With the constant worry about checking tasks off my very long to-do list, the holidays have become less than merry.

Once I slowed down, I realized that not every goal that I set to be accomplished between Thanksgiving and the end of the year actually needed to be.

Yes, a clean slate for the new year would have been nice, but the reality is that my family's happiness comes first.

As a result, I readjusted my focus to "Holiday Fun with Family and Friends" and we came up with new ideas that are sure to bring smiles all around.

Some of the ideas that we hope inspire are:

1 - PJ Tour of Christmas Lights - After nightly showers and warm pjs have been put on, load the kids up in the car with insulated cups of hot cocoa and Christmas music on the radio, then drive around the neighborhood looking at beautiful twinkling Christmas lights.

If you decide to do this during the kid's holiday break, call a friend with kids who'll enjoy this adventure with you.

By the way, you'll get maximum excitement if you keep this a surprise until just before they are ready to hop into bed. Shhhh!

2 - Ice Skating and Ice Cream Outing - Whether it be at your local park, indoor ice hockey arena or Galleria shopping mall, you will likely have an ice skating rink decked out in the holiday spirit.

With warm clothes, socks, gloves, and a coat, treating the kids to an hour or two on the ice followed by a trip to the ice cream store will surely be a delight.

Inviting a large group of friends to join in the fun would make this outing even more memorable for the kids.

Plus, the photographic memories will be abundant.

3 - Movie Night at Home - Every holiday season, this is the one request that my children repeatedly have.

They want a fun, quiet evening at home with just the family.

First we start a fire, then we make a sweet treat. This year it was S'mores Bites.

Next we lay out rows of sleeping bags in the middle of the living room floor and cuddle up to watch an old movie.

With all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes the kids just need close, quiet time with their family.

This is our favorite way to have a merry little Christmas night.

4 - Making Blingy Holiday Shirts - With inexpensive t-shirts from Old Navy, you can add plenty of color and bling for the holiday season.

All you need is a rhinestone pattern from your local arts and crafts store and a hot iron.

Within a few minutes, you've got a shirt decked out in the holiday spirit.

Add a matching over-sized hair bow and blingy shoe laces to complete the look for your daughter.

Of course, you'll probably want to invite some friends to join you, because you will soon get calls about where you got these shirts, if not.

5 - Night-on-the-Town - Save the men in your life a headache...dress up the kids for a special night out-on-the-town to see the must-see show of the season.

The grandparents might even want to join you for this culture-filled evening of fine dining, followed by your theater's holiday Broadway production or the ballet's magical interpretation of Nutcracker.

This will definitely be an evening to snap lots of pictures of the kids and maybe even frame as gifts for extended family.

6 - Homemade Tree Pizza, Christmas Cookies & Game Night - This kid-approved idea includes all of their favorites...pizza, cookies, music and games.

With holiday music playing, turn a homemade pizza into a red and green ornament-adorned, flocked Christmas tree.

It's as simple as cutting a pre-baked pizza crust into a Christmas tree shape, then cover it with pizza sauce, followed by mozzarella cheese.

Add pepperoni, round Roma tomato slices, green olives, and whole green bell pepper slices (to retain the circular shape). Then bake.

While that's in the oven, whip up some quick sugar cookies using refrigerated dough and bake as soon as the pizza gets done.

By the time you are finished with dinner, the cookies will be ready for festive decorations.

Add a fun round of Hedbanz or Monopoly, for the older kids in us, and you've got a fun holiday evening for family and friends.

7 - Girl's Day Out - Grab some girlfriends and their daughters for early morning manicures with holiday designs, followed by a light lunch and an hour or two of window shopping to find the perfect gifts to round out their Christmas lists.

For a Boy's Day Out, spend the morning at the driving range hitting golf balls for an hour or so, followed by lunch and a trip to the sporting goods store.

Their Christmas lists will have doubled in length by the time you make it out, as they will have played with every toy in the store.

8 - Matinee Movie Morning - Meet friends at a donut shop for pastries and hot cocoa before heading to the movie theater for a classic holiday movie at the early matinée showing.

This is a perfect opportunity to see friends during the Winter Break, without taking a significant amount of time away from your other responsibilities.

Within a few short hours, you will be back to shopping, wrapping, decorating and baking, but with happy kids in tow.

9 - Make a Scrapbook Album - With all of the fun adventures that you and your family will have this holiday season, be sure to get it all documented with pictures.

Since most people use phones to capture cherished moments, printing has become a snap.

Just download pictures on your computer and send off to your closest Wal-Mart or CVS for one hour printing.

While you wait, gather scraps of wrapping paper, items found in nature (such as pine needles and leaves that are changing color), Christmas ads from the newspaper, stickers and other supplies that will make a fun scrapbook project.

Pick up the pictures and anything else you might need, then make a night of it.

10 - Standing Game or Activity - With the kids home for an extended period of time, this is a fun little activity.

Find a place where you can lay out puzzle pieces, a chess game, or model parts for a plane or doll house.

Then make a commitment to work on the project together at some point every day.

This will ensure that your children get special time with you daily doing something you both enjoy.

11 - Volunteer as a Family or with Friends - Volunteering during the holiday season is a great way to share the Christmas spirit with those around us.

Search online, talk to your friends, or ask around at church to find opportunities to get involved.

There are many different options that benefit children, elderly, sick people, lower-income families, military, missionaries, animals and so much more.

For more ideas, please visit Day 14's post - 10 Ideas to Get Children Involved in Charitable Activities.

12 - Create a Family Newsletter - Much like the idea of an annual holiday letter, you can create an email-friendly newsletter that you send to friends and extended family.

Use pictures and ideas from your original scrapbook project to develop the theme, then add in memorable events from the year with a short, detailed paragraph for each.

Save as a PDF file and send!

I hope you are inspired by some of the ideas that the kids and I have come up with for our holiday entertainment.

There are so many good ways to spend time together, which is all they really want.

Here's to another Inspired Minute!

Author's Bio: 

Hi there! My name is Tracey and I’m on a mission to turn average days at home into meaningful minutes. I’m a wife, mother of 3 and an Inspired Life Blogger. This is my journey to create ways to save time, maximize money, creatively organize, craft, gift, and decorate and humbly volunteer. Please visit my blog at InspiredMinute.com for ideas and tips that I hope will inspire you!