As you may have noticed, Christmas is right around the corner. For those who have children or grandchildren, the holidays can be a great season of frenetic activity, parties, lights, decorations, shopping and more. But sometimes you want to spend quality time together that doesn’t involve leaving the house and won’t break the bank. What’s a parent to do?
Below are seven activities you can do with your children when you have an afternoon free or when you’ve cleaned up from dinner and want to do something different to celebrate this joyous season. Some take more time than others, and some take a few more materials than others, but they are all fairly easy to do with children of all ages. Enjoy!
- Use a large sheet of green paper to make a Christmas tree shape. This can be a simple triangle, or it can be as elaborate as you’d like. Don’t have a large sheet of green paper? Tape several sheets of green construction paper or scrapbook paper to give yourself one large shape. Let your kids decorate homemade ornaments from construction paper, string, crayons, glitter (if you’re brave!) or any other found materials. Hang the paper tree on a wall of your house at kid level and let your kids decorate the tree. Christmas stickers or even round mailing seals make great ornaments as well.
- Make cinnamon Christmas ornaments! Mix ¾ cup applesauce and about four ounces ground cinnamon in a small bowl until a smooth ball of dough is formed. Roll dough to 1/3-inch thickness. Cut dough into shapes with small cookie cutters. Make a hole at the top of each ornament with a drinking straw or skewer. Bake 2½ hours in a preheated 200 F oven or let ornaments air dry for 1-2 days on a wire rack. Insert ribbon in the holes and hang the ornaments around your house.
- Make orange and clove ornaments (for older children). Insert whole cloves (purchased in the spice aisle of your grocery store) into the skin of an orange. Place them randomly or create a pattern with the cloves. Wrap a ribbon around the orange and hang it in an open part of your house or place them in a bowl on a table. The orange and cloves will give your house a wonderful scent!
- Attach a long rope, twine or heavy string to a wall in your house. The rope can be hung horizontally or vertically. Attach clothespins (paint them if you’d like) to the rope and hang Christmas cards as they arrive in the mail. Don’t receive Christmas cards in the mail? Display small miniature “masterpieces” your kids have drawn!
- Have a personalized pancake dinner. Make pancakes as usual, but instead of putting butter and syrup on them, let everyone experiment with different toppings. Some suggestions to try include chocolate syrup, any flavor of jelly, honey, agave, chocolate chips, coconut, fruit, brown sugar or whipped cream—the choices are endless! If you’re feeling especially creative, use the toppings to create Christmas ornaments using the round pancakes as the ornament base. See who can create the most unusual ornament.
- Have a snowball fight! Crumple up recyclable white paper sheets into tight balls. You’ll need about 20 snowballs or more depending on how many people are in your family. Have fun snowball “fights” or play this game with them. Divide your living room (or other room of your house) into two halves. Use a piece of rope, string or tape, or find some other way to divide the room. Form teams. At the “go” signal, each team can try to get as many snowballs onto the other teams’ side of the room before a timer goes off. The team that has the least snowballs on their side is the winning team.
- Make pasta snowflake ornaments! Use different shaped pasta (tubes and wagon wheels work especially well), and glue them together on waxed paper to form snowflake shapes. After the ornaments are dry, paint them with white paint or white shoe polish (using a dauber), sprinkle with glitter while wet and then let them dry. Hang up when finished.
Have fun, and Merry Christmas!