Winter break ideas, update, Dec. 26, 2021: So the snow forecasts came true. This will change the dynamic of winter break, at least for a few days. Please see our snow safety tips.
As for this list, we have moved up the at-home and close-to-home activities, because those seem like best bets.
Have fun and stay safe!
Winter break ideas: In the kitchen:
If you haven’t yet tried our hot-cocoa bar idea (or even if you have!), this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Also, have you baked cookies? Do you have room for more? A few to try:
- Mexican Wedding Balls from the owner of Macrina Bakery.
- Oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies (always a classic!)
- Or you could go with jelly doughnuts, thanks to teen chef Sadie Suskind
- Have you heard of Norwegian Wishing Cookies? You have now!
I am still drooling at just the thought of Chef Jason Wilson’s Dungeness crab mac and cheese, but I am also pondering dusting off the fondue pot for a New Year’s Eve family feast. I have told the family that, if they’ll help clean the pot between courses, we could do a cheese course, entree and then chocolate, all with those irresistible color-coded long forks. (My Mom had matching sectioned plates, too, in the oh-so-trendy earth tones of the 1970s.)
Winter break ideas: Around the house
TV/streaming: This is not the copout it might sound like. Find something new, maybe something seasonal or educational. Public-TV station KCTS, for example, has a wide range of interesting programming that you can stream either online or using its Roku channel. Seasonal offerings include “Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir,” “Nature: Santa’s Wildland Home” (a look at Lapland!), “Call the Midwife” holiday specials and much more.
Floor skating: If you have hardwood floors and the kids have socks, you’re ready for this one. Put on some music and glide about like figure skaters.
Build stuff! Make stuff! If you have big kids and time to supervise, they might want to try out some tools to build the candleholders from the book “Girls Who Build.” (Those projects are excerpted here.)
Fun project for fidgety hands: Try making a plush lion pillow or a panda bath mitt from Sanae Ishida’s book “Animal Friends to Sew.”
Get out some flour and salt and water. Shape it, then bake it! This works great for ornaments, or maybe even shape them into coasters, paperweights or ladybugs that you can paint later. Instructions here.
Running: If you have a room in your house with two doorways, then you have a ready-made track that’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers and younger grade-school kids. When they get too hyper, ask them to run 20 laps. (You’ll be surprised at how compliant they will be.)
Fun and games: Oh, we love games! Here are some of our best lists:
- Our favorite family board games
- 4 card games you can take anywhere
- 11 cool games to play with your kids
- 10 games to play with your family (even on Zoom)
- 6 great local game stores for last-minute shopping
Read books: Check here for titles that we have suggested, or that others have recommended for us, recently. Or explore what your library can do for you. It’s a lot! We had a 12-year-old try some of King County Library System’s curbside services, and it went great.
Make forts! Pile up the couch cushions and every sofa pillow in the house — and have a blast right in your living room.
An alternate plan: Get out the big cardboard boxes that you accumulated over the holidays and just climb in.
Camping trip on location: Get a bare table and a blanket and make a tent for a little kid. Make sure they have a book and a flashlight and a favorite stuffed animal too.
Winter break ideas: Out and about
The winter fun is just getting started!
Tacoma launches its Tacoma Light Trail on Dec. 31. Here’s what that is all about. If you’re in Pierce County anyway, the Model Train Festival is on through Jan. 2 at the Washington State History Museum. And Point Defiance Park is always spectacular. For future reference, the popular Ice Bumper Cars (how did we not know about this!) are sold out through January but continue year-round!
NW Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville celebrates Winter Wildland from Dec. 26-Jan. 2 with animals, decorations, keeper chats and “winter magic.”
We are big fans of fresh air and exercise. Here are just a few of the ideas we have written about recently. Get out of the house and go have some fun!
- How to hike with a surly teen and tween
- 11 Seattle-area state parks to visit in fall and winter
- Take a winter beach walk at Lincoln Park
- 3 magnificent fall hikes on the Eastside
- Olallie State Park: a hit with kids in any season
- 5 walks for families on wet winter days
- Best Seattle-area urban trails for a walk or bike ride
- Read, then play! Local outings to complement 27 children’s books
- 9 ideas to liven up family walks
- 5 wetland boardwalks to explore with your family
- 6 public gardens to explore with kids
Winter break ideas: In the mountains
Doesn’t a snow day sound like fun? Things are a little different this year (like mandatory reservations at some ski areas), so do you homework before heading out. Check road conditions, too! And read these tips for properly bundling kids up for the cold.
If all else fails: