By Kathryn Trudeau
Christmas is almost here 一 and that means your kids are counting down the days until Christmas break! While sledding and building snowmen are classic winter activities, we’ve curated a list of indoor activities to keep your kids entertained and cozy.
1. Drive-In Movie Night
Movie nights are a great family activity, but the drive-in aspect takes movie night to the next level.
To make your movie night have a “drive-in” feel, you’ll need:
- Cardboard boxes (I’m not the only one who saves Amazon boxes in the basement, right?)
- Markers or crayons
- A projector and screen (optional)
- Lots of pillows and blankets
- Yummy snacks: popcorn, candy, trail mix, kid-friendly nibble boards, mini cupcakes, cheese and crackers, cookies, hot cocoa
- Cardstock or construction paper to make tickets for the movie theater
What to do:
- Use the markers and crayons to decorate the cardboard boxes to look like cars. These will be the “cars” your kids snuggle into while watching the movie.
- Load up the “cars” with blankets and pillows until you’ve achieved the perfect level of coziness.
- Set up the projector and screen to play the movie (or just set up the “cars” in front of the TV).
- When it’s time for the movie, collect the tickets from your kids and deliver the snacks to their “cars”.
You can even offer a double showing like most drive-in theaters do!
2. Go Snowman Bowling
Snowman bowling is fun and oh-so-much safer than lugging a real bowling ball into your living room. You’ll need:
- Six white styrofoam cups
- Black construction paper, cut into ½ inch circles
- Orange construction paper to make carrot noses
- Large white pom poms
- Turn the cups upside down and glue the faces onto the cups
- Stack the cups with three cups on the bottom level, two on the next row, and one snowman on top
- Let your child toss the giant white pom poms (the “snowballs”) at the tower of “snowmen”
3. Decorate Cookies!
What holiday activity list isn’t complete without mentioning cookie decorating!? Here are a few tips to make sure your cookie decorating party is as fun (and stress-free) as possible:
- If you’re using a buttercream frosting to ice your cookies, bake the cookies ahead of time so they have plenty of time to cool before you frost.
- If you want the icing that hardens (royal icing), be sure to have plenty of pastry bags on hand, but gallon-sized Ziploc bags will do in a pinch! Just fill the bag, zip it tight, twist the bag, snip a small segment off of one of the corners, and use it as a regular pastry bag. Voila!
- Choose a cookie recipe that doesn’t crumble and holds up well to the rigors of decorating. Good examples include sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, light spice cookies, golden buttery cookies.
- Line your kitchen table with cling wrap. This makes clean-up a breeze -- especially if you’re using buttercream frosting.
- If you’re using sprinkles, let your child decorate the cookies on top of a sheet pan or a pie dish. The edges of the pan will stop the sprinkles from rolling all over.
Make some hot cocoa, turn on the holiday tunes, and enjoy a cozy afternoon decorating cookies!
4. Candy Cane Hide-and-Seek
Take hide-and-seek to festive levels with candy cane hide-and-seek. The rules are simple: one person hides the candy cane somewhere in the house. Once the candy cane is hidden, everyone else looks for it. Whoever finds it first gets to hide it next.
5. Make DIY Suet Bird Feeders
Craft + feeding animals? Yes, please! These easy-to-make bird feeders are fun to make and good for the birds in your backyard.
- Pinecones (which you can look for on a nature walk!)
- Twine or string
- Bird seed
To make a bird feeder, cover the pinecone in suet, roll in bird seed, then simply hang them on branches in your backyard. You might find some recipes that use peanut butter instead of suet. The Audubon Society says that peanut butter is perfectly safe, but if you go that route, choose peanut butter that doesn’t contain added flavors or artificial sweeteners.
6. Make a Terrarium
Terrariums are self-sustaining mini-ecosystems. You can make them inside of fish bowls, mason jars, vases, or you can buy ready-to-go kits. What’s cool about terrariums is that they look like mini gardens or forests.
- A container
- Rocks (about marble-sized or even smaller like aquarium gravel)
- Activated charcoal
- Sterilized potting soil
- Small plants
You can add figurines, legos, fairies, and mini animal statues to your terrarium to make it even more personalized and unique.
To assemble your terrarium, add the following elements in order starting from the bottom of your jaw and working your way to the top:
- One inch of rocks (this helps with drainage)
- ½ inch thick layer of activated charcoal (this helps prevent fungi)
- Sterilized potting soil (amount varies depending on the size of your container, but aim for halfway)
- Plants -- don’t overcrowd them!
- Add decorative items
- Place in indirect light
If you opt for a kit, follow the instructions according to your package insert.
7. Learn a New Culinary Skill
Cooking isn’t just fun -- it’s a necessary life skill! Now that your kids have a break from school, Christmas break is the perfect time to teach an age-appropriate culinary skill to your child. Examples include making omelets, baking bread, making muffins, or even how to wash and prepare fresh berries.
8. Make a Diorama
Dioramas are a fun inside activity that is perfect on days when it’s too cold to venture outside. To make a diorama, you’ll create a mini model inside of a shoe box. Let your child pave the way. Minecraft diorama? Else diorama? You got it!
9. Sew a New Friend
Felt is relatively inexpensive and easy to find at local craft stores, and it can be the perfect way to let your child explore the idea of making their own stuffed animal...or monster… or robot… or mermaid. Stock up on a variety of colors and create a Make-Your-Own Critter craft session.
- Felt sheets
- Sewing kit
- Craft eyes
- Yarn for hair (optional)
Let your child sketch out the body of their critter. Remember you’ll need a front and back side. Allow your child to cut it (or cut it for them depending on their age and skill level.) Stuff the critter and sew/glue the sides up. Let your child create felt clothes or make hair from yarn.
DIY felt critters might not look perfect, but even the littles ones are excited to make their own stuffed animal. You can also make 2D versions and skip the stuffing aspect.
10. Reading by the Fire
This is a simple yet vastly underrated holiday break activity. The school year is oh-so-busy, and we sometimes forget to just be. Reading books by the fire is the definition of a hygge moment. For even more coziness, read by candlelight or firelight, brew some chamomile tea, and share your favorite winter tales.
What’s on Your Schedule?
Which winter activities are you looking forward to the most?