How to keep your kids busy during the holiday break

During the summer your kids can go outside and play from sun up to sundown. They can ride bikes, swing on their swing set, or play on a slip n slide. But in the winter in most climates, it is too cold during their holiday break to play outside. 

My kids typically get a two or three week break over Christmas and New Years’ holidays. That is at minimum 14 days to figure out how to keep my kids occupied. Now you can take out a few days as we typically travel to see family and celebrate Christmas. But that still leaves 10+ days to find something to keep my kids entertained.

Here are some ideas to keep your kids busy during their holiday break.


One thing I stress to all parents is to get their kids to read. And one of the best times to push this is when your kids are at home and looking for something to do. I would suggest making it a habit to buy them a few books for Christmas and let them open the presents early to give them something to read during their break.

Maybe your kids are younger and can’t read yet. Well buy the books and start reading to them. Make it a daily habit to read a few books to your little ones. Before you know it they will be bringing the books to you to read and start joining you in saying the words.

Play Board Games

Board games are another great way to pass the time and keep your kids busy. For the little ones, you can play a game like Candyland or Hungry Hungry Hippo. For the older kids, you can play Monopoly or break out some card games. We always enjoy Phase 10 or Uno when we play cards.
Board games are another great early gift idea. You can wrap it and let them open it a few days early then enjoy playing the new board game with them. Not only does it keep them busy it makes them really excited that they got to open an early Christmas present.

Have a play war

I have 3 older boys. They love pretending to be at war. Sometimes they use pillows to fight, sometimes they use foam swords or fake lightsabers. But most of the time it is a full-on Nerf gun war. They set up bases on opposite sides of the house and try to sneak around and attack each other.
You may have to watch out on this one if you have a lot of breakable items in the house. It helps to limit them to some safe areas and set some ground rules.

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek in the house is fun for all ages. The little ones will hide and then giggle forever because they think it is funny. The older kids will go all out and try to hide in a drawer.
This is a great game you can play with them. If you play with smaller kids you can pretend like you are having trouble finding them. And when it is their time to find you make sure you hide somewhere pretty obvious. Although there was a time I hid behind a door and my youngest son never did find me. I had to make noises to give him hints.

Family video games

If your kids are anything like mine they love their video games. Most of them have gotten older and don’t like to play family-type games. But there are so many good games that can be played as a family it would be a shame not to play along.
We still have a Wii that we keep because some of the games on the Wii were so creative and great to play together. Wii Sports is still one of our all-time favorite games. We will also break out some retro games and play some classic Super Mario Brothers. Another one that we found is Jackbox Party Pack. These games require players to have a phone so it is better suited to older kids.

Build Legos

Putting together Lego sets takes a little patience and a lot of time. But building Legos with your kids is such a great experience. You get to work on following instructions to see a pile of random bricks come together and form a cool contraption.
You don’t always have to follow the instructions though. Another great idea is to just have a Lego building contest. Give them a pile of Legos and have each kid build their own creation. Then have someone designated to be the judge or have a vote to see who has the best creation.

Run the halls

This is something I have had to do with my little ones lately. We try to go outside as often as possible. But we just have those days where it is raining too much or just too cold to play outside. Our solution, run the halls.
I pretend like I am some monster or animal (usually a crab) and then I chase the kids up and down the hallway. Sometimes I catch them, sometimes they fight back to get away, but we always have fun. And it tires them out so when bedtime rolls around they are worn out.

Teach them how to cook

One of the things I regret the most about my older kids is not spending enough time teaching them how to cook. My mom always had me in the kitchen and showed me how to make things and I learned a lot from her. Now in my house, I do a lot of the cooking. Why not pass on that knowledge to my kids?
Before Christmas, you can teach them how to make cookies from scratch and they can help decorate the cookies. After Christmas, you can work on easy-to-make meals like hamburgers or spaghetti. Teach them to cook things they like to eat and they will be even more excited about eating those things since they were able to help out.

Teach them how to clean

Tired of picking up after your kids? It never fails you ask your children to pick up their room. You go in and check and it is a little cleaner but really all they did was move stuff around. This is the perfect time to fix this. Work with them and show them how to pick up their room properly.
You can also start teaching them to do other chores around the house. Have them start by unloading the dishwasher or taking clothes out of the dryer. Then move them to more advanced chores like folding the laundry or vacuuming.

Visit a museum

Maybe you want to get out of the house. Museums are always a good wintertime trip to keep the kids busy. Most museums are open during the week and they may even have some programs to help keep the kid’s interest while they are out of school.
And don’t just think of the big museums in your area. There may be some small museums that have just as much to see and do like your big museum. And if you don’t have a good museum to visit then consider going to your local library.


Another get-out-of-the-house idea is to take your kids somewhere they can help volunteer. We always think of volunteering before Christmas or around Thanksgiving, but volunteering after Christmas can be such a help. A lot of organizations could use the extra hands and they can definitely find something to keep your kids busy to help them out.
Volunteering with your kids is a great way to not only keep them busy but show them that not everyone has what they need, and sometimes it is up to all of us to help out those in our community.

Go outside

Even though most of these ideas revolve around being indoors you can always get them outside. Bundle them up and get them outside for a little while so they can get some fresh air. If there is snow on the ground then they can always go out and play in the snow or go sledding.

Going outside in the winter is always an option just use caution. Make sure to dress the kids in layers and know their limits. If they look cold they are probably cold. Even though they won’t admit it. I’ve seen my kids get near frostbite because they didn’t want to come in when it was cold and they were having too much fun playing in the snow.

Keeping the kids busy during holiday break doesn’t have to be a chore. Keep it fun and use your imagination to come up with some new and different ideas to solve the winter boredom blues. And if all else fails check the internet for things to do in your area that your kids can partake in.

This post was brought to you by a guest writer on my blog, Year of the Dad. Be sure to go check him out for some other great info!

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  1. […] the whole family together for a night of games, board games or card games. This is a great way to bond and have some friendly competition. If the […]

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