Except you’ve blazed through ALL of your plans in the first 48 hours. Now your child is climbing the walls and you’re fresh out of ideas.
These tips are perfect for last minute ways to build fun and learning into winter break.
Last minute winter break survival tips
Whether you already live among the bright lights or further afield, exploring the city is a fun way to spend a day or so in the winter. You could make this a day trip or stay for the night.
Pick out museums, theaters, or concerts that might be a good fit for your whole family. Most larger cities have a children’s museum, science museum, history museum, and/or an art museum. Lots of places will have special winter break programming or matinee performances geared towards families.
Cities offer a variety of parks, restaurants, and fun traditions. Growing up in Massachusetts, it was always special to walk through a snowy Boston Common and watch the skaters on the frog pond. In DC, head to the National Mall to see the National Christmas tree and smaller state trees, then walk around at dusk to see the city glow with twinkle lights. For those in SoCal, head to the San Diego Zoo for an annual winter lights festival with carol singers and special shows.
Winter might not seem like a great time to go out and about in the wild, but it’s actually the perfect time! No matter where you live, you will be able to see different plants and animals than the rest of the year. Plus, the trails and parks might be less crowded.
In snowy climates, head out after a fresh dusting. Stop and look at how the snow coats the plants and trees. Try to find a single perfect snowflake. Look for bright red cardinals and animal tracks in the snow. Collect bittersweet berries and evergreen boughs (already on the ground or from your own property, please) to take home. Then work on arranging your finds into fun centerpieces or bouquets.
If you live in a warmer location, it’s easier to spend time outside. Head to the local park regularly, just to play! Watch for a coating of frost on the grass. Look closely at any plants that flower in other seasons. Have a picnic or take a hike. Collect colorful leaves and pretty grasses (that have already naturally dropped) to arrange in a vase at home.
Everyone needs a day of just nothing. Winter vacation is the perfect time to do this! Head to the library to borrow (for free!) some of your childhood favorites or cue them up on your streaming service.
You could also connect your movies to literature with a book to movie marathon. Watch all of the Harry Potter movies or relive the magic of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You could even do television series or miniseries. I really like the Little House on the Prairie TV show and the Anne of Green Gables miniseries. It’s fun to look for the differences between screen and page.
Kids love to cook and create. Use this to your advantage. Set up a cooking “class” or let your older kids take over entirely.
Work together to pick an age-appropriate recipe or menu. Go shopping together and then get cooking.
Another fun idea is to let your kids experiment with a tried-and-true classic. Whip up a batch of basic cookie dough together. Then let your children decide what to mix in. They could go basic with chocolate chips or nuts. Or you could throw in other more interesting ingredients, like jalapenos.
When you’ve really run out of options, head to the library. Many libraries offer special winter vacation programs or activities. Check with your local branch to find out what’s happening.
Pop in for storytime or make fun crafts! You could also spend time curled up in a cozy corner, just reading a book, too. Before you leave, check out a new batch of books and movies to enjoy at home.
How do you stay sane during winter break? Leave your best activity ideas in the comments!