1. Cook your way round the world
There are 195 countries in the world, which means that if you choose one a week you’d only run out of options in three and three-quarter years… We think it would be fun to put up a world map in your home and select a country each fortnight. Nominate someone in the family to collect a handful of interesting facts and a typical dish from the chosen land and plan an evening in the style of Cuba, Cambodia, Korea, Kenya or Croatia… Why not throw in a little regional music and practise greeting each other in the appropriate language? You could put little stickers on the map once you’ve “visited” and see how far you get round the world. It might even spark a far-flung holiday or a string of language lessons, who knows?
2. Make a couple of home movies
The easiest would be just to capture the family doing what they like to do – playing with the dog, helping Mom bake brownies, bouncing on the sofa. Or you might like to come up with a list of questions and get everyone to answer them on film, as if on your very own chat show. The drama queen in the family can dress up and play the chat-show host. Questions could include: what’s the funniest thing that happened this week? What food would you prefer to never have to eat again? If you had to spend a night in one of these places: up a ladder in a crocodile enclosure, in a bath full of cockroaches or in the shark tank at the aquarium, which would you pick – and why?
3. Make a recording or audio book
If Grandpa lives in another city, you could make a special recording for his next birthday. What does everybody love about Grandpa? What are some of the funny or happy memories they have about doing things with him? Perhaps the children would enjoy coming up with a short variety concert especially for the birthday boy – Grandpa would certainly be tickled pink!
4. Explore a museum
The appeal of your city’s history might have worn off for you, but your offspring may just be enthralled by a tour of that museum down the road. Anyone keen on studying the skeleton of a dinosaur (Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town, 021 481 3800, iziko.org.za)? Figuring out how a hot-air balloon stays aloft (Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Johannesburg, 011 639 8400, sci-bono.co.za)? Or journeying into maritime history aboard a naval vessel (Port Natal Maritime Museum, Durban, 031 311 2230)?
5. Take family snaps
Pick a spot in your home or garden and take a family photograph there each year. Choose a day you’re likely to remember and then repeat the exercise annually. It’ll be fun to compare the snaps as the years go by.
6. Get sporty
How about a game of rounders, volleyball, touch rugby or frisbee at your neighbourhood park or a nearby beach? You don’t have to be a terribly athletic bunch, it’s more about getting outdoors and doing something together. Invite another family if you need a few more recruits and, if it’s a hit, you could make a monthly date of it.
7. Hold a cook-up or cook-off
Cooking together can be great fun. How about a monthly sushi night? Or a pizza-making evening? Everyone gets to create their own dinner or try their hand at concocting a pizza (with a clever name) for the rest of the family to taste.
Another option is to turn it into a competition. Give each team (Mom and Brother versus Dad and Sister, perhaps) the same ingredients and see what meals are invented. Invite the neighbours over for lunch to taste the spoils and choose a winning dish.
8. Visit a working farm
You probably have some fond (and a few not-so-fond) memories of being sent to outdoor school camps to learn about farm life. There’s something magical about helping milk Moo-Moo the cow, or collecting freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop. Sound too sedate? Then visit a sheep farm in lambing season or drop in at a wine farm at harvest time (some will even allow you to get involved in the barefoot pressing of grapes). Make a weekend of it – visit farmstay.co.za for a few ideas.
9. Toast marshmallows over a fire
There’s nothing quite like the taste of a warm, gooey marshmallow as it dissolves in your mouth. But you don’t have to wait till you’re on a camping trip. Next time you have a braai, round up the family, hand out the kebab sticks and open a bag of marshmallows. Younger children will obviously need some supervising.
10. Go strawberry or litchi picking
Great news for strawberry addicts: some of the yummiest summer fruit can be picked by hand on the farms where it grows. You can gather baskets of cherries in Ficksburg in the Free State (Ionia Cherry Farm, 051 933 4302, or Ficksburg Cherry Festival, cherryfestival.co.za) or Ceres (Klondyke, 023 312 1521, cherryfarm.co.za); handfuls of strawberries near Hartbeespoort (Tangaroa Strawberry Farm, 012 207 1116, tangaroa.co.za) or in Stellenbosch (Mooiberge Farm, 021 881 3222); and punnets of litchis near Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal (071 438 4290). Fruit salad anyone?