Cheap Ways to Keep Children Entertained over the Christmas Holidays

Christmas is a magical experience for children and it can be a lovely time for everyone to relax and enjoy the chance to catch up with family and friends. However, it might also be a time when tempers become frayed after spending a lot of time together inside under what can sometimes be pressurised circumstances.

Homemade Christmas Biscuits

Younger children may not cope well with the changes to their routine and older children may find it tricky if they don't get a bit of time to themselves.

This article aims to have a look at a few different ways in which it might be possible to keep children entertained over the Christmas holidays, without you incurring too much extra cost at this expensive time of year.

Obviously you would hope that playing with any new things they might have received as presents would occupy them for a while, but once the novelty has worn off it's good to know you have a back-up plan or two!

Cooking something up in the kitchen

There is often a lot of food around over Christmas, so the chances are you'll have plenty of bits and bobs available to be able to throw something together and allow the children to help.

A simple internet search will give you plenty of recipe ideas.
BBC Food
is a good place to start. If you'd like to let your children lead the way, you could visit the site of the CBeebies pre-school cooking show, I Can Cook to locate some really child-friendly recipes. You could even watch the show online first to get a live step-by-step tutorial.

Have a puzzle marathon

If you don't have any already, jigsaw puzzles are easy to find very cheaply in charity shops or on eBay. Many of them are not even prohibitively expensive even if you buy them from new and you are likely to be able to find some real bargains in the post-Christmas sales.

Set up an afternoon where you have lots of puzzles to hand and see how many you can complete as a family. The great thing about this is that there are puzzles aimed at all levels of ability, so grown-ups and children alike can take part.

This is a great way for you to model to children the different problem solving strategies that can be employed when doing puzzles and is a good way to show children that adults can get 'stuck' on things too. You can all help each other as appropriate and there should definitely be a reward for all of you at the end of it!

Building challenges

In a similar spirit to the above idea, you could set children a series of challenges with building blocks such as Lego or Mega Blocks. It could be to build a tower of a certain height, or to build something with only one colour of blocks, or to design a building for a superhero, for example.

You may well find that from an initial starting point children go off and fill an hour or so building their own creations anyway, which is the great thing about open-ended toys.

Check local area guide for events

Look at any free news papers that come through the door, keep an eye on noticeboards on supermarkets, look at the newsletters that come home from schools and pick up any of the family magazines that you may come across outside playgroups or nurseries.

These are all great sources of ideas for things to do with your children. Likewise, an internet search (the website of your local council will no doubt be helpful) will give you some idea.

Visit the library

Not only might there be events taking place at your local library over the Christmas holidays, but you can while away hours in a library choosing books, reading them out loud and perusing them together - definitely a cheap and very cheerful way to pass the time.

Do some junk modelling

One thing there's never a shortage of at Christmas time is rubbish. While I'm not suggesting you give your children the task of rooting through the bins, you could set up a really fun activity by collecting up cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, clean plastic bottles and any other safe items and then asking children to create their own junk model.

They will probably need Sellotape, glue and occasionally a helping hand, but you'll find yourself blown away by their ideas.

Plenty of fresh air

Simple but effective - getting outside is free and will blow the cobwebs away. You don't have to do anything taxing as just a quick walk around the block will work wonders. Fresh air also seems to work well at tiring children out, so fingers crossed you'll be able to plan on a good night's sleep afterwards as well.

Have a family film afternoon / evening

There's usually some great telly on over the Christmas break, so perhaps everyone in the family could select one thing they'd really like to watch and then you could all sit down and watch it together, with snacks and drinks to make it a real occasion.

Check out blogs for ideas

There are so many blogs out there now, on every subject under the sun. Do a quick search on blogs related to your children's interests and you're bound to find something to keep them entertained, such as the Christmas colouring pages on

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