The holiday season can get hectic and crazy with family gatherings, holiday parties, and school events. Winter break is perfectly timed as a way to wind down and reset for the new year. With kids of all ages home from school for a week or two, you might be struggling to figure out what to do during that break. We’ve got you covered with a list of things to do over winter break that the whole family will enjoy.
There are outdoor activities to get everyone some fresh air and burn off some energy. You’ll find a variety of indoor activities that you can organize when you need a break from the cooler temps outside. And if you really want to treat the family, try out one of our vacation ideas to get a change of scenery and enjoy some quality time together as a family. Get excited and get planning.
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Things to Do Outdoors
Take advantage of the days off of school and work by planning at least a few outdoor activities. Normally, the kids would spend the weekdays indoors learning, so get them outside during their days off school.
Find a New Snow Tube or Sledding Hill
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that already has some snow on the ground, playing outside in it is a great way to kick off the winter season. You can purchase a sled from all kinds of retailers. If you want to level up a bit, you can see if there is a snow tubing location near you. These spots have tubes to rent and you can take a tow rope or a “magic carpet” conveyor belt to the top of the hill and then race your other family members down the hill.
Take a Christmas Light Tour
Most people leave their Christmas or holiday lights up until at least the first week of January. It helps bring some joy to the long, dark nights of winter. You can either google the best neighborhoods in your city for lights or have someone put it together for you. Many cities have limo tours where they have the routes all planned and you just pack up snacks and drinks for your family and enjoy the ride.
Color Your Yard
Snow paint is becoming more and more popular as an outdoor activity in the winter. It’s the cold-weather version of chalk. You can purchase various colors at the store or make your own at home. You can use it to decorate certain areas or just like preschoolers go wild with the colors all over the yard.
Go Ice Skating
Ice skating is a great family-friendly activity that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Even if you live in a warm-weather climate, there are likely indoor ice skating rinks in your area. You can rent skates and take a lesson if you want or just test your skills as you go around and around. It’s a great way to get a little exercise and movement during Christmas break.
Try Out a Local Scavenger Hunt
Just because the kids have a few weeks off of school, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have some fun learning something new. Try out a scavenger hunt in your city and explore some places that you might not have been before. You’ll participate in fun challenges and activities that the whole family can participate in. It’s a great way to get outside and get some fresh air while exploring your own hometown.
Make a Snowman or Igloo
The best way to embrace the colder weather of winter is to get outside and play in it. With snow on the ground, you can have some fun in your own backyard. Build a classic snowman with sticks for arms, a carrot nose, and rocks for eyes. Get creative and make some animals or special characters like Mickey Mouse or Big Foot.
Another great option for backyard fun is building a fort out of the snow and ice. Igloos are created by stacking blocks of snow and ice. You can use a bucket or another container to pack in the snow and make your bricks and start stacking them. This project could take days and once it’s done, the family will be able to enjoy it all season.
Catch Some Fish While Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is a great activity during winter break. Check your local park websites to see if the lakes are completely frozen. If people have the green light to head out on the ice, you can pick up supplies at any outdoor retailer to make a small hole and drop in your fishing line. For kids younger than middle school, pack extra warm blankets and keep an eye on them while out on the ice.
Organize a Giant Neighborhood Snowball Fight
In neighborhoods that have a good number of kids, outdoor games can be extra fun thanks to the number of players. Capture the Flag is a great large group game where you can play in multiple neighboring yards. In the winter, you can utilize the snow to have some fun with neighbors. Split up in teams or just pick a time for a free-for-all in the neighborhood.
Indoor Activities for Your Winter Break
If the weather is cold or you just want to spend a day in your pajamas, there are tons of great indoor things to do over winter break that are perfect for family members of all ages.
Set Up a Fancy DIY Hot Chocolate “Bar”
Hot chocolate is the perfect treat for cold days over winter break. You can stick with the simple packets, or you can really make it a special experience. With so many flavors available now, you can set up an entire sampling party for cocoa. Set out marshmallows, sprinkles, whipped cream, candy bits, and other fun options to decorate the tops. Enjoy your creations around the fireplace or at the kitchen table while planning out your winter break calendar of events and ideas.
Host a Tournament with your Favorite Board Games
Classic board games can take hours to play if you follow all the rules and sometimes it’s hard to find time to play all your favorites. Use the days off during winter break to play family classics like Monopoly, Risk, and Scrabble. You can set it up like a tournament with prizes for the winner. You can also split up into teams where teams can decide which players should participate in which games.
You can also pull out the fun team games like Pictionary, Charades, or Codenames and have everyone play at the same time. Pick out a game based on the ages of your kids and the interests your family has. There are games that focus on all kinds of popular culture themes like Friends, the Office, Disney movies, and more. It’s a good time to pull all the options out and try something new or something you haven’t played in a long time.
Organize Photos From the Year
With cameras on phones getting better and better, we all carry a lot of pics around on our phones and they never get printed out. Take some time over winter break with the family to reflect back over the last year and pick out some favorite pictures to print out and display. Maybe each person has a frame that they can fill with their favorites or you have a family scrapbook to add to, just enjoy the time to get sentimental.
Build Gingerbread Houses
Most people consider gingerbread houses a Christmas activity, but the good news about that is the discounts you can grab them for after the holiday itself. Pick up some gingerbread house kits the day after Christmas and have a fun crafting event. It’s better to have someone enjoy these kits instead of throwing them away after the holiday season, so stock up and have your kids invite some friends over and use up the rest of the holiday baking supplies to create (and snack).
