5 “Jobs” for Keeping Kids Busy
Games and coloring pages are great, but bouncing-off-the-walls kids might settle down more happily with something useful to do (all the better if it means one of your preholiday tasks gets done).
Centerpiece creation: Give each child a pillar candle set on an aluminum pie plate, and have her surround it with evergreen branches, pinecones, clementines, and other (nonflammable) items.
Place-card making: Jot down a list of who’s coming to dinner, then put out card stock and markers. Let the kids design the cards and figure out the seating chart.
Garland stringing: An oldie-but-goodie that requires only a 5-foot length of fishing line or dental floss, a needle, and a bowl of fresh cranberries and stale popcorn.
Bird feeding: Hand out pinecones, toasted bagel halves, or even cardboard shapes. Invite the kids to spread peanut butter on them, then coat them with birdseed and hang them in your yard.
Play performance: Suggest a holiday-themed story and ask the kids to develop a short theatrical version of it to act out after dinner. The prep can take a long time, if you need it to (think: handmade tickets, a concessions stand, scenery). Bribe teens to help out the younger ones.
Write Up a Bucket List of Fun
Here’s how to make sure you carve out time for everybody’s holiday wishes: make a to-do list. After Thanksgiving, have each person in the family name one or two seasonal things they want to do, such as decorating cookies, seeing The Nutcracker, taking a neighborhood-lights drive, watching Elf, or making latkes. Post the list in a conspicuous place.