Boy with plane

Photograph by Reggie Joiner

It’s really simple. Every kid wants to have fun. I was reminded of that fact last week when kids showed up for Thanksgiving at my house. We had worked on decorating, arranging enough food to feed twenty plus adults, and creating the right playlist of classic holiday tunes. Then at the last minute, we ran by and picked up a few age appropriate toys for the only two children that would be present. One was two and one was seven. I set up two individual small tables with a couple of items that I figured would probably be ignored.

I just have this basic philosophy that whenever a kid walks into any home, he or she is asking the question, “What is there fun to do here?” It will probably be followed at some point by another question, “What is here that I like to eat?” By the way, just in case you don’t know, most kids don’t like turkey. The point is if you are the adult responsible for hosting an event in your home, you are a child’s only hope not be trapped in a boring space—one of any child’s greatest fears. Maybe that’s because several hours of football and meaningful conversations seems like an eternity for a seven-year-old.

So it was exciting to see the eyes of a two-year-old light up when he spotted the table full of cars across the room. It confirmed what I suspect is true about every child. They are hard-wired to play. And the one thing they will probably remember about your house, about your holidays, about their time with you will have to do with fun. Am I over-simplifying? Not at all. Kids are not that complicated. They want to have fun. And it’s the gauge they will ues to measure. . .

And your house.

It’s really all about the fun. I’ll even make another suggestion. You should put this somewhere so you can remember it.

If it’s not fun, kids will not want to be there very long.

This principle actually applies to every life stage of your kids. It’s the joy factor that makes your home attractive or not attractive. As your kids grow up, you should work harder and harder to keep plenty of laughter and fun in your home environment. That’s why fun should be just as much a priority for adults as it is for kids.

Creating a powerful play history with kids could be the most important thing you do to nurture your relationship with them.

They will remember the fun. Ask one seven-year-old what he remembers about thanksgiving at our house this year. I think he will probably say something about the legos not the turkey.

What are some of your best ideas to keep things fun for kids who show up at your house during the holidays?