10 ways to occupy children’s time this week

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sarah Atkinson, Caitlyn Wiley and Edie Alexander rode their bicycles to Dairy Queen and then had an afternoon of “girl time.” | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

When the first day of Christmas break dawned Monday, children – and parents – everywhere began the hunt for something to occupy their time.

For Sarah Atkinson, Caitlyn Wiley and Edie Alexander, that meant lunch at the Dairy Queen and an afternoon filled with “girl time.”

For others who haven’t any idea how to spend remaining days before Christmas, here are 10 ideas sure to make this Christmas break one to remember:

1. Still haven’t sent out those Christmas cards? Make custom homemade holiday e-cards.

If you have a digital camera, a computer and simple photo editing software, this activity will keep the kids busy for hours. Have a day of fun snapping photos of your family laughing and playing together. Be sure to wear clothing color or theme appropriate for the upcoming holiday. Edit and use the best shots, along with free background templates, to create custom e-cards. When you finish and save the cards, you can create online albums to share with everyone or e-mail them individually. You can even be extra creative and create a different design for each recipient.

2. Is hosting a kid-friendly holiday party on your to-do list? If so, let the kids decorate. Popcorn roping and construction paper chains are fun, easy and very inexpensive.

3. Let the superstar shine in a talent show. This is an activity with so many possibilities, and it’s great for all ages, including the grown ups. If you’re working, the kids might put together a show and perform for you later. Or, the whole family could show off their talents for visiting guests – lip-syncing and dancing to a favorite song or just singing a few carols. Remember, grandparents are an enthusiastic audience. A show can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. This might mean sets, costumes, an original script and live music. And if all your kids aren’t born performers, they can still enjoy writing, directing, set building or designing costumes.

4. Put on a movie. This can be as simple as watching a set of holiday classics or pulling out the home movies. Either way, kids will enjoy it, especially if it’s made into a family event.

5. Get organized. While most kids won’t think this is a fun activity, remind them now is the time to make way for all those new toys on their way from Santa.

6. Load, and let’s go. The destination is one of your choosing. Visit Grandma down the street or that friend from class for a quick overnight trip. Going is good, but coming home is great.

7. Who doesn’t love a good story? Let your children pen their own fantastic tale of how Santa packs his sleigh, how reindeers fly or how Santa chooses the names of his elves.

Want something for a keepsake? Let kids write about how your family celebrates Christmas, their most favorite holiday memory or the funniest thing that’s ever happened to them.

8. Remember, Christmas break is all fun and games – so, break out the cards and board games. Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Candyland or Battleship – take your pick. Either way it’s sure to make the time go by fast.

9. Take in a light show. Hop in the car for a leisurely trip around the neighborhood to view all the holiday lights.

10. When in doubt, bake.

Kids love spending time in the kitchen, especially when the end result is something sweet to eat. Inexpensive box mixes and ready-made frosting make it quick and easy to create cupcakes.

Add holiday sprinkles on top, and voila, a holiday treat fit for Santa himself.