Photo: Cozy up and decorate for family movie night. Shutterstock.
Winter break is finally here! If you don’t have any plans for winter break, you may be feeling a little panicked about what you will do to keep the kids busy while they’re off school. For most families, winter break can bring with it many celebrations, decorations, a ton of food, and a whole lot of winter fun. However, sometimes finding fun things to do in the winter can seem like a challenge, especially when you’re seeking activities that your whole family can do after the holidays. There are so many unique and fun activities that you can get your entire family involved in.
You can begin by creating a winter bucket list. Then have your family look at the bucket list activities and create a schedule together as a family. Try using a dry-erase calendar to plan out your winter break activities, so it is easy to modify if any minds are changed at the last minute. Then put the calendar in a central spot to serve as a friendly reminder to everyone that there is something fun to look forward to each day. Read on to find out some of the best winter break activities that you can use to create your bucket list.
30. Gather the family around to make some homemade hot chocolate.
There is something about sipping on some hot chocolate in the wintertime. Whether you just got in the house and out of the cold or are gathering around to watch a movie, a cup of hot chocolate will surely hit the spot. Hot chocolate will be the perfect ticket to warm you up if you live in a cold region (or you just love hot chocolate!). To make it even more special, rather than using the pre-made hot chocolate packs, make your own. Make an old-fashioned hot chocolate for chilly days.
This homemade version is creamy, delicious, and extremely easy to make. The best part is that you only need five ingredients: unsweetened chocolate, milk, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Each family member can customize their hot cocoa with their choice of marshmallows or fresh whipped cream. Making this family-friendly drink will provide remarkable quality family time and create memories that will last a lifetime. Hold the mug as you sip to warm your hands, and your heart this winter.
29. One of the kindest things you and your family can do during the winter is volunteer.
There are options for you and your family to get involved in giving back to the community during winter break. Schedule a morning or an afternoon to spend at a local shelter or soup kitchen. Giving back helps to appreciate what you have and is also sure to leave the whole family feeling better than when they got there. Your family will have a hand in making the community a better place just by giving a few hours of their time.
While volunteering, you can meet other people who share the same passion for giving back. Giving back and volunteering provides a different perspective to remind you of all that is good in life. It will help you and your family appreciate what you do have rather than focus on what you don’t have. You might even leave with new skills. As you and your family give a few hours of your time to others, you will feel better about yourself, those you serve, and your community as a whole.
28. Have fun doing your own family winter photoshoot.
It might be chilly out, but the white snow mixed with a winterly night makes for a beautiful scene. Strike a pose for the camera! Since sometimes getting the family together can be challenging, any time you can get everyone together is a bonus. Have you ever looked back at old photos and immediately can recall unique pieces of that captured moment in time? You might remember what you ate that day, what the room smelled like, or how you felt.
Winter break is the perfect time to get the whole family together to capture those memories. Whether you are playing outside in the snow or posing by the fireplace, you are the ones who make the photo unique. Have the family wear matching outfits or let everyone pick their own; it is sure to be an unusual and fun winter activity that is hugely memorable. The photoshoot can be as formal or informal as you want. It is yours to make your own!
27. Winter break means lots of food and sugary treats. Get the whole family involved in baking up some goodies.
Is there a treat that only comes out this time of year? Maybe that’s because you bake it yourself! A cozy, wintertime activity is to bake some delightful cookies that will not only satisfy your sweet tooth but your entire families’ as well. No matter their age, kids love to mix and measure to create and bake treats to enjoy. They will enjoy the process of baking and even more so the goodies at the end. Bake up sugar cookies, chocolate chips, or snickerdoodle cookies.
You can even purchase some cute cookie cutters at the dollar store for a budget-friendly way to make the cookies unique. If you have younger kids, they can help to pour and mix the ingredients. The older kids can be in charge of using any appliances or putting the cookies in and taking them out of the oven. Challenge your older kids to special recipes that they can take the lead on their own. Who doesn’t like a home filled with the smell of freshly-baked cookies?
