A few years ago after a bunch of grandkids were born, my siblings and I decided to do away with giving the adults of the family birthday and Christmas gifts. It was getting expensive and a bit overwhelming to buy presents for all the kids and significant others. In its place, we created what we call “Sibling Night.” Twice a year, we come up with a fun night out for the siblings and significant others, line up babysitters, and spend the evening together. What we’ve discovered over the past few years is that it is so much more than just a way to save money.
Let’s be honest. Most family functions involve hyperactive kids running in circles while eating too much of grandma’s sweets. Before we started Sibling Night, I couldn’t count on one hand the amount of times we had all hung out without a kid strapped to our leg. You don’t realize how little you pay attention to other people when you have your kids with you, until you don’t. My brother is a lot younger than my sister and I and doesn’t have any kids. He tends to blend into the mayhem when we all get together. Sibling Night allows us the chance to really talk to him and/or harass him about who he’s dating. Even with all the messing with him that we do, he still says that he enjoys getting to be with both of us while we are out of mom-mode.
Experiences are always more gratifying than stuff.
There is something about having kids and all the clutter that comes with it that has shifted my priorities. It’s been part of a personal quest of mine to spend more money on experiences than things, and Sibling Night has gotten me closer to my goal. And while I do love a cute clutch or super-fab pair of statement earrings, I would much rather have a night of laughter and silliness with some of my favorite people any day. Material items age over time, but I will never be able to get the image of my sister getting “crunk” out of my head.
It makes us feel like a kid again.
Just because it’s a kid-free night, it doesn’t mean you can’t act like one. Our plans usually involve activities like escape rooms, casinos or arcades, any place that includes games. Games were a childhood staple; board games, pretend games, video games, etc. It was a great way to interact with your brothers and sisters while growing up and remains that way today. There’s no pressure to have deep discussions to feel connected. You can have a friendly air hockey competition or bond over trying to escape a tomb for the second time. (Seriously though, how do you get out of that tomb?!?) My little sister loves that I will actually play a game with her now. I never realized that was something that I refused her when we were kids. It’s funny how much stuff in our childhood still affects us today and tends to come to surface when interacting with our siblings.
Bring your parents (if they are as fun as mine).
Our last Sibling Night evolved into a Family Night when we needed two more participants for the escape room to ensure that we got it all to ourselves. It was my husband’s idea to invite them, and it really made the night. Remember how much fun it was as a kid to hang out with your parents and have them actively participate in a game with you? Well, it’s more fun when you’re an adult. Even though we never made it out of the tomb (again…how do you get out?!?), it felt like old times doing something silly with our parents. We even convinced them to go out drinking with us after. Something tells me they appreciate never being able to get the image of my sister getting crunk out of their minds as well.
The relationships you form with your siblings are so unique. They are the only people who really know what your childhood was like and still love you, regardless of how many times you made them miserable. As we get older, we tend to slip away from these relationships. We have our own families, and life gets busy with all the kiddos. By setting aside time to spend with your siblings, you help preserve that special relationship and have a little fun while you’re at it.