"‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; the children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads..." As you hear the 19th-century poem that was published on Dec. 23, 1823, in the Troy Sentinel newspaper in upstate New York, what thoughts come to your mind? Do you think of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping? Do you think of the smell of fresh baked cookies coming from the kitchen or of fresh cut pine from the Christmas tree? When asked what are your favorite Christmas memories, many will say it is of the time spent with family.
At this time of year, many children are home from school to celebrate this holiday season with their loved ones. During this break, it is a great time to make those family holiday memories. We have put together a list of "Twelve Days of Christmas Break" to help your family come up with some new Family tradition memories.
1) Visiting Loved Ones
Caroling: Pick a few of your favorite holiday songs to sing and visit loved ones with your family or a group of friends. Caroling with a plate of yummy treats is always a bonus. Hereis a collection of songs for you to choose from to help spread the holiday cheer through song.
Gifts for Neighbors: Do you know your neighbors? This is a great time to make (or purchase) baked goods to deliver to your them and to introduce yourself.
Visit a Nursing Home: Check with a local nursing home to see if there is a time you and your family could drop by to spread holiday cheer to those who reside there.
Visiting family: This is a great time to visit Aunt Sally or Uncle George to help bring the spirit of the season to their lives.
Random acts of kindness: Do you have a neighbor that may need a little extra hand? Maybe your family could offer to help with hanging their lights, shoveling their walkway, or find another way to offer a random act of kindness for your neighbors.
"You've been Elfed!: This is a great way to spread the cheer with your neighbors. Place a sign (We have linked a free option) stating that they have been "Elfed" with a treat. Include instructions to copy the door sign and instructions to spread the cheer along.
Homeless Shelter: 'Tis the season to give service. Find ways in your community to give back by donating your time to service.
Soup Kitchen: Another great way to give back through service is by helping those less fortunate than you by helping to feed the hungry.
Food Bank: A great way to serve your community is by donating non-perishable food to your local food banks. Be sure to check the food goods to make sure they have enough shelf life in them and they have not expired.
Donating: This is an excellent time of year to clean out the closets and donate the items to a local homeless shelter, a donation closet, women's shelter, etc.
3) Cold Weather Activities
Sledding: Is there a giant hill in your neighborhood where all the children go or do you have a favorite spot that sledding is ideal? Sledding can be a great activity for the family. Be sure to dress warm and remember to keep safety in mind. Hereis an excellent article about sledding safety.
Snowball Fights: A classic snowball fight is always fun. Whether it be a "one on one" snowball fight or by teams. Don't forget to purchasesnowball makers to help with the process.
Snow Forts: here is a guide to building a snow house or snow fort with your kids.
Snowmen: kids love to build snowmen! This year try to change it up by building a more Creative Snowman.
4) Family Outings
Bowling: Top 5 reasons to go bowling: 1) Nothing sounds better than a strike. 2) Snack bar nachos 3) Play, eat, drink, play eat, brink. What other sports let you do that? 4) Raining? No problem. Snowing? No problem. Heatwave? No problem. 5) The shoes!!
Ice Skating: If you are looking for a fun, budget-friendly winter sport to do with your children, why not try ice skating? If you know how to skate yourself then there is no reason that you can’t teach your kids the basic moves such as stopping, starting, falling, getting up and gliding that will get them skating on their own in no time. Check out these great ideas on how to teach your child how to skate.
Movies: Most years a new family-friendly movie comes out right before Christmas. Enjoy the popcorn, drinks, and goodies as you settle in for a cinematic treat.
Board Games: What kind of game family are you? Do you like traditional games, like Life, Sorry, or Monopoly, or do you like the new trending games, or do you want to learn a new game altogether? Spending time together playing your family's favorite games is a way to make lasting memories.
Puzzles: There are so many different sizes of puzzles. A 64 piece puzzle is ideal for little ones and the older kids can try to go for the bigger puzzles with 500 or even a 1000 piece puzzle. Depending on their age and skill level, give them a task like finding all the edge pieces first, then maybe a particular type of pattern in the pieces. Working together to finish a puzzle can give family members a sense of accomplishment at the same time enjoying the time together to accomplish the task at hand.
6) Out in the Community
Tree Lighting Ceremony: There's no better way to kick off the holidays than by attending a small town tree-lighting ceremony.
Parades: Does your town have a holiday parade? Be sure to check your community's calendar for any Christmas parades that may be near you.
