In our home we laugh often, and loudly. I thought I'd share some of our favorite things to do for true Laugh Out Loud family fun. Before you try any of these in your home, a few guidelines.
First everyone must be involved. Dads, and teens must join in the fun, no party pooping! If your kids are not accustomed to doing so, you can let them hang loose a time or two, but practice often and then get them on board. Dads, no slack-you are in. There are few things that build memories as well as kids seeing their big, strong dad being goofy and having fun. Dads, you were an outrageous, daredevil once, maybe you were 8, maybe it was more like 18 but I'll guarantee your past is littered with moments when you were a riot. Channel them!!!
- Make Me Laugh - Do you remember this old game show? It's very complicated as you will need...a chair. Someone sits in the chair. The others take turns trying to make the person laugh. You can be as loose or elaborate about the rules as you like. We use a stop watch sometimes and compete for the best time. Our standard is if you crack a smile, you're done!
- Movie Night - Here's our twist on something families everywhere do every week. The children make movie posters of the movie and we hang them up. They decorate brown sacks for popcorn, they make cookies or other snacks and along with soda or kool-aid create a snack bar. They make name tags and tickets and they function as the "projectionist" deciding when the movie will start and starting it right on time. After the movie they sit by the fireplace and in the best Ebert & Ropert style give their review.
- Safari - To jazz up a visit to our local park, hike, long walk, or nature trail I will help the children create a jungle scavenger hunt. We will research a specific area like the rain forest and then write down animals, plants, and such to search for during our time. Of course they will not see a python (well I hope they don't) but they have to look for something that reminds them of it or resembles it - like a hanging vine, or a color? It could resemble the texture or the feeling the item inspires, it's up to them. It's the easiest kind of scavenger hunt since all you need is your imagination. Once during one of our safari's my daughter said look mom monkeys - dh and ds were in a tree.
- Scavenger Hunts - The safari is a take off this idea of course. But there are SO many kinds of scavenger hunts to do! The best one IMO is the video hunt. Team up and then compete by videotaping yourself completing tasks. Group hug a policeman, serenade outdoor diners, get a fireman to let you sit in the firetruck. The internet is filled with lists both for adults and kids of all ages just Google "video scavenger hunt". Household hunts are fun, make a list and have at it. Make a list and do a Channel Surfing Hunt. Time each other to see who can find the items first. Do a magazine or newspaper hunt, neighborhood hunt, or use your digital camera to do a photo hunt.
- American Idol - This one requires everyone to check any self consciousness at the door. Someone or a few someones serve as Randy, Paula and Simon. Everyone else takes turns doing a stereotypical (rejected) performance. If you have a karaoke machine this one is even more fun! Give your Hannah Montana a stage and cut her loose! *Costumes optional
- Dance Party - Like any good party it takes some warming up to get everyone loose and dancing. Start with the limbo (use your broom stick). Try the Electric Slide, The Macarena, and a few other wedding standards, then...Freestyle!! Look if you want the kids to get goofy, just dance, it's contagious.
- Twister - This is about $13 of pure fun. Just go buy it, oh and a jar of Ben-Gay for all the muscle pain you'll have from the contortions.
- Performances - If you have any budding magician's, musicians, news anchors, karate kids, actors, superheroes - name it. Set it up, and videotape them. Then play it back and watch.
- Mystery Science Theater - Cool show, and tons of fun to do at home. Basically it involves muting the tv or a movie and making up cheesy dialogue on your own. If you have a quick witted family member they will thrive on this one!
- Dress up or role playing - We have costumes and props that everyone can use. Whether we are ninjas, pirates, superheroes, or fair maidens this is lots of fun. An alternate to Dress -Up is Hide and Seek, best played in the evening when it's not too dark or scary.
I know some of these, okay most of these require you to step out of yourself a bit. Just do it. Be silly, and goofy. Kids especially as they hit adolescence need to know that home is a safe zone. Be weird, be outrageous, this is home and it's the best place to be yourself. The kids will follow your lead.