With Thanksgiving just over a week away, the holiday season is upon us and we all know what that means…holiday break for kids is coming. Holiday break.  It sounds like fun. It should be fun. You start the break with images of snuggling up to read stories, making hot cocoa and going for adventures outdoors.  But sometimes it can be challenging for parents to figure out how to fill the hours of free time kids have over the holiday break. Before you know it, you are in survival mode – just trying to get through the break with your sanity intact.  That is why it is a prudent idea to start the break with a plan in mind. It certainly can’t hurt to have a few activities planned to fall back on to keep your kids entertained and engaged. Now is the time to plan ahead.  Here are five budget friendly ideas to keep your kids busy during the holiday break.

1. Creative Coloring 

A box of crayons and some paper can keep toddlers occupied, but as children grow, they may need a few more creative ideas for how to use those crayons to stay busy. Here are some creative coloring options:

  • Coloring wrapping paper. Who doesn’t need more wrapping paper for the holidays? This is a twofold activity. You get your wrapping paper at a low price, and you keep your kids busy awhile. Just buy rolls of cheap, plain-colored wrapping paper. (The cheap kind is thin, so darker colors work best.) Roll it out a few feet at a time on a table or a hard floor, and let the kids go to town.
  • Upside down coloring. Turn coloring on its head – literally – with this easy activity. Just tape coloring sheets to the bottom of a table, and turn your child into a tiny Michelangelo. This is a great way to keep them busy and build upper arm strength.
  • Color the windows. Kids love being able to use crayons on surfaces that are usually off-limits. Crayola makes some crayons specifically for coloring on windows. Grab a pack of these, and let kids decorate the windows for the holidays.
  • Try complex coloring sheets. Older kids may think freestyle coloring is boring. Try printing off complicated geometric coloring sheets. Kids can create gorgeous designs, and the challenge keeps them engaged longer. (Note: They may need colored pencils and a good sharpener to be able to tackle these detailed designs.) 30 Interesting Geometric Coloring Pages

2. Indoor Games

Probably the worst part of the holiday season is that it might be too cold to play outside for very long. And you probably don’t have a gym like your kids’ school does, where they can release their pent-up energy. Luckily, with some creativity and basic supplies, you can create your own indoor gross motor games to burn off that extra energy.

  • Obstacle courses. Obstacle courses are surprisingly easy to create, and you can customize them for kids of any age – even elementary-aged kids would love a superhero obstacle course. These can be heavy on the prep work, but one course could keep your kids busy the entire day. Worth it! Indoor Obstacle Course for Kids
  • Hopscotch. What better way to burn off energy than with hopscotch? Crafty parents can put together this adorable indoor hopscotch mat to use again and again! Here are some more ideas for indoor hopscotch: Indoor Hopscotch
  • Scavenger hunts. You may think scavenger hunts are just for outside play, but you’d be surprised. You can put together some fun indoor scavenger hunts. These are a great way to get kids to play independently or in teams while you get other stuff done. (Or just relax with a cup of coffee for 20 minutes!) You can come up with any number of scavenger hunts tailored to your kids’ ages and interests. Holiday Scavenger Hunt Ideas

3. Arts and Crafts 

Before the holiday break starts, plan some crafts for your kids to do during the break. Then, hit your local craft store sans kids, and pick up the supplies you need. Stick supplies for each craft into a gallon-sized bag, and write the name of the craft and any necessary instructions on it with a marker. This may seem over the top, but when your kids are in the throes of boredom two days into break, you’ll be glad you have an activity to pull out and run with. Here are some craft ideas to try:

4. Service Projects 

This is the time of year when many of us are trying to find ways to give back. Why not involve your kids in giving back this year? Some ideas include raking leaves or shoveling snow for older neighbors, baking cookies for local police officers or firefighters, or making up boxes of goodies for ill children through a program like The Jared Box Project. Another option is to make cozy fleece scarves for a local hospital or nursing home. Older kids can even plan, shop for and make a meal for ill or elderly neighbors, or the couple down the street with a new baby and no time to cook.

So, if your kids are bickering or complaining that they are bored, save the day with these fun, inexpensive activities and enjoy the holiday break!

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Photo Credit: firstfridaykokomo.com