The winter break is upon us and that means two full weeks with the kids at home. It can either be two weeks of fun or two weeks of hearing, “I’m BORED” 473 times a day! This year I’m determined to be prepared with a calendar of activities to keep boredom at bay without breaking my holiday budget. Here are 12 budget-friendly things to do with your kids on winter break!
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Kids on Winter Break?
We’ve had a lot of togetherness and family time in 2020. I’ve previous shared fun things to do with kids at home. So how can we make this year’s winter break special for the kids? I feel like we’ve had our share of movie nights and board games but there are ways to add a holiday twist to make this vacation time more exciting!
Creating family holiday traditions with kids on winter break is a way of strengthening the season’s celebration and bonding within the family. For sure there are things to do outside of the home, including donating your time to volunteer. However I’ve only added activities to this list that can be done in or around the house. Also don’t be concerned about doing Christmas type things after December 25th. Your kids don’t care if you’re watching Christmas movies after the holiday date, and it helps extend the season. Keep reading for easy and inexpensive ways to brighten the holidays for the kids on winter break.
Seasonal Tabletop Craft Decor
Kids love to create and all the better when it’s something to add style and charm to your seasonal decor. Add a bit of joy to the house with a simple centerpiece craft. These decorations should be easy to complete and not cost a fortune to recreate.
These Pine Cone Christmas Trees (from Town ‘n Country Living) would be so pretty decorating a holiday tabletop or fireplace mantel. I plan on making these with the kids on winter break. We have pine trees lining our street so finding them will be easy enough. If you don’t have them readily available Ponderosa Pine Cones are sold online.
Photo Credit & Link from Town & Country Living
These adorable Christmas Tree Kisses from It All Started With Paint couldn’t be easier. Green scrapbook paper, Scotch Tape, toothpicks and a bag of Hershey’s Kisses – you’ll have yourself a cute and kid-friendly Christmas craft. After dinner, kids can eat the “Kiss-Mas Trees”!
Declare a vacation PJ Day! No work allowed, just comfortable fun at home, lounging and relaxing together. Wear your family matching pajamas from Primary, they are bright, colorful and so cozy! Here are a few easy pajama day ideas.
- Stack up all those holiday books and pile the pillows and blankets on the floor in the living room for a cozy day in your pajamas.
- Make a blanket fort.
- Dressing up in holiday pajamas is a fun way to put a twist on the traditional family board game time. Check out this list of the Best Disney Board Games from my friend Becca at Love This Crazy Life.
- Enjoy a special meal, eaten on the floor, picnic-style.
- Have a holiday dance party in the living room, singing and dancing to Christmas music.
- Maybe more so than any other year, this has been one to remember! Look back on the year, writing up a Family Time Capsule. Try these free printables and ideas from Kitchen Table Classroom.
Holiday Art Project
Without the school interruptions, kids on winter break have the time to work on a longer project. Consider one of these holiday art projects and be rewarded with a beautiful and unique creation.
My child made this painting in school but it would be easy enough to recreate at home. Give each child a canvas, acrylic paints and a brush and let them create their own winter scene that you can pull out with the decorations each year. To make your own painting you’ll need the following:
This mixed media Winter Landscape Art Project from I Heart Crafty Things uses around-the-house items like newspaper and bubble wrap to create a one-of-a-kind art piece.
Decorative holiday window scenes are a favorite for those living in the city, when large department stores feature wildly creative displays. Creating a festive window scene at home can be a welcome sign to the neighborhood of your holiday cheer!
When I was a girl my grandparents let me use acrylic paints on the inside of the living room windows to create a holiday scene. I wish I had a picture to show you! It was a highlight of our season and we painted new scenes every year. Try using these Crayola Washable Window Markers to make clean up easy. These images from Happy Serendipity using white chalk markers are inspiring!
My other grandmother had the cutest retro window clings and we’d decorate with those and rearrange them throughout the season. These White Snowflakes Window Clings can be arranged by the kids as often as they wish!
Holiday Titles from the Library
Yes, with so many streaming services available online, you can often find a wide range of holiday entertainment. However nothing compares to free, and local libraries are a great place to find what you’re looking for! Pick up a few new seasonal story books, music CDs or videos from the library for entertainment this holiday. You can often reserve them in advance online as well.
Pile up a stack of those Christmas movies and books then work your way through them with the kids on winter break. I recently picked up A Christmas Story which my kids hadn’t seen but is one of my absolute favorites! My preschooler loves The Polar Express so we’ve already seen that one several times this year!
Cutting out paper snowflakes is a perfect activity for overachievers. It’s okay if your snowflake doesn’t look exactly like mine, because ALL snowflakes are unique! Ideal for kids with adequate scissor skills, invest in a sharp pointy pair, like these inexpensive Titanium Softgrip Detail Scissors
Coffee filter Snowflakes like these from The Pink Couch are easy for older kids to make and look so pretty taped to a window or strung in a garland. Cheap and easy entertainment and decor in one. To make this craft you’ll need plain Coffee Filters (under $5 for 200 – you can make a lot of snowflakes!)
