Winter Break is almost here! Do you usually want to ship your kids back to school (and your spouse back to work) by day three? With a little intentional planning beforehand, you can make your time at home all together really count. As soon as winter break begins, we declare it to be “Family Week” in our house. We purposefully clear our schedule and fill several days with fun outings and family activities. Our kids love this celebration of our family. Here are 35 ways for you to spend quality family time this winter break:
- Take a splash in an indoor pool at your local rec center. At the Westerville rec center, our family loved floating on the lazy river while snow was falling outside one Christmas Eve morning. Budget Tip: Columbus Aquatic Center charges just $1 for their open swim!
- Attend a Gardens Aglow event at the Franklin Park Conservatory. Not only will you roam through a desert and a tropical forest during winter, but their schedule is packed with family-friendly activities. My kids were mesmerized watching a juggler there!
- Visit the Wildlights at the zoo -again! In fact, our family goes several times during the season. If the temperature warms up slightly, we fill our mugs with hot chocolate and head to the zoo.
- Go ice skating together. To give skating a try, public skating times at The Chiller is a great place to start. Or, head to Coffman Park for the outdoor skating rink in Dublin when they are open. Prepare for some hilarious falls if it is their first time!
- Try an add-on at COSI. Visit the planetarium show, the 3D show, the motion simulator, or do-it-all!
- Visit a bowling alley and bowl a few games together.
- Get artsy and paint pottery!
- Visit your local library and stock up on books for the break. Enjoy a special program, concert, or story time together!
Tip: Use those memberships! If you are a member of any one of the following you can get a buy one, get one free ticket to all of the other through the Columbus Member Advantage program (ends 12/31/17, unless otherwise noted): COSI, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Ohio History Center and Ohio Village, Franklin Park Conservatory, the Columbus Art Museum, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.
At Home Sweet Home
- Pop some popcorn and make it a movie night. To find great movies that everyone will enjoy, read the parent reviews on Common sense media.
- Try an art night. Bring out the colored pencils and adult coloring books and color alongside your kids.
- If you are a musical family, sing or play instruments together.
- Warm up by a fire. No fireplace? Bundle up and make it an outdoor bonfire. S’mores are a must!
- Do a family craft together. For some (messy) fun, create a concrete stepping stone with all the shells from a previous vacation.
- Make it a game night. Here are some great modern game night ideas from one of our contributors. Our family favorites include Memory, Blokus, Sorry, and Jenga.
- Watch family videos or look at pictures of the past year. My husband strings all of our family videos together into one long yearly video. It is wonderful to relive all of the fun memories that we shared.
- Build a fort or set up a tent indoors. Our family (well, mainly my husband) is serious about forts which tend to include a rope frame that spans the length of our family room. It creates days of fun for the kids.
- Show off some family talent with a talent show or dance party!
- Watch a sports game together. Increase the fun by making signs for your team, getting decked out in your team’s colors, and making themed appetizers. Bring on some noise!
- Have a family lego night. Use the internet or library books for some cool inspiration.
- Put a large puzzle together. To keep things interesting, hit a buzzer each time a piece is added.
- Have a Minute to Win it family competition. Check Pinterest for ideas using items around the house like plastic cups, straws, and cotton balls.
- Read a chapter book together.
Fun With Food
- Have a special breakfast. Take your pancakes to the next level with all kinds of toppings: Nutella, whipped cream, fresh fruit, and sprinkles! If cooking does not sound appealing, Panera bagels can be just as exciting.
- Bake cookies together. Whip up an old family favorite or have your kids pick out a new recipe.
- Skip cooking and try a new restaurant that has been on your list. Check out these family-friendly restaurants.
- Try a themed dinner night. Pick an area of the world and make (or buy) a dish from there. Our family loved watching a kids travel video on Greece after picking up our favorite Greek takeout.
- Make homemade pizzas. The kids will love using the rolling pin (as a sword) and putting all their own toppings on (probably just pepperoni). We love using Trader Joe’s refrigerated dough!
- Have a choose-what-you-want-for-dinner night. Take the kids to the grocery store and let everyone pick up one thing they want for dinner. Enjoy the smorgasbord together!
- Play a dinner game! Break out charades or other games as you eat around the table.
The Great Outdoors
- Play in the snow (if the white stuff decides to fall this year, that is). Go sledding. Build a snowman or an army of snowmen. Build a snow fort. Make snow angels. Have a snowball fight. “Draw” in the snow using spray bottles of food coloring and water (a hit with the preschoolers). End the time with a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows.
- Hang bird feeders outside to feed the birds. My kids love helping to refill the bird seed.
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood or visit a local park.
- Visit one of the Columbus Metro Parks. Take a hike, explore the natural play areas, or discover one of the nature centers. Highbanks is a family favorite.
- Bundle up and play sports! Play a (cold) game of soccer or shoot hoops together.
- Go on a mini-getaway to an indoor splash park or just a hotel with an indoor pool. Our kids still talk about our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge! For a more budget-friendly option, though, try Comfort Inn Splash Harbor in Bellville.