Below are seven ideas to give your kiddos an enjoyable respite from standardized tests and science fair projects without breaking the bank:
Have a holiday movie marathon. There’s nothing cozier than snuggling up under a pile of blankets to watch a few classic holiday movies. Bonus points if there are bowls of popcorn and a competition to see who can quote the most lines from a single flick.
Host a potluck meal. Whether your children play sports, go to art camp every summer, or attend a weekly youth group, they likely have a lively social circle that they may be missing while school is out. Have your kids invite a couple of friends and their parents over for a communal meal. Offer to make a big batch of soup and have guests bring accouterments like bacon bits, shredded cheese, and chives.
Drive around and look at lights. Older kids may grumble about this activity, but elementary-aged children will probably hop in the car and press their faces to the glass with glee as they spot colorful lights, festive inflatables, and window-decked wreaths.
Visit the local library. For younger kids, you can check out a stack of holiday-themed books. For older kids, encourage them to read something outside the genre they tend to go for. If you want to limit screen time while the kiddos are out of school, set up a reading challenge for all members of the household and see how many pages can be read between everyone.
Go on a hot cocoa crawl. Whether you choose a local coffee shop or a large chain like Starbucks, spend an afternoon visiting three or four spots and sampling their hot cocoa offerings. Make scorecards and rate each stop based on criteria like flavor and topping variety.
See an afternoon movie. There are always lots of new releases around Christmastime but taking the whole family to the theater adds up fast. Opt instead for a morning or afternoon viewing and you’ll save a few bucks per person. Skip the movie counter snacks and you’ll save even more. (If you promise the kids you’ll make your famous chocolate chip cookies when you get home, they’ll forget all about that box of Sour Patch Kids.)
Set up a savings account for each child. During the holidays, your children may receive a check or cash gift from a faraway relative who can’t make it to town. Talk to your children about the value of money and the importance of savings, then offer to drive them to the credit union and help them open a savings account to stash their monetary presents. Explain how, with interest, their money will grow. Come next holiday break, they’ll have even more money than before!
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun during the holiday break. (And thank goodness, because keeping up the whole Santa act is starting to get really expensive.) We hope each of you has a merry and bright holiday season with your loved ones!