Money Crashers

Money Crashers

Money Crashers
Personal Finance Guide to Turn the Tables on Money

40+ Fun & Frugal Holiday Season Activities – Family Games & Crafts
<p>When we think about the holiday season, buying and giving gifts often come to mind. We put a lot of time into finding the perfect gift for everyone on our list and a lot of focus on saving and budgeting for them.</p><p>But activities often get left out of our <a href=””>holiday budgets</a>. And the costs can really add up. Polar Express train tickets for the whole family can run over $200, and even photos with Santa typically cost around $25 per child.</p>
<p>Yet the memories families make together last. If you forgot to budget for holiday experiences this year, there’s no need to stress. There are dozens of festive, memory-making activities that cost little to nothing. Plus, most of them require very little prep, which means you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the time with your family.</p>
<p>Of course, this year, the <a href=””>COVID-19 pandemic</a> will make celebrating the holidays look a little different. While it’s tempting to celebrate the same way you always do, keeping our loved ones and communities safe requires taking some precautions.</p>
<h2>How to Celebrate Christmas During the COVID-19 Pandemic</h2>
<p>The holidays are a time for friends and families to come together to celebrate. And it’s difficult to imagine them without a houseful of friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Yet it means getting together with those you don’t normally see often or who have to travel a great distance to visit. And this year the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Centers for Disease Control</a> (CDC) recommends sticking close to home and limiting the size of your gatherings because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.</p>
<p>It’s unpleasant to think about needing to <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>cancel your travel plans</a> or forgoing large gatherings with family. But, even though the holidays will look different this year, that doesn’t have to mean canceling them altogether. Many activities can be adapted to keep everyone safe, including hosting a holiday party on Zoom or making a virtual call to Santa.</p>
<p>You can gauge the risk level of gathering with 10 or more people in your area by checking out the interactive <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment map</a> developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. And, if you do decide to get together with others outside your household, keep your holiday activities as safe as possible by following the CDC-recommended holiday best practices. Following these guidelines helps keep everyone safe, including your loved ones.</p>
<p>Even if you normally go all out for the holidays, this year it’s OK to skip the usual <a href=””>holiday stress</a>. Instead, focus on the traditions and activities that are most important to you and give yourself permission to skip the rest.</p>
<h2 id=”h.rxm37xhsoj62″>Pre-Christmas Activities</h2>
<p>The weeks leading up to Christmas are full of excitement and anticipation. This is when kids visit Santa and adults throw holiday parties. It’s also the part of the season most filled with memory-making opportunities. So make the season extra magical this year with one or more festive family activities.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267233″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Christmas Advent Calendar Countdown” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<h3 id=”h.mqrm18swofcf”>1. Make a Countdown Calendar</h3>
<p>As kids wait eagerly for Christmas morning, make an activity out of their anticipation with a Christmas countdown calendar. Stores fill up pre-Thanksgiving with pricey Advent calendars full of toys or chocolates. But you can save money by making one of your own.</p>
<p>If you own a sewing machine, stitch up a fabric calendar with pockets from leftover scraps, like they did at <a target=”_blank” href=””>DIY Network</a>. If you can’t sew, try filling numbered boxes with small toys or candy, like they did at <a target=”_blank” href=””>A Bubbly Life</a>. You can also tuck little surprises inside a shoe organizer beautifully stenciled with the numbers 1 through 24, like the countdown calendar at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Elizabeth Jones Designs</a>. Or use simple white or brown paper bags with numbered sticker labels strung up on a clothesline, like the one at <a target=”_blank” href=””>The Endearing Home</a>.</p>
<p>Though a DIY countdown calendar costs a little upfront for materials, you can use it year after year, especially if it’s handsewn or made from durable materials, like the shoe organizer. To keep costs down, fill the bags or pockets with inexpensive candy or small toys from your local dollar store.</p>
<h3 id=”h.irdxtda2ozry”>2. Read Books Together</h3>
<p>Reading holiday books isn’t just fun. Research, such as a 2019 study from <a target=”_blank” href=””>Ohio State University</a>, has consistently demonstrated that regularly reading to children boosts their intellectual development significantly. And a 2018 study published in the journal <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Pediatrics</a>&nbsp;found that it also promotes kids’ social and emotional development. Plus, the more you surround them with books they enjoy, the more you <a href=””>encourage kids’ love of reading</a>.</p>
<p>So, if you have younger children, make reading holiday books together a regular activity. Read a holiday-themed story every night leading up to Christmas. You can read the story in bed as part of your nightly routine or in front of the Christmas tree. You can even use it as a countdown activity in place of giving candy or toys. Make it super-frugal by wrapping up books you already own and having kids unwrap one book per night.</p>
<p>A few suggestions for holiday read-aloud books include:</p>
<li>“<a target=”_blank” href=””>The Nutcracker</a>” by The New York City Ballet tells the story of a young girl’s magical Christmas gift: a nutcracker that transforms into a prince who whisks her away to a magical world.</li>
<li>“<a target=”_blank” href=””>The Night Before Christmas</a>”&nbsp;is a classic Clement C. Moore poem about a man who witnesses the arrival of Santa Claus late one Christmas Eve. This print also includes beautiful, detailed illustrations by Charles Santore.</li>
<li>“<a target=”_blank” href=””>Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer</a>” illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo features gorgeous illustrations of the classic 1939 poem from Robert L. May about a misfit reindeer whose primary “flaw” becomes his greatest strength. Although most of us are more familiar with the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animation adaptation of the story, the original tale is somehow less woefully outdated than the 1964 film.</li>
<li>“<a target=”_blank” href=””>Yes, Virginia There Is a Santa Claus</a>” by Chris Plehal is a story adaptation of the famous 1897 New York Sun response to a little girl’s letter. The editor’s reply is a rousing defense of the spirit of childhood that has become an integral part of American culture.</li>
<li>“<a target=”_blank” href=””>The Christmas Wish</a>” by Lori Evert tells the story of Anja, who wishes to become one of Santa’s elves and heads off to pursue her ambition. Along the way, she encounters several animals that help her get to the North Pole.</li>
<li>“<a target=”_blank” href=”″>Snowmen at Christmas</a>” by Caralyn Buehner follows the delightful thoughts of a little boy as he imagines what snowmen do at Christmastime.</li>
<h3 id=”h.vpf8lkx3shhs”>3. Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree</h3>
<p>There’s no lack of controversy over which is better — <a href=””>an artificial tree or a real one</a>. But there’s a lot to be said for going with a real tree. Artificial trees are filled with toxic chemicals and are terrible for the environment. And making an adventure of picking out a real tree each year is more conducive to creating cherished family memories.</p>
<p>If you’ve opted for a real tree this year, don’t buy one from a shopping center parking lot. Instead, make a day of it and cut down one yourselves at a Christmas tree farm. Despite the extra expense, it’s the kind of experience you can’t get from putting up a fake tree.</p>
<h3 id=”h.1lo9b1tpi97x”>4. Make Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments</h3>
<p>No matter which type of tree you go for, <a href=””>making ornaments</a>&nbsp;for it is a lot of fun for kids.</p>
<p>Salt dough ornaments are a timeless classic. You make them with only a few simple ingredients you likely already have around the house and cut the dough into holiday shapes with <a target=”_blank” href=””>cookie cutters</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.21o8y9id93uq”>Supplies</h4>
<li>1 large bowl</li>
<li>4 cups flour</li>
<li>1 cup salt</li>
<li>Spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves for scenting the dough (optional)</li>
<li>1 1/2 cups warm water</li>
<li>3 – 4 large sheets parchment paper</li>
<li>Rolling pin</li>
<li>Cookie cutters</li>
<li>2 baking sheets</li>
<li>Smocks or old T-shirts (to protect your clothing)</li>
<li>Newspaper or a tarp (to protect your work surface)</li>
<li><a target=”_blank” href=””>Acrylic p</a><a target=”_blank” href=””>aint</a><a target=”_blank” href=”;qid=1577158342&amp;sr=8-22″>s</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=””>glitter glue</a></li>
<li><a target=”_blank” href=””>Clear spray glaze</a>&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Mod Podge</a></li>
<li>3 yards <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=”;keywords=red+ribbon&amp;pd_rd_i=B01CGXLNU4&amp;pd_rd_r=0caf2d54-c407-4d4e-801c-ba54f5bfe2ba&amp;pd_rd_w=es9d9&amp;pd_rd_wg=beKe6&amp;pf_rd_p=aba5dc0d-7593-4752-a14d-357ecc5c98cc&amp;pf_rd_r=YFEAK36PCXF04A22SW4Z&amp;psc=1&amp;qid=1577159185&amp;s=automotive”>r</a><a target=”_blank” href=”″>ibbon</a>&nbsp;(1/4-inch wide)&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=””>twine</a></li>
<h4 id=”h.h7wyn75tm0gn”>Directions</h4>
<li>Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.</li>
<li>In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, spices (if using), and water. When it becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to bring the dough together.</li>
<li>Knead the dough a few times until it becomes uniform and soft.</li>
<li>Form the dough into a ball and flatten it gently between two pieces of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough&nbsp;to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and cut shapes with your cookie cutters.</li>
<li>Transfer the shapes to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, and reroll the leftover dough. Repeat rolling and cutting shapes until you’ve used up all the dough. You may have to bake the ornaments in batches.</li>
<li>Poke a hole through the top of each ornament with a pencil so you can later thread ribbon through it to hang it from the tree.</li>
<li>Bake cutouts for one hour or until firm to the touch. Don’t worry if they brown slightly – you’ll paint over that.</li>
<li>Meanwhile, change into smocks or old T-shirts to protect your clothing and spread newspapers or a tarp over the surface you plan to paint on. Acrylic paint doesn’t wash out of clothing once it’s dry and can be very difficult to get off other surfaces.</li>
<li>Let ornaments cool, and use your paintbrushes to&nbsp;decorate them&nbsp;with acrylic paints and glitter glue. Allow them to dry for at least 24 hours.</li>
<li>Once the paint is completely dry, seal them with spray glaze or brush on a few layers of Mod Podge – front and back. This will help preserve the ornaments.</li>
