Have a Family Year in Review

This article is an excerpt out of Ideas for Parents: A Collection of Tips, Insights, and Activities for Real-World Parenting by Mark Matlock and Christopher Lyon.  For more information on this book and/or to purchase it, please click here.


At the end of every year, we witness the parade of “Best of” and “Top Ten” lists for the previous year. This New Year’s activity takes advantage of that human impulse to collect and catalog. The purpose is to help your family gain wisdom from a little
reflection on the previous year.

Try This

Sometime when your family can all be together for an hour or two, plan to have a year-in-review session. Or you could break it up into a year-in-review week of ten to fifteen segments at mealtimes or before bed every day—maybe one for each member of the family.

Ask everyone in your family who’s old enough to participate to bring a “Top Three” list from the year in each of the categories below—or just choose those that are appropriate for your family. These should be items from only the last calendar year that are favorites or that made a significant impact on that person. You’re not limited to what we’ve suggested here—so don’t be afraid to dream up your own categories.

Consider collecting the lists in an album or notebook that can be kept and added to the coming years.

As each family member presents his or her Top Threes, try to steer the conversation toward wisdom wherever appropriate. What was learned from those experiences? What’s worth repeating? What did we learn to avoid the next time? How did we notice God providing for us and teaching us and drawing us closer to him?

You can kick off the discussion by having one of your kids read Psalm 90:12—“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”


Top Three Family Activities or Experiences

Top Three Family Friends We Enjoyed Hanging Out With

Top Three Funniest Moments or Quotes

Top Three Family Projects

Top Three Sports, Performances, or Academic Moments


Top Three Pictures or Video Clips (of family members or events—here you can have a show-and-tell time!)

Top Three Songs or Albums

Top Three Shows or Movies

Top Three Books, Games, or Sporting Events

Top Three Status Updates, Text Messages, or Emails


Top One to Three Verses (that made an impact)

Top One to Three Big Ideas (from either life or the Bible)

Top One to Three Service Experiences (mission rips, VBS, helping in the nursery, etc.)

Top Three Answered Prayers

Top Three Things You’re Thankful For


Top One to Three Wisest Choices

Top One to Three least Wisest Choicess (Note: This isn’t intended to dwell on anyone’s regrets but to gain wisdom from life experience. Use as appropriate for your family.)


Top Three Things Most Anticipated in the Next Year