“Annual Family Fun Nights,” Ensign, Dec. 1998, 62
The family home evening program has led my family to establish some treasured traditions. The children have enjoyed them so much that many are now annual events.
Joseph Smith birthday party: Besides our usual Christmas preparations, we take time on December 23 to have a Joseph Smith birthday party. We discuss the Prophet’s life and his role in the Restoration. Then we play games the Prophet liked to play such as pulling sticks. And of course we serve ice cream and cake for our treat.
Mini-mission: One day each year our children are “family missionaries.” We start the evening by sending our children to bed. We set the alarm to go off within a few minutes. Then they get up, eat “breakfast,” and study as companions. The companions must plan their day and decide who will teach what. During this planning time we teach the children how to do a door approach and how to make conversation with people they might visit. The children call their “investigators”—friends or relatives notified beforehand—and set an appointment to teach a discussion. The children, dressed in their missionary clothes—complete with homemade name tags—have a prayer as companions; then we drive them to their investigators’ home. They give their door approach they have rehearsed, and, once inside, practice being friendly and putting everyone at ease. They show a Church videocassette and bear their testimonies. They are then “released” from their missions, and treats are served.
Treasures of knowledge: Another tradition we often plan for the beginning of the school year is to have a special family home evening lesson on the importance of learning. We send the children on a treasure hunt throughout the house and yard and have an activity at each place where the clues take them. The clues lead them to our family room, for example, where they draw a letter of the alphabet from a jar. Then they must read the encyclopedia under that letter and search for something to share with the others that they didn’t know, thus finding the treasure of knowledge. Another clue leads to a sandbox, where we give the children 10 minutes to create a sand sculpture—to remind them that artistic creativity is a treasure. Still another clue leads them to the living room, where they search the scriptures for a spiritual treasure. Our final stop is the kitchen and our last treasure: our treat!
History day: One family home evening we talked about Columbus and the discovery of the Americas. For our activity, we made boats out of aluminum foil. The activity proved so popular that we have made it an annual tradition that includes friends and neighborhood children. Each child is given a square of aluminum foil that can be folded into any boatlike shape. The boats are put into a tub of water, and the one that can carry the most weight before it sinks wins the contest.
Heritage: We invite grandparents or other relatives to tell us stories about their lives or their ancestors’ lives. We express our gratitude to them and tell them specific things we like and appreciate about them. We help our children understand that their heritage has brought blessings into their lives.—Alan Don Weir, Kaysville, Utah