How To Keep the Kids Busy During Christmas Break
While I freely admit that it’s been a hot minute since I had to find ways to keep the kids busy during Christmas break, I also admit that it’s not something I’m likely to forget. When you have three children with different personalities, different interests, and a whole lot of energy, you have to have a plan!
Granted, there are a lot of activities going on in December. It’s not hard to find something to do, but I think kids tend to get overstimulated and even exhausted during the holiday season. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, so my best advice is to not try to cram everything into the month of December. Keeping the kids busy during Christmas break doesn’t have to equal being on the go or keeping them entertained 24/7. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t participate in all the fun holiday events. Just don’t try to do them all!
Anytime our children were on a break, I tried to do fun things that didn’t require me to spend too much money or be around a bunch of other rowdy kids. There were those times, but I always looked at breaks as “family time” and family time meant just us being together without a lot of outside influence. While we did go places and see other people, we also spent a lot of time at home coming up with our own activities.
Fun Things To Try:
- Carpet picnics. This was one of our favorite things to do matter what time of year, but they were best during cold weather. Spread a blanket on the floor in front of the television and turn on a movie or music. Serve dinner on the blanket. This is best done with something that isn’t drippy or too messy! It’s a great time for pizza night or snack plates. A snack plate here generally consisted of finger sandwiches, peanut butter crackers, raisins, carrots with ranch dip, chips, and fruit snacks. My youngest will be starting graduate school next fall and she still loves her snack plates!
- Percussion party. If you are familiar with the percussion group STOMP, then you know how fun this can be. If not, you need to go watch some of their videos. We were fortunate enough to see their traveling show years ago and my children totally enjoyed trying to mimic their music. Use brooms, wrapping paper tubes, water jugs/bottles, pots and pans, and other household items to create a rhythm. My kids liked to make up their own most of the time, but it’s also fun to try and accompany a popular song. Think “Jingle Bells” or “12 Days of Christmas” with drums!!
- Make gingerbread houses. This is a Christmas themed activity, but it can be a lot of fun. Definitely try to provide each child their own house to decorate or else you may wind up with an argument. I also prefer the kits that have a groove to sit the walls in, but they are hard to find anymore. Otherwise, make sure you have some good icing to stick everything together with. If premade kits are not your thing, let the kids help mix up the cookies and/or icing. Or use Pop-Tarts. They make super cute gingerbread houses!
- Work a puzzle. This may not be for everyone, because you do have to have a dedicated space for the puzzle. Our kitchen table worked fine, but we had to work it quickly because it couldn’t stay there overnight. This is something we mostly did when the kids were smaller and the puzzles had bigger pieces! If you have a card table or something that can be left up, this is a great activity that the kids can work on a little each day for some quiet time.
- Family Game Night. Family game night can get a little wild sometimes, but it’s a lot of fun and if it gets too out of control, you can always call for bedtime! Let each child pick a game or choose something everyone likes. Some of the favorites around here were Scene It (My oldest and I weren’t allowed to be on teams during Harry Potter: Scene It), Sorry, Trouble, and Uno. Once they got older, we played a lot more trivia-type games. Also, Hearing Things by Hasbro is a great game even for family game night or a party!
- Teach them to clean house. I know it’s not a popular thought and it’s hard to be patient when they aren’t cleaning exactly the way we want, but it’s a handy skill to have. Our children all do eventually grow up and they need to know how to take care of their things and possibly an entire household. Even very small children can do things like dust or put away their toys. Will they do it perfectly? Absolutely not. But they will learn the importance of contributing and working as a team. Stress to them that the house needs to look decent for Santa, friends, or relatives to come visit. Then brag on them for their hard work even if no one comes over!
- Take them shopping for others or let them make homemade gifts. This is a wonderful time of year to teach kids about giving and why we do so much at Christmastime. Although this can be an exhausting activity, it’s also a life lesson that they can carry with them. And hopefully, it will teach them to focus less on the gifts they get during the holidays and more on the gifts they give. Here’s a really easy snowball craft that would look cute in a little bucket with a hand-printed sign that says “snowballs”!
- Read together. Even though my kids were great readers and learned early, they used to love it when one person would read out loud (usually me) and they just got to listen. Pick a chapter book and read a chapter or two every evening. It’s a pretty relaxing activity, so it’s great if everyone needs to decompress before bedtime.
- Just let them play. There seems to be some misconception that parents have to entertain their children 24/7. That’s simply not the case. Children today have way too much stimulation and way too much time looking at a screen. They need downtime. They need to learn to use their imaginations and they need to learn how to entertain themselves sometimes. Let them play outside, send them to their rooms, or even set a timer and tell them they have to go play (no phones, tablets, or computers) something until the timer goes off. You’ll likely find that they’ll keep playing even after time is up.
There are so many things parents can do to keep the kids busy during Christmas break. Be willing to try something different. Be prepared to switch tactics if something is not working. And most of all, be patient and enjoy this extra time with your little loves. They grow up way too fast and the Christmases fly by!
P.S. Check out my 19-Piece Christmas Activity Bundle on Etsy. It will definitely keep them busy for a while!!