<li>Let them dry for 2 to 3 hours, then thread ribbon or twine through the holes for hanging.</li>
<p><strong>Yield</strong>: 2 – 3 dozen</p>
<p>If salt dough ornaments sound like too much work, fill <a target=”_blank” href=””>clear plastic globes</a>, which you can find at the dollar store, with various festive items such as tinsel, ribbons, or pom-poms like those at <a target=”_blank” href=””>B-Inspired Mama</a>.</p>
<h3 id=”h.dh6f569esjaf”>5. Attend a Community Winterfest</h3>
<p>Many communities have winter festivals at the start of the holiday season. Whether organized around a tree lighting or a parade, they often include a variety of free family activities. For example, our local community has a tree lighting festival that also includes ice sculpting demonstrations, a live reindeer petting zoo, a visit from Santa, and free cookie decorating for kids at an area bakery.</p>
<p>Check the events calendar or program guide at your local parks and recreation department to see what kinds of holiday events are available in your area. If your neighborhood doesn’t have anything going on, check nearby communities for activities.</p>
<h3 id=”h.vlyhnduul4z1″>6. Take a Carriage Ride</h3>
<p>Any other time of year, a horse-drawn carriage ride is hard to come by in most areas. But many communities sponsor them for the holiday season. The price of a carriage ride varies from community to community. But they’re often offered as part of winter festivals or at local parks or shopping centers.</p>
<h3 id=”h.ufvid6dyl1q1″>7. Write a Letter to Santa</h3>
<p>If you want to really wow your kids this Christmas, have them write a letter to Santa and mail it directly to the North Pole. As long as you send it before Dec. 7,&nbsp;the United States Postal Service will mail back your custom reply, complete with a postmark from Anchorage, Alaska. For full instructions, visit the <a target=”_blank” href=””>U.S. Postal Service</a>.</p>
<h3 id=”h.nv6i3zki2tdp”>8. Have Breakfast With Santa</h3>
<p>Save the frustrating wait in line and the high photo cost, and forgo the schlep to the mall to pose with Santa. Senior centers, community halls, and even roller-skating rinks all over the U.S. host Santa for breakfast.</p>
<p>These are typically low-key events where kids can interact with Santa in a nonstructured way – great for toddlers and preschoolers who are a little intimidated by the man in the red suit. Plus, they’re typically cheaper than mall Santa sessions and come with food. Be sure to bring your camera so you can capture your own cute and candid pics of your kids with Santa.</p>
<h3 id=”h.6x9vuvy564vd”>9. Decorate Gingerbread Houses</h3>
<p>Whether your kids are budding pastry artists or just like licking icing off their fingers, designing their own tasty creations is a blast. And getting wrapped up in their candy artistry is likely to keep them occupied for a while. There’s no need for any prep if you go with an inexpensive gingerbread house kit, which you can find at <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””>Walmart</a>, <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””>Target</a>, or most grocery stores. The kits include all the prebaked cookie pieces you need, plus plenty of icing and candy for decorating.</p>
<h3 id=”h.55cenczd1dzk”>10. Hold a Christmas Cookie Decorating Competition</h3>
<p>Take your cookie baking festivities up a notch with a Christmas cookie decorating competition. Set out some prebaked sugar cookies, icing, sprinkles, and decorating sugar, and let kids release their inner artists. When everyone’s finished, have them vote by secret ballot on whose are the best. Kids get to participate in a fun activity, and you get some help with all the holiday baking.</p>
<h3 id=”h.f5ianydkrvst”>11. Have a Christmas Cookie Tea Party</h3>
<p>When you’re finished baking cookies, make the moment extra special by hosting a tea party. Brew some tea, set out the cookies, and even bring out the good dishes. This is the kind of event that will be especially cherished by young kids since they relish the chance to act grown-up while sharing a moment with the adults.</p>
<h3 id=”h.a56ppy40vj3r”>12. Attend a Holiday Performance</h3>
<p>Attendance at a professional performance of “The Nutcracker” is a holiday staple for many – so much that it accounts for <a target=”_blank” href=””>40% of the annual revenue</a>&nbsp;of many ballet companies across the U.S. However, tickets are prohibitively expensive for many families, running from $29 to $125 per seat.</p>
<p>But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your family to a holiday show. Check out your local community theater, children’s theater, or a nearby college to see what they have scheduled for the holidays. If you live near a school that teaches ballet, you might even find tickets to “The Nutcracker” for significantly less than the cost of a professional company’s performance.</p>
<h3 id=”h.4uvz9etc7jo9″>13. Visit a Holiday Market</h3>
<p>If you enjoy the quality and artistry of handmade goods, but DIY isn’t your thing, visit a holiday market. Popular throughout Europe, these German-style markets are starting to make their mark in the U.S., although currently, they’re not widely available except in major cities. These unique seasonal destinations combine shopping for handmade gifts with seasonal food, music, and entertainment. For a directory of Christmas markets in the U.S., visit <a target=”_blank” href=””>Christmas Markets</a>.</p>
<h3 id=”h.xvvm1no2fy8z”>14. Make Wrapping Paper</h3>
<p>Gifts and ornaments aren’t the only fun things to DIY during the holidays. Kids can also make their own wrapping paper. It’s a great way to cut down on holiday expenses, as the cost of wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows quickly adds up.</p>
<p>To <a href=””>get creative with your wrapping</a>,&nbsp;buy some inexpensive <a target=”_blank” href=””>brown or white kraft paper</a>, which you can find at the dollar store, or upcycle brown paper grocery bags. Then use paint, crayons, markers, stamps, or even cookie cutters to decorate it however you like. For inspiration, take a look at this pretty cookie-cutter wrapping paper from <a target=”_blank” href=””>Red Ted Art</a>.</p>
<h3 id=”h.1kq062fpdppl”>15. Throw an Inexpensive Holiday Party</h3>
<p>For many, parties are an integral part of the holiday season. But entertaining is easily one of the most substantial holiday expenses. If you’re <a href=””>hosting a holiday party</a>, you can spend hundreds of dollars on food, entertainment, and decorations.</p>
<p>If throwing a party is at the top of your family’s must-do list, it’s possible to throw an inexpensive, low-key get-together that’s even more fun than a black-tie event. A few family-friendly ideas include:</p>
<li><strong>Cookie Exchange Party</strong>. Invite guests to make their favorite cookie recipe and bring three to six cookies for each attendee. Be sure to provide some low-cost containers, which you can pick up from the dollar store. Or decorate brown paper lunch bags with decorative <a target=”_blank” href=””>holiday stamps</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Ornament Exchange Party</strong>. Instead of springing for brand-new ornaments to spruce up your tree, hold a swap. Invite guests to bring any ornaments they’re bored with and trade with other guests. Everyone will feel like they’ve gotten something brand-new without having to spend a penny.</li>
<li><strong>Make Your Own Ugly Sweater Party</strong>. Instead of just wearing the traditional ugly sweater, take the fun up a notch and have everyone make their own. Pick up some cheap and tacky seasonal decor – like tinsel garlands and glittery pom-poms – at the dollar store, set out some tacky glue, and have guests all bring an inexpensive solid-color sweater or sweatshirt to decorate. At the end of the party, hold a contest to judge whose is ugliest.</li>
<li><strong>Gingerbread House Decorating Party</strong>. Make a <a target=”_blank” href=””>graham cracker “gingerbread” house</a>&nbsp;for each guest ahead of time. Provide some tubs of white cake frosting to use as glue and have each guest bring a different bag of decorative candy – like peppermints, gumdrops, M&amp;M’s, or Sixlets – for everyone to share.</li>
<li><strong>Gift-Making Party</strong>. Decide on an easy kid-friendly DIY, like <a target=”_blank” href=””>bath bombs,</a>&nbsp;and have each guest bring one bulk ingredient, such as baking soda or Epsom salt. For the cost of one supply, everyone can leave the party with gifts for family and friends. Some other ideas for gifts kids can make include <a target=”_blank” href=””>hand-beaded bracelets</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>decoupage drink coasters</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=””>slime-filled Christmas ornaments</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=””>painted mugs</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=””>holiday dish towels</a>.</li>
<h3 id=”h.48g4w4g895gs”>16. Volunteer</h3>
<p>When families <a href=””>volunteer</a>&nbsp;together to walk dogs at an area shelter, clean up garbage at a neighborhood park, or sing Christmas carols to housebound seniors, it’s a no-cost family activity that helps kids feel the spirit of the season.</p>
<p>To find places to volunteer as a family, search a national directory like <a target=”_blank” href=””>VolunteerMatch</a>&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=””>Great Nonprofits</a>, which can match you with organizations in your local area. Or look into opportunities at your children’s school, through a religious organization, or through your local city government.</p>
<h2 id=”h.mu7i2ogq9dfp”>Christmas Eve Activities</h2>
<p>In many ways, Christmas Eve is more exciting for kids than Christmas Day. There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of waiting up for Santa, leaving out milk and cookies, and tracking his journey on the Norad satellite.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267232″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Family Watching Movie Night Christmas Time Tree” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<h3 id=”h.y2umql2no2ga”>17. Create Your Own Polar Express</h3>
<p>It’s possible to find <a target=”_blank” href=””>Polar Express train rides</a>&nbsp;throughout the U.S., but the tickets are often prohibitively expensive. And if you don’t buy them months in advance, it’s next to impossible to get them.</p>
<p>Instead, create your own version on Christmas Eve. Print out some tickets like the ones at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Teachers Pay Teachers</a>. Cue up the movie’s soundtrack, which is available for free streaming on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Spotify</a>&nbsp;and with <a target=”_blank” href=””>Amazon Prime</a>. Then brew up some hot chocolate and serve it with Christmas cookies.</p>
<p>After you’ve put kids to bed for the night, do a surprise wake-up. Settle them into the car in their pajamas, and drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights while you listen to the movie soundtrack. Search <a target=”_blank” href=””>Christmas Lights Finder</a>&nbsp;for the best light displays in your area.</p>
<h3 id=”h.dmat50mc2orq”>18. Hold a Christmas-Themed Family Game Night</h3>
<p>If a crowd is gathering at your house on Christmas Eve, try hosting a game night. You can play Christmas-themed games and serve hot cocoa and Christmas cookies.</p>
<p>A few free or affordable games&nbsp;to play include:</p>
