15 Unplugged Ideas for Shabbat

Ah, Friday night--time for hanging out with friends, enjoying some tasty cholent, (or take out), and socializing together. On Shabbat, the idea is to take a break from ordinary life, and focus on each other. It can be a welcome change to stop rushing from work to preschool to the grocery store and, instead, enjoy a weekly reconnection with the people and ideas that are most important to you.

More and more families are opting to challenge themselves to spend Friday night, or all of Shabbat, without their smartphones or devices. With the rush of weekend activities, soccer practice, and keeping up to date on events, disconnecting from social media can feel really intimidating. Whether you go the whole day or just a few hours on Friday night doesn’t matter, these activities are all about family time, unwinding, and making memories.

For more tips about unplugging for the weekend, visit the National Day of Unplugging and the Moxie Institute’s “Technology Shabbat” page.

READ

Grab a PJ Library book or head over to your local library to check out some new-to-you books, graphic novels, and magazines. Read aloud with your whole family or pick out an article in a newspaper to read and discuss together. See PJ Library’s tips for reading aloud as a family here.

DO A SERVICE PROJECT

Host a clothing swap or diaper drive, join a local park cleanup, gather canned goods for the food bank, make meals for a family with a new baby, visit a nursing home and read books with the residents, or snuggle puppies at a local shelter. There are so many ways to pitch in, help out, and repair the world.

MAKE SOMETHING

A mess, a pillow fort, a collaborative drawing, a story book! There are so many options. Brainstorm and create something together as a family.

EXPLORE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Take a walk or bike ride to explore and meet your neighbors.

DO THE CROSSWORD

If your kids aren’t quite ready for crosswords yet, let them try word searches or site word games, or just practice letters and counting together.

PUT ON A PUPPET SHOW

You don’t need fancy puppets or a stage to put on a fabulous family production. Use stuffed animals, paper bags, socks, or just your hands.

PLAY BOARD GAMES

Do you have a stack of board games gathering dust in the back of a closet? Take them off the shelf and give them a try. If your town has a board game café, head over for a visit, or check in with your local library to see whether the children’s room has age-appropriate games for kids to borrow.

BLOW BUBBLES

And laugh… a lot!

TRY SOMETHING NEW!

As a family make a list of new foods and activities you’d like to try, then start checking them off. Not sure where to start? Take a cue from this family and try a round of mini golf together.

DANCE

Turn on some music and get silly! Kids love to move and dance and it’s great for grownups to get out of their shell too. Need some inspiration? Download the PJ Library Radio app to find tons of Jewish artists and playlists for kids and parents.

SING OR PLAY INSTRUMENTS

Belt out your favorite tunes or make your own. Whether you have a house full of guitars or just a cabinet of pots and pans doesn’t matter. Be loud and be creative.

VISIT FRIENDS

Plan ahead and arrange an outing with friends. This can be something low key like eating lunch all together, or something more organized like a trip to an aquarium. Even running errands can feel like a break if you’re being social.

PLAY OUTSIDE

Get outside and get active. Older kids may be into an organized sport like football or soccer while younger children will enjoy the freeform silliness of tag. Not a good day to go outside? Try one of these ideas instead.

INTERVIEW EACH OTHER

Let your kids ask you questions—children are fascinated by stories of their parents and loved ones as children. Turn the tables and ask the kids questions too – write your answers down and start a family memory book.

WRITE LETTERS

It’s so easy to keep in touch with far away friends and family via social media, but it’s also fun to get old fashioned “snail mail.” Make some special cards, write “thinking of you” notes, and send a special surprise off to your friends and family.

Looking for more Shabbat inspiration? Visit our Shabbat page for recipes, videos, book lists, resources for parents, and more.