It’s easy to keep your children entertained during the winter holidays.

It’s that time of year again when the kids are off school for a couple of weeks. The working spouse may not have the same privilege and might only have a couple days off work, which means that, as expats, it’s not always possible to fly back home for the holidays.

If you are not busy with family dinners, parties and reunions, you might find that you and your children have plenty of time on your hands to fill up.

This time of year is perfect for creating greater family bonds and for getting your kids to try new and exciting traditions. Forget last-minute Christmas shopping or entertaining them at the movies – you can do plenty of free, or relatively cheap, activities at home.

Make your own Christmas cards

The Christmas and New Year’s season calls for making and sending Christmas cards back home. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles will be excited to receive a handmade card from another country. Check what you have lying around your house that could be used to make the card (paper, scissors, glue, glitter, markers, etc.), and go out on a quick trip to the shop to get supplies if you don’t have enough at home.

Have your children create the cards for friends and family back home. Letting them post them, as well, will have them feeling like they’ve accomplished something all on their own.

Decorate Christmas cookies

There is nothing simpler and more fun than baking a batch of cookies and decorating them. Whether you make the cookies from scratch or buy the dough already made, your children will have a blast cutting them into Christmas shapes (trees, Santa Claus, reindeer, stars). Once the cookies are baked and ready to be decorated, get different colour frosting and let your imagination run wild.

These cookies could be the perfect gift for friends and neighbours, or a delicious Christmas dinner. Your children will be excited to tell everyone that they made the cookies themselves.

Do you want to build a snowman?

If you are now living somewhere where snowfall is common, throw on your snow suits and head out for an afternoon of snowball fights and building snowmen. Get your children to dress their snowman up with a hat, a scarf, eyes, a mouth and a nose. Once done, if you have a sleigh, take turns with your children sliding down hills or pulling them across the backyard.

If you have snow blocking your house or garage entrance, instead of hiring someone to clear it, have fun with your children doing it. Besides giving them a good workout, it will be something entertaining for them to do.

Don’t underestimate board games

Board games are often overlooked or underestimated, especially by children who would rather sit in front of the television all day long. However, there are plenty exciting board games that are both fun and mentally stimulating. This helps your children enjoy a nice afternoon with the family while keeping them using their brains.

If you’re feeling especially crafty and innovative, you can always sit with your children and come up with your own board game for an afternoon filled with entertainment.

Leave time for down time

Don’t forget that although you want to keep your children busy, you should also let them hang out and chill by themselves. Whether they are in their room playing with Barbie dolls or Hot Wheels cars, or just watching a Christmas movie with popcorn, they need some time to just sit and relax without really doing anything.

There is no time like Christmas time for sharing the love and spending time together, so enjoy the holidays with your children and make the most of it. What other fun activities do you do with your children over the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!

[Image: David R. Trebble]