<li><strong>Christmas Charades</strong>.&nbsp;Make up your own by brainstorming holiday words or phrases or download free printable game cards on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Childhood 101</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Christmas Songs Pictionary</strong>.&nbsp;Make a list of your own Christmas songs or use the free printable game cards at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Creations By Kara</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Christmas Family Feud</strong>.&nbsp;Challenge your family to this quick-thinking, TV show-inspired game of holiday-themed Family Feud. Get the full instructions at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Play. Party. Plan</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Christmas Sorry</strong>.&nbsp;This DIY board game will take a little prep work the first time around, but it makes a cherished keepsake you can bring out year after year. Find the full instructions at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Motte</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Christmas Trivia</strong>.&nbsp;This <a target=”_blank” href=””>Christmas trivia game</a>&nbsp;keeps everyone guessing with holiday-themed questions like, “What was the only movie to win an <a target=”_blank” href=””>Academy Award for its Santa</a>?”</li>
<li><strong>Lump of Coal Christmas Plastic Wrap Game</strong>.&nbsp;The traditional candy bar party game involves wrapping candy bars in layers of plastic wrap – one in each layer – to make a giant ball. Guests take turns struggling with the frustrating layers of clingy film to get their candy. This version gets a Christmas makeover with token Christmas gifts and the inclusion of coal cards, which give instructions for players to unwrap the ball in challenging ways, like behind their back or under their seat. Find the full instructions at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Play. Party. Plan</a>.</li>
<h3 id=”h.bzo72m18ntnk”>19. Host a Christmas Movie Night</h3>
<p>If you’d rather snuggle up in your pj’s for a cozy Christmas movie, turn Christmas Eve into a family movie night. Pop some popcorn and gather everyone in front of the TV for one of these family-friendly movies:</p>
<li>“<strong>The Christmas Chronicles</strong>.”&nbsp;Two siblings crash Santa’s sleigh and must help him recover his stuff to save Christmas in this heartwarming adventure. Find it on <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Netflix</a>.&nbsp;If you’ve already seen the first one, check out “The Christmas Chronicles 2,” which is about an elf who plots to ruin Christmas and a now teenage Kate (one of the kids from the first film) who helps to save it. It’s coming to <a target=”_blank” href=”;jbv=80988988″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Netflix</a> November 25, 2020.</li>
<li>“<strong>The Polar Express</strong>.” This beautifully reimagined version of beloved children’s book “<a target=”_blank” href=””>The Polar Express</a>” by Chris Van Allsburg is about a boy who desperately wants to believe in Santa and is whisked away on a train ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Find it on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Amazon Prime</a>.</li>
<li>“<strong>It’s a Wonderful Life</strong>.” This classic film never gets old. It’s about a man who doesn’t believe in the value of his life until he sees how many other people’s lives would be different without him in it. Find it on <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Amazon Prime</a>.</li>
<li>“<strong>Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch</strong>.” This most recent adaptation of the classic Christmas story stars Benedict Cumberbatch and gives a feature-length glimpse into the Grinch’s life. It includes enough backstory to make the viewer feel sorry for the “villain” and a sweet ending that brings all the characters together.&nbsp;Find it on <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Netflix</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Amazon Prime</a>.</li>
<li>“<strong>Arthur Christmas</strong>.” When a highly trained team of elves leaves behind one gift, it’s up to Santa’s hapless son Arthur to make sure no kid goes without a present. Find it on <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Netflix</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Amazon Prime</a>.</li>
<li>“<strong>Elf</strong>.” This tale of an elf-raised human intent on reuniting with his biological family is a Christmas classic that appeals to kids and adults alike. Find it on <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Netflix</a>&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=””>Amazon Prime</a>.</li>
<h3 id=”h.p5loahpaycps”>20. Set Up a Hot Cocoa Bar</h3>
<p>Set out some of Santa’s favorite warm beverage for everyone to share along with a selection of toppings, including <a target=”_blank” href=””>candy canes</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=””>toffee bits</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=””>caramel bits</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=””>peppermint chips</a>, whipped cream, and marshmallows.</p>
<h3 id=”h.i8nv237f24ys”>21. Give Christmas Eve Gifts</h3>
<p>Waiting to open all the presents on Christmas Day is tough, especially for little ones. Give them a sneak peek by passing out one gift on Christmas Eve. Or make an annual Christmas Eve-themed gift box filled&nbsp;with a holiday-themed book, pajamas, hot cocoa, and a movie to tie it in with your other Christmas Eve festivities.</p>
<h3 id=”h.ioqwzkaa23jd”>22. Track Santa’s Flight</h3>
<p>For younger kids who still believe in Santa, one of the most fun activities on Christmas Eve is checking out the <a target=”_blank” href=””>Norad satellite</a>&nbsp;to see Santa’s flight path. To make it even more fun, have kids keep track of the stages of Santa’s journey by writing in a free&nbsp;printable flight tracker you can download at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Little Bins for Little Hands</a>&nbsp;(see item number 9).</p>
<p>Then, make double sure Santa can find your house by helping kids lay down a “runway.” Use <a target=”_blank” href=”″>glow-in-the-dark tape</a>&nbsp;to light up your driveway with a giant arrow so Santa can see exactly where to go. Or do the same with some homemade glow-in-the-dark sidewalk chalk like they made at <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Coffee Cups and Crayons</a>.</p>
<p>And don’t forget to leave out milk, cookies, and carrots for Santa and his hardworking reindeer.</p>
<h3 id=”h.cdqxyxgx9w4o”>23. Leave Santa Footprints</h3>
<p>Seeing the footprints Santa left behind is thrilling for the little ones. Create a footprint stencil by tracing one of your boots – preferably a large men’s boot – on a piece of paper. Then cut out the bootprint. Once the kids are asleep, sprinkle baking soda or flour through the stencil to leave some snowy footprints.</p>
<h3 id=”h.x9n3ap54m2q0″>24. Host a Family Sleepover</h3>
<p>Kids love the novelty of “camping out” in their living rooms. Set up some play tents around the Christmas tree, read Christmas stories, make s’mores, and brainstorm ways to catch a glimpse of Santa as he stops by with his bag of toys. But make sure they’re fast asleep before trying to sneak in the gifts. For bonus points, leave some flour “footprints” behind. It’s quite a shock for them to wake up Christmas morning to discover he was right there while they were sleeping.</p>
<h2 id=”h.ubwd6owrvggk”>Christmas Day Activities</h2>
<p>When it finally gets here, the big day can feel a little anticlimactic. Help keep the holiday spirit going with a few Christmas Day traditions for kids to look forward to.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267231″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Happy Kids Decorating Christmas Tree In Matching Pajamas” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<h3 id=”h.9fuawq8pzv5p”>25. Wear Family Pajamas</h3>
<p>Lounging around in your pajamas all Christmas Day is way more fun than dressing up in a fancy holiday outfit. On Christmas Eve, give the whole family a set of matching pj’s. They make for some adorable family photos.</p>
<h3 id=”h.rub4gztuilb4″>26. Make a Pancake Bar on Christmas Morning</h3>
<p>On Christmas morning or the night before, mix up a big batch of <a target=”_blank” href=””>buttermilk pancake</a>&nbsp;batter. At breakfast, set out bowls filled with options for customizing your flapjacks. Go with healthy ingredients like blueberries, banana slices, and apple chunks. Or since it’s Christmas only once a year, go wild with indulgent ingredients like chocolate chips, caramel bits, and peppermint chips, plus some whipped cream for topping. Cook the pancakes to order, allowing everyone to drop the ingredients they want into the cooking batter. You can do the same with waffles or omelets.</p>
<h3 id=”h.1525wmgnv28c”>27. Host a Holiday Potluck</h3>
<p>The lead-up to Christmas can be exhausting. Instead of breaking your back cooking a big holiday meal for friends and family, host a holiday potluck instead.</p>
<p>Invite each of your dinner guests to bring a dish or a drink. Between prep and cleanup, it saves hours in the kitchen. And since everyone is sharing the cost of food, it also saves on cash.</p>
<p>To make sure you don’t end up with six green bean casseroles or 10 apple pies, use the free printable potluck planner chart at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Real Simple</a>&nbsp;or the free online signup tool at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Perfect Potluck</a>&nbsp;to coordinate who’s bringing what.</p>
<h3 id=”h.bh1dxcs5g8f0″>28. See a Movie in the Theater</h3>
<p>Christmas Day is an ideal time to go to the movies. The theaters are less crowded because most people are busy with their holiday activities. Plus, movie theaters are one of the very few places open on Christmas Day. And there are almost always new movies out right around Christmastime. Save time once you get to the theater by purchasing your tickets ahead of time through <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””>Fandango</a>.</p>
<h2 id=”h.pxklp5fsidao”>Winter Break Activities</h2>
<p>If you’ll be home with the kids during winter break, arm yourself with some low-cost, low-prep activities to keep them entertained.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267230″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Kids At Science Museum Children Stem Engineering” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<h3 id=”h.v7wfy6e881lk”>29. Visit a Museum, Zoo, Historical Site, or Amusement Center</h3>
<p>Although family-friendly attractions like museums, zoos, historical sites, and amusement centers are often expensive, many run free or discount days throughout the year, including during the holidays.</p>
<p>For example, on <a href=””>Black Friday</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=””>Legoland Discovery Center</a>&nbsp;typically sells annual passes and discounted tickets you can use any day of the year. Plus, roller skating rinks, ice skating rinks, bowling alleys, and video arcades often have discounted days or times.</p>
<p>Also, check to see if any local museums and historical sites have free or discount days. Historical sites are especially lovely places to visit this time of year because they often deck out the area for the holidays.</p>
<p>And be sure to check <a href=””>Groupon</a>&nbsp;for deals on fun things to do.</p>
<h3 id=”h.97doiy3vdn4x”>30. Have a Staycation</h3>
<p>If you’re not traveling for the holidays, you can still pretend you’re on a real family vacation&nbsp;with a <a href=””>staycation</a>. Tour your town like a visitor and take in all the local attractions. Visit landmarks, take a walking tour of your downtown, and explore a new restaurant.</p>
<p>For inspiration, do an Internet search of fun things to do where you live. Look for travel guides, just as if you’re a tourist. Check for local experiences like those listed on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Airbnb</a>. And keep an eye out for discount deals aimed at travelers, like <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””>City Passes</a>, which allow you to access a variety of attractions for one lower rate.</p>
