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11 Ways to Entertain the Kids in Katy This Winter (And Not Overspend!)

Katy Mom Offers up Some of Her Family’s Favorite Activities

Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean the kids have to stay shut up in the house, whining about “nothing to do!”  Instead of sending them with a toothbrush to clean the tile grout at their first complaint of boredom, why not beat them to it with these 11 activity ideas?

1.       Drive around looking at Christmas decorations/lights – My kids love this one, especially if they are snacking on something fun while we do it.  We play Christmas music on the radio, snuggle up with blankets in our mini-van, and ooh and aah at the pretty lights, figurines and nativity scenes all over our well-decorated neighborhood.  Even if the peace and harmony between siblings sounds too good to be true, give it a try, you’ll have some bonding time with each other without technology and chores getting in the way.

2.       Play at McDonald’s – Nothing is easier on the wallet or clock as this one!  The McDonald’s restaurants now are so warm, hip and inviting.  The kids don’t need a happy meal every trip, just a 50 cent cookie or $1 parfait will do.  Our favorite pastime is to let the kids play and squeal their energy away in the indoor play ground while Mom and Dad drink their coffee and talk over their laptops!  I get work done and bond with my husband, all while the kids hang out for an hour at one of their favorite places.

3.       Read, read, and read some more! Nothing costs less than reading to your kids, but will form a heart bond that lasts forever.  My six-year-old, Gigi, loves to read to the family as we fix dinner, bathe little sister, and fold laundry.  She makes cute voices, and intonates to deliver fun involvement in the book.  My nine-year-old, Bella, loves to read to her younger sisters, who sit quietly, smiling at the story.  Read as a family, read as individuals, or even have a family reading contest; whatever it takes to get your kids involved in this affordable and very rewarding pastime.

4.       Make some crafts together for gifts for others, or just for yourselves! – This is a cozy, bonding experience that is simple to do, and low-cost to the checkbook.  Crocheting, needlework, knitting and scrapbooking are our favorites.  It is always fun to scrapbook some summer memories together, as it transports us back to summer and the activities of the trips to the beach, camping, and going on vacation. How fun to recount how it rained us out on our first camping trip, and how sun burnt we were on the beach, and how funny the puppy looked soaking wet…we start feeling warmer immediately.

5.       Family game night – This can be fun, and consists of no more investment than pulling out the old classics: Boggle, chess, Scrabble – all the goodies that exercise our sluggish winter brains. It’s also a great excuse for hot cocoa, popcorn, and candy treats; after all, it is the holidays!  Put down the Wii remote for awhile, and enjoy using your mind and smile for board game night.

6.       Get together with friends – The winter months are perfect for hanging out with those good friends you never get time to see.  Invite them over for a home cooked dinner one night, and catch up in the coziness of your own home.  Let the kids all play, and enjoy good company as you put just one more pot of coffee on.

7.       Cook together – This is the perfect time of year to be in the kitchen as a family; for once, you want the house to be warm from the oven heat.  Teaching the kids how to bread, dice, grate, and chop those veggies, meats and other delights is a healthy bonding experience, and gives kids a chance to take ownership over healthy foods and family favorites.  Eating should be a healthy experience anyway, and cooking together, even when the kids are young, leads to priceless memories.

8.       Bake and decorate holiday cookies together – Pick a family you would like to bless, and get the kids excited about making several different kinds of goodies for them.  Run to the store together, pick out the fun sprinkles and supplies together, and let them roll, press and decorate to their heart’s content.  This is not the time to be neat or perfect, just productive.  My kids still talk about the year they made empanadas with their “abuelita” (Spanish for grandma) for the holidays.  They treasure that memory, and it didn’t cost us anything.

9. Watch a classic movie – My personal favorites are “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Little Women,” but there are so many to choose from.  Get a tissue box, grab a cuddly blanket, and squeeze in close to your loved ones for a classic movie or two this winter.  If you’re at all like my little ones, you’ll pop up a big batch of popcorn (they’ll look for any excuse for popcorn!) and tune in to a great holiday classic.  Now this is what the holidays are about!

10.    Decorate the house together – Nothing is more fun than trimming the tree, hanging the stockings and putting up other family treasures together!  Even the little ones can be assigned a task, like putting the tree skirt around the tree, or not so neatly wrapping their other sibling’s gifts.  There is something everyone can do, and my kids especially love helping with the tree.  Our Christmas tree hasn’t looked perfect in a few years now, but the conversations we have over each “special” ornament that was made or received by someone we love are worth the well-loved look!

11.    Don’t forget to play outside – There are a few good weather days in Katy during the winter time, and this is a fantastic opportunity to walk to the nearest park, drive to a State park, or just go out in your own yard and enjoy the crisp coolness.  Take advantage of the holiday cheer by shouting “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Holidays!” to your neighbors, as everyone is out and about during this lovely time of year in beautiful Katy, Texas.

What about you?  Do you have ideas on how to entertain our kids for no or low-cost this winter?  We’d love to hear them!