26. Do-it-yourself snow globes are a budget-friendly and easy to make winter activity for families to enjoy.
Who doesn’t remember shaking a snow globe as a kid and watching the magic come to life? If you dream of a white winter season, a DIY snow globe is a perfect craft for you and your whole family. They can be made with necessary household items, repurposed containers, and lots of glitter. Each family member can make their snow globe unique by adding trees or figurines to create their own little winter wonderland. Start with some jars that have nice, snug lids. Pasta and pickle jars are great options.
The next step is to find items to put inside the snow globe. You should try to find items that won’t break down in the water. Think plastic or ceramic things. Grab a hot glue gun and begin crafting your snow globe. Once you’re all done adding your elements, fill the jar with water, almost to the very top, and adding a bunch of glitter. After you screw the lid back on, you can choose to put hot glue on the edges of the jar if you want extra sealant. Not only have you spent an afternoon crafting with your family, but you’ve also created sentimental decorations.
25. Enjoy a friendly competition amongst one another during your time together.
Let’s have some fun this winter season! Instead of just sitting around, this idea will break up the boriness of the break. This option would especially ideal if you have teenage children, although it is still something that you can get the entire family in on. Challenge them to a friendly showdown during their winter break. If you already have one, have a ping pong or pool table competition in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t, you might be able to find a local arcade or activity center where you can enjoy each others’ company.
Most teenagers won’t miss an opportunity to beat their parents. You could even go as far as to determine a prize. Maybe the winner gets to choose what you have for dinner or pick a restaurant to have it. Not only will having a little friendly competition be a great winter activity, but it will also help to bring the family together. There are so many options that you can do. You can play individually or have teams. Either way, this is a great option to add to your winter bucket list.
24. Scrapbooking is a great winter activity for anyone of any age.
If you take many photos but isn’t sure what to do with them all, try scrapbooking to keep them organized. What better time than winter break to have the kids participate and help organize your family’s memories? A scrapbook is a place where everyone can showcase their artistic abilities. Have each member of the family make a page for themselves and their hobbies. Not only will it provide some fun, but it will be something you will have to cherish forever.
Anything goes with scrapbooking. You can utilize items from around your household such as buttons or flowers, or you can choose to purchase a pre-made scrapbooking kit from almost any art store. As everyone sorts through the images that you have collected over the years, it will help spark conversations and provide a journaling starting point. There is no right or wrong way to scrapbook. The best scrapbook ideas come from resourcefulness and creativity. This bucket list option will be a time for your family to experiment and their creativity flow.
23. Museums are a great wintertime activity to do with your whole family.
There are so many different types of museums that you and your family can choose from. If your son is into archeology, visit an archeology museum where he can view displayed artifacts in an open-air museum. If your daughter is into art, visit an art museum. Here, she will consider some of the most common visual art objects, including paintings, sculptures, illustrations, or ceramics. Maybe you are into history, so you might prefer to visit a history museum where you view collected objects and artifacts that can tell a chronological story about a particular time or situation.
These objects could include documents, artifacts, or other archeological findings. Museums are a fun and exciting way of learning. Some museums are also incredibly interactive and will allow kids to be more hands-on. Make a family day and check out a few different museums tailored to your families’ interests. With many kids being out of school for winter break, local museums may even be offering special events that are specifically tailored to families. Give it a try and see if this sparks your family’s interest.
22. If you have children, a gingerbread house is a fun-filled wintertime activity no matter their age or time of the season.
Here is a season favorite! Gingerbread houses are such a fun and exciting way to spend time with your family and let each family member’s creativity flow. And why does it need to end after December 25th? Almost every store around wintertime has premade gingerbread house kits that you can purchase with every treat you’ll need. If you wish to take it one step further, you can make your own gingerbread houses from scratch. If you decide to make your own from scratch, there are a few essential tips to help you.
The first one is to make sure that you chill the dough. If you miss this critical step, the house pieces can potentially lose shape and be extremely difficult to construct. The second professional tip is to chill the two discs before rolling them out because the dough will be a little sticky from the molasses. If this is your first time, have no fear. There are so many tutorials and templates for beginners that can be found online. Your family might also enjoy having a friendly competition with one another on who can make the best gingerbread house.