Schedule a Movie Marathon
After a hectic holiday season, some people just need to spend their winter break relaxing. Organize a movie marathon for the whole family for the winter break. There are so many incredible options. You can watch the Marvel movies in chronological order and deep dive into the superheroes that have taken this country by storm. The Batman story has a lot of movie options too. Harry Potter and Star Wars are other popular options that work for many ages and have lots of movies to keep you busy.
With younger children, you could have them pick a movie for each day of break and use that for a little quiet time each day. Disney has so many classic favorites that would be enjoyable for the whole family. Netflix has some great options too for both tv and movies.
Just make sure you have your popcorn, candy, and drinks ready to go. Cozy and comfortable clothes and a good viewing room are also musts. For the ultimate experience, make it like a theater and turn off the lights and make phones and non-movie screens off-limits during the main event.
Put Together a Lego Village or Puzzle
Long days spent indoors are perfect for puzzles or complicated lego sets that are ready to be built. Clear off a table for a workspace and get all of the pieces spread out and ready to put together. Sometimes doing these activities can be tough because they take up space and if you can’t finish them, they might need to be cleaned up and started over. With winter break, you don’t have to be rushing to the next thing and can take the time to complete these fun projects.
Put on a playlist of your family’s favorite music and take spots around the table to put together a puzzle or build something. It’s a good way to take a break from screen time as well.
Craft Some Snowflake Decorations
Snowflakes make everyone think of winter, even if you live in the desert. The good news is that you can decorate your home with snowflakes even if there’s no chance you’ll see any out of his window. All you need is a stack of white paper and some scissors. Fold the paper into distinct shapes, then cut out small sections of the folded sheet.
When you unfold the paper, you’ll have a beautiful snowflake that you can tape on your windows. Make each one different and cover every window in your home. It’s a fun way to do a little winter decorating without spending money on any decor.
Encourage Lots of Reading Time
Head to the library before winter break to stock up on tons of book options that your whole family can dive into during the holidays. Some children may have some assigned reading over break, so make it a priority. You can light a fire, put out some snacks, and cuddle up to start the new year off with a few books checked off the to-read list.
Have a Baking Day to Get Hands-On
Christmas baking doesn’t have to stop at the holiday. Put the kitchen to good use while you’re home for winter break. You can bake savory treats if you’re sick of sugar. Get the family involved in trying something new in the kitchen. You can bake bread, make your own pasta, or stick to the cookies and sweet stuff.
There are some great cookbooks available for kids so you can let them lead the charge. You might even be lucky enough to get a full meal where you don’t have to lift a finger (other than just supervising).
Get Out of Town
Christmas break is a popular time to travel, so if you are looking for options that will give you all a change of scenery, we’ve got a couple of options here.
Take a Road Trip to Explore a New City
Grab a map with the kids and see what cities or towns are within driving distance that you can explore. Road trips are fun for the whole family. You’ll get to explore new museums, try new restaurants, and take in new places. Make sure to consider places that may not seem like popular destinations. Each city has its own flavors and history and there are incredible attractions and family activities in each place.
Rent a Cabin and Enjoy Nature
Most people living in the United States are within a few hours’ drive of a National Park or National Forest. Consider renting a cabin near one of these beautiful places to spend the winter break doing fun things outdoors. 4th Graders receive free entry to the United States National Parks for an entire car full of people, so if you have a nine or ten-year-old, sign up for the Every Kid Outdoors initiative.
If you don’t have a national park close to you, there are great state parks and local nature preserves in each region, so don’t be discouraged. Fresh air is abundant and there are so many great activities to enjoy in any type of weather.
Hit the Slopes with a Ski Trip
A popular Christmas break vacation is a ski trip. Whether you have preschoolers or high school kids, there are lessons and ski runs for all levels to enjoy. Kids can try snowboarding for the first time or check out terrain parks at certain resorts. This is a great family vacation option because it allows everyone to be active together and play outdoors.
Popular ski destinations include the many resorts of Colorado, Salt Lake City, Lake Tahoe, and the Green and White Mountains of New England. If you don’t have the equipment, most resorts rent everything from skis and boards to helmets and safety gear.
Ring in the New Year in the Big Apple
New York City is a bucket list trip for many people for New Year’s Eve. The famous ball drop in Times Square has famous musical performers and is family-friendly if you have kids that can stand and be outside for a few hours at a time (and stay up until midnight). The Christmas decorations on 5th Avenue and throughout the city are still lit up and on full display. While you’re there, visit museums and popular tourist attractions. This time of year may be colder, but it is such a beautiful time to see the big apple.
Visit a New Theme Park
Check and see what options you have for theme parks or even water parks. There are plenty of places that stay open year-round. You can pack everyone up and fly somewhere in warmer weather or check out a waterpark that is located indoors. All of these places offer fun activities for the big kids and the little ones.
Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Six Flags are all well-known theme parks and have all kinds of holiday activities going on even after the Christmas holiday. The smaller places might have a hotel attached or some family fun specials happening that you can take advantage of.
Enjoy Your Winter Break!
Schedule some fun and some relaxation. Let us know what you have planned this year in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Finding creative things to do over winter break might include trying new things, like cooking a recipe you’ve never eaten or exploring a city you’ve never seen. Try to make each experience memorable!
Try and schedule a variety of different things to do over winter break. Include both indoor and outdoor activities to keep kids occupied, burning energy, and getting some fresh air.