This is going to be a lonnnnggg week for the kiddos trying to patiently wait for Christmas to arrive on Friday without any of our usual social distractions. This is going to be a lonnngggg week for us caregivers trying to patiently observe our anxious children trying to patiently wait for Christmas when we are all already completely maxed out.
Here's a list of LOW EFFORT and LOW MESS activity ideas to help conquer these last few days before Christmas.
- Take a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt Walk -- use this picture checklist from suchatimeasthis to keep track of items to find. You don't even have to print it out -- you can just pull it up on your phone. Once you find everything on the list head home for powdered hot cocoa and all those broken candy canes the kids won't let you throw away. Or stale Oreos and milk. Or whatever you have on hand that the kids will think is fun.
2. Make Homemade Play Dough -- This recipe requires only a few pantry staples and I promise it is not even that messy. If you feel really ambitious you can add in a holiday scent like peppermint extract and a little bit of red or green food coloring. But even a plain glob of warm homemade play dough is a sensory delight -- no extras required.
3. Gather some old toys for the elves -- this one is a little conniving, but read the kids this story from slightlysquirrely about how Santa needs old toys to refurbish at the North Pole and invite them to be generous and collect some well-used items to donate to his project. Maybe find an old Christmas gift bag for them to fill up for Santa and leave it by the door. Your house gets a tiny bit more breathing space. This does require an immediate action on your part though to either bring the bag to the donation center right away, transfer the toys to an inconspicuous bag where they can sit in your trunk for a few months until you get to the donation center, or for Santa's gift bag to hit the trashcan before anyone notices. If the kids find Santa's gift bag after he's supposed to have picked it up, the whole gig is up.
5. Make a Paper Chain -- Creating a simple paper chain is so satisfying as you watch the links add up. Maybe you want to create enough links to count down to something special that will happen after Christmas. Or maybe you want to create a paper chain of all of the activities you family wants to enjoy once we can return to normal. Hang it somewhere in the house as a decoration and a reminder that there are still things to look forward to after the holidays.
6. DIY Giftwrap -- OK, this one is a little messy, but it will keep the kids entertained for a while. Let them use the Christmas cookie cutters to make some DIY printed giftwrap as shown here from thingstoshareandremember. This works great on old newspapers or the paper packaging wrap from Christmas deliveries.
7. Sleep Under the Christmas Tree -- a family campout in the living with only the Christmas tree for lighting is always a magical experience and something they will remember forever.
9. Snowball Surprise -- use some of that stockpiled toilet paper to wrap a small trinket or treat (maybe a stocking stuffer you already have on hand or some candies) in layers of toilet paper and squish into a ball shape. You'll need some tape to make sure it doesn't come unraveled. Unveil the snowballs and let the kids have an indoor snowball fight. Then let them open them up to find the treasures inside. Check out this tutorial from 3LittleGreenwoods.
10. Paper Snowflakes -- I feel like sometimes we overlook the simple, joyful activities. There's no easier seasonal craft than paper snowflakes. Create a bunch and display them in a window to share your artwork with the neighbors. You can keep it super simple but thethingswellmake has some tutorials if you want to get competitive.
Hope some of these activities help you make this week memorable with minimal stress! Merry Christmas Countdown!