21. Decorating might become one of the first activities that your family chooses to cross off the winter break bucket list.
Almost nothing is better than seeing the excitement in children’s’ eyes during the winter break. That’s why this item is so important. What better way to kick off winter break than to decorate your home? Put on some music, and every member of the family can participate. No matter the age, there is something to do for everyone. Young children can assist with putting up window decals. If they are old enough, have them cut out paper snowflakes that can be spread throughout the house.
Maybe you even want to introduce them to paper chains like the ones you made in elementary school. Older kids can help place the more fragile decorations. Decorating your home for the winter can help create such a warm and cozy environment to kick off winter break. Invite all of the family and choose a color theme to incorporate throughout your home. Your family will have a blast decorating and creating that warm and cozy atmosphere for the winter season.
20. Sending a care package to a soldier is a great idea for any time of the year, especially during the hard winter months when they miss their families.
Giving back is always a great activity to do. During the holiday season, you can get your kids involved by sending a package with care products to a soldier. The first step is to pick a soldier or a troop. There are hundreds of soldiers, each with a personal story and a list of their needs. If you do your research, you’ll find that most websites recommend sending either food products or toiletries, but not both in the same package. That doesn’t have to be an expensive activity, as most items can be found at your local dollar store. Have each member of your family pick either a soldier or a troop and get to shopping!
Some of the highly recommended items include toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and lotion. If you want to make it a little more personal, encourage each member to have a handwritten letter in their care package. Not only is this a great way to give back to those that are serving our country, but it also will help put things into perspective for every member of the family. Not everyone can spend the holidays with their loved ones. Everyone will end up feeling a little more grateful and appreciative.
19. If you have gift cards after the holidays, spend time with your family shopping.
Involving the whole family in some shopping can be either extremely fun or a bit of a challenge. If you have kids who find shopping to be a chore, then you might prefer to wait until after the holidays. They might change their tune if they have received gift cards or cash that they are now itching to spend. Shopping can also be a fun activity that provides some one-on-one time with each child in the family.
It can give some designated time to learn what each child’s interests are. Perhaps your family does a holiday gift exchange so that shopping can be a great afternoon activity. It is a great way to spend some quality time together while also getting inside from the chilly weather outside. Going shopping during the winter break can also be a perfect opportunity for your family to purchase items to give back. Shop for a local family in your community or the soldiers serving overseas.
18. Decorating cookies is the perfect winter break activity to do with the entire family.
After you have spent the morning baking and the cookies have cooled, it is time to decorate! Put some cookie decorating tools on the table and gather the entire family to participate. Perfect for any age, cookie decorating is a way to spend time together, laugh, and get creative. This highly-recommended activity does not have to cost a lot either.
You can stop by your local dollar store to pick up some cute cookie cutters, icing, and sprinkles. Let the kids use their imaginations as they decorate their perfect gingerbread man or snowflake. At the end of the activity, you will not only have created memories to cherish forever, but you will also have a ton of delicious cookies to devour throughout the winter break. You could also encourage your family to make extras and give your family members or neighbors a batch as a sweet treat.
17. Add a night on your winter break calendar to showcase each family member’s talents.
Create a fun-filled night with a family talent show. Have each family member choose their top talent and be prepared to showcase it to the entire family. You may already know what each member’s exceptional talent is, or you might be surprised at what they present. This wintertime activity is excellent for all ages and especially families. Whether you decide to know ahead of time or leave it to the element of surprise, a family talent show is a great way to express everyone’s creativity.
You might even be surprised to find out that you have the next big superstar in your own home! Any talent goes, so encourage everyone to pick what they want. You might find yourself juggling or doing karaoke. You can make the family talent show as extravagant or as simple as you’d like. Go all out with a designed set and costumes, or keep it simple. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You are guaranteed to have an evening full of smiles and laughter.
16. There are different options of games for family game night. There is something for every member of the family, regardless of their age.
