Want to enliven the holidays? Look no further than these tips from DCPA Director of Education Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski who has mastered the art of celebration, collaboration, and creativity! If it works for a three-year-old, it can work for your family!
Raise A Toast!
You can be the one who makes any holiday gathering (in person or virtual) special by offering a toast. A toast is a gesture of warmth that marks a moment – or series of moments – with words from the heart. Take the toasting stage! These tips from our public speaking coaching team will put the cheer in cheers!
- Lead with gratitude and a thank you to the hosts
- Be your authentic self and embrace words from the heart – what you feel will lead to how you express your feelings
- Strive for short and sweet – you can follow this template [greeting-why you wanted to speak-why you will remember this moment-closure of gratitude]
- Ensure gestures match the intention- be cautious of over gesturing, especially in intimate environments like a dinner table or in a Zoom room
- Before you begin- take a moment to breathe, align your posture and connect to your message
Add a new spin and invite a series of toasts: have everyone offer a toast from the point of view of pets, from the perspective of the weather, or from the viewpoint of the holiday decorations.
Raise A Camera!. . . Online or in person!
The tradition of holiday photographs can be adapted to screen shots from online sessions where everyone joins a theme of what they wear, what they hold, where they are in the screen, or what is in the background. A lovely item to hold with backgrounds dimmed is a candle- beautiful and memorable group screen shot.
For in-person photographs, consider creating tableaus:
- Create a series of still images that tell a story
- Reenact and capture a holiday photo from the past
- Illustrate a family holiday letter
- Pose as famous painting or holiday story moment using only household items
Raise the bar of fun! . . . with Improv Games
Holiday games abound! The perfect way to connect and laugh with family and friends! Choose one of these merry improv games to entertain and engage the whole group, young and old!
I’m Wrapping a Gift . . .
- Following the order of the alphabet, players add on to a list of objects after repeating all the previous items. A fun memory challenge!
Player 1: “I’m wrapping a gift and it’s an APPLE” (picking an object that begins with A)
Player 2: “I’m wrapping a gift and it’s an APPLE and a BALLOON” (adding an object that begins with B)
- Last player, be ready to complete the fully present list.
Heads and Tails
- This game begins with Player 1 stating a word. The next player must state a word whose first letter is the same as the initiating word’s last letter (Rudolf – fireplace – eggnog – garland)
- Game can move around the circle or table a few times to keep mirth alive
- For virtual play, put all participant in a specific order because everyone will have varying views on their screens
- This circle-based improv game challenges one player to name six items in a given category in 15 seconds – get a timer ready!
- The player continues until they fail a category. Always fun to make it a challenge.
- Categories could include:
- Name 6 holiday traditions
- Name 6 of Santa’s reindeer
- Name 6 common New Year’s resolutions
- Name 6 winter sports
Raise A Hunt!
A Holiday Scavenger Hunt – fun for the whole family! I spy with my little eye two ways of adapting a holiday-themed scavenger hunt! Each player receives a list of things to look for. The list can be modified as individual game boards (like Bingo cards) and the first to fill their card wins the hunt.
For in person gatherings –
- Take a walk (or a drive) and base the hunt on the decorations on homes and yards.
- Create a list of items based on color, size, flashing or non-flashing, sound or silent, traditional holiday characters or items (angel, Santa Clause, star, wreath).
For virtual gatherings-
- Alert each person to objects from the list that they are responsible for hiding or incorporating within their virtual backgrounds.
- One terrific item to include is a gift received in holidays past from someone else joining in the hunt. This invites the sharing of memories and a reminder, that though distant this year, we can always be close in heart to those we love.
Raise A Book!
Much like our popular Book Stars literacy program, narrate your favorite holiday book! To boost your vocal impact, consider these tips:
To boost your vocal impact:
- Be well hydrated
- Take a few moments to hum into your hands (this is a simple ways to open your resonators)
- Take a moment to breathe before you begin
- Lean into the characters of the story- don’t be afraid to use your best character voices.
This is a great year to revisits the familiar favorites of Charles Dicken’s, A Christmas Carol (c. 1843) A Visit from St. Nicholas (more commonly known as, Twas the Night Before Christmas c. 1837) attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, and Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (1957) can always top the list. A Child’s Christmas in Wales (c. 1952) by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and little tree by American poet e.e. cummings can provide poetic celebrations of the Season. The Poetry Foundation website, https://www.poetryfoundation.org, has a diverse listing of poetry for both Christmas and Hannukah. Two volumes of A Treasury of African-American Christmas Stories have been edited by Bettye Collier-Thomas. Nicolás Kanellos’ editing of Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories celebrates traditions within the LatinX communities.
Explore the inspiration behind these fun holiday activities online at denvercenter.org/education.