It’s almost time for Christmas vacation! I’m sure the kids are looking forward to the endless days of sleeping in, hanging out with friends, and relaxing around-the-clock. On the other hand, you might be a little apprehensive about having the little munchkins hanging around the house 24/7. Sure you love your kids, but trying to entertain bored children can be quite a chore when you have to do it day in and day out. So how do you keep them happy all break long? And more importantly, how do you keep them happy on a budget?
Well, the good news is that it’s completely doable. Now is the time to take advantage of all the cutesy activities that you can’t do the rest of the year. If you’re looking for affordable family fun, you’ve come to the right place. Check out my favorite activities to enjoy with your kids this holiday season.
Get the kids interested in helping you decorate by having them make a few ornaments for the tree. Be sure to check out this Zing blog article for some cute DIY ideas. My personal favorite is to make “hand” ornaments. Trace your child’s hand and cut it out. Cover one side in glitter, and on the other side write their name and the date. To hang it up, simply punch a hole in the top and thread a ribbon through. If you remember to do this every Christmas, you’ll have a great set of ornaments to remind you of how your children grew throughout the years.
Bake cookies together
Bake up a batch of tasty sugar cookies, and have your children help you decorate. Check out this easy recipe for sugar cookie icing. Make sure to set out an assortment of different sprinkles, too. If your kids have any baking talent at all, you’ll be able to use these cookies for hostess gifts!
Decorate gingerbread houses
Christmas just isn’t Christmas until you’ve decorated a gingerbread house. If you’re lucky enough to have a set of molds, bake up a few houses and go to town. (Get it? Go to town?!) For a cheaper way to do it, use frosting to glue graham crackers to an empty milk carton. Buy as much cheap candy as you can, and let the kids use their imaginations.
Go ice skating or sledding
Getting outside in cold weather isn’t an easy task. Scrape those couch potatoes off of the couch and send them outside. If you have enough fun outdoor activities, they’ll be begging you to go play in the snow. Take the kids ice skating or sledding. Gliding around and climbing snowy hills is a great way to stay active in the winter season.
Paint the snow
No snow fort is complete without a coat of paint. Now I don’t mean literal paint, but you can make snow paint by adding a few drops of food coloring to a spray bottle full of water. Spray it on snow to turn it blue, green, red or whatever color your children desire!
Make paper snowflakes
Do you need cheap, timeless and beautiful Christmas decorations for your home? Put the kids to work with some scissors and a stack of paper. For easy folding directions, check out Martha Stewart’s tutorial on making paper snowflakes.
It’s the holiday season and there are plenty of charitable causes to go around. Gather up the family and head out for a day of volunteering. With the promise of Christmas presents just around the corner, this is a great way to help your older children be thankful for the things that they already have.
Check out local events
Scour the Internet and newspapers for free, local events. You might find a seasonal parade, events at the library, or other Santa-related activities. Most of these activities are free or very cheap; it’s a great way to get out and do things without spending too much.
Take a Christmas light drive
December tends to transform even the blandest neighborhood into a winter wonderland. Don’t take this for granted! Pack your family into the car, turn on the heater, and check out your community’s most spectacular light displays. Warm blankets and a bowl full of Christmas cookies will complete the cozy vibe.
Visit local museums, aquariums and science centers.
You’re probably too busy during the rest of the year to remember to take advantage of your community’s local attractions. While the kids are home, take the opportunity to spend some time indoors visiting museums, science centers, and other cool things in your town. Check out this post to see how you can find free or cheap admission to just about any museum. And did you know that many zoos stay open in the winter? If you’ve never experienced your local zoo in the winter, you’re missing out. The cold weather keeps the crowds away and keeps many of the animals active, making it the ideal time for a visit.
Host a holiday movie night
If there’s one thing I love about December, it’s being able to snuggle up on the couch with a good old-fashioned Christmas special. All of your favorite Christmas movies are bound to show up on TV at some point during this month. Pile on the blankets and serve up some simple snacks. This is a great way to get the whole family in the Christmas spirit.
With Christmas less than two weeks away, it’s officially time to kick off the holiday festivities. What are your favorite Christmas activities? Share with other Zing readers in the comments below.