When scheduling your wintertime bucket list activities on your calendar, don’t forget to include a family game night. Have everyone put on their favorite pajamas and head to the living room to see what kind of friendly competition will ensue. There are games for all ages, including Bingo and Scrabble, which are two popular ones. Monopoly is also another family favorite. For younger children, Chutes and Ladders is a popular board game that allows them to practice their counting skills, which is both fun and educational.
Jenga is also a great family option as it requires strategy and a little bit of luck. It is simple to play and appeals to all ages. If you want to make it a little more interesting, add prizes for the winners. For younger kids, prizes might include added TV time. For older kids, you can give them a gift card to their favorite store. Family game night is a perfect opportunity for everyone to put down their phones, laptop, and iPads to enjoy each others’ company.
15. As you find yourself having some added time with your kids, encourage them to use their writing skills to come up with a story.
A great way to capture memories from your child’s eyes is to have them write a story from their perspective. You might choose to give each family member a topic to go off and then encourage them to document their thoughts and experience. Suggest that each family member writes about their favorite winter memories. Younger children might write about getting to eat holiday cookies, while older children might describe their experiences of giving back to the community.
When everyone is finished, you can combine the different memories into a storybook. To better maintain it for years to come, try laminating each page. You will be able to capture the winter season’s thoughts and feelings through each of your family members’ eyes and heart. Then, each year you can add to the book. It will be so fun and exciting to reflect on the memories throughout the years after a few years. Every family member can read their part and other favorite memories to share a smile or a laugh.
14. This winter break, encourage every member of your family to donate.
For some families, the holidays are overtaken by stress and sadness rather than happiness and joy. Many families and children are unable to provide gifts during holidays and essentials for the winter months. That is why it is so important to stress the importance of giving back and donating. Encourage each child to go in their room and choose five toys to donate to other kids in need. That is a perfect way to declutter their rooms and portray the importance of giving back and helping others.
There are many organizations that you can donate to. If you are unsure of where to go, check with your local churches. The whole family can find comfort in knowing that they are doing something to help someone else. This activity doesn’t just apply to children. Adults can clear out some items such as clothes or shoes to donate as well. Not only will it clear way for new gifts, but you will feel good giving back to those in need. After all, it might not have been so long ago you were in need yourself.
13. Take advantage of the local activities that your community has to offer.
What type of things do communities host during the winter season? Well, there are toy drives, parades, New Years events and ice skating in some areas! Holiday light festivals and tree displays are also popular activities for families during winter break. Although this year may look a little different, many communities are still finding ways to incorporate a good spirit and provide fun-filled activities. Many towns have lighting displays. There is nothing easier than getting the kids into the car and driving around to view the beautiful lights.
The best part is that this activity doesn’t cost a thing aside from a little bit of gas money! Your town might also be having a holiday parade that you could take the kids to enjoy. You might even be able to see a play at a local theater. Many local events are special and a great chance to spend some quality time with every family member. Whichever you choose to do, make the most of the cheerfulness and excitement.
12. Music has a great way of getting everyone pumped up and excited. This winter break, create a winter song playlist that the entire family can enjoy.
Everyone enjoys music. It is a great way to get people excited and happy. This winter break, every member of the family participates in creating a winter playlist that you can play all season long. If you have young children, a music playlist can help keep them entertained. This playlist can be listened to while you are baking and decorating cookies or while you are in the car driving to volunteer your time. It is a great way to allow each family member to include their family songs into one list.
Jam out and sing to each song while spending time together during the winter. If your children are extremely far off in age, you can make more than one winter playlist to tailor each to their specific ages. Listening to your customized winter playlist is a guaranteed way to boost your mood. From Disney singalong songs from Frozen to classic crooners such as Frank Sinatra, you are sure to find a tune everyone loves. When in doubt, go for a good ole Jingle Bells hit and see kids of all ages get excited.
11. Indoor picnics are a great winter break activity for the entire family.
An excellent option for a mid-day winter break activity is an indoor picnic. Clear any space in your house, whether it’s your living room or dining room, and grab your picnic supplies to create a memorable experience. Make it the real deal by holding your red checked picnic basket full of all of your picnic essentials. In true picnic fashion, fill your basket with casual foods such as sandwiches or other food items that do not require utensils to eat.
