5 ways to keep kids entertained over winter break

(BPT) - Along with the fun and festive winter holidays comes the long break from school — and the challenge of keeping kids happy and engaged with all that unstructured time. Apart from the special holiday events, kids could use a few other diversions, and parents could, too!

Here are some ideas for you and your family to enjoy time off from school and make the most of hanging out together.

1. Revisit old family games

Pick a few nights over winter break to let each family member pick an old favorite game that everyone can play together. Even if it’s a childhood game everyone thinks they’ve outgrown, the whole family will have fun just being silly and sharing memories together. Pop some popcorn or whip up hot chocolate to enjoy while you play your kids' — and your — favorite games.

2. Avoid cabin fever

Even when the temperatures plummet and the days are short, it can boost everyone’s spirits to get outside for a little while.

  • Bundle up and take a walk in the snow together. Look for holiday decorations on neighborhood houses, or bring neighbors homemade cookies.
  • Throw a few snowballs around or join forces to make a snowman.
  • Plan a skating or sledding expedition.

3. Celebrate a fun holiday meal together

If your kids love The Elf on the Shelf, you're in luck — IHOP® partnered with The Elf on the Shelf® to create a magical limited-time menu, available now through January 1, 2020. On the way back to the North Pole, a few adventurous Scout Elves snuck into the IHOP kitchen to whip up special, elvish treats using signature ingredients and a little bit of elf magic.

The Elf on the Shelf menu includes Jolly Cakes — four fluffy green pancakes topped with sweet cream cheese icing, whipped topping and shimmery elf sprinkles that resemble elf-sized ornaments, and Oh What Funnel Cakes — two golden, crispy funnel cakes, lightly dusted with powdered sugar and topped with glazed strawberries, whipped topping and shimmery elf sprinkles. In addition, there’s a Holiday Ham & Sausage Omelette, Merry Marshmallow Hot Chocolate and a Little Elves Combo.

Speaking of little elves, kids 12 and under can enjoy a free entree from the kids' menu with each purchase of an adult entree between 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm every day, now through January 1. Enjoy your special treat or meal before or after you go sledding or skating for a perfect winter celebration with the family.

4. Enjoy a holiday lights tour

Some areas provide organized tours that you'll need to purchase tickets for ahead of time, and you may even get to enjoy viewing festive holiday lights from the back of a limousine. For a more casual, impromptu lights tour with the family, check out your neighborhood online group or ask friends on social media for local neighborhoods that really go all out. Then you can just pile the kids in the car for a drive to enjoy holiday lights at your own pace.

5. Host a holiday art-a-thon

Clear off a large table and gather a bunch of art and craft supplies for a major creativity marathon.

  • Encourage kids to make cards and pictures for their grandparents or other relatives.
  • Involve everyone in finding online craft projects for making gifts or holiday decorations.
  • Get some newsprint or butcher paper that kids can decorate any way they want for their own festive, homemade wrapping paper. Don’t skimp on the glitter!

With a little creativity, you can find plenty of special ways to enjoy winter break together. Let your child-like sense of adventure and exploration guide you as you re-discover old favorite traditions and create a few new traditions of your own.

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