and one thing you are excited about for 2023 and then watching a family movie. For others, you might consider some of the more comprehensive activities shared in this article.
To join me in this encouragement is Joy Wendling, a Connected Families Certified Parent Coach and founder of Created to Play. In the following few paragraphs, you’ll catch her exuberance as she offers suggestions for playfully celebrating as a family.
4 Activities To Celebrate Family
Ringing in the New Year is a great time to celebrate, give thanks, and pray. Here are a few fun ideas you can do exactly as written or adapt for your family, based on their age and stage. Set up any or all of these options by reading Philippians 4:6-13 as a family. All activities are available on this FREE PDF you can download and print.
FREE Downloadable and Printable PDF
Download this PDF for all the recipes and game cards you need to celebrate highlights from the past year, and look forward to the next!
ONE: BLESSING TRAIL MIX
To kick off the evening, celebrate what God has done by making a blessing trail mix from the recipe in the downloadable PDF.
- As you create individual packages to share, pray for each family receiving them.
- Include your prayer for their family in the bag of trail mix.
- Make a little extra to eat while participating in one (or more!) of the following activities.
TWO: GRATITUDE POSTER/VISION BOARD:
Create a gratitude and/or vision board.* The gratitude board is based on the previous year, and the vision board is hopes and dreams for the coming year. It can be so special to see what your kids (whether in words or drawings) are grateful for and what their visions are for the future.
- Give each child two small posters with five sections on each one.
- Label each section with these categories: self, family, friends, God, and school/learning.
- On the first poster, each person draws their favorite memories or the things they were most grateful for from the previous year.
- The second poster is an opportunity to pray and share their hopes for the coming year.
*This idea came from a friend of the Wendling family.
THREE: BINGO GRATITUDE
In Philippians 4:8, there are various good things that Paul encourages us to think about. You can spend time as a family doing just that and sharing stories from the year through a game of BINGO!
- Print off the BINGO cards.
- Cut out the “good thing” cards and place them in a bowl.
- Draw a card. If you can share something God has done in your family that reflects the good thing from Philippians 4:8, you get to mark your card.
- Once you get a Bingo, celebrate with a special treat, incorporating a prayer of gratitude.
FOUR: MEMORIES CHARADES
Play charades as a family! If you have little ones, you may consider doing this as a team to help smaller children reflect on the year and decide how to act it out. You will probably find that one person’s memories spark something else that someone may want to share on their next turn.
- Invite family members to think quietly of some favorite memories from the year.
- Take turns acting out the memories until correctly guessed.
- Let the correct guesser know they are right by playfully throwing them a special treat and shouting, “WOOHOO!” or “Thank You, God!”
After spending time celebrating what God has done with thanksgiving, Paul tells us that we can petition and ask God for what we want. As you move into a new year, what are you thanking God for? And what will you be asking God to help you with in the coming year?