12:38 19 December 2012
Christmas day with kids is magical. In fact, new research from insurer LV= revealed that on average, people believe Christmas feels most magical at nine years old, when they had the highest anticipation of the day.
But once the excitement has died down and the Boxing Day lull has kicked in, you might find yourself tearing your hair out, trying to find ways to entertain the kids until they go back to school in January.
The good news is, we've done the hard work for you and found 10 ways to keep them busy. The grown-ups might even want to join in too!
1. Walk off your Christmas dinner
It often feels like we do nothing but eat, drink and eat some more over Christmas. So why not dig out your wellies and waterproofs and take a walk with the kids in the countryside to start burning off those extra calories and stave off cabin fever?
You could head to a windswept beach and collect shells which the kids can take home to paint or decorate.
Or how about heading to your nearest woods? Have a look at www.visitwoods.org.uk where you can type in your postcode and discover the nearest woodland area to you.
The website is also full of ideas and resources such as 'spot sheets,' how to find a good climbing tree (if your nerves can stand it) and learning how to find nature's safe 'free food' - even if you don't eat it, it's all good fun.
The National Trust website is another good resource for finding out about things to do in the Great Outdoors.
You can get a list of the best adventure playgrounds, or be inspired by its page 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾.
Suggestions include geo-caching, using the National Trust family-friendly cycle trails and treasure hunting.
2. Make the most of events in your nearest city
Many of us take for granted where we live, but by doing a bit of research you will be able to find all sorts of events taking place over the Christmas holidays that you can visit for free or for a small fee.
For example, Liverpool's Maritime Museum is holding a 'customs Christmas crafts' workshop on Thursday, December 20, where the kids can make customs-inspired Christmas decorations. Or how about joining Santa for an arty afternoon at 'sketchy Santa' being held in the Walker Art Gallery?
London museums also have a whole programme of events over the Christmas holidays. You could go along to the family-friendly production of 'A Christmas Carol' on Friday, December 28, or make some festive felt baubles on Saturday 22 at Museum of London Docklands.
Every city will be full of free events - so take some time to find out what's going on near you.
3. Train for the Great British Bake-off
Kids love baking so why not encourage them to get weighing and measuring and make some easy cakes? You can buy all sorts of cheap edible decorations, allowing them to create a work of art. While it might not do your waistline any good it's not New Year yet, so the resolutions can wait!
Or if you really have had buffet overload and want to make some healthy snacks, take a look at the great grub clubwebsite, which is full of healthy kids' recipes such as root vegetable wedges and funny pizza faces.
4. Enjoy a day out for less
According to the research from LV=, parents will spend on average £178 per child on gifts this year. So if you're all spent up but still want to treat yourself to a family day out, why not take advantage of online discount deals and vouchers?
For example, MoneySupermarket is currently offering £2 off per person on admission to the Blue Planet Aquarium. For older children, Laser Quest is offering a buy one game get one game free voucher, valid until December 31. Or how about a trip to Dudley Zoo where kids go absolutely free?
If you are fed up with all the cooking over Christmas and want to treat the family to a meal out, check again what vouchers and money-off deals are out there for restaurants. You could get a massive 25% off your food bill at Zizzi(at selected restaurants) or £10 off your food bill at Chiquito.
Or if it's a cosy night in with a Christmas film and takeaway that you're after, how about taking up Domino's 2-for-1 pizza on Tuesdays offer?
5. Get creative
Post-Christmas day sees many homes full of discarded boxes, cardboard and wrapping paper. So do your bit for the environment and use them to get creative by spending an afternoon making something with the kids.
Art Attack is a great website for children and has a huge library of craft options that are perfect to make on a rainy day. For example, you could make a guitar, bird puppet, box dolls or alien costume just by following one of the on-site videos with their step-by-step instructions.
6. Enjoy the cinema for less
If you want more of a relaxing day, then Orange customers can enjoy two-for-one visits to the cinema on a Wednesday by simply texting FILM to 24. Then all you need to do is show your confirmation text when you turn up and buy your tickets.
There are also a number of Saturday morning cinema clubs run by most large chains where you and the kids can watch a film from just £1. The Odeon for example, screens children's films every Saturday and Sunday morning. The price of a kid's ticket starts at £1 and for every child ticket purchased, you get an adult ticket for free!
7. Make good use of your local library
For an educational day, head to your local library and choose some new books together to read over the holidays.
Many libraries also run story-time or activity sessions so check out what is going on in your local library this Christmas.
A number of Waterstones book stores also hold story-time sessions which will take up a morning and give you a rest too.
8. Have a snow day
As always, there are conflicting predictions as to whether or not we'll have snow this winter. If we do, there's a whole day of fun already organised - the kids will love building snowmen and having snowball fights.
You could also invest in a sledge (grab one before the snow falls as they sell out quickly!) and then head off to your nearest country park, forest or even just your back garden. The kids will love being pulled along and if you find some hills - even better!
Even if we don't get snow, you can still encourage the kids to get some fresh air. A kite can provide hours of fun, or if there's a gang of you, make an afternoon of it by bringing along a rounders or cricket set. Not only will it keep you fit, it will warm you up too!
9. Camp in the garden
This may be a holiday idea best left for those balmy summer nights - but if we experience relatively mild weather over the Christmas holidays rather than sub-zero temperatures, setting up a tent in the garden can be a great adventure for children.
You could even light a barbeque and cook marshmallows, tell stories by torchlight and experience the great outdoors on your own doorstep. The bonus is, if it does get cold, you won't have far to walk to curl up in bed!
10. Put on a talent show
Budding little actors, dancers and singers can show off their skills by putting on a talent show for the adults. Tell them to spend the morning creating dances, practicing songs and doing whatever else they want to showcase their skills then they can put on a show in the afternoon. Even if you have seen it before, the grandparents will love it!
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