<h3 id=”h.uezef7roxe2e”>31. Perform Holiday-Themed Science Experiments</h3>
<p>Kids can explore science while performing holiday-themed experiments, like melting gumdrops and shattering ice bubbles. They won’t even realize they’re learning valuable science, technology, engineering, and math skills. A few to try include:</p>
<li><strong>Grinch’s Heart Slime</strong>. Kids get to explore chemistry concepts like polymers, cross-linking, states of matter, elasticity, and viscosity when they combine glue with baking soda and saline solution to create slime. Tint the slime neon green and add some glitter and red metallic hearts to complete the theme. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Little Bins for Little Hands</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Gumdrop Science</strong>. Have them test out their engineering skills using gumdrops and toothpicks to build geodesic domes, bridges, and towers. For a real challenge, see if they can build a structure that holds the weight of a textbook. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=””>The Homeschool Scientist</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Crystal Snowflakes</strong>. Using just borax and water, kids can learn about the chemistry involved in crystal formation. And with crystals formed on pipe cleaners twisted to look like snowflakes or icicles, the result of the experiment is a sparkly winter decoration. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Happy Hooligans</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Frozen Bubbles</strong>. By blowing bubbles in temperatures below freezing, kids can explore the various states of water and the effects of warm and cold air. The cold air flash-freezes the bubbles, turning them into glasslike orbs before they shatter on the ground. Get a full explanation of the science on <a target=”_blank” href=””>National Geographic</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Fake Snow</strong>. If the kids are missing out on a white Christmas this year, have them make fake snow with baking soda and shaving cream. They can mold and shape it to make snowmen and igloos, just like real snow. It’s a pleasant sensory activity for younger kids or an educational chemistry experiment for older children. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=”;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons”>The Spruce Crafts</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Make Paper Snowflakes</strong>. Kids can learn about shapes, patterns, and geometric relationships while crafting a lacey winter-themed decoration. Have kids make freehand cutouts to come up with some unique and surprising designs. For older kids who’d like more of a challenge, search the Internet for intricate designs, like <a target=”_blank” href=””>kirigami</a>&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=””>3-D snowflakes</a>.</li>
<h3 id=”h.dgixi6p9umg1″>32. Make Winter Art &amp; Crafts</h3>
<p>Winter-themed arts-and-craft projects let kids unleash their creativity while practicing valuable skills like focus, perseverance, and self-expression. A few to try include:</p>
<li><strong>Snowman Charm Bracelet</strong>. Have kids string together beads in various shades of blue and a few snowman-themed charms you can find at a craft store like Michaels. Or buy a complete kit for making their own <a target=”_blank” href=””>snowman charm bracelets</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Stained-Glass Snowflakes</strong>. Kids can use clear contact paper and squares of tissue paper to make “stained-glass” art to reflect light while hanging in a window. With the addition of a snowflake cutout, this becomes a winter-themed craft. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Kinder Craze</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Snow Paint</strong>. Kids get to paint with fluffy, sparkly “snow” when they make this puffy paint. Have them use it to make snowmen for toasty-warm indoor snow play. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Growing a Jeweled Rose</a><strong>.</strong></li>
<li><strong>Egg Carton Penguins</strong>. Upcycle egg cartons by transforming them into mini penguins with some paint, googly eyes, and paper scraps. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=””>One Little Project</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Polar Bear Race Game</strong>. Using only construction paper, white card stock, markers, and tape, kids can make a craft that doubles as a fun board game to play. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Little Family Fun</a>.</li>
<li><strong>Winter Bubble Wrap Tree</strong>. Upcycle some bubble wrap into a fun art tool and have kids use it to “stamp” snowflakes onto a winter tree painted on blue paper. Find the full instructions on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Arty Crafty Kids</a>.</li>
<h3 id=”h.yxxgaoju8br1″>33. Play in the Snow</h3>
<p>If there’s real snow on the ground during winter break, there are plenty of <a href=””>outdoor winter activities</a>&nbsp;to keep kids occupied. Have an old-fashioned snowball fight, go sledding, or make snow art with some homemade snow paint made by filling a spray bottle with water and adding enough food coloring to create a vibrant color.</p>
<p>Or play a winter version of a classic game like <a target=”_blank” href=”″>capture the flag</a>. The rules are the same, but instead of tagging someone out, hit them with a snowball.</p>
<p>And before the snow melts, challenge each other to see who can create the best snowman. If the snow is deep enough, you can also build tunnels, forts, and igloos for the snowmen to live in or for kids to crawl through.</p>
<h3 id=”h.6eg2i5q0h3ek”>34. Take a Hike</h3>
<p>Check out your local parks for winter programs. Parks and hiking trails are often open year-round, and many of them even have special winter events. The whole family can get some exercise while learning about resident wildlife, including what animals do for food during winter, which animals hibernate, and how animals stay warm.</p>
<h3 id=”h.msl9vxolqge7″>35. Feed the Birds</h3>
<p>To learn about winter wildlife and help animals at the same time, make a winter bird feeder. Slather pine cones with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed. Hang the pine cone bird feeders from trees in your yard. Or try making a bird feeder from a recycled 2-liter soda bottle, like the one on <a target=”_blank” href=””>Living Well Spending Less</a>.</p>
<p>Then sit at the window and watch the birds that come for a visit. You can use a book like “<a target=”_blank” href=””>The Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Birds</a>” from National Geographic Kids to identify the types of birds.</p>
<h3 id=”h.kgn4dsvg22p4″>36. Visit an Indoor Playground</h3>
<p>If there’s no snow outside, visit an indoor playground instead. Find indoor play spaces at popular <a href=””>kid-friendly restaurants</a>&nbsp;like McDonalds or Chick-fil-A. Or search your local area for play cafes – indoor play spaces specifically designed to keep little ones occupied and entertained.</p>
<h3 id=”h.chksrywvmqhs”>37. Attend a Maker Workshop</h3>
<p>Several national retail chains offer free workshops for kids, although some require you to buy one or more of the materials. Regardless, kids get hands-on guidance to do a project they can take home with them for little to no cost.</p>
<p>For example, <a target=”_blank” href=””>Michaels</a>&nbsp;craft stores host free classes for kids several times a month in project categories like food crafting, fine art, and textiles. Projects typically center around the holiday or season, like painting a snowman&nbsp;or arm-knitting a chunky blanket.</p>
<p>National home improvement retailer <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””>Home Depot</a>&nbsp;offers kids workshops on the first Saturday of every month. Past projects have included model race cars, picture frames, and planters. Classes are free, including materials, and kids get to take home an orange apron along with their projects. Make sure to register in advance to save your child a spot and ensure there are enough materials for them.</p>
<p>The <a target=”_blank” href=””>Disney Store</a>&nbsp;features some fun in-store events a few times per month. These include free giveaways, singalongs, storytelling, art experiences like learning to draw Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and holiday-themed events like the Magical Wishes celebration. Events are first-come, first-served, so be sure to arrive early, especially if there’s a giveaway happening.</p>
<h2 id=”h.6mrxsle8fxl6″>New Year’s Eve &amp; Day</h2>
<p>New Year’s marks the official end of the holiday season, so it sometimes feels like a let down to kids – especially since they have to go back to school in the next day or two. So keep their spirits up with something to look forward to.</p>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267228″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Countdown To New Years Champagne Clock Gold Ornaments” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<h3 id=”h.ffpnkvz2vfiv”>38. Host a New Year’s Eve Bash</h3>
<p>Many parents head out for a grown-up evening of glittery parties and drinking Champagne on New Year’s Eve. But if staying in with the kids is more your style, make it extra fun by throwing a family <a href=””>New Year’s Eve bash</a>. Troll the dollar store for inexpensive supplies, like glow-in-the-dark necklaces, paper hats, and feather boas.</p>
<p>Have kids create noisemakers by piling a few rattling objects like dried beans, rice, or plastic beads onto a paper plate. Then staple another paper plate on top, keeping the staples close together so nothing will fall out. Decorate them with shiny and glittery stickers. Or fill plastic bottles or containers with things that rattle.</p>
<p>And if the kids are too young to stay up until midnight, do a mock countdown. <a target=”_blank” href=”″>Netflix</a>&nbsp;subscribers can look&nbsp;for a selection of countdowns featuring their favorite characters.&nbsp;If you don’t have Netflix, Amazon’s Alexa will count down for you. Or search YouTube for a kid-friendly version of the ball drop.</p>
<p>If you want to order dinner from your family’s favorite restaurant, you can use <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””>DoorDash</a>. They frequently waive the delivery fee on your first order.</p>
<h3 id=”h.oy9jivm24w7v”>39. Have a Tree Takedown Party</h3>
<p>If you and your family get gloomy when taking down the tree, make it more fun by turning it into a party. Put on your favorite music, set out some drinks and snacks, and have a dance party while filling up those ornament boxes.</p>
<h3 id=”h.mn878vz48yj4″>40. Eat Lucky Foods</h3>
<p>Cultures all over the world have traditional foods they prescribe eating on New Year’s Day to usher in a good year. In Germany, for example, they eat pork and sauerkraut for prosperity. And many Americans eat black-eyed peas and collard greens for luck. Take a look at the list of lucky foods at <a target=”_blank” href=””>Good Housekeeping</a>&nbsp;and pick one for your family to enjoy this year.</p>
<h2 id=”h.l1awwhw8qtch”>Final Word</h2>
<p>Whether you spend a lot of money on making Christmas as perfect as possible or opt for free and frugal activities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the options. As parents, we want our kids to have memories to last a lifetime. But what matters most is that we’re present with our kids, not how “perfect” we make those moments. The best experiences involve just being together – like making snow angels or cuddling in front of the tree in your pajamas.</p>
<p>So don’t get caught up in thinking you have to do it all. Choose a few things you feel would make your holidays memorable and create cherished traditions, and leave the rest. The most important thing is just to <a href=””>enjoy the season with your family</a>&nbsp;and have fun.</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Mon, 21 Dec 2020 23:45:57 +0000 Sarah Graves
