Around Christmas time, everyone gets a well-deserved break from the grind: everyone except parents, of course. The holidays are jam-packed with to-do lists. There are presents to buy and wrap, cookies to bake, parties to organize, work to finish up before everyone leaves the office, and the kids are home from school. It's a stressful time without the bonus of kids sitting around, constantly whining that they are bored. These ideas will keep kids of all ages happy and busy without stretching your wallet or your patience too thin.
Creative Things for Kids to Do Over Christmas Break
Crafts and creative activities are something that many moms strive to accomplish during the holiday break. If you are not naturally handy with a hot glue gun or shudder when someone gives your children a bath bomb set for their birthday, Christmas crafts probably sound like Christmas torture and chaos. Just because crafts don't give you a warm and tingly feeling doesn't mean that you have to avoid them in your home. The trick is to choose activities that aren't complex and work with your family. Think outside of the box when getting creative with the kids.
Make Snow Cream
Making snow cream is easy, fun, and so cheap. All you need to achieve this creative, crafty winter treat is a fresh snowfall and four common household ingredients. This is so easy that it's impossible to fall short, and your kids will think you are a rockstar for encouraging them to eat snow for once!
Do Some Christmas Crafts That Won't Raise Your Blood Pressure
Not all crafts are created equally. Know your limits when trying to pull holiday crafts off. If you don't love cutting, gluing, and glitter, but your kids do, there is a happy medium here. Give a few of these easy and thoughtful Christmas crafts a look.
- Cork reindeer ornaments- A little glue, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and a red nose is all you need here, and wine bottle corks, of course. (You know you have more than a few of those lying around.)
- Painted pinecones - They are pretty, colorful, festive, and require only paint and a paintbrush. Whip up a bunch of them and fill a vase with your crafty cones.
- Cinnamon ornaments- With a bit of glue, cinnamon, and applesauce, you'll have scented ornaments for your tree.
- Reindeer food - Mix a few key ingredients together for an inviting batch of treats explicitly made for Santa's reindeer.
Camp Out Under the Christmas Tree
Christmas decorations and a beautiful Christmas tree transform a home during the holidays. Set out sleeping bags, turn a Christmas movie on the television, and camp out under the stars...or under the Christmas lights rather.
Have a Gingerbread House Bake Off
Making gingerbread homes is something that the entire family can enjoy doing during the holiday season. To cut down on the number of kits to buy, form teams of two within your family. Have teams set out to plan and design a gingerbread house? Take pictures of the finished products and send images of the results to the grandparents, who can serve as creation judges.
Playing a rousing game of charades near a crackling fire while snow is falling is a memory maker for sure. Jazz this classic and creative game up by only using Christmas and winter references. Use ideas like:
- Baking Christmas cookies
- Little Drummer Boy
- Snow angels
- Christmas caroling
- Santa's reindeer
- Elves in the workshop
- Ice skating
- Wrapping presents
Money-Earning Opportunities for Kids to do Over Christmas Break
Older kids and teenagers find that they suddenly have a whole lot of free time on their hands but are no longer into making cookies and Christmas crafts during winter break. Two weeks home with them can feel like an eternity. Put them to work. Teenagers might not like hard labor, but they like money! Find ways to keep them busy and get a hand around the house while they earn some extra spending cash to use in their free time.
Designate a Gift Wrapper
Who has time to wrap countless Christmas gifts? Not you! Put your little elves to work in the wrapping department. Teach older kids how to wrap and label gifts for Grandma, Grandpa, cousins, teachers, and neighbors. No one works for free, so compensate them appropriately for their contribution while allowing them to be a part of the gift-giving preparation.
Turn Out Discount Babysitters
You will undoubtedly find that you have random errands to run before the holiday season descends upon you. The mere thought of bundling up the younger kids (again) just so that you can grab nutmeg or gift wrapping tape feels like a cruel Christmas joke. If you have older children or teenager neighbor kids looking for something to do, ask them to babysit. A quick grocery store run might be something that your older child/teenager can pitch in with by manning the home front. If they are responsible and of age, they can help out in a pinch, earn a few dollars, and work at a moment's notice for less than the typical sitter. Guys, THIS is why you had multiple kids with many years in between them. This type of help is the payoff.
Shovel Those Walkways
Kids have an abundance of energy. If they don't want to run around in the snow but clearly need to burn off steam, get them into the business of snow removal. Print out flyers with your phone number and labor prices on them, advertising snow removal for walkways and driveways. Neighbors with full-time jobs, small kids at home, or bad backs will gladly pay the kids ten bucks to clear off the snow, and your kids will score enough work to keep them occupied while earning some holiday spending cash.
Budget-Friendly Activities for Families to Partake in Over Christmas Break
Money gets tight around the holidays. Dinner parties, gift-giving, and holiday travel can drain a bank account in a hot minute. These budget-friendly activities for family are perfect ways to spend some of those precious holiday moments.
Hit the Local Slopes
Plastic sleds are budget-friendly, and there is no entrance fee to gain access to sledding hills. On days that are not below zero, bundle everyone up, load kids, sleds, and thermoses of cocoa into the car, and hit the hills. Everyone will get some fresh air, exercise, and laughs with this activity. The best part of the whole thing is once you return home, everyone will be too tired to fight and argue with one another.
