Normally this time of year, our calendars are filled with holiday parities, visits to Santa or special events around town. If you’re like me, all these events are what make the holiday, FEEL like a holiday. They set the tone for the season and really get me in the spirit.
Fast forward to the holiday season, 2020. It’s been a tough year for many WNYers and holiday spirit may be a little low. With COVID lingering, many WNYers are staying home so I’ve put together a list of ideas to give you 12 days of holiday activities! All can either be done at home, or are safe for social distancing.
Make Hot Cocoa Bombs
Right now, Buffalo Learning Lab is offering a class teaching you how to make them, virtually! The live class is scheduled for December 11th, but you can access the recording on demand any time after that. Registration is $25 AND it includes two silicone molds (which are impossible to find in the stores right now) and a pastry bag for decorating. Here’s a link to register.
If you already have molds or would prefer to DIY it, there are plenty of online resources to show you how to make them. Even if your kids won’t drink the hot cocoa, it could be a fun activity.
Gather Items to Donate
It’s the perfect time to go through your kid’s toys and clothes and donate items they are no longer using to help others in need. This is a great way to teach kids about the importance of helping other and the true meaning of Christmas.
If you’ve already cleaned out, as many of us did when we were home in the spring, you could also donate a new item to Toys for Tots or another charity. Have your child help you find something online and order it for delivery or curbside pick up, then drop it off to the donation center together! Aside from the traditional Goodwill, AmVets, etc., here’s a list of places that usually accept donations. Please check with them prior to dropping anything off.
- Toys for Tots – Drop sites across WNY
- Child & Family Services – They have an online wish list where you can order stuff off their list and send it to them. They are not accepting used donations at this time.
- Hearts for the Homeless – They have bins across WNY where you can drop donations.
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of WNY – They are also not accepting used donations at this time, but they have a wish list on their site.
- Harvest House – They are accepting limited items due to COVID. Please check their site for details.
Make Decorations for their Bedroom
Using construction paper and other craft materials you have on hand, help your kids make decorations for their bedroom! This year my daughter is working on a Christmas tree made from felt, a construction paper wreath for her door and a Santa with reindeer for her wall. Here’s a few pictures to give you inspiration.
Make a Car and Decorate it for Christmas
Later in this list I suggest a drive-in movie night at home. Before you can do that, you’ve gotta create cars! You can use laundry baskets, boxes, plastic bins, anything you have around the house for the base of the car. Then have your kids use construction paper, tissue paper, whatever you have to decorate their car for the holiday.
For movie night, consider making these adorable Reindeer Brownies! The kids will love them and they are relatively easy to make. This blog, My Heavenly Recipes, has the full details on how to make these. Good news…she recommends boxed brownie mix!
Write a Card for the Troops
There are men and women deployed around the world as we speak. They love getting cards and letters from home. On day 7, have your kids make a card for a solider. Here’s where to send them.
Make a Gift for Someone
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
I know I’m the first one to get wrapped up in the gift giving part of the season but there’s no time like 2020 to remind our kids that Christmas is so much more. A great way to do that is by taking a day to make a hand made gift for someone in your life. It could be a family member, an elderly neighbor or even one of their siblings. Either way helping them come up with an idea and put in the effort to bring it to life is a great way to help them spread Christmas cheer AND show them not all gifts have to come from the store.
Decorating a gingerbread house can be fun for everyone! If you’re like me, I went out and bought a kit from Michael’s Craft Store. This is the one I got this year. They offer curbside pickup for a great contactless option, plus you can usually find a coupon with them.
This year, we’re doing an adult vs. kid contest! I bought two houses. We’re going to put them together then decorate in teams. I’m going to post pictures to Facebook and have our family and friends vote on the winner. Now to come up with a prize for the winning team!
Holiday Scavenger Hunt
Here’s a list my daughter and I created for a fun and easy holiday scavenger hunt! Save it to your phone or download it. Take it with you when you drive around to look at Christmas lights, or use it twice and by having your child find the items on the list around your house or in your neighborhood.
Take in the Lights
This year, we have the BEST list of Christmas light displays in WNY. Community members from all over sent their addresses to me and I’ve been updating my list as they come in. The result is a pretty extensive list of homes and businesses throughout the community that have gone totally “Clark Griswold” this Christmas. Grab our list here, plan your route, pack some snacks, put the kids in the car, head out and enjoy the lights! Don’t forget your scavenger hunt list if you plan to use it.
Photo provided courtesy of the homeowners at 170 Pierce Ave., Hamburg, NY
Learn About Holiday Celebrations
One great thing about being in school this time of year is many schools talk about other holiday celebrations outside of Christmas. If you celebrate Christmas, take some time to talk with your kids about other holiday celebrations and traditions. Here’s a great video for kids that talks about Hanukkah.
Video: The Story of Hanukkah | Hanukkah for Kids | Origins of Hanukkah
Cookies for Santa
At this point, we’re probably close enough to the big day where you can make some cookies for the big guy! Whether you’re a “from scratch”, “from a box” or “order from a baker” type family, there are a lot of ways to do cookies!
If you’d like to support a local small business, head over to Facebook and look for a bakery that’s offering DIY Cookie Decorating Kits. These are a great way to get everything in need in one shot, avoid not having an ingredient and having to run to the store (which always happens to me) AND support a small business in the process.
I hope you enjoyed this list and it brought your family some holiday cheer!
If you did any of the activities here and took pictures, please share them on my Facebook page. I’d love to see these activities in action.