Having a family night in can be just as fun as spending an evening out on the town – if not more fun. Some of the simplest ideas can turn out to be the greatest when it comes to family bonding time. Focusing more on the time spent, and less on enjoyment through material things, teaches kids what is really valuable when it comes to spending time with people they love.
Research shows that families who spend purposeful quality time together form stronger bonds, and the children have more confidence and assertiveness. Coming up with your own forms of creative fun together encourages family brainstorming, and leads to better problem solving when it comes to the less fun aspects of life.
One often overlooked idea for a fun night in is simply to host a family talent show – right in your living room, basement, or backyard. You can make it as simple or elaborate as you’d like but encourage all your family members to participate.
Here are some tips for making your first family talent show a Broadway-like sensation:
Allow any and all talents.
Encourage your kids to get creative with their talents. Have them sing, dance, act out a skit, perform with pets, or even recite their favorite poems. Have a snake charmer in the family? A magician? As long as the talents they perform are safe, let them pick whatever they want to showcase. A talent doesn’t have to fall in the typical category to be fun and entertaining for all.
Pick a theme.
Decide on a concept and then have all of the talent acts fall into those perimeters. Some fun themes to consider include Hollywood, Broadway, Rock and Roll, or even a decade (how fun would an 80s talent show be?). Try to match the programs, the refreshments and what you wear to the theme you’ve chosen. If you can’t come to a mutual decision on a theme, have everyone write down their picks and then choose one randomly from a hat.
Get pumped up to have a great time alongside your kids on-stage. Come up with something silly or unexpected to really leave a lasting impression on the other members of your family. Your kids will love watching you perform so get a little out of your comfort zone for the sake of family fun. They can’t get excited about it if you aren’t completely enthused yourself. Who knows? You may even surprise your spouse with your special brand of talent.
The talent show does not need to only feature solo acts. Have your kids sing a duet, practice their latest recital duet on the piano, or do a skit together. Performing music as a family unit, or doing anything else collaborative, means some additional rehearsal time outside the actual talent show. This is also a great idea if you have family members who tend to get shy in the spotlight. Those kids (or parents!) can get the performance experience, but not feel all the nerves.
Set up a tripod or take turns manning the smartphone camera so you don’t miss any of the classic moments that are sure to occur. If your kids are old enough to care, be sure you clear it with them before posting any video from the talent show on social media. Remember that you are recording it for your own posterity and not to create the next viral video. Don’t get stuck behind the camera though; be sure someone is also recording your big moment to shine.
Some music may end up in the talent show itself if you have a singer or musician in the family. If not, add in a song to sing together as a family as the talent show finale (even if your family is not exactly vocally gifted) as a way to bond over the music. You may also want to let each member of the family pick intro music for the beginning of each act.
Part of the fun of going to a show is the concessions, so duplicate that in your own living room for your talent show. Make it even more entertaining by including your family’s favorite snacks. Let everyone pick one menu item for the night and then share your picks. You can choose foods that align with your theme, or just go classic with popcorn, candy, and refreshments.
Create a program.
What better way to commemorate the night than with a program that lists each performer and his or her talent(s)? If you’ve given the talent show a theme, be sure to include it in your artistic design. Print it out from your computer, or have younger kids create one by hand. Make enough for each family member to have their own, and then sign each other’s programs with comments on your favorite portion of their performances.
Throw in some surprises.
Create awards to hand out to your kids, or have a special guest who comes to perform at your talent show. Do something unexpected that is not in the program to really wow your kids.
You’re putting a lot of work into the talent show, so why not invite a larger audience? Tell the grandparents, neighbors, or friends to come. If you would rather keep it just a family affair, skip this point, but it may be something to consider for future ones.
Throwing a family talent show is a fun way to celebrate each other, support each other, and perhaps even laugh at each other. It doesn’t have to cost anything at all to put together a great family talent show, and it is sure to become a family tradition your kids will want to repeat for years to come. It doesn’t really matter if you sing, dance, perform magic, or paint a picture. All that a great family talent show really needs is willing participants and an open, creative mind.
Contributed By: Jennifer Paterson, President and Founder of California Music Studios. Jennifer Paterson, A.R.C.T., Master’s of Music (voice, piano), has degrees from Boston University, The Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. She was a recipient of The Canada Council Award to study at the well-known Royal Opera House in London, and was the principal soprano for the Boston Lyric Opera Company. Her dedication to the legitimate training of the voice and piano has made her a definite asset to the musical community of Southern California.