By Brittany Carlson
Are you looking for some new Christmas-themed games and activities to try with your kids this month?
Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Go on a Christmas-themed Scavenger Hunt
Kids love a good scavenger hunt (and let’s be honest — adults do too). A fun way to incorporate Christmas lights into the fun would be to go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt in the neighborhood. Items to find could include a snowman, Nativity, train, snow globe, Santa, Rudolph, Christmas tree, etc. You can find a printable list online or make your own. (Bonus: This is a great way to occupy the kids between dinner and bedtime).
If you don’t have many lights in your neighborhood, try driving to other neighborhoods or check out a drive-through Christmas light display.
You can also plan an indoor hunt, like my friend Amy. She creates a candy cane scavenger hunt for her kids on Christmas morning to keep them busy while the adults get read.
There are also indoor hunts that last all month.
This year, my kids and I started using “Shepherd’s Treasure,” an alternative to Elf on a Shelf offered by Sleeping Baby that focuses on the story of Jesus’ birth. Every night while the kids are asleep, I put our stuffed shepherd (christened “David” by the kids) in a different place around the house (on top of the Christmas tree, in the bookshelf, over the fireplace, etc)., and pose him doing a special activity that we will then get to do together, such as decorating cookies for the neighbors or writing Christmas cards. In the morning, the boys search around the house until they find him, and then we read that day’s Scripture verse (the kit comes with an Advent card with a verse and activity suggestion for Dec. 1-25). On Christmas morning, the kids will find David with baby Jesus to culminate the search.
The Shepherd’s Treasure kit comes with a shepherd, baby Jesus in a manger, Advent cards and a book to read at the start of your hunt explaining the shepherd’s mission to find Jesus. Check out more information on the Shepherd’s Treasure at www.sleepingbaby.com/collections/shepherds-treasure.
Make Christmas Ornaments Together
My kids love making ornaments for our tree. Years ago, we made salt dough ornaments with their handprints, which we baked in the oven and painted. You could also sculpt salt dough into Christmas shapes and make holes for a hook or ribbon to fit through. Allrecipes.com has a simple salt dough ornament recipe at www.allrecipes.com/recipe/11126/dough-ornament-recipe/.
We’ve also used ink and paper to make fingerprint ornaments. The kids dipped their fingers in red ink for Santa Claus (we drew a white beard and hat around the fingerprint to make his head) and in brown ink for Rudolph (we drew his antlers and glued mini red puff balls on for his nose). These make fun keepsake gifts for them to give to family members too. Check Pinterest for more fun fingerprint ornament ideas.
Create Your Own Board Game
I got this idea from my friend Jennifer, who used to make her own board games at Christmas time as a child. “We used construction paper, made our own game pieces with cardboard and took dice from another game,” she said. “It was so fun!”
This is a great way to get your kids to use their imaginations. My boys and I tried making our own version of chutes and ladders with borrowed dice and figurines and it was a big hit. We even re-worked Candyland once to include unicorns and a candy party at the end — the sky is the limit.
Get Creative With Cookies!
Make “Ninja Bread” men or a graham cracker Nativity together. This can be as fancy as baking your own gingerbread, or as simple as using graham crackers and frosting.
My boys and I made “Ninja Bread” men this year from a kit I found at Aldi. This is basically just gingerbread men shaped to be kicking or punching, with icing to give them masks and costumes. You could look for ninja cookie cutters for this, or just cut the shapes yourself. As a mom of two little boys, I can say this was by far their favorite way to enjoy gingerbread.
A graham cracker Nativity scene only requires graham crackers for the barn and gum drops or marshmallows for the characters, with frosting or toothpicks to put them together. There is a fun step-by-step tutorial for making a graham cracker Nativity at https://www.thinkingkidsblog.org/graham-cracker-nativity-scene.
Deck the Windows with Christmas!
Window clings are just colorful gel shapes that stick to a smooth hard surface, like the windows. I found some Christmas-themed window clings at Aldi, but I’ve also seen them at the Target dollar spot or at the dollar store.
This is the simplest activity with the least planning required, yet my kids love “decorating” the windows with them. They can move the shapes around to make new designs too, so this activity can last all month. Best of all, the clings are easy to clean up, and if they fall and get dirty, you can rinse them with water to reuse.
These ideas can be as simple or involved as you’d like. Heat up some cocoa, put on some Christmas music, and enjoy some holiday playtime with the kids. The best part of any activity you choose is that you get to do it together.
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