The holidays are always a special time in the year when we can take a break from our busy lives and show our loved ones how much they mean to us. To our dismay, the holidays have preoccupied our time with the need to buy the perfect gift or decorate the perfect tree. All of this takes attention away from connecting with our families. The first phase in our Growth Model, based on the work of Dr. John Townsend, is bonding. Bonding is the capacity to relate to God and others, to connect to something outside of ourselves. It is important this holiday season to bring back the holiday spirit and focus on what really matters, connecting with our loved ones.

There are many different ways to focus less on material things and more on what matters. Here are some ways to connect with your family during this holiday season.

Make gift giving a bonus.

Everyone loves waking up on Christmas morning and opening gifts. This season have your family focus on togetherness and the quality time you are able to share during the holidays. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with gift giving, but try to not make it the focus or purpose of the day. By doing this, you can instill in your children to give generously as well receive thankfully.

Start family traditions.

For many families, the holidays bring around annual traditions. One way to grow closer during this time is to make a new tradition with your family to remind them of past memories and also make new ones. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant event. It could be making grandma’s delicious buckeyes or decorating the Christmas tree together.

Leave the electronics at home.

Whether you go sledding, ice skating or take a walk together, make sure to leave the electronics at home. Nothing takes attention away more than phones. If going the whole time without phones seems extreme at first, start with at least an hour of phone-free activity. Not using electronics will allow time for conversation and enjoying the present moment with your family.

Volunteer together.

It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. Many charities desperately need extra help during the cold holiday season to serve those in need. Even if you only have a few hours to give, your family can spend time working as a team to give back and potentially make another family’s holiday wonderful. By helping others you will emphasize the importance of love and care with your family.

The key to growing closer with your family over the holiday season is to step away from the hustle and bustle and spend quality time with those you cherish. Holidays are not about gifts, but about sharing time you have with those you love. We wish you a blessed holiday season with your family and loved ones!