Family & Home

10 Fun Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids & Adults
<p>During the winter months, most people hole up indoors watching their favorite shows on television. After all, the days are dark and short, it’s cold out, and it’s no fun to put on several layers of gear just to walk the dog.</p><p>However, wintertime provides an opportunity to experience nature in a completely different way. There are fewer people outside, and there’s more silence. Without leaves on the trees, you can see more of the landscape. You can often spot wildlife that would have been hidden in the foliage during summer months.</p>
<p>There are so many benefits to getting outside in winter. Being active outdoors can help you reach your goal of <a href=””>cutting calories and losing weight</a>.&nbsp;It’s also an effective way to combat <a href=””>seasonal affective disorder</a>. The fresh air makes you feel better, and it’s a lot more enjoyable and inexpensive than <a href=””>watching TV</a>&nbsp;or surfing the Internet&nbsp;all day. In short, spending time outside during the winter can do you and your family a lot of good, and you’ll come home in a better mood.</p>
<h2 id=”h.tw3hf2ns4cx2″>Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors</h2>
<p>Swedes, who live in one of the coldest and darkest climates on Earth, spend a great deal of their time outdoors. The Nordic concept of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>friluftsliv</a>&nbsp;(pronounced free-loofts-liv), or “open-air living,” is deeply ingrained in their culture. As a result, they’re some of the fittest and happiest people on the planet.</p>
<p>We’d certainly benefit from taking a page out of their book. Getting outdoors during the winter months offers both physical and psychological benefits.</p>
<h3 id=”h.q4vt4goxjhy5″>Better Creative Thinking</h3>
<p>If you need some creative ideas, your best bet is to go outside for a walk.</p>
<p>Research published in the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Journal of Experimental Psychology</a>&nbsp;found that walking helped promote creative thinking in 81% of study participants, and walking outdoors created more creative ideas than walking indoors on a treadmill.</p>
<h3 id=”h.1w9ho11keye”>More Vitamin D</h3>
<p>You boost your vitamin D production when you go outside in the sun. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Harvard Health</a>&nbsp;reports that vitamin D might be an essential element in fighting everything from heart attacks to cancer to depression. Unfortunately, according to the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Environmental Protection Agency</a>, we spend 90% of our time indoors, so we’re not getting enough exposure to sunlight. And a study published in <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>JAMA</a>&nbsp;found that two-thirds of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D.</p>
<p>The good news is it doesn’t take much sun exposure to get your daily dose — 10 to 15 minutes should do the trick.</p>
<h3 id=”h.nqxvyklemecy”>Positive Health Effects</h3>
<p>A study published in the journal <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Nature</a>&nbsp;found that people who spent at least 30 minutes per week in a green space, such as a park, had lower blood pressure and rates of depression. The study also cites 17 other research projects that linked time outdoors to positive health effects, such as:</p>
<li>Lowered stress</li>
<li>Fewer allergies</li>
<li>Greater social well-being</li>
<li>Lower mortality from cardiovascular disease</li>
<p>Spending time outdoors also helps prevent nature-deficit disorder, especially in children. Nature-deficit disorder isn’t a medical diagnosis. It’s a useful term to describe our alienation from the outdoors. Richard Louv, author of “<a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Last Child in the Woods</a>,” said in an interview with UC Berkeley’s <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Greater Good Magazine</a>&nbsp;that nature-deficit disorder can result in multiple physical and mental ailments, including diminished use of the senses, higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, attention difficulties, an increased rate of nearsightedness, and child and adult obesity.</p>
<h3 id=”h.33266ztfgbau”>Healing Abilities</h3>
<p>Spending time outdoors might actually speed up your body’s healing process.</p>
<p>A study by University of Pittsburgh researchers published in the journal <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Psychosomatic Medication</a>&nbsp;found that patients who underwent spinal surgery and stayed in the hospital’s sunniest unit experienced less pain and stress and needed 22% less medication per hour than patients in darker units.</p>
<h2 id=”h.odxumb5n9y3s”>Preparing for the Cold</h2>
<p>Swedish parents have a saying they often repeat to their children: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”</p>
<p>If you want to enjoy yourself, <a href=””>cold-weather gear</a>&nbsp;is a must. Don’t just head out in sneakers, jeans, and a sweater under your coat. Layers are essential. Wear thermal leggings and several moisture-wicking layers under your sweater. Wear a hat and gloves.</p>
<p>If you’re not cold and uncomfortable, you’re more likely to enjoy yourself and not run back inside after five minutes. Investing in quality outdoor clothing definitely makes winter activities more enjoyable.</p>
<p>If you have kids, always make sure they’re appropriately dressed. Younger children are especially prone to running outside with just a T-shirt under their coat. When you do go out, always pack a complete change of clothes for each child as well as plenty of snacks and drinks.</p>
<h2 id=”h.r72e70ymia7o”>Outdoor Winter Fun Ideas</h2>
<p>It’s challenging for many people to motivate themselves to go outside during the winter. Our natural tendency is to snuggle up&nbsp;and hibernate until March rolls around.</p>
<p>So how do you make yourself get out there? Start small. Tell yourself you’re only going to go outside for 15 minutes. That’s it. And once those 15 minutes are up, you can come back inside.</p>
<p>It works for many people because it’s not much of a commitment. You’re not talking yourself into going on a daylong snowshoeing excursion — you’re going outside for 15 minutes. Anyone can do that.</p>
<p>And when you get outdoors and start moving around, you begin to warm up. The cold air invigorates your system, and you feel good. That first 15 minutes can quickly turn into 30 minutes before you realize it.</p>
<h3 id=”h.w2iz8davgoqt”>1. Ice Skating</h3>
<p>It’s always enjoyable to go gliding&nbsp;around a frozen pond or ice skating rink. If you don’t own a pair of ice skates, check <a href=””>thrift stores</a>&nbsp;first, as you can usually find a pair for a few dollars. You can also find used skates on eBay.</p>
<h3 id=”h.qxo7enulg8ua”>2. Go Plogging</h3>
<p>A Swedish fitness craze, plogging is now catching on all over the world. “Plogging” is a combination of two words, “plocka,” which means “to pick,” and “jogging.” Plogging is part workout and part social responsibility.</p>
<p>During plogging, you go jogging and pick up litter at the same time. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>The Washington Post</a>&nbsp;reports that plogging is actually a better workout than jogging because you incorporate squats and bends into your run, and ploggers burn an average of 50 calories more per 30-minute workout than regular joggers.</p>
<p>And you don’t need much to start doing it. Cold-weather running gear, like <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>thermal running tights</a>&nbsp;and a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>moisture-wicking beanie</a>, is a must. You also need to bring along plastic or latex gloves to pick up trash with and a trash bag to carry it in.</p>
<h3 id=”h.88xb2ad48eez”>3. Paint on the Snow</h3>
<p>Painting on snow is an entertaining outdoor activity for kids who are bouncing off the walls after being stuck indoors. There are a few supplies you need to have on hand:</p>
<li>Food coloring in the three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow</li>
<li>A small spray bottle for each child or small bowls and paintbrushes</li>
<p>To make “spray paint,” fill each bottle with water and add a few drops of food coloring until you’ve reached the desired depth of color. If your child prefers painting with a brush, mix the food coloring and water in a bowl.</p>
<p>Using the three primary colors, you can make several other colors. Many food coloring boxes have instructions for creating multiple colors, or you can use these combinations:</p>
<li>Yellow + blue = green</li>
<li>Red + blue = purple</li>
<li>Red + yellow = orange</li>
<p>Encourage your kids to make a snowman or snow fort, and then decorate them using the paint.</p>
<h3 id=”h.v7wtdzk9gny2″>4. Go Ice Fishing</h3>
<p>If your family enjoys fishing during the warmer months, there’s no reason to stop when the weather turns cold. Ice fishing is a unique and exciting way to fish. But it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. If the ice isn’t thick enough, you can fall through, which can quickly turn fatal&nbsp;if you’re not immediately rescued.</p>
<p>Most bait shops and fishing stores stay aware of local conditions. But to be safe, never fish on ice that’s less than 4 inches thick. And avoid rivers, since it’s harder for moving water to form thick ice. Ponds and lakes are safer. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Popular Mechanics</a>&nbsp;has an informative article on the do’s and don’ts of ice fishing and what you need to get started.</p>
<h3 id=”h.u546zgryeiya”>5. Shovel Snow for Someone in Need</h3>
<p>Shoveling snow is a great outdoor workout, and you can burn around 223 calories every 30 minutes doing it. You can amplify the positive feelings of this exercise by shoveling snow for someone in your neighborhood or community, like a nearby senior or a friend who’s ill.</p>
<p><strong>Warning</strong>: While shoveling snow is a great workout, this intense exercise puts considerable strain on your body. <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>BBC News</a>&nbsp;reports that each winter, about 100 people die while shoveling snow. Shoveling snow raises your heart rate and blood pressure more than other forms of exercise because you’re using many different parts of your body.</p>
<p>The cold also works against you because it constricts your blood vessels, which means your heart has to work even harder to pump blood. Additionally, many people hold their breath while they shovel, which puts even more strain on your system. If you’re out of shape or are over age 55, cardiologist Barry Franklin advises you not to do it at all.</p>
<h3 id=”h.dytkifywtuyh”>6. Take Pictures</h3>
<p>Winter seems barren and ugly to some people, especially compared to the bright and colorful bounty of summer. But the sparseness and clean lines of winter have their own beauty if you stop and look.</p>
<p>Bring your camera out to the woods and take pictures of the winter landscape. As you walk, look out for small details, like a pine cone partially hidden in snow or a branch of bright-red hawthorn berries the birds haven’t found yet. Listen to the crunch of your feet on the snow or the chitter of chickadees bobbing on the branches above you.</p>
<p>The outdoors is full of life and beauty in the winter months, giving you the opportunity to take some amazing photographs. All you have to do is go out and look.</p>
<h3 id=”h.yofkvym1s6fh”>7. Go Camping</h3>
<p>Yes, you read that right. People do go camping during winter. When there’s snow on the ground, it’s called “snow camping.” And it can be an exciting and memorable experience if you have <a href=””>the right gear</a>.</p>