Since food can spoil, be sure to add an ice pack to chill your food. Bring an assortment of drinks, including both kid-friendly and adult beverages such as bottled water and juice. Grab some plates and serving utensils if needed, and you’re prepared to have the most epic indoor picnic. That is a unique and fun winter break activity that will stay with your children for the rest of their lives. Go grab the cheese, salami, and crackers for some homemade treats. For that sweet tooth, try gingerbread cookies!
10. Books have a way of allowing their readers to escape reality and provide some relaxation.
You might already incorporate reading into your daily routine, but winter break is a great time to switch it up a little. Choose something different in comparison to your regular reading. If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to add new reading material into your routine, visit the dollar store and pick up one book for each night of winter break. That will ensure that you and your children have a new story to look forward to each night.
Once the holiday season is over, you can choose to hold onto those books for the next year or donate them to someone in need. Not only is this a great wintertime activity, but it may also turn into a yearly tradition that both you and your kids look forward to every year. If your kids are older and prefer to read independently, encourage them to dive into a book that piques their interest while on winter break. Take some time to talk about their book with them.
9. One of the best activities you can do during winter break is to get on the floor with your kids.
When you get on the floor and play with your kids, you can see the excitement and cheerfulness it brings through their eyes. There is nothing better than some quality time between parents and kids. If your kids are close in age, you get on the floor with all of them at the same time. However, if they are of different ages or have other interests, block out a little time with each of them to get that special one-on-one time.
You might find yourself learning about their favorite movie, or perhaps you will find yourself getting beat in a video game. If your kids receive gifts during the holiday season, take an active interest in hearing about what excites them or the things they enjoy. They won’t remember how clean or messy the house was, but they will retain their parents getting down to their level to spend time with them. After all, this activity might be one of your greatest memories during winter break — not theirs.
8. Ice skating, sledding, or tubing are all great winter sports that you can add to your winter break bucket list.
Do you love to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature? Many activities can only be done during a specific time of the year. If you are interested in ice skating, sledding, or snow tubing, winter break gives you and your family the time to try them. These winter sports are a great way to get your family active while also creating memories. You may have to test out a few to find one that you and your family enjoy. Even young children can participate.
There are kid-friendly slopes that your children can ski and sled on. Many cities also have both outdoor and indoor ice skating rinks during the winter season. Grab the whole family, pack some lunch and hot chocolate and head out to have an afternoon of family-filled fun. Who knows, you might find a life-long hobby that your whole family can do together. If skiing or sledding aren’t your thing, try ice fishing or going to a motocross or skating event on ice.
7. Encourage each of your family members to keep a gratitude journal during winter break.
Start a new tradition within your family by having each member keep a gratitude journal. Every morning, set aside ten minutes to list five things that you are grateful for and write them down. You might need to help the younger members of your family write down what they come up with. Try not to think too hard, but rather focus on the first five things that come to mind. It might be as your warm cup of morning coffee or that you talked to a close friend the night before.
Encourage your kids to think outside the box and to include more than just materialistic items. There is always something to be grateful for. As each day passes, you might find that it becomes easier because you start to appreciate all of the things we take for granted. You might also be pleasantly surprised at what your kid’s mention and how it might differ between the younger and older kids. Later, use these gratitude journals to remind yourself and your family of all that you have to be grateful for, not just during the holiday season.
6. Winter break is the perfect time to binge-watch that TV show.
Sitting in the house on a cold, snowy day might seem boring, but you can really be lazy without feeling guilty. Choose your favorite pair of sweatpants or pajamas and cuddle up on the couch next to your dog. Spend some time watching a fun and entertaining TV series. That can be an activity that you do to spend time together with your kids, or it can be an activity that you do solo after the kids are in bed. There are many popular shows, from comedy to suspense, that can be found on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
The best part about streaming the series is that there are no commercials, and you can move from one episode to the next. Some of the most highly-recommended TV shows are Schitt’s Creek, Friends, and Grey’s Anatomy. If you are looking for a new TV series, you can browse the popular section conveniently located on Netflix. Go ahead and tune into those documentaries everyone has been talking about all year long, too. If Disney is more your speed, maybe order Dinsey+ for old and new favorites.
