The Christmas holidays are here and the children will soon be finishing school for the winter term. The days leading up to Christmas are filled with anticipation and excitement for most children, and sometimes finding things to keep them occupied can be difficult. Here are 5 useful, cheap and fun ideas for activities that you can do with your children to fill their holiday days and make the time go that little bit faster.
1. Wrap up warm and take the children for a walk in a winter wonderland
If you are among those who have been inundated with snow over the last few weeks, there will be plenty of choice for places to take the children. If the snow didn’t reach you, the chances are there are still some stunning places you can go for a seasonal themed walk. Any area where there are fallen leaves to kick through or pinecones, nuts and fruits to collect can be a great place to take the children. A local park can be just as wonderful to a child as any woodland or open countryside. Take along a flask of hot chocolate to keep away the chill.
2. Collect some seasonal foliage
Holly, Ivy and evergreen branches can be used to make your own wreath to hang on your door, or even a centrepiece for the Christmas table. This can be a tricky one though and getting a good shape and form for your decoration can be difficult. To make this easier, ask at your local craft shop for some wire that you can use for a basic framework. This will also help to hold your creation together. For a more professional finish you can add ribbons and bows or pinecones and fruits for a fuller looking piece.
3. Bake some shortbread biscuits
Shortbread is probably the easiest biscuit recipe for children to follow, and there are myriad options for seasonal shapes that can be made from it. Most stores carry ranges of seasonally shaped cookie cutters, and sometimes stock cookie making kits that will help you produce your biscuits. Before baking, make a small hole somewhere at the top of the biscuit. You can then thread through some string or ribbon and hang these from the tree for a seasonal treat. Making and decorating the biscuits with frosting, coloured icing, silver balls etc is a fun and sometimes very messy way to keep the children occupied.
4. Make your own decorations
Utilise all those left-over bits of Ivy, etc, and turn them into festive decorations. Craft stores will be able to supply you with glitter, sliver and gold paint and cotton wadding (for fake snow), and if you feel like being a bit flashy you can cover your decorations with real gold or silver leaf. All you really need is a little imagination, some PVA glue and somewhere to hang them. A great fun activity for kids is to cover a pine cone with PVA glue then tip over some glitter. This is both quick and easy and gives fairly instant results. They are ready to place on the Christmas tree as soon as the glue is dry.
Tip: to avoid too much mess from glitter, tip some into a plastic bag then drop in the glue-covered pine cone and give it a shake. This will ensure that the majority of the glitter is confined.
5. Make your own cards and gift tags
This activity can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. All you really need is some card, crayons or paint and your kids’ imagination. You can purchase stencils, printing sponges or stickers to help your children to produce some really great results. If the kids are good with computers they may want to design their cards this way and print them off instead. Grandparents especially will love to get a handmade card from the grandchildren.
Tip: keep the cards you receive this year and use them to make next year’s gift tags. If you are a hoarder and have cards from last year, you can use these in this way. Cut out details from the front of Christmas cards are a good source of free tags.
These basic ideas should help to keep you and your children happily occupied until the big day. Have a merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year!