<p>There are several reasons you should give snow camping a try. First, there’s a good chance you’ll be the only ones out there. It’s just you, your family, and the pristine woods, and you don’t have to worry about battling the crowds for a great campsite.&nbsp;There are also no bugs, ticks, poison ivy, or rain.</p>
<p>Once you get your campsite set up, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the wild.</p>
<li>Go snow tubing</li>
<li>Stargaze — stars are often easier to see in winter because of the clear atmosphere</li>
<li>Build a bonfire and make s’mores</li>
<li>Go sledding</li>
<li>Explore the woods on a winter hike</li>
<li>Identify animal tracks in the snow</li>
<p>Winter camping has its challenges, and it’s an activity that demands specific and sometimes expensive gear. Cold-weather clothing, cold-weather sleeping bags rated at least 10 degrees lower than the lowest temperature you expect to encounter, sleeping pads, and a four-season tent are all essentials. <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>REI</a>&nbsp;has an article on winter camping essentials&nbsp;to use as a starting point.</p>
<h3 id=”h.h8shed8ohfqw”>8. Go Snowshoeing</h3>
<p>Snowshoeing is an exhilarating experience everyone in your family can try. While you have to buy gear, it’s not a significant investment. The price for a nice pair of snowshoes is often less than what you’d pay for two days of skiing. And snowshoes last a long time if you take care of them. If you’ve never done it, <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>REI</a>&nbsp;has an informative article&nbsp;on learning to snowshoe.</p>
<h3 id=”h.wmk52ug1yh9h”>9. Go on a Treasure Hunt</h3>
<p>Food coloring is a parent’s best friend, and you can use this magical ingredient to create frozen “gems” for your kids to find.</p>
<p>Fill an ice cube tray with water, put a couple of drops of food coloring in each mold, and pop the tray in the freezer. When the water freezes, it creates ice cubes that look like gems. Hide these gems around the yard, and let your kids go on a treasure hunt.</p>
<h3 id=”h.xg77bgz9xle5″>10. Play in the Backyard</h3>
<p>There are going to be days when you just don’t want to leave home. Fortunately, there are plenty of creative outdoor activities you can do right in your backyard.</p>
<li>Make snow angels.</li>
<li>If the temperature is below 32 degrees, go outside and blow bubbles, which freeze on the wand.</li>
<li>Bring your cookie cutters outside and let your kids make “snow cookies.”</li>
<li>Make animal snow sculptures.</li>
<li>Using a needle and thread, string up popcorn or cereal and decorate a tree you can see from a window inside the house. You can watch birds and other wildlife happily nibble on it for days.</li>
<li>Hollow out an orange and fill the husk with birdseed to make a bird feeder.</li>
<li>Start a snowball fight.</li>
<li>Make maple syrup taffy out of snow — see <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Kitchn</a>’s article&nbsp;for instructions.</li>
<li>Use sticks to draw in the snow.</li>
<li>Make snow lanterns using the tutorial from <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Little Green Fingers</a>.</li>
<li>Grab your beach toys and let your kids make snow castles and moats.</li>
<h2 id=”h.qkk21qj3exj0″>Final Word</h2>
<p>I used to loathe winter in every sense of the word. For me, it was a time of forced isolation, a season that kept me from doing the thing I wanted to do — namely, being outdoors.</p>
<p>Now, the cold doesn’t bother me. My family and I have embraced full-time travel and live in a 423-square-foot camper, which means we spend a lot of time outdoors no matter what the weather’s like.</p>
<p>My best advice when it comes to getting outside when it’s cold is to dress for the weather. A warm coat, several high-quality, moisture-wicking layers, and warm boots make spending time outdoors in the winter fun instead of torture.</p>
<p>Your family can also be a great source of inspiration when it comes to winter activities. Ask your kids what they’re interested in doing outside this winter. The creative ideas children come up with are amazing.</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Mon, 21 Dec 2020 23:40:07 +0000 Heather Levin
Family & Home
Health and Fitness

32 Best Stocking Stuffer Ideas for the Whole Family (on Every Budget)
<p>Do you remember what you got in your Christmas stocking&nbsp;last year? Probably not, right?</p><p>The perfect stocking stuffer gifts&nbsp;are&nbsp;baubles or gadgets&nbsp;the recipient will love and use. As you fill people’s stockings, think of their hobbies and habits as well as the things they value&nbsp;to help you decide what to put in. Some gifts are great stocking stuffers&nbsp;for everyone, while others are only right for a specific person, so everyone’s stocking is always a little different. And finding out what’s in your stocking (and everyone else’s) is half the fun.</p>
<p>But it’s easy to spend a fortune filling stockings if you’re trying to avoid old standbys like fruit and candy. Just make sure you factor stocking stuffers into your <a href=””>holiday budget</a>&nbsp;and stick to it.</p>
<p>Fortunately, there are plenty of creative ways to stuff a Christmas stocking&nbsp;on any budget.</p>
<h2 id=”h.ctywtcjqf2nb”>Creative &amp; Affordable Stocking Stuffer Ideas</h2>
<p>Just because stocking stuffers are small doesn’t mean they’re all inexpensive. Some you can get for as little as $1, while others, like quality Bluetooth&nbsp;headphones, can cost hundreds. To keep it from getting out of hand, fill the stockings with plenty of cheap stocking stuffers. But don’t be afraid to leave room for at least one splurge item, depending on your budget.</p>
<h3 id=”h.wig73f9jydsi”>Stocking Stuffers Ideas for $5 or Less</h3>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267174″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Hand Sanitizer Gift Pink Mask Boxes Bow” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<p>Under-$5 trinkets&nbsp;typically make up the bulk of your holiday stockings. Their low prices mean you can buy plenty without busting your budget.</p>
<h4 id=”h.5eqtx2lpjw06″>1. Hand Sanitizer</h4>
<p>It’s a smart idea to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer within easy reach throughout the <a href=””>cold and flu season</a>&nbsp;(and it’s even more critical during the <a href=””>COVID-19 pandemic</a>).</p>
<p><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Wonderbac travel-size hand sanitizer</a>&nbsp;costs less than $2 and&nbsp;comes in multiple scents to suit everyone on your list. Choose from holiday-themed fragrances like <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>vanilla sugar cookie</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>sparkling cranberry</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>peppermint twist</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>sugared lemon</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>coconut macaroon</a>.</p>
<p>They fit perfectly into the $5 <a target=”_blank” href=”;category=0%7CAll%7Cmatchallpartial%7Call+categories&amp;tref=typeahead%7Cterm%7C1%7Cwonderbac+hand+sanitizer+case%7C%7C%7C%7Cservice%7C6%7C2%7C0%7Cspellcorrect%7Econtext_v2&amp;searchRawTerm=wanderbac+hand+” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Wonderbac hand sanitizer cases</a>, which are an easy (and kid-friendly) way to keep a bottle on hand at all times. The cases come in a range of adorable designs, including <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>doughnuts</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>sequined purses</a>, a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>robot</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>cupcakes</a>, and a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>winter hat</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.74tt2cs0hlqt”>2. Moisturizing&nbsp;Lotion</h4>
<p>All that hand sanitizing, while great for your health, can leave your loved ones&nbsp;with dry, chapped skin. Slip a bottle of moisturizing&nbsp;hand cream or lotion&nbsp;into their stockings to help counteract the drying effects of hand sanitizer and winter cold.</p>
<p><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Aveeno’s travel-size </a><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>moisturizing</a><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>&nbsp;</a><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>lotion</a>&nbsp;is an exceptional all-purpose daily hand and body lotion&nbsp;you can get for $4. Or opt for&nbsp;the stocking stuffer-size <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Sweet &amp; Shimmer Sugar Cookie </a><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>lotion</a>,&nbsp;which has a warm vanilla scent and costs only $1.</p>
<h4 id=”h.8tdxdlaa8b74″>3. A Monogram&nbsp;Candle</h4>
<p>Get personal by slipping a pretty glass candle monogrammed with the recipient’s initial into their stocking. The $5 Opalhouse monogram&nbsp;candles have a delicate freesia scent and a wick that crackles as it burns. They’re made from soy wax, which burns more cleanly than oil-based waxes. Get them in <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>fuchsia</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>pale green</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>dark green</a>&nbsp;glass holders.</p>
<p>If you need smaller candles, check out <a target=”_blank” href=”;sortBy=newest&amp;Nao=0&amp;minPrice=0&amp;maxPrice=5″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Opalhouse</a>’s other $5 offerings, including scents like <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>balsam fir</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>cozy flannel</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>gingerbread frosting</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.krjyibcrvzcr”>4. Eco-Friendly Oral Care</h4>
<p>Toothbrushes and toothpaste are stocking stuffer standbys, but this year, you can put a green spin on tradition. Slip a $3 <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>bamboo-handled toothbrush</a>&nbsp;and some $1 <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>chewable toothpaste tablets</a>&nbsp;into your family’s stockings. Once the bamboo toothbrush is past its prime, you can remove the bristles and compost the bamboo or use the handle as a garden marker rather than throwing it in the trash, making it a great gift&nbsp;for the eco-conscious. The chewable toothpaste is also eco-friendly, but it also may be the reason kids get excited about brushing their teeth before bed.</p>
<h4 id=”h.w94rvksqs1dx”>5. Foot &amp; Hand Masks</h4>
<p>Give the gift of pampering by putting moisturizing&nbsp;hand or foot masks into your family’s stockings. Sephora’s $5 <a target=”_blank” href=”;icid2=products%20grid:p461521:product” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>hand masks</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>foot masks</a>&nbsp;deliver moisture to cracked, tired, and dry hands and feet. Your whole family&nbsp;can don the masks while enjoying an <a href=””>at-home spa night</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.m5tvm45oq33z”>6. Herb Seed Balls</h4>
<p>Although gardening season is months away if you live in the Northern hemisphere, sliding a <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>pair of seed balls</a>&nbsp;from Etsy&nbsp;shop Plantables &amp; Paper into someone’s stocking gives them something green to look forward to. The seed balls are small enough to plant in a windowsill planter or the ground once the weather is warm enough. They come in a pack of two for $4, but you can split them up by packaging them individually in <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>small gift bags</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.lb1bwwtxbcz3″>7. Smartphone Grips</h4>
