Are you looking forward to those two weeks off from school with dread in your heart? Are you wondering what on earth you are going to do to keep your kids from winding up on the bored and naughty list? It can’t be something that costs a ton either since you just blew this month’s budget on gifts, right? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Holiday bath: I know I’m crazy with all my ‘themed baths’, but they get my kids pumped to get clean and when I don’t have to chase them, screaming and half naked, through the house and into the tub I consider it a big win! This year I was excited to find candy apple and peppermint scented bath foam at our local Walmart. The Rudolph bath bomb was a fun find at Target (Santa, elves, and snowmen were also available), the Crayola bath paint and foam soap were at Meijer and the holiday cookie rubber duckies were online from Walmart. Meijer had large size ugly sweater and nutcracker rubber ducks too.
Craft corner: The first thing we made the day after Thanksgiving was our traditional Christmas countdown chain. They are easy to make and even easier to refer back to when your kids have asked you ‘how many more days till Christmas’ for the seventeenth time that hour. I had my six-year-old cut red, green, and white construction paper into strips. Then we looked on the calendar and counted the number of days till Christmas. We took that number of strips and glued them into interlocking rings with our glue stick. Each morning we rip off one ring and then count the number of days that are left.
Gingerbread houses: If you are handy in the kitchen and tend to keep a lot of baking products pre-stocked, then gingerbread houses are virtually free to bake from scratch. If you, like me, are fairly clueless in the kitchen (let’s not talk about the Royal icing fiasco of 2020) then take comfort from the fact that they are widely available to buy from the Dollar Tree and Five Below. Five dollars will literally get you a box with pre-made gingerbread panels, royal icing, and all the candy required to decorate it- no muss, no fuss!
https://www.fivebelow.com/products?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=gingerbread%20house (Five Below Gingerbread house kit)
Christmas lights: It’s totally free to drive or walk through your neighborhood checking out the local light displays. If you’re having trouble finding neighbors that are in the festive spirit our park district publishes a free guide of the really dolled up houses that are participating in the yearly light display contest. Lilacia Park in Lombard is completely free and puts on an impressive display. Cosley Park petting zoo in Wheaton waves admission fees during their light festival/tree sale, though voluntary donations are greatly appreciated. Moose Heart in Aurora offers an impressive drive through light display. It costs ten dollars and I believe they only accept CASH. See the links below for dates/times/additional information.
Lilacia Park, Lombard
https://www.stcparks.org/?s=holiday+lights+tour (guide won’t be available until Dec. 6)
https://lombardparks.com/holiday-lights/ (Lilacia park)
Reindeer visits: Well, elk actually, but your kids will still be impressed to get up close and personal with these massive animals. You can see them at Elk Grove Village’s Busse Woods. It’s totally free to go visit them and then stretch your legs with a nice hike around the twenty-plus miles of trails. After you work up an appetite you can swing on by Jarosch bakery for some of their world famous (well at least local legend) butter cookies.
Santa visits: I think a lot of people forget that the actual visit is free. Just BEWARE the photo packages!! That’s where the real cost of the Santa visit is hiding. I would recommend getting the smallest/cheapest package if you really want a commemorative picture (you can scan it and digitally blow it up later) or if there’s an option to only purchase the digital images then go with that. I rarely wind up giving out all those printed wallet size pictures anyway. I also strongly recommend making an appointment as Covid guidelines are still impacting occupancy. Moose Heart and Lilacia Park (mentioned above) used to offer a free Santa visits, but both were cancelled last year due to Covid. It looks like that Jolly Old Elf has returned on select nights to Lilacia park and it appears that at Moose Heart you can drop off your letter to Santa in the Tommy Moose mailbox, but there’s no mention of an actual Santa visit.
The Home Alone House: Remember that movie in the nineties with Macaulay Culkin called Home Alone? Well that was shot right here in Chicago and although the house is currently privately owned and you cannot actually enter it, you can still drive by and see it for free.
Holiday themed books: Don’t forget that there’s an ocean of holiday themed books available for free at your local library! Reading is a great activity to do curled up around the Christmas tree or fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate during a blizzard. See my previous post: Kid’s Christmas Book Review for suggested titles. https://thethriftymomcom.wordpress.com/2021/11/29/kids-christmas-book-review/
Cosmic Kids Yoga: I can’t forget my favorite spot on YouTube for free kids yoga videos. This year go on a fun yoga inspired Christmas adventure with your kids to work on balance, posture, mindfulness, and flexibility. So fun, they won’t even know they’re exercising!
And don’t forget our good friend Jack Hartmann either. You and the kids can have a blast working out to the Holiday Dance, Gingerbread Man Dance and Freeze, and the Reindeer Pokey.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cg79KqD8q4 (holiday dance)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa4PO9zeaQg (Gingerbread man)
Looking for a workout geared more for strength and cardio? Work out with the Grinch or Buddy the Elf!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R82EBGYm9fw (Buddy the Elf)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAKxx0Uiilo (The Grinch)
Wherever you live, whatever you celebrate, however you decide to celebrate, whom ever you celebrate with I hope you enjoy the happiest and safest of Holiday Seasons!