Gather: Creating and Telling Family Holiday Stories

The holidays are a great time to collect family tales. They’re also a good time for sharing and discussing generational and historical stories.

This year, when you’re sitting around the table, washing dishes, watching a football game, or shopping with friends, here are some prompts to get the conversations going. Start by asking… “tell me about…”

  • Your childhood home during the holidays
  • The way your family decorated/decorates for the holidays
  • A time you did something nice or naughty
  • The best gift you ever got
  • The best gift you ever gave
  • Your favorite holiday tradition
  • A special family recipe
  • A moment of holiday inspiration
  • Your earliest holiday memory
  • Something outlandish a family member did during the holidays
  • A difficult moment during a holiday
  • A gift or recipe you worked very hard on turned out great – or didn’t – and why
  • A time you embarrassed your mother (or father, siblings, spouse, children)
  • Your mother (or father, siblings, spouse, or children) embarrassing you!
  • Your most interesting relative – what they taught you?
  • A time you learned “the truth” about a holiday
  • A time you learned a family secret
  • Your holiday travel plans turned upside down
  • A normal journey turned into a hero’s journey
  • You explored the dark and dangerous corners of . . .
  • You followed through on a bold and crazy idea
  • You had a holiday culinary adventure
  • You shared a kiss under the mistletoe
  • You were caught in the middle between two friends or family members
  • You received a special gift from a friend or loved one
  • A family misunderstanding
  • A family tradition you never understood
  • You introduced a new boyfriend or girlfriend to the family
  • You experienced a holiday disaster
  • You experienced a holiday miracle
  • You understood the saying, “Friends are God’s apology for relations!”
  • You attended disastrous family dinner
  • You took part in a family holiday disaster
  • You experienced the benefits (or the downside) of being the oldest (or the youngest, or the middle) child
  • Someone in your family made a bad situation better
  • You learned a truth (or delivered a truth) about Santa Claus
  • You broke something valuable in your or a relative’s house
  • You learned a family secret
  • You got a new member in the family
  • Your first time celebrating a holiday with a new family
  • You took a holiday road trip or vacation
  • A holiday joke was on you
  • You had an encounter with a mystical seasonal creature (reindeer, Santa Clause, elf, turkey…)
  • You had the longest airport delay ever
  • You saved for a big holiday gift, but . . .
  • You thought you knew what you were ordering, but
  • You thought you knew how to work the Christmas lights (or oven, or snowmobile…)
  • You attended or threw a memorable holiday party
  • Your reservations were lost
  • You got bumped from the airplane

List adapted for the holidays from:

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