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FAMILY | 6 Ways to keep the kids entertained after they break up for the Christmas holidays

Love it or hate it – the school holidays are here! What’s more it’s the Christmas holidays! A unique combination of childish excitement, teenage impatience, so much sugar and people, people, people crowding you in as the stresses of the season build up for everyone. And sometimes it just becomes too much – for adults and children… and let’s face, who hasn’t had a melt-down at Christmas?

So whether you’re the proud parents of several lovely children, or the grandparents or extended family of one or two, and you’re thinking how can I keep these guys entertained so we all enjoy a good time this festive period, here are a few ideas…

Its sometimes good to give kids a breather after they have finished school for Christmas hols, remember younger or older, they’ve probably had some stressful amalgamation of festive quizzes, the nativity, too many sweets, they’ve been singing, they’ve been making, they’ve been bored watching Christmas films, they’ve been given homework (by mean teachers making them work over the holidays) and they have the horrifying prospect of not seeing their little mates for the next two weeks (shock horror!)…

So give them a couple of days to de-compress but then after that, consider these way to keep them engaged and limit their screen time… After all Christmas time, is a chance to spend time having some fun and allowing everyone, young or old, a chance to be.

So have a read and see if these could you give you some ideas this Christmas:

1. Let’s cook

Now, I think it’s a fairly common fact that kids of all ages, particularly teenagers love home-cooked food. And I would be utterly amazed if there wasn’t a budding baker amongst your crowd of young people!

Set up a table, a counter, the work surface and start! But one thing to know before you start – cooking is messy business, in fact I’ve definitely seen more cake mixture, chocolate, smears of stuff covered over kids than I’ve ever had! So be prepared – but the good news all this is washable.

Decide on what you want to make – invest the kids in it – read a cookery book, go on the Internet and find a few recipes and let them decide what they want to cook. You can even then shop for the ingredients together and then make…

So, whether it’s something seasonal like a Chocolate log or gingerbread biscuits for the tree, or bread rolls and home-made soup for lunch – enjoy and let them, under adult supervision of course, get involved and cook!

I love a chocolate log – it doesn’t matter if it looks terrible, cover it in icing sugar, and let’s face it – it’s got to look tree-like anyway!!!

2. Crafty craft work

Especially suited to those who love making things – there’s loads of things that you can have a go at. Whether its making a handmade Christmas card which is particularly good for little ones with glitter and safety glue, glitter pens and felt shapes or challenging them to learn a new skill like painting, charcoal drawing, cut and stick or making their own Christmas presents. The limits of your imagination is your only problem!

You can even make your own Christmas wreath, like the one we made – check out the video on the Discover Hidden Britain YouTube channel.

If there are adults with more technical skill and ability, home-made siege weaponry is always fun like the plastic spoon, rubber band trebuchet or paper mâché siege tower. Competition always ensues!

A trip to a local craft shop. Or use the great what have we got in the recycling bin challenge? Plenty of paper, card and plastic ripe for re-use. Think big and have fun!

3. Outside Adventure

This time of year, its easy (and the young people often prefer) to stay inside – the heating is on, the fire is burning, the sofa is soft. But if you can, drag the kids outside. Young and old. Wrap them up (if you can) with hats, scarfs, gloves and wellies. And go, get lost in the outside!

When I mean get lost, I mean as long as you’ve got a rough idea of where you are going. Long or short? Urban or rural? It matters not. Create your own Christmas adventure – plot your route, take a packed lunch or plan a stop at a café or shop. Add in things if you want – take a rucksack, take some bug-hunting kit (a magnifying glass, a plastic pot or two, a spoon) take a flask of hot chocolate and some snacks. Tramp through the mud. Slosh through the slippery leaves.

Head for a Forestry Commission forest where there’s often way-marked trails or a Woodland Trust woodland.

If you’ve got enough for a team or two, create your own little scavenger hunt with a list of things they have to find:

  • 5 different colour leaves

  • Something beginning with K

  • A stone which looks like an animal

  • 10 different insects

And remember if they’ve got a camera, which let’s face it, most do – don’t take the object – photograph it! And then they can share it when the time stops! And remember with all scavenger hunt, there has to be a prize! So make sure, you’ve got one in your rucksack before you leave or one on the way back…

4. New Experiences

Now this is quite a broad one… Because it can be literally anything. Depending on your skills. Depending on the skills of the young people. Depending on where you are. Where you can get to. But this is about expanding their horizons. It is about new experiences.

Go to a new place

It could be a different place – a town, a city, a place on the coast. Go to London to see the Christmas lights. Go to Bath and revel in the Christmas markets. Go to the beach and play tag on the cold sand. Learn about the past at a place like the Royal Victoria Country Park in Hampshire.

Learn/teach a new skill

Go to a class and learn something new. Dance. Martial Arts. Painting. Pottery. Or spend the afternoon teaching the kids how to drop kick or throw a spin pass.

5. Historic Places – think Castles and Archaeology

Castles are simply great. They’re fun for the smaller ones. They’re great for the older ones. They’re magical for the middle ones to race around. It could be the remains of an iron age hill fort like the one at Old Sodbury in South Gloucestershire or a fantastic Norman built concentric castle. It could be a building or place. It could be a museum or activity centre. It could be the industrial remains like Dark Hill Iron Works in the Forest of Dean. Explore and discover!

6. Blowing bubbles

And if all else fails, and you just can’t tear the kids away from their phones, their tablets, their consoles and laptops, then break out the bubble! For there really isn’t anything more magical than bubble-blowing. Make your own and hop out to the nearest cheap shop will give more than enough bubble to start the fun. You can make your own loop, create your own competition or see who can blow the biggest/the most/the smallest. Who cares – it’s a bubble snow storm and its magical.

So whether there are big kids, little kids - or a gaggle of them all getting impatient for Christmas. Take them on an adventure. Its the best of times spending 'good' time with the family you love.