Christmas Activities For Children And Families

No-one has the perfect answer to the question, ‘What shall we do with (or as) the kids over Christmas?’ But here are some day-by-day suggestions for the family during the Christmas / Winter Solstice week, with an indoor, an outdoor and a foodie activity for each date. Mix and match, with something for everyone, is the general approach. And, whatever you do, have fun.

The Christmas break, however we choose or not specifically to celebrate that festival, is a time when everyone wants to involve the younger members of the family, taking advantage of the opportunity to share interests, activities and food whilst people are at home together. Here is one brief set of suggestions for doing this, with ideas for younger and slightly older children. (There is also a list of activities for the New Year holiday, with some extra and ‘alternative’ activities; click here.) Most suggestions below are linked directly to free websites providing ideas on materials, ingredients and / or recipes, for easy reference.
Nearly every activity in the suggested day-by-day schedule which follows (addressed in the listing below directly to the children) can be done with just an individual child and adult, or with a group of friends, neighbours and visiting family. These ideas offer
* one outdoor activity,
* one indoor activity and
* one ‘fun’ cooking / eating experience
for each day of the Christmas week (from the Winter Solstice of 22 December), that is 22 – 28 December inclusive.

Mix and match the day-by-day activities
Whilst generally each foodie idea ‘matches’ the other activities for that day, these activities can of course be mixed around to suit the occasion and the general mood of any given date. As far as possible, the ideas require neither visits beyond the local neighbourhood nor buying in extra things. (For completeness those who take the role of Santa’s helpers will find at the very end of this article a list of items which he might consider adding to the children’s Christmas stockings / pillowcases, should these bits and pieces not already be available at home.)
So, take time together and enjoy; but please note, of course, that some activities require adult supervision (and perhaps preparation), and all should be checked for safety at the time of the activity. But who minds joining in with the kids when they’re having fun? That surely is what Christmas is really all about.

Herewith, then, a day-by-day list of Christmas week things you might do:

22 December(usually, the Solstice)
* Collect leaves, twigs and fir cones etc in the garden or park and, when they have dried, use them as Christmas decorations. (You can use e.g. silver paint, ribbons or sparkly string etc to do this if you like.)
* Make paper ‘angels’ or lanterns (no ‘real’ lights; and keep everything away from any heat) to hang on your Christmas tree or twigs.
* Bake some potatoes for when you get back from the park and add your favourite filling (baked beans, cheese, coleslaw…) just before you eat them. Serve them with soup and a salad or ‘finger fruit’ like grapes, satsumas and dates. Use your imagination to make an easy, colourful meal.

23 December
* Remember this is a difficult time of year for birds, so leave out some bird food and, if you can, plan ahead by putting up a bird box somewhere (out of reach of local cats!). You could see how long it takes the birds to start feeding on the food you’ve put out. It might be interesting to watch and see how many different species of bird come at various times, and perhaps also start a photo record of this for over the Christmas period, if you have a camera.
* Start to make some papier mache puppets or other items. This will take quite a few days to complete because you have to wait at each stage for the models to dry, before you can go on to the next one. But you could use this time to plan a little performance or to find another way to use what you make, if it’s not puppets. This can be a sticky business, so wear an apron and try not to get glue everywhere.
* Make jelly in a mold, ready for Christmas Eve. (You can add frothed evaporated milk to the jelly mix instead of some of the water if you like, to get a ‘layered’ effect when you turn it out tomorrow.) Again, try not to get too sticky!

24 December (Christmas Eve)
* Take a walk around the neighbourhood to do a ‘chimney survey’ of your street, as a guide for Father Christmas when he calls after you’re asleep tonight. For your survey you will need sharp eyes, a notepad and a pencil. Later on, you might like to use your drawings to make a picture of the skyline where you live.
* It’s Christmas Eve, so you must sing some songs this evening! Make a ‘choir’ of your friends and family. After your concert you can share the jelly that you made yesterday. (Dip the mold in warm water before you tip the jelly out, carefully.)
* Obviously, you need to make some mince pies to leave for for Santa and his reindeer when they call tonight – but no harm in everyone in your ‘choir’ munching a few of these pies whilst they’re still warm from the oven, along with the beautifully turned out jelly.

25 December (Christmas Day)
* There will already be lots to do with the family today, so why not just take a little time for fresh air outside with a new skipping rope or hula hoop or something similar? If there are a few children around, you could do some skipping games, too.
* A traditional party game for Christmas Day is charades. This is great fun and can be fitted in after tea / supper, when people often want to just sit and relax. This game gives you time when the other team is ‘performing’ to take it easy too.
* No cooking by the children today – but you can plan ahead by sowing some mustard and cress seeds somewhere out-of-the-way, in the hope that in a week or two there will be lovely fresh cress to make egg sandwiches for everyone. (Don’t forget that the seeds will need to be kept damp until they’ve grown and are ready to cut.)

26 December (Boxing Day)
* The perfect day for a treasure hunt with family and friends. Some of the adults (or older teenagers) will need to make the arrangements and hide the treasure somewhere it’s safe to go, so there is an opportunity here for everyone to get out and about.
* Whilst the adults are sorting the treasure hunt you can wrap up little presents for a big game of pass the parcel. after tea. Don’t forget to add some ‘forfeits’ and small gifts into each layer of the parcels!
* Gingerbread ‘men’ are also a traditional part of Christmas. Make some before your treasure hunt in the morning, adding currant ‘eyes’ before they are baked, and then decorate them with icing sugar later on, when they have cooled down. Eat them for your supper, if you can wait that long.

27 December
* Have a quiet hour outside, making a miniature garden on a tray with moss, tiny twigs and other very small plants and stones etc which you find around your house or flat. If you want to, you can see how much like a small ‘real’ garden you can make this miniature one, by caring for it over the next week or two.
* You will want to get your thank you notes written and posted off. Why not make some nice notelets by sticking cut-out designs from saved Christmas wrapping paper onto your letters before you write them, choosing pictures each person you write to will like?
* Bake something savoury to nibble as you write your notes. There are lots of versions of that firm favourite, cheese straws, so experiment a bit with different cheeses or condiments and herbs as you make them.

28 December
* Make a mystery trail today, either in the garden or in your local park, for your friends and family to follow. (If you are going to the park or another public place, be sure to take an adult with you.) Do a bit of research first on how people like the Amerindians or Indigenous Australians (‘Aborigines’) traditionally left signs or clues about where things are, using skills which were developed over centuries in many places. You can offer a prize or a certificate (you can design one specially) for the first person to get all the way round your mystery trail.
* Learn how to play the indoors games of marbles or ‘fives’ / ‘jacks’. If there are a few of you playing, make up teams and have a competition.
* Make vegetable kebabs for supper, to serve with rice. You can prepare the ingredients earlier in the day and then cook them at the same time as you boil the rice.

[New Year activities and Santa’s list in preparation]

Posted on December 14, 2005, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Education, Health And Welfare, Events And Notable Dates, Sustainability As If People Mattered, Ten Things To Do Before You Turn Age..., The Journal and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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