Breakfast with Santa: Santa can be seen around town at various events. Many communities will have a breakfast with Santa, or cookies with Santa or other types of events that Santa will be at. Be sure to keep your ears open so that you do not miss out on the chance to see Santa.
Library: libraries are an excellent resource for activities for kids. Most libraries have a calendar of events with activities designed for children. Be sure to check with your local library to see which ones would be great to attend.
Cookies: if asked what is one thing people associate with the holidays it would be cookies. We do cookie exchanges, leave them out for Santa, give them as gifts and just love to eat them. Do you have a favorite recipe that you love to make each year? Do you let your kids be little helpers in the kitchen? Kids love to help mix, pour, stir, roll, cut out and frost cookies. You may even add a little flare by including their own apron for such an occasion. Hereis an excellent tutorial on making your an apron for your toddlers. We also have a favorite sugar cookie recipe from Jamie Leach, the creator of the Snoogle®.
Gingerbread Houses: This is such a fun tradition. Visit herefor instructions on making a simple gingerbread house. Maybe even invite another family over and have a competition to see who can design the best gingerbread houses.
Homemade Candy: Do you love to make fudge or peppermint bark? This is an excellent time of year for baking and to include the whole family. Visit herefor a collection of 64 easy Christmas candies.
8) Indoor Fun
Forts: Do you remember building forts out of couch cushions and blankets as a kid? Bring back this childhood memory to your kids by building a giant fort in the living room. You can even have a picnic or a sleepover in the forts that your family makes.
Camping under the Tree: Sleepover under the Christmas tree can be a fun incentive for kids. Have each kid pick a spot and bring out sleeping bags and blankets to make it a comfy night in. Try to include reading a holiday classic story together.
Indoor Snowball Fight: Do you live in an area where slow is limited or non-existing? An indoor snowball fight can be a fun activity to share as a family. Instructions on making a snowball with yarn puff around a practice golf ball can be found here or with a giant pom-pom maker here.
Letters to Santa: The USPS has a program set up to send Santa a letter and for the kids to get a response back. Check herefor their directions.
Watch a Holiday Favorite: It's a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, Santa Clause - there are so many classic Christmas movies to view together as a family.
Make Paper Snowflakes: Folding and cutting to make artistic designs in the paper is such a fun craft to make with kids. Hereis a great site to download different designs.
Scavenger Hunt: What a fun way to find presents than by finding them through a scavenger hunt. Thisprintable Christmas scavenger hunt is the perfect way to spread a little holiday cheer for your family this year.
Swap with Friends: If your kids are home from school most likely their friends are too. Reach out to other parents and see if they would like to do a playdate swap. You watch their kids one day so they can have a day to get some shopping done or to just have a day to relax with a great book, and then on another day, they can watch your kids so that you can do what you would like to do as well.
Photo Shoot: With advancement in technology, phones now come with great cameras and kids are well versed in how they operate. one idea is to let the kids be the photographers. Go out and find a location with decorations for the backdrop and let them find their inner Michelangelo.
Pictures with Santa: Santas makes his visits around town in many places. Be sure to find out what locations he will be at and go and get your photos taken with him. There are also some communities that have a traveling Santa and Mrs. Clause they will make home visits.
11) Oh, So Many Lights
Seeing the Lights: One indication that the holiday season is approaching is that Christmas lights start to appear on homes in your neighborhood. Schedule a night to drive around the neighborhood to see the decorations and lights. This is an activity that all ages can appreciate. Some homes even have displays that go along with music that can be picked up on a local radio frequency. Be sure to ask around to find the best homes and neighborhoods to visit.
12) Being a Secret Santa
Twelve Days of Christmas Secret Santa: Help spread the holiday spirit by anonymously being a Secret Santa, not once, but for twelve whole days!! It may help a family in such a beautiful way, it can be fun for them to receive an anonymous gift every day for 12 days and have gifts that are great too! Hereis a site that has poems and gift ideas for all twelve days!!
The "Twelve Days of Christmas Break" can be a memorable experience for you and your kids. One thing that is most essential to bringing the holiday cheer is to keep it simple. Try not to over schedule and plan every moment the kids are home. Be sure to also include breaks and activities for yourself, mommy time-outs are needed to bring the holiday cheer to your home this season as well. Most of all try to make memorable holiday traditions that your kids will cherish and remember throughout the years. We would like to wish you happy holidays and Merry Christmas!! We hope this season brings joy and happiness to you and your family!