It’s December, Christmas is coming and everyone’s getting into the festive spirit. But with scheduled activities for our toddlers and pre-schoolers now winding up for the school holidays, how do we keep our little ones busy every day until the big day dawns?
Here are our favourite suggestions for toddler Christmas activities to keep you and your little ones happy for the rest of the month…
Create your own Christmas cards
Not one for those of you who’ve posted all their cards by December 1st, but if you still need to do yours, why not save some money at the card shop and splash out on art supplies instead? With some coloured card, crayons and glitter glue, you can spend a happy morning or two making cards, then go for a walk to hand deliver a few and pop the rest into the post box.
An extra special card for the leaders of your regular toddler groups will be welcomed, too, we’re sure. If, like us, you go swimming each week, perhaps you could get one of your child’s designs laminated, making a practical, waterproof Christmas card to hand over to their swimming teacher as you all splash about in the pool?
Make Christmas decorations
There are loads of decorations your toddler can help with, and contributing to the decoration of the house can help them to feel really involved with your Christmas preparations. This is top on my list of toddler Christmas activities this year, since the results will be cute if not perfect and there are so many places to decorate!
Christmas trees are strongly recognisable by their outline alone, regardless of the colour and pattern your child might create within that outline. You can go wild with a Christmas tree and it will still look like a Christmas tree – unlike Santas, reindeer, angels, etc…
Stick to 2D – cut out trees from green card, provide materials (coloured pens or crayons, glue, glitter, buttons and other small decorations that can be stuck down) and a helping hand, and let your child lead the way.
Go 3D – a simple 3D Christmas tree can be made by cutting slits in two 2D cut out trees, decorating them on both sides, and slotting them together. Or you could design a plasticine tree, or try to make one from lego!
If you’d rather not do any stitching, you can simply cut out a single felt shape; if you’re happy to do a bit of sewing, two felt cut-outs can be sewn around the edges (leaving the top open for tiny gifts) the night before your toddler Christmas activities day.
Using a little PVA glue, you and your toddler can haphazardly adhere glitter, buttons, cut-out card or paper shapes, and anything else you might have to hand…
A classic Christmas activity – and the results of your hard work can replace your pre-toddler glass Christmas tree baubles, if your little one is still likely to make a grab for the pretty stuff when your back’s turned! You can cut out strips for you and your child to glue together, or buy packs of pre-cut paper in a selection of colourful shades and festive patterns.
An innovative one that we happened across while googling, and absolutely love! Take a plain pillar candle (nice and wide, to give more room for your decoration) and draw on it with coloured marker pens. One for slightly older pre-schoolers rather than toddlers, we think (not least because permanent markers work best and we don’t trust our two year olds with those yet!) – but a fun activity nonetheless.
Decorate the house
Hang a selection of their own creations and some child-safe pre-bought ones too. Don’t forget to keep a few of theirs to display proudly downstairs, so that all your guests can see the kids handiwork (without being dragged upstairs for a viewing!)
And once you’ve got all their creations in place, a nice finishing touch is a string of festive, battery powered fairy lights, hung well out of reach of little fingers, to cast a warm glow around the room in the evening and replace their regular night light overnight.
If you’re not already exhausted and out of time, why not indulge in a little organised chaos as you wrap your Christmas gifts? We’ve found that the best way to do this (ensuring that gifts are wrapped properly) is to pre-wrap your pressies and add name labels. Then provide your toddler with a stack of wrapped up presents and plenty of festive stickers and stick on ribbons and bows, and let them decorate each gift to their heart’s content.
You might find that some of the gifts mysteriously come unwrapped in the process and have to be done again – but as our toddlers love stickers of any kind, the gifts do finish up thoroughly (if a little randomly) decorated!
by Vicky Scowcroft