As crazy as the time leading up to Christmas break is, it’s easy to let the break slip away without accomplishing the fun (and not so fun) things you'd planned. While not necessarily a "Christmas break" for parents, this is your holiday season too. Keeping that in mind will help reduce holiday stress.
Simply keeping kids busy while you work at home may be one important goal, but still try to get the most out of your Christmas break with these ideas. Some are things we do every Christmas; some are things we mean to get to all year but don't, and some are things that just need to be done!
1. BakeFrom toddlers to teenagers, kids love the mixing and the measuring, but most of all, they love the treats at the end. As you teach kids to bake, scale holiday baking projects to your kids’ abilities and ages. Add activities to keep little kids engaged while you are doing more complicated baking tasks or simplify baking projects so that more experienced kid bakers can take the lead.
2. Put on a Talent ShowThis is an activity with so many possibilities! And it's great for all ages, including the grown ups. If you're working, the kids might put together a show and perform for you later. Or, the whole family could show off their talents for visiting guests--lip-syncing and dancing to a favorite song or just singing a few carols. (Grandparents are an enthusiastic audience!).
A show can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. This might mean sets, costumes, an original script and live music. Or absolutely none of that! Figure out what works best for your family. And if all your kids aren’t born performers, they can still enjoy writing, directing, set building or designing costumes.
3. DecorateNo one is as enthusiastic about holiday decorating than kids! They throw themselves into it with an energy most adults just don't have this time of year. And that's what makes decorating with kids so much fun. As kids get older, you may even put them in charge of decorating and strike it from your holiday to do list. I admit that idea scares me a little. I don’t necessarily want my house looking like a kid decorated it, but there are many elegant decorating projects kids can do.
4. Make GiftsHomemade gifts are a kid specialty. They love to make them; we parents love to get them. But homemade gifts don’t have to be just limited to Mother’s Day or just for parents. There are many gifts kids can make — either with close adult supervision or on their own. I love these gifts science geeks can make from About.com Chemistry Guide. But these definitely need adult supervision.
5. Join in Local Holiday EventsDrive through the lighting displays around town; go to firehouse train gardens; see a Christmas show at your local theater. There are countless special events this time of year, and many of them only come around once a year, so don’t let the holiday break slip by without stepping out. Find holiday events in your city.
6. Go Shopping“Shopping! Haven’t I done enough shopping already?” you say. This time, though, instead of shopping for the kids, shop with the kids. If you can pull it together to shop with the kids before Christmas to let them pick out of gifts, I applaud you.
But for many, taking kids shopping at the after-Christmas sales is a better bet. Funny how kids who think shopping is torture, change their tune when they have gift cards or cash they received as presents to spend.
7. Watch “Grown Up” TV With Your Kids
Keeping your kids from watching too much TV over Christmas break is always a challenge. But TV isn't all bad, especially if you watch together. Choose something you want to watch--a sport like football (there’s plenty this time of year!), a cooking show or documentary. Share your interests and knowledge with kids and they may develop an interest too. Happy family memories are forged during the holidays, so the time is ripe for them to look fondly upon the things you love.
Just don’t expect too much. Kids have short attention spans. For a program you really want to see, tape it so you can watch it without interruptions later.