Boxes and bows — oh my! From glitter to finger paint, the sky’s the limit when it comes to homemade arts and crafts. If you are looking for a fun winter break activity, encourage your kids to make some DIY gifts that are perfect for their grandparents or siblings. Depending on their age, you can find DIY gifts that are tailored to meet their age and skill levels. There are many DIY gift options for younger children. Have them use finger paint to provide a sentimental gift that anyone will be sure to cherish.
For older children, try having them make homemade candles. The wax can be fun! These add warmth, light, and coziness to every space. They make the perfect gift for practically anyone and can be customized with their scent and color. Providing them with the tools to create these gifts will allow their creativity to bloom. They will not only have a blast making the gifts, but you will see their eyes light up when they present their handmade gifts to the recipient.
4. Organizing your home is a great winter break activity – no more clutter!
Cleaning is never fun, but organizing your home is always a must. Each season provides a good time to step back and take a look at your possessions and lifestyle. As the long winter approaches, you may find a need to clean, sort, and organize your home. Getting your home prepared during winter can help in later seasons too. At the start of winter break, encourage your kids to go through their toys and determine what they use and what they no longer use. Donate the items that are no longer being used.
The organization will help create peace of mind and eliminate the chaos that you might be feeling. As you encourage your kids to sort through your belongings, it is vital that you lead by example. Go through your clothes and items to organize what you need to keep. Although it may not be considered the most fun activity, the results are well worth it! You’ll be able to head into the long winter with a clean home and peace of mind.
3. Plan a memorable evening for the entire family by camping out in the family room.
During winter, it may not be as possible to camp out in the traditional sense. You might live in a climate that is just way too cold for outside camping. That is where creativity comes into play. Use the resources that you do have to create an unforgettable time. Move all of your living room furniture and set up a tent in the middle of the room. Yes, you read that correctly. You can make a fort, tent, cave, teepee, and more! The kids will love you for it.
There is hardly any better way to provide a camping experience than with the authentic aspects. Have everyone bring their bedroom pillows and blankets or set up their sleeping bag. Get some camping snacks and drinks to enjoy for the entire evening. Right before bed, sit around in a circle, and tell campfire stories. If you have younger children and want to create an even more unique experience, you can get an indoor teepee. There are so many options that you can find online.
2. Create a masterpiece during winter break to utilize your art skills.
Come up with some DIY projects for you and the family! If you aren’t that artsy, maybe sit with the kids and try some homemade snowflakes and paper chains. Art is a fantastic activity because it can be tailored to every skill level and age. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to art. Every piece is intended to be unique and special to the artist that puts time and effort into the work. For younger children, help them make handmade decorations that can serve as keepsakes or decorations for your home.
Pinterest has so many great ideas that you can search for based on age or skill level. One easy project involves pine cone ornaments. Head into the backyard to gather some of your supplies. A clean pine cone works perfectly as a base for glue and glitter. Set up a shallow plastic container for easy cleanup. When they are finished, attach a partially bent paper clip, and just like that, you have a unique and special ornament. Your kids can keep them until they grow up and have their own tree.
1. Make family time with a family movie every Saturday night.
As you prepare the bucket list schedule, you might want to consider adding a family movie every Saturday night. Watch some old family classics or some of the newer family movies. Each week let a different member of the family choose the film of the week. It is a great chance to share in the interests of your kids. Do you like oldies, but goodies with characters like Cinderella, Mickey Mouse, and Casper the Ghost? Maybe you prefer the Frozen or Coco. From Bambi to Wreck it Ralph, there are so many fun, family movies available.
Tune into the new hit Jingle Jangle or feel free to get mushy with a Hallmark classic. Grab the popcorn and gather around the living room where you can spend time and laugh with your entire family in the same room. Make it a rule that all technology is left in another room, so there are no distractions. Watching a movie is a great winter break activity, and it might even be an activity that you choose to put on your calendar beyond winter break. The time spent together is invaluable.