Christmas can be an expensive time of year, what with buying all the presents and festive food, not to mention all those extra things such as trips to the theatre or ice skating, hosting family and friends and having to stock up on secret Santa gifts.
At some point over the holidays, every parent grows tired of constantly driving across the city to different activities and spending money to entertain the little ones and longs to flake out on the sofa with a hot chocolate.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to engage little minds at home, whether hosting easy-to-organise family competitions or getting creative in the kitchen or at the craft table.
Here are six easy and fuss-free ideas to entertain the children this winter break…
1. Have a neighbourhood Christmas scavenger hunt
Now the weather is cooler, early evening strolls around the neighbourhood are a breezy joy rather than a sweaty slog. Add a festive element to a family walk by creating your own Christmas scavenger hunt.
Put together a list of Christmassy decorations you might expect to see on or outside people’s homes, such as fairy lights (both white and multicoloured), Father Christmases, baubles, Christmas trees, tinsel and reindeer and write them down. Children will love ticking them off on their festive scavenger hunt list, and you’ll combine family time with some light exercise. Win win.
2. Bake Christmas cookies
Invest in some festive cookie cutters and make a biscuit-baking session Christmas-themed.
With thousands of tried-and-tested recipes to find online, biscuits are one of the easiest things for children to make and are a great introduction to baking.
Little ones will enjoy mixing the dough and rolling it out, before pressing out different shapes with the cutters. Create festive coloured toppings by mixing some red and green food colouring into bowls of royal icing, and dust with silver sprinkles.
3. Host a Christmas quiz
For a fun family evening, put together a Christmas-themed quiz.
Think up an array of different categories, such as identifying Christmas songs from the lyrics or general knowledge questions such as what are the names of Santa’s reindeer.
You can even host it online and invite family and friends in different parts of the world to join in. Don’t forget to get some prizes for the winners.
4. String a popcorn garland
This is an easy and engaging festive activity that little ones can be involved in from start to finish.
Begin by watching the corn start popping, whether in a popcorn machine or with a little oil in a saucepan (don’t forget to put the lid on!).
Then thread string through the middle part of each piece of corn, gently pushing through the needle. Younger children will find a larger crafting needle easier to hold, while older children can use a sewing needle to join the corn together. Snacking on kernels during the threading process is actively encouraged.
5. Festive sweet sorting
This is an easy game you can create at home.
Take some cups, small bags or better still, Christmas stockings, and fill them with different types of small sweets.
Mini marshmallows and jellybeans work well for this game, but you’ll need at least four or five variations of sweets.
Give everyone their own stocking and shout "Go!". The idea is to sort all your sweets into the correct piles and whoever finishes first is the winner.
The best part is that everyone gets to eat their sweets afterwards.
6. Make paper snowflakes
This fun activity requires only white paper or tissue paper and a pair of scissors.
With plenty of templates to follow online, little ones will enjoy cutting out creating their own snowflakes.
Creative types might want to add some glitter when they’re finished, then string them up around the house or in the children’s bedrooms.