By Danielle Barfoot, mom to a boisterous teen and freelancer who writes about parenting and education. She writes regularly for Impaq Education, a curriculum provider for home, tutor and school education.
December and the school holidays have barely started, and you’ve already tried every boredom busting activity you can think of. Don’t worry, here are 26 fun and festive ideas to keep the kids entertained during the holidays. And if that isn’t enough, click here to find holiday programs, sleepover camps and holiday care that will make the kids holiday memorable, while you are at work.
A is for angel: If you are at the beach these holidays, let the kids plop themselves down in the sand, waving their arms and legs to create the perfect beach angel.
B is for baking: Set aside a day for baking. There are tons of cookie recipes online that are simple enough for little ones to help make – and decorate, of course!
C is for crafts: Grab a roll of brown paper and some paint and let your kids get crafty. They’ll love being creative and you’ll end up with one-of-a-kind wrapping paper.
D is for decorating: Pick a day these school holidays and go wild with decorating the tree – and the house! It’s best to let go of the idea of having the perfect-looking home… just let the kids have fun.
E is for elf: Create some Christmas magic with Elf on the Shelf. A quick Google search will tell you all you need to know about this phenomenon.
F is for fun: Amid the cooking, shopping and entertaining, set aside some quality time for each of your kids. Schedule an individual ‘date’ with each one and use that time to do something fun!
G is for giving: Christmas is all about giving, and one of the most rewarding things to do is giving a gift to a child in need. Let your kids help you shop for the perfect gift.
H is for homemade: There is something special about receiving a homemade gift, so why not let the kids spoil their grandma/favourite aunt/cousins with a homemade gift ?
I is for invite: For an unforgettable school holiday party, invite your friends and ask them to bring dishes, games and decorations that represent their festive traditions and cultural heritage. Your kids are sure to love the diversity!
J is for Jingle Bells: There is nothing quite like listening to Christmas carols to get you in the festive mood. And even if your family isn’t particularly musical, everyone can belt out Christmas carols. So, let every family member pick their favourite for a night of Christmas carol karaoke.
K is for Kris Kringle: Santa Claus has quite an interesting history. If your kids are old enough, it could be fun to learn about the jolly old guy’s origins and the different holiday traditions around the world.
L is for letter: Get some fancy paper and sparkly pens and let the kids write a letter to Santa. Who knows, they might just get what they wish for.
M is for movies: Turn out all the lights – enjoying just the festive tree lights – and have a Christmas movie marathon. Let each family member choose their favourite festive flick to watch.
N is for (not quite silent) night: Pile the kids in the car one night, put on some Christmas tunes, and drive around neighbourhoods known for their spectacular Christmas lights.
O is for ornament: Let the kids make their own holiday ornaments for your tree. You can buy clear baubles or get crafty and let the kids make their own – salt dough ornaments are quick and easy. Don’t forget to mark the year on the ornaments so you can keep track of when each one was created!
P is for photo: Pay Santa a visit at your local mall so your kids can tell him what they want this year — and so you can get a cute photo for the fridge. Start a fun holiday tradition by taking a Christmas photo of the entire clan and then recreating it every year.
Q is for quiet time: The festive season is often filled with so much activity and busyness that we end up not really enjoying it. Just like you need time to relax and be restful, so do your kids!
R is reindeer: Let the fun start the night before Christmas by making reindeer food (they get hungry too!). To make sure that Santa finds your house, let your kids sprinkle the reindeer food (you’ll find recipes online) in front of your house after putting out Santa’s milk and cookies.
S is for stockings: Let the kids design/personalise their own stockings. Then, when filling their stockings with treats, add an orange – giving oranges is a symbol of charity and reminds us to care for those less fortunate.
T is for tradition: This is the perfect time to start a new holiday tradition with your kids. By creating new traditions that are unique to your family, you’ll be giving your kids a gift they can keep forever.
U is for ugly: Nothing screams Christmas quite like an ugly sweater party – or to accommodate the local weather, an ugly T-shirt party. Let everyone decorate their own and be sure to have a prize for the tackiest top.
V is for volunteering: Teach your kids that giving is better than receiving by volunteering for a day. This time of year, there are plenty of places that could use a helping hand.
W is for wreath: Let the kids make a festive wreath for your front door or let them decorate mini wreaths for their bedroom doors.
X is for experiences: Instead of buying close friends or cousins gifts, why not get together for a special outing. The experience of having fun with everyone will go a lot further than any toy or gift will.
Y is for YOLO: You only live once expresses the view that you should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future, but spending more than you can afford on toys, gifts and holidays in an attempt to make Christmas memorable for your kids is a bad idea. To make these school holidays truly unforgettable, simply spend some time with your kids. There are plenty of free or inexpensive ways to create special memories.
Z is for zombie: The whole idea of the school holidays is to allow everyone to unwind, so relax your rules about screen time and let your kids lounge in front of the TV every now and again. They won’t turn into screen zombies…
Jozi is alive with over 100 holiday activities and family places to go over the festive season. Click here to discover holiday programs, day trips, camps, activities and more!