Croll: Have Fun with Your Kids Over Winter Break

By Chris Croll

For most of Loudoun’s students, winter break is in full swing. Our kids will be out of school a total of 18 days (or about 425 hours … not that anyone is counting). This is a long time to spend with our little cherubs, especially when we are also juggling out-of-town relatives, shopping for gifts, travel, cooking, baking, cleaning, wrapping, filling advents and overseeing an elf that flies around our house at night.

Here is a checklist of 18 low-stress (low-cost) activities—one for each day of winter break—that parents can enjoy with their children this season.

  • Introduce your children to the music you listened to when you were a teenager.
  • Have a “make me laugh” contest.
  • Go outdoors for a walk, hike or just to sit together to listen to the sounds of nature.
  • Hit golf balls.
  • Paint a single canvas as a family – then hang the finished product in your home.
  • Have a “snowball” fight in the house using wads of crumpled paper.
  • Recite funny poems to each other (Shel Silverstein is a children’s favorite).
  • Play chess (or learn how to play by watching YouTube videos if you’re new to the game).
  • Bake cookies following a family recipe.
  • Write letters to friends and mail them.
  • Play “guess what food it is” by blindfolding a family member. and having them taste a small bite of a secret food on a spoon
  • Fill a bird feeder and hang it where the children can watch the birds eat.
  • Study trees—identify the type of trees in your neighborhood
  • Create a garage band using household items (pots, trash cans, etc.) as instruments.
  • Star in a movie or play your child writes and directs.
  • Blast music, turn off the lights and have a dance party.
  • Watch home movies from when your child was a baby (or, if you have them, from when you were a baby).
  • Pop into the library and have everyone choose a book as a surprise “gift” for the other members of your family and then read together.

Older children may balk at breaking away from their screens to participate in these activities, but the memories you make together as a family could be the greatest gift of all this season.

Happy holidays!

Chris Croll

Chris Croll is a parenting consultant specializing in educating and raising gifted and twice-exceptional children. She leads the National Center for Gifted Services ( and the nonprofit Loudoun County Parents of Gifted Students ( 

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