As I've said before, we have a very tiny extended family and as much as the four of us love being together, sometimes it's a struggle to come up with unique activities to make a holiday extra-special. Christmas is a bit easier than others because of the novelty of the presents, but let's be honest. The kids are going to spend 5 minutes playing with their toys and 15 playing with the boxes. Then what? And what if you don't celebrate the Yule? Here are some suggestions for activities that might help make Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at least a bit noteworthy, if not downright fun. Note that pre-planning in the form of research or purchasing materials may be required, but making the day special is worth the effort.
- Have a family scavenger hunt. We've been doing this
for years and my kids LOVE it. I write rhyming notes with clues
leading to the next clue, and so forth, building up the excitement
until the last one which leads to a prize which could be as simple
as a candy cane. An example of a clue is: “This clue is clean
and not a willow. You can find it under a _____ (answer: pillow).”
When my daughter was little, my son would read it to her; now that
she's reading, however, she can decipher some of the clues herself.
- Conduct a Family Olympics. Decide on events (relay
races, calisthenics, board games, etc.) and make it a competition.
Winner gets to eat the first Christmas cookie.
- Prepare and feast on special foods. This is the day
we splurge on Costo's best and treat ourselves to hors d'ouvres for
dinner. Pigs In A Blanket, anyone?
- Be a tourist in your own town. More and more venues
are staying open on Christmas. Call around or check online. There
are also places you don't need to go in to enjoy. Visit a park, see
a monument, or the outside of historic churches.
- Do some family crafts. Head down to your local crafts
store for the materials to paint your own t-shirt or backpack, make
jewelry, decorate a trinket box, etc. Or check out Pinterest,
Parents.com, Spoonful.com (http://spoonful.com/crafts) for other crafting ideas.
- Play games. I mentioned in one of my Thanksgiving posts that the free Thanksgiving bingo game I'd printed out was a big hit with my daughter and her grandmothers. Here's the link to a Christmas bingo that will please young and old alike: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/printablechristmasgames/ss/Christmas-Bingo-Game-Cards.htm. That site also features mazes, coloring pages, and a Christmas Song Picture Game while and Tools For Educators offers free Christmas worksheets (http://www.toolsforeducators.com/christmas.php) that you can do with your kids. Note that these sites also offer non-Yule games which are lots of fun.
- Read a religious story. It is a religious day, after
all, even if it's not your religion. Grab a Bible or another
spiritual work and give it good read. If you've got kids, it's a
great day to discuss what some of the world's major religions
- Rent a hotel room. If it's within your budget, find a
hotel (perhaps one with a spa or indoor pool) and enjoy it's
facilities for a night.
- Build a Gingerbread House. Part craft, part food, you
don't have to be an expert to build one. CookingWithMyKid.com
has simple instructions on how to make one out of graham crackers.
- Camp Out In Your House. Grab some sleeping bags and head to the living room or den. Picnic on an old sheet and (carefully) roast marshmallows over a candle. Pretend you're outdoors or build a tent out of blankets and sleep in there.
As always, thank you for reading! Please check back in with me on Christmas Eve for my list of some of the best online Christmas activity sites (and if your kids want to see what the reindeer are doing before Christmas, log onto the Reindeer Cam at http://reindeercam.com).