<p>Smartphones are pricey, fragile, and all too easy to drop. Smartphone grips help solve that problem by adhering firmly to the back of your phone or case and providing a collapsible ring or knob you can use to maintain a better grip. You can also use them as phone kickstands.</p>
<p>There are multitudes of phone grips out there, including pricier <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>PopSockets</a>. But you can buy a bundle of them to stuff in stockings for around $2 or $3 per grip. Get a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>standard multipack of rings</a>&nbsp;with color options like silver, pink, and black, or opt for <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>hand strap-style grips</a>&nbsp;in gray, black, or pink. Fancier options include designs that look like <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>flowers</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>mandalas</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>marble</a>, or <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>nebulas</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.kqcu3v3mhi8y”>8. Cable Ties</h4>
<p>As much as modern life has gone wireless, there are still a lot of cables lying around. A pack of $3 <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>cable ties</a>&nbsp;is a utilitarian gift your loved ones&nbsp;can use to keep their cords in order. The ties come in a range of colors, so you can choose a different one for each family member.</p>
<h4 id=”h.qan496di9eqs”>9. Wine Stoppers</h4>
<p>Once you open a wine bottle, air starts to mix with the contents, causing it to <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>oxidize and lose flavor</a>. Putting the cork back in the bottle doesn’t keep the air out well enough, meaning the wine tends to taste off the next day.</p>
<p>Stuff an oenophile’s stocking with a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>wine stopper</a>. Buying them in a pack of four means they cost only $2 each. The bottle stoppers create a tight seal, preserving leftover wine. They also work well to keep soda fizzy.</p>
<h4 id=”h.rkmkdq5irxkx”>10. Cloth Face Masks</h4>
<p>Even as a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, people will likely be wearing face masks&nbsp;for months to come. Mask-wearing may be one of the many <a href=””>ways the pandemic will change our country permanently</a>.</p>
<p>Slip a few washable, made-in-the-USA <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>face masks</a>&nbsp;into your family’s stockings to help protect them from the virus. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Kids’ and toddlers’ sizes</a>&nbsp;are also available. Regardless of size, most of these masks cost only $3.50 each.</p>
<h4 id=”h.q80mobzdo2wx”>11. A Portable Reusable Straw</h4>
<p>Let your loved ones&nbsp;sip in style while protecting sea life with a collapsible stainless steel&nbsp;reusable straw. The <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Ibowee multipack</a>&nbsp;comes with four straws, keychain&nbsp;carrying cases, and brush cleaners to divide among your family’s Christmas stockings, making each straw set around $4. If you only need one, opt for the similarly priced <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Leafico collapsible stainless steel straw</a>, which also comes with a brush and keychain&nbsp;carrying case.</p>
<h4 id=”h.asu034otd7uw”>12. Homemade Play Dough</h4>
<p>Little ones love getting creative with play dough. But it dries out quickly, and all those fun colors end up a weird shade of gray or brown once kids mix them too many times. It’s a never-ending cycle of buying more, which adds up.</p>
<p>But you can easily <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>make your own play dough</a>&nbsp;for much less than it costs to buy (literally a few cents per recipe).&nbsp;The only ingredients you need are flour, cream of tartar, salt, water, and food coloring. You can also make <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>glitter play dough</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>galaxy-themed play dough</a>, and edible <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>peanut butter play dough</a>.</p>
<p>Pack the play dough into plastic <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>to-go containers</a>&nbsp;to keep it from drying out. And include the recipe so the kids (or their parents) can stay in inexpensive play dough no matter how often they ruin it.</p>
<h4 id=”h.mb5e93v08c4u”>13. Bath Bombs</h4>
<p>Buying in bulk is the way to go if you have a lot of stockings to fill. Purchase a box of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>12 individually wrapped bath bombs</a>&nbsp;and divvy them up among your stockings so each family member&nbsp;can enjoy a luxurious soak in the tub for $2. There are 12 different fragrances per bomb, but each one contains only natural, organic ingredients, so they’ll leave your loved ones’ skin soft but not greasy.</p>
<p>While kids love bath bombs&nbsp;just as much as anyone else, you can make it more fun by <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>DIY</a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>’ing </a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>bath bombs</a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>&nbsp;with a fun surprise</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.fmywgofx0ho7″>14. &nbsp;An Emergency Sewing Kit</h4>
<p>Rips and tears happen, and often at the worst moments. Tuck an <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>emergency sewing kit</a>&nbsp;into your family members’ stockings, and they’ll be ready if a seam splits, a button falls off, or a hem falls. This 68-piece set comes with several different colors&nbsp;of thread, needles, a measuring tape, a seam ripper, and incidentals. And it’s in a much nicer carrying case than the cheap ones you <a href=””>buy at the dollar store</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.l3hw2ezejgub”>15. Poo-Pourri</h4>
<p>No one likes having to go No. 2 at a friend’s house or in a public restroom, but when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. A few spritzes of <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Poo-Pourri</a>&nbsp;helps hide any embarrassing odors. For $5, you can get the company’s <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>original citrus scent</a>, the <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Royal Flush version</a>&nbsp;(eucalyptus and spearmint), or the blingy Sparkle Before You Go series featuring <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Pink Cintron</a>&nbsp;(strawberry, citron, and rock candy) or <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Sweet Violet</a>&nbsp;(blackberry, violet, and honey). The product’s essential oils&nbsp;create a film over the water, coating anything that breaks the surface to prevent odors before they start.</p>
<h4 id=”h.35w2q08pxggi”>16. Lip Balm</h4>
<p>Winter can be brutal on the skin and lips. Keep your loved ones&nbsp;from dealing with chapped, cracked, and bleeding lips by tucking lip balm&nbsp;into their stockings.</p>
<p>You can buy a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>multipack of EOS lip balm</a>&nbsp;and break it into individual sticks, one for each stocking. The pack comes with four flavors — sweet mint, strawberry sorbet, vanilla bean, and pomegranate-raspberry — so there’s something for everyone. Buying in bulk means each stick only costs $2.50. It uses shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and beeswax to moisturize and protect.</p>
<p>Or try the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Rocky Mountain Barber Company’s lip balm 4-pack</a>&nbsp;for just a little more. With flavors like orange brandy, peppermint, vanilla coffee, and maple, it’s worth the extra price, even if it uses the same ingredients.</p>
<h3 id=”h.vpdwjw5bg1mm”>Stocking Stuffers Ideas From $6 – $10</h3>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267176″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Lip Balm Kit Moisturizer” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<p>If you can spend a bit more,&nbsp;there are plenty of practical and delightful stocking stuffers from $6 to $10.</p>
<h4 id=”h.9l41ppf5ljd2″>17. A Lip Care Kit</h4>
<p>If you’ve already bought lip balm, kick it up a notch and turn it into a lip care kit with the addition of an exfoliating scrub.&nbsp;While you can easily spend $15 per container on fancy lip scrubs, peppermint-flavored <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Chapstick Total Hydration lip scrub</a>&nbsp;is a well-reviewed affordable option at $7 per canister. It’s made with sugar crystals, maracuja (passion fruit seed) and coconut oils, shea butter, and vitamin E to scrub away dead skin, leaving lips smooth and supple. If you didn’t purchase the lip balm, pick up the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>lip beauty pack</a>&nbsp;instead and get vanilla cream-flavored Total Hydration lip balm&nbsp;to go along with it for just a little more.</p>
<p>You can also make your <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>own </a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>lip balm</a>&nbsp;using <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>shea butter</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>beeswax pellets</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>coconut oil</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>essential oils</a>&nbsp;for fragrance. Pair it with a DIY&nbsp;lip scrub made with 1 part coconut oil, 2 parts sugar, and 1 part honey. Divide the homemade lip balm&nbsp;and lip scrub into <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>small plastic jars</a>&nbsp;from Amazon. Stack one of each jar per stocking, and tie them together with a pretty ribbon.</p>
<h4 id=”h.teqtw8xe5jjj”>18. A Wireless Earbud&nbsp;Case</h4>
<p>Wireless earbuds free you from a tangled cord, but those tiny earbuds can get lost easily — which is no small problem when they’re a pricey pair of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Apple AirPods</a>. Tuck an inexpensive earbud&nbsp;case into a loved one’s Christmas stocking&nbsp;to minimize the chances of loss and let them keep their expensive AirPod&nbsp;charging case at home. The <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Insten wireless charging </a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>earbud</a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>&nbsp;case</a>&nbsp;costs just $9 and has a handy carabiner clip the recipient can use to attach it to their belt loop, keychain,&nbsp;or bag.</p>
<h4 id=”h.869ovp8wzpii”>19. A Notebook</h4>
<p><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Moleskine notebooks</a>&nbsp;are beloved by writers, visual artists, and entrepreneurs alike. The journals, which come in a rainbow of different colors, come in both hardcover and softcover styles, some of which you can secure with an elastic band. The paper inside the notebook is thick and absorbs ink nicely. You can buy multiple versions of the smaller Moleskine for between $6 and $11 on Amazon. It fits nicely inside a stocking and is portable enough to tuck into a backpack or tote bag when the recipient is on the go.</p>
<p>Just be careful. This brand has so many attractive notebooks it’s easy to justify a few dollars more per unit, which can add up quickly if you have several stockings to stuff. Only go over if it’s for someone who thinks of it as much more than a place to jot things down.</p>
<h4 id=”h.v2g6fm8j7eeo”>20. A Condiment&nbsp;Keychain</h4>
