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36 Unplugged Things to Do With Kids on Winter Break

36 Unplugged Things to Do With Kids on Winter Break


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” all day long! This year I’m determined to be prepared with a calendar of fun activities to keep boredom at bay without breaking my holiday budget. Here are some budget-friendly things to do with your kids on winter break!

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This article originally posted on December 17th, 2016 and has been updated and republished with a new date.

Looking for Things to Do With Kids on Winter Break?

Put down the cell phone and step away from the television. There are lots of winter break activities to do with the whole family!

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?

Creating family holiday traditions with kids on winter break is a way of strengthening the season’s celebration and bonding within the family.

But there are great ways to add a twist to make this holiday season vacation time more exciting!

These 12 Christmas traditions for kids keep things simple and memorable for the entire family this holiday season.

For sure there are things to do outside of the home, including donating your time to volunteer. However for this list of things, I’ve only included activities 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 are doing activities in the holiday spirit after the calendar date. It also helps extend the season.

Keep reading for easy and inexpensive ways to brighten the holidays for kids of all ages on Christmas break.

Create 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. 

Pine Cone Trees

These Pine Cone Christmas Trees (from Town ‘n Country Living) are so pretty decorating a holiday tabletop or fireplace mantel. My kids and I made these last year on holiday break, so they were all ready for this year’s decor!

We have pine trees lining our street so finding them was easy enough for us. If you don’t have them readily available, Ponderosa Pine Cones are sold online.

12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break
Photo Credit & Link from Town & Country Living

Christmas Tree Kisses

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”!

Photo credit: It All Started With Paint

Have a Pajama Day

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 games. Download the free Christmas Edition Danger Word printable from my friend Becca at This Crazy Adventure Called 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.

Indulge in 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!

Hot Cocoa Bar

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!)

Image credit: Little Spice Jar

Have a North Pole Breakfast

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!

Table set up for North Pole Breakfast

Make a 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.

Canvas Painting

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:

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Mixed-Media Winter Wonderland

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.

Design Window Scenes

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.

Draw on the Windows

Try using these Crayola Washable Window Markers to make clean up easy. These images from Happy Serendipity using white chalk markers are inspiring!

Photo Credit: Happy Serendipity

Reusable Window Decals

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!

Winter Fun Snowflakes

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

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 (around $5 for 200 – you can make a lot of snowflakes!)

Image credit: The Pink Couch

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 over the years. 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 requires quite a bit of cutting.

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.

Photo credit: Sewlicious Home Decor

Essential Winter Fun Outdoor Activities

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!

Take an Outdoor Nature Walk

My family has made a Christmas morning walk one of our traditions. I love this Winter Scavenger Hunt printable from Out Grown. It covers many of the senses including what to look for, smell, listen for and touch.

View Light Displays

You likely know the best place to see Christmas lights (if you don’t, ask your friends online). Pack your own snacks and bundle up warm for the neighborhood walk to view holiday lights.

Snow Day

Burn off excess energy in the chilly weather with outdoor games like snow tubing and snowman building.

Even if you don’t live in an area that receives snow, there may be inexpensive local places to find winter season activities, like ice skating.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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.

Consider Hosting a Cookie Exchange with friends and family, using these fun ideas for a memorable event.

Add a New Favorite to Your Repertoire

Baking specific seasonal cookies, like these yummy Cranberry Cake Bars, is a great way to inspire a holiday feeling.

Decorate Sugar Cookies

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!

Best Practical Holiday Gifts for Kids

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.

Play “keepie-uppie” with an empty wrapping paper tube and balloons.

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.

Elf on the Shelf holding two peppermint sticks
99 cent store candy cane striped wrapping paper as a table covering

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.

Look back on the year, writing up a Family Time Capsule. Try these free printables and ideas from Kitchen Table Classroom. This is a particularly great New Year’s Eve activity!

For older kids, try this free Christmas Scattergories printable from Confessions of Parenting.

Have the younger children 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.

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!)

Paint Your Own House

This Lasercut Gingerbread House on Etsy has become my new favorite Christmas decoration! The house comes unassembled and unpainted so you can decorate it however you want.

Decorate a Faux Gingerbread House

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!

Alternatives to Gingerbread

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.

Schedule an End of the Year Play Date

When the siblings get tired of playing with each other, plan a play date with friends from school.

Take turns hosting with other friends so that each parent gets a break.

Set up ground rules ahead of time, like only a certain amount of the day can be spent on video games. Put away new toys that children just received for Christmas and may not want to share.

Get Holiday Titles from the Local Library

Okay, so you’ve done all the unplugged activities and you’re ready to relax in front of the TV.

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.

If you want to include television, check out these Christmas Movie Night Ideas for Kids. You’re sure to get some easy ideas from this list of good movie tips for the family.

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

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