Christmas is a wonderful time of year. But one thing I could do without is winter. I’m not a fan of cold weather. Mostly because my kids’ energy levels don’t change with the seasons. This time of year calls for indoor activities that you can do with the family. And since my energy level does change by the season (I think I was a hibernating bear in a past life), my activities need to be easy and fairly prep-free.
Some of the activities on this top ten list are “holiday” themed, but not all. You can definitely add holiday flare to those that aren’t.
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What You’ll Need
I like to keep a craft bin ready to go at all times. You never know when bad weather will hit and you’ll have to keep the rugrats occupied indoors for an undetermined amount of time. For my holiday activities, I’m prepped with:
- Masking tape
- Magnets (I prefer the sheets that you can cut to size)
- Construction paper
- Cotton balls
- Toilet paper, paper towel, gift wrap rolls
- Paper bags
- Ping pong balls
- Paint chip samples (the kind with color families – 2 of each color chosen)
- Paper plate
1. Reverse Advent
This is the only activity that is stretched over the course of the entire holiday season. And it’s not really an activity, more of an idea.
Do you suffer from post-Christmas stress as you try to find a place for all the new stuff everyone got? Yea, me too. Why not clear out some space before Christmas as part of your count-down-till-Christmas traditions?
Leading up to Christmas, ask every person in your family to select one item to donate each day. It could be toys, games, clothes, books…anything they don’t use anymore that’s in good enough condition to be donated. Place a box for donations in the kitchen or at the bottom of your steps – someplace it will be seen and not forgotten. Every day, an item is added to the box. If you start on December 1, you’ll have 24 items from each person to donate by Christmas day! This kind of activity gives you the chance to talk about giving and helping others while also clearing out space so you’re not too overwhelmed after Christmas.
As a family, you can decide where you want to donate your items. There may be a local organization your kids know about from school who could use donations. Or you can check out Charity Navigator for ideas.
2. Toilet Paper Tunnels
Since I’m lazy and hate shopping, I prefer to find things around the house I can use for fun activities. And there is nothing more plentiful in my home than empty toilet paper rolls.
Buddy is a huge fan of cars and making them go fast. So we taped a bunch of toilet paper and paper towel rolls together to make a tunnel. We put one end on a couch and the other on the ground and raced our cars through it. If you have enough rolls, you could race your cars down the staircase. But be sure to put a pillow at the end, otherwise you’ll have dents in your wall. (Or so I’ve heard.)
Older kids might have fun figuring out ways to cut the rolls to make bends and turns. I usually stick to straight tunnels, otherwise Buddy gets bored. And I abort (a.k.a. trash it) as soon as the tunnel becomes a sword.
3. Toilet Paper Tube Tracks
Take those toilet paper rolls and stick magnets on the back of them and you have yourself a DIY ball maze. You may have seen these at children’s museums, usually with PVC pipe. You can arrange the tubes on the fridge so a ping pong ball can be dropped in the top and zig zag through the tubes to land in a cup that you place at the bottom. Your kids can use the tubes as they are or cut them to make the track a little more exciting.
This is a great introduction to gravity and basic physics if you want to get into that. But try not to overpower the funness with a science lesson. They’ll pick up on it as they play.
(I forgot to take a picture last time we did this but I’ll add one later, I promise!)
4. Color Matching
If you have a craft box, you probably have clothespins. If you don’t and you have toddlers, get some. This particular activity takes a little prep but it’s easy. And I’ve been surprised at how long this can entertain my kids.
Go to a paint store and pick up a handful of color family paint chips. You’ll need 2 of each color you pick. Cut strips out of one of the two chips and glue them to your clothespins. Mix the pins up and give them and the in tact paint chip to your child and have her to match the colors.
It’s a nice activity that I use when Turtle is sleeping and I need Buddy to play quietly. It’s a fun way to practice colors and opening and closing clothes pins is great exercise for the small muscles in your hand. This will help your preschoolers with scissors and pen control later on.
Again, I can’t express how helpful clothes pins are if you’ve got little ones. All you need for this are clothespins, string and socks, small clothes or construction paper. Tie your string across 2 chairs and ask your kids to hang their laundry. I’m always shocked by how much fun they have pinning up their clothes.
For extra scissor practice, you can also draw clothes on construction paper and ask your preschooler to cut it out and hang each piece.
6. Paper Plate Wreath
A preschool craft classic. Grab your cheapo paper plates and some construction paper and get to work.
Cut a hole in the middle of the paper plate to start. On the construction paper, trace hands, feet or draw different shapes and cut them out. On each piece, you can write things you’re thankful for, or things you love, draw pictures or leave it blank. Glue each piece on your paper plate and you have a wreath. If you want to hang it, I recommend punching a hold through the plate at the top and hang it from a string.
7. Ping Pong Toss
Ping pong toss is a fun game but, be prepared, it can get out of control. I only break it out when the kids are really restless and need to get some energy out.
Set out some paper bags (the lunch bag kind – nothing fancy) in a hallway. Give your kids a set number of ping pong balls (keep it low…for your sanity) and have them toss the balls into the bags. If you have stickers or temporary tattoos lying around, you could throw those in the bags as little carnival prizes.
8. Balloon Faces
Blow up some balloons and draw faces on them. Silly and fun. Done and done.
9. Balloon Basketball/Volleyball
Take the balloons that you just drew on and play indoor basketball or volleyball. Our volleyball net is usually imaginary. Our basketball “goal” is usually a chair or couch.
10. Snowman Fridge
This is my favorite seasonal craft. We live in Southern Indiana and, although it gets cold, we rarely get “snowman” snow. Our fridge is where we build the snowman of our dreams.
It’s especially easy if you have a white fridge. Grab yourself some construction paper, magnets and holiday wrapping paper. Cut out black circles for your snowman’s eyes, mouth and buttons. Make an orange triangle for a nose. Make a hat however you want. Since Buddy did all the cutting, we drew two rectangles, one big and one skinny and long, and I let him put the hat together. Stick magnets on the back of each piece and have your little one build a snowman. Last but not least, tape the wrapping paper across the fridge for the snowman’s scarf.
If your freezer is on top, the freezer door would be the face and refrigerator door would be the body. Your scarf could go on the top of the refrigerator door. If you have stainless steel, you can make a steel snowman or tape a roll of white paper down the length of the refrigerator.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably forget all about these activities as soon as you close your browser or lock your phone. That’s why I’ve got a FREE PRINTABLE for ya! Print it out and hang it on your fridge or throw it in your craft box. You can use it as inspiration next time you need ideas.
Tell me…what kinds of things do you do to entertain your kids when the family is home from work and school?