10 Cheap holiday activities
Run out of holiday activities? Here are 10 great ways to keep your kids occupied this holiday.

If you're like me, the thought of all that school-free time during December and January is intimidating.

Keeping the kids busy can be exhausting, nerve wracking and hugely expensive. It might be early days, but I've already started scouring the Internet for ideas to keep them busy without spending a fortune.

Let the kids make Christmas decorations

Use old Christmas decorations and give them a face-lift.  Paint the old decorations black or white and let the kids decorate them with glitter or fingerprints in coloured paints.  If you don't have old decorations why not let them help you collect seedpods, cones, etc and do the same.  Glitter and glue sets can be found for only R15.

A picnic day

Depending on your child’s age, let them help you make snacks for a picnic. Then take them to the park, back garden (or living room). Spread out the snacks on a blanket and enjoy!

There are a number of fun and exciting snacks to make:

  • Rainbow sandwiches made with cheese spread and food colouring
  • Make a tower sandwich with different colours for each level and cut in thin strips
  • My kids will do absolutely anything for cherry tomatoes
  • Cut viennas into shorter pieces
  • Even little ones can help by picking the grapes loose
  • Make home-made lemonade with lemon juice, sugar and water, or ice tea with roobos tea, lemon juice and sugar
  • Feeling industrious? You can bake cookies, most kids love to help! Try these no-bake granola bars.

Play dates

Arrange fun play dates with friends. Someone else’s house is an adventure for kids missing their friends during school holidays. 

It also gives the moms a chance to recuperate with tea and good conversation. Remember to set up a schedule with moms before the holidays, giving you time to plan around them. 

Don’t feel like entertaining at home? Why not arrange your play date at a venue like the tea garden of a local nursery or park? Some nurseries like Safari Garden Centre in Pretoria East have dedicated play areas for children.

Sidewalk artists 

Try this brilliant recipe for sidewalk paint made with water, cornstarch and food colour.  Make up several colours and, when they’re done, just wash it off with the hosepipe.

Do an artist day with sheets of paper. Just add crayons, watercolours, coloured pens or glitter & glue.  If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try this easy recipe for puffy paint.

Fun in the sun

South Africa has great weather, so take the kids to the swimming pool or beach.  We have a wading pool in our local park. 

You should be able to find an affordable local swimming pool.  Just remember water safety and sun-block.

Can’t find a suitable pool? Try a water war. Buckets of water and a few sponges or old squirt bottles in the back garden can be just as much fun.

Home-made presents

Help your kids to make presents for family members like these bath fizzies for mom, grannies and aunts or decorate smooth rocks to make paper weights like pen art pebbles or paint them, glitter them, make funky animals out of them for dad, grandpa and uncles.  

Hand-made picture frames with a picture of themselves are also very good gifts to make.  Decorate them with shells, sand, paint, magazine/newspaper print, etc.  Hand and footprint art with the date are great ideas, too. 

Build a fort

Not often allowed, but lots of fun for the kids: Take the furniture cushions and a lot of blankets and build a fort in the house.  The kids will have loads of fun building and then playing in it.  The hard part is making them put it all away.

Theatre day

Help the kids to make puppets and a stage.  Let them put on a play. 

Here are some very nice ideas for puppets:  

•    use those leftover single socks to make sock puppets, just add felt tongues and eyes

•    make paper bag puppets and decorate with coloured paper

•    for a small stage, stick puppets are ideal, draw figures on paper, cut out and glue to a sosatie stick

•    use pipe cleaners with two balls at each end, decorate the balls like eyes and add feathers at the back for eyebrows, now put the pipe cleaner between your fingers so that the eyes are on top of the hand and use your fingers as the mouth.

The stage can be made from an old box or be as simple as a broom with a linen sheet draped over it between two couches.

The museum circuit

We’ve had great fun at some of the museums.  For instance the National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria CBD is fascinating for kids with their displays of birds, dinosaurs and other living things. 

I never knew a moose could be that big! Plus the entrance fees are very affordable, and kids under the age of three go in for free.  Research the museums in your area for fun places to visit.

Another firm favourite is the Zoo.  We try to go there at least once a year.  The entrance fee is reasonable, and we always pack a picnic basket to take along. 

Baby strollers are wonderful accessories- Not only can you push a tired child, but most of them have storage space for the picnic hamper as well.

Movies at home

Going to the movies gets very expensive when you have a lot of kids, but you don’t have to pay a fortune:  Rent a DVD and do the movies at home.  Remember to hang blankets in front of the windows and have the snacks like popcorn and sweeties handy.

Do you have any special, fun activities to entertain your kids? Share them by emailing chatback@parent24.com and we may publish your story! Should you wish to remain anonymous, please let us know!

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