Christmas is so magical for kids, but I know it can be difficult to have them underfoot while you’re trying to prepare the feast. You don’t have to worry, though because I’m here to help. I’ve got TONS of ideas for how to help keep those kiddos busy ALL day and entertained throughout dinner. You know those moments when you’re trying to have an adult conversation but they’re chomping at the bit to open presents. Yeah, I’ve been there. It’s beautiful to see Christmas through their eyes, but it can also be a real patience tester. I don’t want you to feel bad about that. I’ve been shooed out of many a kitchen in my life and survived to tell about it. I’m sure your kids will forget that moment this morning when you were at the end of your rope as soon as they unwrap the first gift. Can this meltdown be avoided altogether? I’d like to think so. Here are my tips for entertaining the kids before Christmas dinner…and a few tricks for during as well.
Let’s start the day off with a healthy breakfast for all. You can put out a few of your little people’s favorite toppings and let them get creative while you work on the start of your timetable. The holiday meal time table broken down hour by hour is the most important part of holiday prep. Make sure to make a few minutes in your plan for prepping the breakfast station for the kiddos. They’ll be less likely to bother you every minute for a snack if they get full here! Plus who doesn’t love being able to pick their own toppings and syrup?
Okay, this one might not work for everyone because it is on Christmas Eve. We celebrate on Christmas Eve so it’s always been a tradition in our house. We put on the parade and let the children be entertained by the singing, dancing, and BALLOONS! Seriously, I think my kid would lose his crap if he could see that many HUGE balloons in person. You’ll hear the kids get excited about something and you can check in between tasks. It’s free entertainment!
A great way to entertain kids for a period of time is letting them watch your favorite Christmas movie. It wouldn’t be Christmas at my house without Home Alone! Kevin McAllister might as well be considered an integral part of my family. You may prefer The Grinch or It’s a Wonderful Life.
Let them open 1 present in the morning
Again this one works because my family celebrates on Christmas Eve and thus the big man in red hasn’t arrived yet. We typically pick a toy that we know will entertain for hours without needing parental involvement. One year I got Where in the World is Carmen San Diego for my PC, and I was enthralled for HOURS. Plus, I was learning geography. Is there really anything more a parent could want? You could give a board game or a book. If you celebrate on Christmas Day, they’ll be so excited over their Santa gifts that this should be WAY easier.
You’ll have to get creative to come up with games, but you could create a Macy’s Parade Bingo or let them play Go Fish together for hours. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it does have to be something that will keep them from arguing EVERY 5 seconds and help you to get more done.
Cookies for Santa Decorating Station
This is another one for the Christmas Eve celebration, but it’s fairly easy to set up. All you need is some prebaked cookies and toppings! You can find one section of the house to contain this activity so that it’ll make clean up easy when they’re done. The kids will love it and hopefully they won’t eat all Santa’s cookies.
Now how do you keep them occupied during dinner? I suggest giving them a special holiday treat. You can see my tips in our kid-friendly Seder post. I suggest Shirley Temples, a hot chocolate bar, choices for what goes in the mashed potatoes! You can do it, however, you’d like but use your creativity to buy you sanity.