Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year – but with the children off school and potentially a house full of guests, it can also be the most stressful time of the year.
With so much going on, and so much prepping to be done, it’s tempting to sit the kids down in front of the TV and let them watch the Muppet Christmas Carol yet again (do you know all the words to the songs yet?). But that isn’t exactly Christmas cheery. Instead, why not encourage the kids to pick an activity that will keep them both entertained and in the Christmas spirit? If you’re struggling to think of any, we’ve come up with seven to get you started.
1. Stage a nativity play
With all the focus on presents and festive food, the Christian story of Jesus’ birth is easily overlooked during the holidays. What better way to teach your children the nativity story than to encourage them to put on their own nativity play? Read the story together (it’s found in Luke, Matthew and John), then appoint one of the older children as director. To go the extra mile, give them old clothes and sheets they can turn into costumes and stage settings while you get on with your own preparations. Then grab a mince pie, sit back and enjoy the show!
2. Read books together
Christmas is a time of family and togetherness. Instead of gathering around a screen, stir up a pot of hot chocolate and ask the family to choose their most beloved Christmas books, then take turns to read aloud. You can find a list of heartwarming classics here, or pick your favorite Hero of Liberty.
3. Make paper snowflakes
White printer paper cut into squares and some child-friendly scissors are all you need for this classic Christmas activity. Show your children how to fold the paper square into half to make a triangle, then half again, and then into thirds (see here for step by step instructions). Once folded, they can cut away any shapes into the sides of the triangle, taking care not to cut all the way across, before folding out to reveal their six-sided snowflake. Pro-tip: lay down a bin liner or plastic sheet for them to cut over, so that the paper cut outs can be easily cleared away at the end.
4. Christmas origami
Snowflakes aren’t the only Christmas paper-craft you can make. Once your windows are covered in snowflakes of all shapes and sizes, you might want to move on to Christmas origami. Christmas stars are relatively easy for little fingers to fold, but you can also make trees, Santas and crackers. Don’t forget to hang them on your tree as ornaments, or string a few of them together to make a hanging decoration.
5. Write a letter to Santa
If Santa is going to bring presents, he’ll need to know what the children want. Letter writing has gone out of fashion in the internet age as we’ve all turned to email and text messages, but Santa still likes to get his letters in the mail. Writing a letter to Santa is a great way to teach old fashioned letter-writing skills and practice that cursive writing, plus once the letter is written, they can spend time decorating it. Send it via USPS and you’ll even get a reply.
6. Create Santa’s Grotto
If Santa is going to deliver presents, he’ll need somewhere to meet the children. Give a Christmas holiday twist to summertime’s forts and castles by building and decorating a Christmas grotto. Just like a fort, you can build it indoors or outdoors, using soft furnishings like cushions and sheets, or something more durable like logs and canvas. Decorate the grotto with elves, gingerbread cookies, and somewhere for the reindeer to keep warm while Santa makes his appearance to hand out presents.
7. Christmas Carol Concert
If your children are the theatrical type, nativity plays aren’t the only Christmas show in town. Have each child pick their favorite Christmas song or hymn, then encourage them to practice all the songs together as a group, before staging a show. You might want to invite the neighbors round for a glass of eggnog and Christmas cookies for this one (bonus activity – get your children to decorate the cookies in advance!)