It doesn't take long before kids start crawling up the walls during the two-week holiday break from school. How do you keep them out of a) the wrapping, b) the baked goodies and c) your hair?
Here are a few ideas for keeping them occupied with special activities.
- Write Santa a letter — Canada Post receives and helps deliver replies to more than a million kids each year, from all over the world. You have to send your mail before December 16 to get a reply, but it's never too late to pop a wish list in the postbox. His mailing address: SANTA CLAUS, NORTH POLE H0H 0H0, CANADA . Check out their website for all the details, including fun letterhead.
- Email Santa — Of course, Santa also has email. Just use this website to type up a quick message and drop it straight in his inbox!
- Colour holiday gift labels — In case you missed it, Hobby and Toy Central created our own special gift tags that you can print out in full colour, or in black and white to colour yourself Download the PDF and sharpen those pencil crayons!
- Track Santa! — Two great websites offer ways for kids to keep an eye on what Santa is doing before and on Christmas Eve. Google's Santa Tracker is full of quirky animated games, while NORAD (yes, North American Aerospace Defense Command, the bi-national joint military organization that watches the skies above Canada and the U.S.) and its predecessor has been tracking Santa since 1955. At NORADSanta.org you'll find fun videos, games, music and information about Santa, his sleigh and holiday traditions, plus the moment-by-moment updates on Santa sightings around the world.
Out in your community
- Lights festivals — These are beautiful ways to get some fresh air in the evenings. The Lakeside Festival of Lights in Burlington's Spencer Smith Park has 60 festive displays, while in in Waterloo Park, the Wonders of Winter has 80-plus displays featuring over 100,000 lights.
- Skate for free — Public skating is widely available at city rinks and outdoors at civic centres. Check out the full Kitchener schedule here, or click here for Burlington
- Get closer to nature – Royal Botannical Gardens has its annual Holiday Traditions, including the RBG Train Show, winter wonderland of Hendrie Park, Candy Cane Garden and Santa's Cabin, complete with children's entertainment, choirs, crafts and story time. Meanwhile at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, Flight of White is a magical oasis with thousands of white Rice Paper butterflies flying freely, plus lush white poinsettia flowers, thousands of sparking white lights, and soft strains of classical music playing.
- Take in arts and culture — Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony's Yuletide Spectacular runs Dec. 19 - 21, featuring more than 200 performers on stage, including the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Children's Choir, the symphony's Youth Orchestra and the Carousel Dance Company. In Burlington, TK TK TK
- The Kitchener Market is full of festive activities on Dec. 20, including live music by the Waterloo County Carolers and a performance by the Irish Dance Academy. You can also make a craft, or a goodie bag of "reindeer treats". Just remember to bring a food donation for the Food Bank!
- Experience past Christmas traditions — Castle Kilbride lets kids experience Christmas circa 1877, with lavish Victorian decor in almost all of its many rooms.
The holiday season is an important time to donate your time, food, clothing, toys or other gifts. Why not take the kids out and pick up some things for the less fortunate in your community, or help out at a local food bank?
- Here is a complete list of ways you can donate in the Waterloo Region.
- BurlingtonKids.ca also has an excellent list of Christmas Food and Toy Drives for Burlington families.
- Local museums host great single day camps. If your child is curious about history, archeology or ancient civilizations, The Museum in Kitchener will run day camps for budding Egyptologists! Museums of Burlington also run day camps, with children ages 5 - 9 years having fun in the snow, making Christmas crafts, enjoying deliciously warm seasonal treat and more
- Sports camps are a great way to get kids moving and expose them to a whole new activity. Camps in Kitchener and Burlington include skiing, horse riding, even cheerleading, and a general active play day camp at Bingemans FunworX with its three-level jungle gym, "Rocks & Ropes" climbing course, athletic exercies, plus arts and games
- The Royal Botannical Gardens offers hands-on environmental learning through hikes, games and crafts
- City of Burlington has a long list of day camps and drop-in centres
- And of course, don't forget to check your local library, which will probably have a lot of activities planned!
We hope these ideas make your busy holiday season a little easier to manage.