<p>Hot sauce cultists are always looking for a new flavor or variety to douse their food with. The <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Fuego hot sauce keychain two-pack</a>&nbsp;lets them&nbsp;keep a small bottle of the spicy stuff handy at all times. At $10, it comes with two flavors, cayenne pepper and smoky bourbon. You can make this an even less expensive stocking stuffer by putting only one flavor in each stocking.</p>
<p>Or opt for a set of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>empty condiment keychains</a>&nbsp;to fill with your recipients’ favorite sauces. They come with a tiny collapsible funnel to keep the filling process mess-free.</p>
<h4 id=”h.81hwududh9h7″>21. A Homesick Air Freshener</h4>
<p>One way to comfort and soothe family members&nbsp;who spend lots of time away from home is an air freshener that smells like home. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Homesick car fresheners</a>&nbsp;include options that smell like Texas, SoCal, LA, Hawaii, and NYC. Although designed to hang from a rearview mirror, the recipient can hang them anywhere that needs a scent of home. At $10, these car fresheners are pricey for what they are, but they’re worth it to remind a loved one&nbsp;where they come from.</p>
<h4 id=”h.3cgdi5k504ss”>22. A Bamboo Utensil Set</h4>
<p>A <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>bamboo utensil set</a>&nbsp;helps people cut down on plastic waste when they’re eating on the go. The set includes a fork, spoon, knife, straw, and chopsticks as well as a convenient carrying case for $8. Younger kids can take it to school with their packed lunches, while older kids and adults can keep one in their backpack, purse, or desk drawer.</p>
<h4 id=”h.2t80makmdqwf”>23. A Scrabble Fridge Magnet</h4>
<p>You already know you can play Scrabble on a table or your phone. But you can also play it on your fridge. Slip a pack of $10 <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Scrabble fridge magnets</a>&nbsp;into someone’s stocking so they can play a word game every time they get a glass of water.</p>
<h3 id=”h.803a6k539fk6″>Stocking Stuffers Ideas Over $11</h3>
<p><img loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter size-inpost_fullwidth wp-image-267177″ src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Swiss Army Knife Red” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”></p>
<p>While inexpensive gifts will likely make up the bulk of your stockings, Santa&nbsp;can still throw in a pricier item (or three) to make the stocking truly memorable.</p>
<h4 id=”h.scbmwgboswiz”>24.&nbsp;Personalized&nbsp;Playing Cards</h4>
<p>Lots of people have a deck or two of playing cards&nbsp;lying around the house. But do they have a deck of cards with their photo or other cherished image printed on one side? Choose a picture, such as a new baby photo, wedding photo, or child’s first school photo, and have it printed on the cards. You can order the <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>playing cards</a>&nbsp;in multiples so you have enough decks to give to each family member.</p>
<p>Customized cards typically cost around $15 or $20 per deck, but keep an eye out for seasonal sales. Just be prepared to include a card game&nbsp;in <a href=””>family game night</a>&nbsp;for the foreseeable future.</p>
<h4 id=”h.eudnfyi8hrii”>25. A Swiss Army Knife</h4>
<p>A <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Swiss army knife</a>&nbsp;is a type of multitool&nbsp;that lets a person carry several individual tools, such as a bottle opener, screwdriver, wire stripper, and tweezers, in one handy object. While they’re convenient tools for everyone to have, they’re ideal for someone who enjoys spending time in the great outdoors.</p>
<p>A <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>basic Swiss army knife</a>&nbsp;with only four tools costs up to $20. But you can buy them with more tools in the $30 to $50 range — for example, the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Victorinox Fieldmaster version</a>&nbsp;is $36 and comes with nine tools. Or you can opt for a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>model with pretty much every tool</a>&nbsp;under the sun plus a digital clock for over $300.</p>
<h4 id=”h.ew2x35thb3xk”>26. A Collapsible Coffee Mug</h4>
<p>Reusable travel mugs help cut down on waste and let people enjoy their favorite hot beverages anywhere. But your average travel mug takes up a lot of space. A collapsible silicone&nbsp;coffee mug is the perfect size, as it folds down into a mini&nbsp;puck for easy transport and storage. The <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Stojo 12-ounce silicone collapsible cup</a>&nbsp;comes in various colors for only $15 and is well reviewed on Amazon.</p>
<h4 id=”h.r8vb1kif1bmj”>27. Beeswax Wrap</h4>
<p>Do you have a family member&nbsp;who’s embracing a <a href=””>zero-waste lifestyle</a>&nbsp;in the <a href=””>new year</a>? What about someone who loves to <a href=””>save money on groceries</a>&nbsp;any chance they get? Get them off on the right foot by slipping a package of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Bee’s Wrap beeswax wrap</a>&nbsp;into their stocking to help them eliminate single-use plastic wrap from their home.</p>
<p>These wraps are pieces of fabric coated in beeswax to make them flexible and sealable. They can wash and reuse the wraps again and again. This starter pack has one large and two medium wraps in a cute honey bear print for $21.</p>
<h4 id=”h.g8cyijpm5kzf”>28. Fancy Popcorn Seasoning</h4>
<p>Popcorn is one of the simplest and most affordable snacks out there. But it can be a bit boring. Help your loved ones&nbsp;dress it up with a tasty seasoning. The $26 trio of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>William Sonoma popcorn seasoning</a>&nbsp;comes with quattro formaggio, cheddar-jalapeno, and garlic Asiago.</p>
<p>Or make your own <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>DIY</a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>&nbsp;popcorn seasoning</a>&nbsp;and put it into <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>shakers</a>&nbsp;to keep it under $5 per person.</p>
<h4 id=”h.ia01gta76f1a”>29. Touch-Screen Gloves</h4>
<p>When it’s cold outside, the last thing anyone wants to do is pull off their gloves to send a text or make a phone call. Touch-screen gloves send a current from a gloved fingertip to the screen of a mobile device, letting you use your phone and keep your fingers warm. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Women’s gloves</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>men’s gloves</a>&nbsp;are available for between $27 and $36, depending on size and color.</p>
<p>But winter isn’t the only time people wear gloves. A quality pair of yardwork gloves can protect their hands while they work with sharp tools and dirt. A <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>touch-screen-compatible pair</a>&nbsp;allows them to take pictures of their handiwork or check soil and fertilizer requirements as they work, all for only $14.</p>
<h4 id=”h.hhtr8lzb0ayu”>30. A Warm Beanie</h4>
<p>Cashmere is a luxurious splurge, but as usual, Amazon&nbsp;makes it relatively affordable. Keep your family members&nbsp;warm by putting a chic <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>cashmere beanie</a>&nbsp;in their stockings. They have <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>minimalist options</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>pom-pom-topped designs</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>slouchy beanies</a>&nbsp;for $20 to $30.</p>
<p>For kids, opt for a beanie that tells the world what they like, such as a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>gamer beanie</a>&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>robot beanie</a>. Or keep them extra warm with an adorable animal-themed <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>beanie-and-scarf set</a>&nbsp;that mimic creatures like cats, reindeer, and raccoons.</p>
<h4 id=”h.r5690a7vcntn”>31. A Portable Phone Charger</h4>
<p>The last thing anyone wants is for their phone battery to drain away at a critical moment. The well-rated <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Poweradd Pilot portable phone charger</a>&nbsp;is perfect for people whose iPhone&nbsp;or Android is always running out of juice at the least opportune moments. The high-speed-output device comes in a range of different colors&nbsp;and is compatible with the Galaxy S9 and multiple Apple&nbsp;products. And it only costs $25.</p>
<p>If they have a different device to charge, check out Amazon’s selection of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>wireless chargers</a>&nbsp;from brands like Anker, Belkin, and AmazonBasics</p>
<h4 id=”h.npl84fx8fe04″>32. The Perfect Personal Tech</h4>
<p>Gadgets&nbsp;tend to fit perfectly into a stocking, but they don’t exactly have a stocking stuffer price. But if you have the budget, high-end portable electronics make the best stocking stuffers. Some stocking-size gadgets&nbsp;to consider include:</p>
<li><strong>An iPod</strong>. Although many people use their smartphone as an MP3 player these days, there are still those who prefer to keep their music separate from their phones. And many parents choose not to get younger kids a smartphone too early. The $190 <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Apple iPod Touch</a>&nbsp;comes in several color options and has all the functionality of an iPhone&nbsp;— sans the ability to make phone calls.</li>
<li><strong>A Kindle</strong>. Thanks to e-readers, you can easily give a book lover an entire library for Christmas&nbsp;— and it all fits into their stocking. The <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Kindle Paperwhite</a>&nbsp;is waterproof and has a lighted screen that reads like real paper and 32 gigabytes of storage space, which works out to be a lot of books. As long as you’re buying the e-reader, give the bookworm on your list a subscription to <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Kindle Unlimited</a>, which provides access to over 1 million book titles, plus magazines and audiobooks. It costs $9.99 per month, but you get the first month free, and there are frequently deals, such as $4.99 per month for the first two months.</li>
<li><strong>A Fitbit</strong>. A <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Fitbit Flex</a>&nbsp;tracks a person’s sleep and activity and is a helpful tool for someone who has a health and wellness-focused <a href=””>New Year’s resolution</a>. The tracker is available in multiple different colors&nbsp;and syncs wirelessly to most Android and iOS devices.</li>
<h2 id=”h.ok8zfcygtk3z”>Final Word</h2>
<p>The key to stuffing stockings is to start with a base of several under-$5 gifts with a few more expensive gifts in the $6 to $10 range if you like. If you have the room, you can even toss in a few more expensive presents. Then have plenty of <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Christmas candy</a> &nbsp;or assorted snacks, such as individual packages of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>nuts</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>cookies</a>, or <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>salty snacks</a>&nbsp;to fill in any gaps. Stockings are also a handy place to stash the batteries someone needs for that batteries-not-included gadget&nbsp;they got this holiday season.</p>
<p>Ultimately, you can make Christmas morning&nbsp;even more magical by filling stockings with <a href=””>gifts your </a><a href=””>whole family</a><a href=””>&nbsp;will love</a>. Just remember to think of gifts people want and will use. Sometimes, the best Christmas gifts&nbsp;really do come in the smallest packages.</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Mon, 21 Dec 2020 23:21:51 +0000 Amy Freeman
Family & Home

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