Make the Most of Holiday Break

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By Jennifer Halter

For many parents, it seems like the break from our normal routines started in March and just kept rolling
through to now. With school days being anything but typical for most families, it may seem odd to think
about holiday break being “traditional” or something that everyone gets excited about since most of us are
home anyway. But look at this time off as a way to relax, recharge and create new opportunities to have fun!

Here are five ways that you can make this holiday break memorable for your family.

Holiday Cookie Bake Off

Grab your bowls and spatulas and head into the kitchen for a friendly baking competition! Whether you’re using a favorite family cookie recipe or something new you find online, the entire family will have fun creating holiday treats to share. For younger children, you can even turn this into a learning opportunity and let them practice following a recipe and measuring ingredients.

If baking from scratch isn’t your thing, opt for premade cookie dough from the grocery store. You can make
the cookies your own by using sugar cookie dough and adding in extras, such as sprinkles, nuts or chocolate chips before baking. Provide cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes to use as well.

The part that most everyone loves about this activity is decorating the cookies! You can provide a variety
of items, such as colored-sugar sprinkles, icing, toffee bits … the possibilities are endless. Allow each person
to decorate their cookies as they see fit. Try to ignore the messes (I know, this is a tough one for many!), and remember that this is all about having fun.

Once finished, hold a judging session where everyone samples the cookies and votes for their favorite. Include categories for Tastiest, Most Unique Design or Silliest, to give everyone an opportunity to win an award.

Holiday Movie Night

Get into your comfiest pajamas and settle in for a holiday movie night! Turn your living room into your
own private movie theater by dimming the lights while you watch your favorites. For an added touch, have the kiddos create tickets for each guest or design movie posters to display. Consider adding popcorn bags or containers and movie-theater-sized boxes of candy to complete your night! These items can often be found at the dollar store.

Hot Cocoa Bar

Want to do something to warm you up on the chilly winter days or nights? Set up a hot cocoa bar! This
can be done on its own or in conjunction with another family activity, such as the Bake Off or Movie Night. Mix up a batch of hot cocoa and allow each person to add mix-ins, like marshmallows, white chocolate chips or peppermint candy.

Add a crafty element and have everyone decorate their own mug or cup to enjoy hot cocoa in. Check your local dollar or craft store for plain mugs or disposable cups that can be decorated with markers or paint. Children can add embellishments such as stickers, glitter or mini garlands to their disposable cups.

Crafting Day

Whether you are creating gifts for others or items to decorate your home or tree, having a day of crafting will surely keep everyone busy … at least for a few hours!

If you are planning to gift to others, make items such as photo frames from popsicle sticks, ornaments or
paint-your-own items that you can pick up from the craft store. Homemade gifts are always a hit!

Some great home décor items to make are holiday wreaths for your door or special ornaments for your tree. (Craft stores have several easy and affordable options for this.) You may even consider using canvas and paint to create a wintry scene that can hang on the wall for the season.

Want to keep it simple? Put out paper, markers, crayons, glue, jewels, etc., and let their little imaginations run wild as they design a new masterpiece.

Family Photo Day

The best way to remember all the special memories from your break is to take photos … and lots of them!
Get dressed in your holiday best and do a formal photo shoot. Or how about matching pajamas and some pics in front of your tree? Get bundled up and head to a nearby park to capture some action shots of everyone enjoying the colder temperatures. And don’t forget to snap pics during each of your special at-home events suggested above, so you can look back year after year and reminisce on the good times you had together.

Jennifer Halter is publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas.

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