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50 Guilt-Free Resolutions

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Aaron Zenz

Resolutions can enrich and enliven your family life. Try these (guilt not included).

Click here to print the illustrated poster that goes with this article.

If you’re anything like us, you’ve finally crossed off your remaining New Year’s resolution from last year — because you admit you’ll never do it. But this year, don’t reach for the impossible; set the bar lower. Try our guilt-free resolutions to get your family off to a good start.

We’ve listed 50 family-friendly ideas, but don’t get overly ambitious. Pick only a few. Or just one. After all, the goal is not to check off resolutions, but to enrich and enliven your family life.

1. Put notes of encouragement in your children’s lunch bags.

2. Write your previous New Year’s resolutions on toilet paper. Have your family do the same. Host a “flush away party.”

3. Take a family walk around the block … backward.  

4. Have an after-Christmas thank-you note party. Everyone in the family can pitch in to get all those notes done in one fell swoop. Prepare hot apple cider.  

5. Camp overnight in your living room. Have a pillow fight.

6. Switch places at the dinner table. 

7. Stop uploading each other on YouTube without permission.

8. Build a family fort using only cardboard and duct tape.

9. Clean the garage. The goal? Broom hockey! Tape up the floor, pass out the brooms and toss in a tennis ball. Score!

10. Have a “family memory night.” Everyone gets to share his or her funniest memories and best family moments.

11. Create your own family holiday. Set a specific date. Invite each family member to help with planning a unique celebration.

12. Avoid unintended science experiments. Clean out the minivan together.

13. During family TV night, press the mute button. Make up your own dialogue. The wackier, the better.

14. Once a week, leave an “I love you” note in a family member’s shoe.

15. Eat your way through the alphabet. A is for aebleskiver; B is for baklava; C is for calamari. Get creative … and adventuresome! 

16. On the way to school, ask your kids, “What is one thing you’re looking forward to today?” After school, ask them, “What was the best thing that happened to you today?”

17. Leave the Monopoly game set up until someone actually wins.

18. Start a prayer jar. Each family member can write prayers or draw prayer pictures and leave them in the jar. At year’s end, look through the prayers together and talk about God’s faithfulness.

19. Give something away every month this year. Be looking for the needs of friends and how their needs may overlap with what you own. Give freely.

20. When your child shares something with you, stop what you’re doing and look him in the eyes. Ask a follow-up question.

21. Say “I love you” to your spouse at the start of each day. 

22. Get to know your kids’ friends. Have a “friends’ dinner” once a month. Let each child invite a guest.

23. Learn how to say “I love you” in a different language.

24. Have a different family member call Grandma every week.

25. Have everyone in the family take turns telling the “joke for the day.” (If you run out of material, visit

26. Stop communicating in only 140 characters or less.

27. Choose someone from a news story — a starving child in Sudan or a captive in a foreign country — and pray for him.  

28. Keep a running list of things your family is thankful for. Post it on the refrigerator door.

29. Fill a jar with ideas for “fun things to do,” and draw one idea each week.

30. Have a family “read and feed.” Provide favorite snacks, pillows, blankets and a great book to read together.

31. Put all your Christmas cards into a pile. Draw one card a week, and pray for that family.

32. Mac and cheese by candlelight? Why not! Share a special, formal dinner with your family. Put on Strauss, dress in your Sunday best, and set out Grandma’s china.  

33. Make a point of noticing the positives in your spouse and children. Let them know what you see.  

34. Make a list of 12 parks in the city. Picnic at one each month.

35. Choose a “family song.” Whenever it plays, the whole family has to come into the room and dance. Even if they’re in their jammies.

36. Create a family “quote board.” Whenever someone says something funny or strange, post it on the board for everyone to see.   

37. Once a month, go on a completely new family adventure. Ride your bikes to an ice-cream shop, take in a community theater play, or sleep under the stars.

38. Break the routine once in a while. Eat ice cream for breakfast and cereal for dinner.   

39. Pick a night of the week to be “No-Screen Night.” Turn off all computers and televisions to do something fun as a family. 

40. Make pizza together. Everyone chooses his or her own topping.

41. Write a love letter to your spouse. Sign your pet name. 

42. Research New Year’s traditions from the countries of your heritage. Pass them on to your family.  

43. Make every Sunday night a “compliment night.” Kind words can be shared verbally or left under the pillow.

44. This year, skip at least two events that you planned on attending. Put on your pajamas, and watch a movie together.   

45. Pray a blessing over your child each morning.

46. Once a month, invite a family over for dinner on the spur of the moment. The house will be messy, the food will be delivered, and the evening will be fantastic!

47. Play every family game in your closet.  

48. Make the start of the week a bit easier with “Messy Mondays.” Give your family a “pass” on making their beds and picking up their rooms.

49. Celebrate the little stuff. Hang banners for goal scorers and shoe-tying experts.  Honor tooth losers by serving pudding for dessert.

50. Resolve not to make any more New Year’s resolutions!

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