Have a Snowman Building Competition
Do you want to build a snowman? Why not? Snowman building is free family fun. Break the gang up into two teams. Have one teamwork in the front year and one in the backyard to see who can build the largest snowman, the funniest snowman, or the most interesting snow creature.
Set Up an at-Home Spa Day
A day at the spa is pricey, and the holidays are already tight regarding finances. Bring the spa to you and yours and hold an at-home spa experience. Do facials, massages, nail painting, and lotion rubs with items that you can find at discounted prices in most local retailers.
Have a Snuggly S'more Bonfire
Bonfires are typically reserved for the summer and fall seasons, but there is no reason you can't hold one in the winter months! Make mugs of warm cocoa or winter drinks, pile on cozy clothing, and break out the blankets for an evening under the snowy stars.
Volunteer Opportunities for Families Over Holiday Break
The holidays are a perfect time to drive home the quality of charity with your children. Get involved in community charity events and involve the kids too. Let them see you give your time and energy to those in need. Witness how quickly youngsters can jump into action as well. Watching your kid give back to the community will warm your heart and set the holiday spirit. One of the greatest gifts that you can give them during this time of year is the ability to see that giving feels so much better than getting.
Devote Time at a Soup Kitchen or Food Pantry
Soup kitchens are excellent places to volunteer time as a family over the holiday break. Get everyone in the true spirit of generosity and selflessness by serving others. Food pantries also get a significant restocking around the holidays as volunteer organizations gear up to feed those in need. Check the local food pantries to see which ones need a hand.
Donate Clothes and Toys No Longer Needed
When you are using your holiday break time to clean out drawers, closets, and toy bins, making room for new goods, be sure to have your families create a donate pile. Donate gently used clothing items and toys to organizations that will help them find a good home. Kids might not want to part with their items, but this is a good lesson in giving to others so that they too can enjoy something over the holiday season.
Adopt a Family for the Holidays
If your family has the extra cash to do this, consider adopting a family for the holidays. Local religious organizations and schools often have a contact with a list of families who need some help around Christmas time. These families cannot give their kids the Christmas that they desire, so people who have the means to do so shop for the family, wrap gifts and drop them off at the family's residence. A list of kids' ages and wants or needs is often provided to the adopting family, giving them helpful clues about what will provide the biggest Christmas smiles to the people they provide for.
Make Cards for Children's Wards in the Local Hospital
Most people can't imagine being in the hospital or having a loved one in the hospital over Christmas, but this situation is a reality for some. Have your family carve time out during the holiday break to make Christmas cards full of well wishes and cheer. Deliver the cards to kids who are staying in the children's ward during Christmas. This simple thought and gesture will brighten up the days of so many.
Deliver Holiday Meals to Those in Need
Different organizations spend the holidays delivering meals to needy families. If you have a car and a good system, you can locate one of these organizations and lend a helping hand. Throw the kids in the car and have them come along for the rides. It will be good for them to give their time to others, and seeing the gratitude on meal recipients' faces will serve as a good reminder of just how lucky they are to have food on the table.
Family Projects That No One WANTS to Do, but too Bad
Okay, the holidays are a time to relax and enjoy the magic of the season. They are also a time to get stuff done. You have weeks off of work, no sports to get to, and no school runs. Whether the family wants to partake or not, it is time to hit up a few household projects. If your partner and kids whine about the holiday to-do list, just remind them that Santa is watching, or tell them that this can be their gift to you, you who works so hard for them all year round. Holiday guilt can undoubtedly work in your favor.
Closet Clean Outs
You have to make room for any new clothes and toys that the kids receive from loved ones over the holiday season. Everyone can pitch in with closet cleanouts. Start the new year off with an organized space in the bedrooms.
Repaint a Room
Repainting a room totally transforms a space. Get motivated to clean baseboards, dust walls, and spruce up a room or two during the holiday break. Younger kids won't be much help with this, but older kids can roll paint clean with clean up, depending on prep work and the complexity of the paint job.
Kitchen Drawer Organization Day
You have likely spent a significant number of hours in the kitchen baking, prepping food for holiday parties, and making meals for those in need during the holiday season. A lot of good happens in the kitchen during the holiday. With the good comes some bad. You might find yourself going mad at the clutter and disorganization of your kitchen drawers. How did things get so bad in those drawers? Life, that's how. Use the holiday break and the dream team of helpers that you birthed to straighten things up. Toss out items that are broken or no longer needed, buy new organizers for tools and silverware, and straighten out pots and pans. You'll start the New Year feeling like a brand new person.
Make the Most of This Magical Time
Yes, the holidays can be busy, and they can get stressful. No matter how hard you try to be Betty Crocker or Queen of the Christmas Crafts, there is only so much you can accomplish before calling mercy! Remember that the holidays are a time for togetherness and reflection. Even just engaging in simple spaces of quality time together before the New Year will suffice for making memories. Do what you can, don't feel bad about what you can't, and know that no matter what you choose to do with your kids, they think you are great just as you are.