As the winter holidays draw closer, the children get more and more excited while the parents get busier preparing for the holiday period and all that goes with it. There is usually a lot going on over this time, but occasionally, amid the festivities or when they are over, it can be difficult to find a way to keep the children happy before they return to school.
We have put a few ideas together for both indoor and outdoor activities so that you can really make the most of the holidays and your family time together.
I. Outdoor Activities
Obviously, outdoor activities are very weather dependent at any time of year but, for children, one of the highlights of the winter can be the arrival of snow!
Sledging is the obvious choice at the first sign of a decent snowfall. Make sure you get your sledges in advance because once snow is forecast shops will quickly sell out. Also ensure that older children let you know where they are going and remind them how quickly it gets dark at this time of year.
Very young children should ride with an adult until they are confident to steer and stop by themselves.
Making snow angels is great fun for younger ones. Wear waterproof clothes to save getting too cold and wet. Adults can join in too to create a whole family of angels! Find some sticks or leaves or other biodegradable decorations to add faces to your handiworks.
Wrapping up warm and going out for a wintry walk can be a fantastic way to get some exercise after the indulgences of the festive period. If the snow makes it difficult, invest in some walking poles for a bit of ‘Nordic Walking’ and maybe a new found hobby for the whole family. And after a day enjoying the wintry weather, make sure there is a good supply of hot drinks and comforting snacks waiting when everybody returns to the warmth of indoors.
We can’t always guarantee snow in winter and, when it comes, it can sometimes be just a light sprinkling. Whilst this is pretty to look at, it doesn’t lend itself to typical winter outdoor activities. So here are a couple of other outdoor winter activities that don’t require any snow at all.
You may be lucky enough to have an indoor ice rink nearby, but otherwise look out for temporary ones in your area that sometimes spring up over the holiday time. Large shopping centres often have them so you can combine skating with Christmas shopping or bargain hunting in the sales. It is a good idea to wear gloves. A slip on the ice is all part of the fun but little fingers need to be protected from other peoples skate blades!
Snow Boarding and Skiing
Dry ski slopes are excellent for winter fun. All members of the family can try out snow boarding or skiing without the expense of flying off to find snow. This isn’t something that has to be saved for dry days either with more and more indoor snow centres appearing around the country. Look for lessons suited to everybody’s ability and you may soon have the confidence to head to the mountains!
Enjoy the sights and smells of a more traditional Christmas shopping experience at a Christmas Market. With rows of wooden chalets and the heady aroma of mulled wine and hot food in the air, it’s a brilliant way to support independent retailers and craftspeople whilst choosing more unique Christmas presents or just treating yourself!
II. Indoor Activities
It is often nice to spend time indoors during the Christmas holidays but there is still no need for children to be bored.
Have a ‘De-clutter’
If your children are expecting new toys and games for Christmas, encourage them to have a good look through their toy boxes, cupboards and drawers to see if there are items that they may have grown out of. Talk to them about children that may not be as lucky as them at Christmas and suggest that it may be a nice idea to donate toys that they no longer want to a local children’s charity. There are many places that would be grateful for donations. Let your children help in deciding where they would like them to go and make a special delivery before Christmas to make other children’s special Christmas too!
Making your own Christmas gifts is a thrifty and thoughtful way for children to give to relatives and friends. Cookies, chocolates and sweets are always lovely to receive, and even more special when they have been handmade. Present them in jars decorated with homemade tags and ribbons or get more creative with your packaging during another days activities. Another lovely baking activity at this time of year is making a gingerbread house. You can be very adventurous and make it from scratch or look for a kit from a cook shop. Choose plenty of colourful sweets to decorate it once it’s made for a wonderful centrepiece to your Christmas table. Use extra gingerbread to make cookies or decorations for the Christmas tree.
These are the perfect holidays for watching family films. With plenty on television and lots of DVDs coming out for Christmas, it should be fairly easy to find something to suit the whole family. Make an afternoon of it with snacks and drinks.
Enjoy a Good Book
Pick a good long book at the beginning of the holidays that you can read with your children. Maybe a classic that you’ve been meaning to read for a while or just something recommended by a friend. Whenever you feel the need for some quiet time indoors, get cosy with some blankets and mugs of hot chocolate and snuggle up together for a story.
Make a Photobook
There are many companies online now that can put together your photographs into a keepsake book to look back on in years to come. We may take many photographs but, in this digital age, rarely browse through them and they stay hidden in the computer. Have fun looking back over the photographs you have taken over the past year and let everybody choose some special ones to go into your photobook.
They also make lovely presents for relatives that you may not get to see as often as you’d like.
Theatre and Pantomime
There are many great shows on at Christmastime. If you can’t get to one of the larger ones there should be plenty on at your local theatre or have a look in your local newspaper for smaller amateur dramatic groups who may be putting on a show in your town. With familiar stories, songs and plenty of audience participation, pantomimes can become a great family tradition and something to look forward to if you book one for after the main holiday period. Try and get the whole family together or take some friends along for a magical evening out.
Once again, make the most of the changing seasons. Each one brings something different. This holiday in particular is one to spend with family and loved ones, enjoy the chance to spend more time together.