17 Fun & Affordable Ways to Survive Winter Break With Your Kids

Julie Ryan Evans | Dec 8, 2016 Big Kid
17 Fun & Affordable Ways to Survive Winter Break With Your Kids
Image: iStock.com/RapidEye

Bored kids

It's the most wonderful time of year ... or so say they say. We're just wondering if "they" have kids who are home on winter break during this supposedly wonderful time? Because for a lot of us parents who have shopping to do, presents to wrap, cookies to bake, parties to attend, and actual work to do, the sudden 24/7 presence of our bored kids expecting to be entertained kind of throws us for a bit of a loop...not that we don't love the bonding time.

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Finding fun stuff for kids to do during the winter holidays can be a real drag and total time suck. And of course the kids are leaning on us to make fun happen. And then there is the costs of all this adventure! So sure, if one has the money to scoot off on a ski vacation or cruise off to some Caribbean locale, he or she may actually be looking forward to winter break. For the rest of us, who are on a more modest (or barely there) budget, however, we need some help to keep everyone out of the kitchen while we try to control the chaos before break is over! 

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Fortunately, help is here! Here are 17 inexpensive things to do with our kids over winter break to keep our readers all sane. Read on and see which ones should be an absolute must-do. 

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  • Commiserate (& Cooperate) With Other Parents


    Find another family or two and come up with a rotation plan. One mom takes the kids for a day while the other moms get a break, then you switch. That gives everyone time to get things done without having to cough up cash for a babysitter.

  • Make Like Elves


    Forget the malls and get crafty instead to tackle those gift lists. These adorable DIY ornaments make great gifts for friends, relatives, and teachers -- and they're fun to do! 

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  • Give Back


    Whether you visit a nursing home, adopt and shop for a family in need, or serve at a soup kitchen, there are so many ways to help those in need -- and so many in need of help. It's a great way not only to spend time together as a family but also to focus on the spirit of giving that this season truly represents. 

  • Snow Ice Cream


    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade; when life gives you snow, make ice cream. This recipe from Gimme Some Oven is easy, and unlike some recipes that just use snow to make ice cream, this one actually has snow in the ice cream. Yum!

  • Clean, Organize, and Repeat


    Out with the old, in with the new. There's got to be room for all those new gifts, so it's the perfect time to clean out closets, organize under beds, and donate things no longer being used. 

  • Cooking Competition


    Watch some great cooking competitions on TV, then get busy in your own kitchen. As individuals or teams, you can host your own friendly cook-off. Everyone wins when you get to eat the delicious results. 

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  • Scavenger Hunt


    If the weather permits, this is a great way to get everyone outside. If it doesn't, you can always organize a scavenger hunt at your local mall and have players take pictures of various items you specify. 

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  • Make Forts


    Blankets, pillows, tables, chairs -- anything is fair game. Don't worry about the mess, just let them go wild. Then, give them a tablet or your smartphone so they can cozy up and watch a movie in there ... while you enjoy a little downtime!

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  • Frozen Bubbles

    Kostenko Maxim/Shutterstock

    If the weather outside is frightful, you may as well not fight it -- just have fun with activities like these frozen bubbles. They will surprise and delight kids of all ages. 

  • Holiday Movie Marathon


    Dive into the season with a holiday movie marathon. Cuddle up with blankets, popcorn, and hot chocolate and discover (or revisit) your family favorites

  • Mini Road Trip


    Grab a map (okay -- Siri!) and hit the road. See what you can find just a few hours from your home. Organize car games and enjoy the escape from the ordinary.

  • Go Card Crazy


    There are so many great family card games that kids of all ages can play. Just google for any directions you can't remember! From Go Fish for little ones to Poker (play with candy, not money) for older kids, cards can provide hours of fun. When you get tired of playing them, you can always start building card houses with them too. 

  • Think Outside the Box … Actually, Just About the Box


    You know all those boxes arriving at your door containing gifts?  The boxes themselves may be the best gifts of all. There are so many creative ways kids can use boxes, they'll provide hours of entertainment.

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  • Gear Up and Head Outside


    If you can't beat the winter weather, just embrace it. As long as you're properly dressed, there's no reason you can't go outside and play tag, ball, or anything else you'd normally play. Hot chocolate when you head inside will warm you right up. 

  • Snow Art


    Snowmen are fun and all, but snow art takes snow creativity to a whole new level. Check out some of these amazing snow creations for inspiration. 

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  • Make Your 'Staycation' Official


    From local museums to new restaurants and plays, your town or city likely offers plenty of things to do that you've never done or haven't done in a while. For a reallyfun day, let your (big enough) kids plan the itinerary -- why not?!  

  • Have a Photo Shoot ...

    Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

    But let your kids be in charge! How often do you take photos of your children ... now let them have some fun turning the tables and calling the shots. You'll get some great photos out of it!

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