Ideas for Holiday Activities for Kids
As the busiest and most joyous season rolls around, most adults go into high gear. There’s planning and shopping and cooking and baking and wrapping and budgeting. In the rush of it all, we tend to forget who we are doing it all for. Aren’t the holidays really for kids? And yet, we wind up putting baby in a corner lest we not be able to make her Christmas perfect. With a few years of parenting under my belt, I’d like to offer you an option. Plan a holiday activity and get your kids involved- without driving yourself straight into crazy town.
Helping Holiday Hands
There’s lots even the littlest preschooler can do to help with holiday preparations. These holiday activities can keep little hands busy with only a small amount of parental assistance.
1) Grab that mess of old envelopes and cards from the stationary box and have your toddler sort them by color, picture or size. Most 3-4 year olds can handle straight-forward sorting activities, and you may find that you can check one holiday task off your list and save some money to boot. You just may have enough left-over cards from all those other years to forgo a Christmas card purchase.
2) If you are so inclined, forget the standard holiday card fare. Buy a stack of blank cards and envelopes and give your children a box of crayons and a book of holiday stickers and let them go at it. What child wouldn’t feel like an important part of the holiday preparation making the family’s Christmas cards?
3) Ask older children to sort through their clothes and (if they are capable of “letting go”) their toys. Give two big boxes. Ask them to put too-small clothes and toys they don’t play with, but are still in good shape, in one box. Ask them to put broken toys that cannot be fixed and clothes with holes or stains in the other box. When the holiday helpful task is complete, take box number 1 to a local charity and toss box number 2 in the trash. (Warning!! Be sure to check both boxes, kids have their very own particular ideas about what is and is not worth saving.) This activity will make room for the latest influx of holiday gifts and teach your kids a little something about the spirit of giving.
Time-Making Tasks for Hectic Holidays
Sometimes, especially with younger children, its more about them feeling involved than actually being involved. They want to help. And, really, there’s no reason that helping can’t be “helping.” (I must admit I’m sometimes guilty of having my two-year old sort laundry by color into 2 different baskets. It doesn’t officially get the laundry done any faster, but it does make him feel happy and useful, it gives us quality time together, and I get to use both hands to fold the laundry. In my opinion – No harm, no foul.)
1) Gather all those old single Christmas cards (see #1 above) that you aren’t going to send out. And let the little ones go nuts w/ the scissors. Tell them you need them to cut out all the snowmen, or wreaths, or whatever. Ask them to glue their clippings onto paper or index cards. Suggest they make them into “decorations.” Scissors, glue and pretty pictures will keep any young holiday helper happy… and you might just be surprised by what they create.
2) Making trail mix is a great holiday activity for kids. While you complete a final inventory of the pantry, or do the dishes, or clean the oven… or any other of the myriad of tasks you find suddenly pressing during this hectic holiday season, sit the kids down at the kitchen table with a jar of peanuts, a bag of M&Ms, some dried fruit and whatever other tasty tidbits you need to clean out of your cupboard. Give them little bowls of each and a sturdy Tupperware container with a lid. You will be surprised by the precision and concentration required by a 5yr old to determine just exactly the right number of cranberries to make the perfect mix. Some of this will wind up on the floor, and a lot of it will wind up in your child’s belly (“But I need to test it mom!”). But, the kids will be happy and fed and you will have one less half eaten box of raisins to toss out and about 30minutes of time to concentrate on your to-do’s.
3) Construction paper chains are the current highlight of my five year old’s decorating sensibilities. In red and green or blue and white, they are certainly festive and inexpensive holiday decorations. Older children can be left completely to their own devices for this holiday activity. For younger children, precut the necessary strips and let them do the ringing and taping. You may not find a use for all of this kid-friendly holiday décor, but, especially paired with a great Christmas movie, this holiday activity for kids will buy you at least a half hour to finish up that shopping list or dig out the ornaments from the basement. When their done, pick an area you have no plans for (like their bedrooms) and let them go decorate!
In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, its easy to forget that sometimes you need to stop and just be together. Family holiday activities should be at least a part of your holiday prep… trust me, I know this sounds easier than it is! But think it over and pick a handful of activities that you don’t need to be perfect, or that you don’t mind engaging in for several more hours than they ought to take. Put off the rest of the list for an afternoon and bake cookies together, or make paper snowflakes. If you are seriously time crunched, just write a quick letter to Santa… or to a relative you’ve missed. Exhaustion setting in? Make a cup of cocoa, pop in a video and cut yourself some slack for an hour while you cuddle together on the couch with your kids. Most importantly: Stop. Breathe. Re-live your own sense of holiday magic through the smiling eyes of your little one. They aren’t worried about how many presents will be under the tree, or if the family gathering will be drama free; they are simply immersed in the feelings of the season. These little stolen moments will be the ones they remember all their lives.
Online Christmas Fun
- Official NORAD Santa Tracker
Follow Santa as he makes his magical journey! This site has been seriously updated over the last few years. Track Santa's journey, visit the North Pole villages and see what the elves and reindeer are up to leading up to the big ChristmasEve flight
- Videos From Santa
This site is a wonderful free way to bring a little Christmas magic into anyone's life. Its much like the old "personalized" letters from Santa, but in 2010 style. You upload details and pics and Santa will send your little one a personal video.