Snuggly Knotted Blanket Making
This one is easy enough for older kids to make on their own. I’ve made lots of Knotted Fleece Blankets and they are great for cuddling, crafting as gifts or for donating. Try this tutorial from Sewlicious Home Decor. You’ll need a good, sharp pair of scissors because it require quite a bit of cutting. But the cozy soft blanket you’ll have at the end is worth it! Purchase winter fleece fabric by the yard and these Fabric Scissors with Comfort Grip.
Kids on winter break get stir crazy from being cooped up inside. Bundle up and head outside for some fresh air and a blast of nature! My family has made a Christmas morning walk one of our traditions. I love this Winter Scavenger Hunt printable from Hike It Baby. It covers many of the senses including what to look for, smell, listen for and touch.
Kids love to help in the kitchen! With kids on winter break, you can take the time to teach children about your special baking techniques and how to prepare your favorite treats. Baking specific seasonal cookies, like these yummy Cranberry Cake Bars, is a great way to inspire a holiday feeling.
Consider hosting a Holiday Cookie Exchange with friends and family, using these updated methods for a safe event. Lots of seasonal recipes, with over 100 cookies to try and bake at home!
If cut-out sugar cookies are your thing, I highly recommend this recipe from SweetSugarBelle that uses powdered (confectioners sugar) instead of granulated. These cookies are melt-in-your-mouth yummy! This is also where you’ll find the perfect recipe and tutorials for making royal icing. You might not be able to decorate quite as fantastically detailed as she does, but here is some inspiration! Seriously, are those too cute to eat or what?!
Photo credit from Sweet Sugarbelle
Wrapping Paper Games
Wrapping paper can be a reasonably inexpensive item, especially if you shop for it at the dollar store. If you haven’t finished up wrapping gifts, let your kids have at the tape and paper. Let your kids finish wrapping gifts for friends and family. Then check out these other wrapping paper ideas!
- My friend Britni at Play Party Plan has tons of Christmas Themed Minute to Win It Games, including some that use wrapping paper.
- Empty wrapping paper cardboard tubes can be used for several things. One Christmas, my Dad used acrylic paint to make them red and white striped like a candy cane. He then slipped them around metal stair railings for a cute decoration.
- My boys always use the empty wrapping paper tubes as mock light sabers.
- Cheap wrapping paper is a great table runner. Just cut to fit and lay it over your tabletop and add whimsy to your holiday setting.
Delightful Holiday Treats
Make all those holiday songs that are filled with sugar plums and candy canes come to life with a bounty of seasonal treats at home! These holiday treat ideas don’t have to be fancy or over-the-top. Most kids are just happy with a few extra marshmallows in their cocoa!
Throw a spontaneous North Pole Breakfast for the kids during winter break. It’s a great way to kick off their vacation time. Many kids would be thrilled with simple powdered doughnuts and candy cane-striped fruit salad!
Before you head out into the neighborhood to look at the decorations and lights, warm up bellies with hot cocoa. Check out these ideas for creating a Hot Chocolate Bar at Home from Little Spice Jar (hot cocoa bombs optional!)
Printable Holiday Activities
The internet is a plethora of seasonal freebies, if you know where to look! These are a few must-have printables to entertain the kids on winter break. Make sure your printer is filled with fresh ink – the HP Instant Ink program is my favorite so I’m always prepared for full color printing.
Have the kids write their Letters to Santa before Christmas, using these free printables. It will not only give you ideas for a last-minute gift, but it’s also a sweet memento of the year.
- For older kids, try this free Christmas Scattergories printable from Confessions of Parenting.
- My friend Jessica at The Happiest Blog on Earth shares her ISpy Disney Holiday at Home printable activity for kids. This printable is only $1 cost, well worth it!
Gingerbread House Decorating
Decorating gingerbread is a holiday tradition! There are unique ways to put a twist on tradition including the way we decorate the gingerbread (or faux gingerbread houses in some cases!)
This Lasercut Gingerbread House from Pew Pew Lasercraft on Etsy has become my new favorite Christmas decoration! The house comes unassembled and unpainted so you can decorate it however you want.
- The Candy Cottage Gingerbread House looks like it’s made of cookie but is really sturdy plastic. All you need is your own icing and candy and you can decorate the house without risk of it toppling over! A big bag of Star Brites Peppermint Starlight Mints is a must!
- Looking for an easy and edible gingerbread house? Try this tutorial for Rice Krispies Treats Gingerbread Houses from my friend Karen at Desert Chica.
- I love the “gingerbread” house made of graham crackers. Did you know that Honey Maid actually makes gingerbread crackers and chocolate grahams? This Graham Cracker House from Our Best Bites is a petite size that kids can tackle on their own and enjoy the snack when they’re done!
Photo Credit: Our Best Bites.
How will you be spending winter break with the kids? Share with me in the comments!
This article originally posted on December 17th, 2016 and has been updated and republished.