I Spy an Ornament

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Here’s a fun variation on “I Spy” to play around the Christmas tree after the sun goes down!

Turn off all the lights in the room so that the only illumination left comes from the tree lights. Take turns playing classic “I Spy” (“I spy something green”, “I spy something gold”,) and have the other family members guess which ornament it is.

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Travis loved being in charge of shining a flashlight on the guessed ornament if it was correct. Because he’s young, his clues are sometimes hilarious. “I spy something at the top of the tree with wings.” Our angel!

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This can also be a fun way to talk about family ornaments, for example explaining the significance behind homemade ones, family heirlooms, or those purchased on vacation.

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Travis loved the game so much we might just play every night until the tree comes down!

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Watch the Same Holiday Movie

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Holidays are rife with tradition and I love building these up with my children every year, sometimes continuing traditions from my own childhood, and sometimes creating new ones. One classic is to share a holiday film as a family and make it something special you only watch this time of year.

In our household, that means two Christmas movies in particular. The first is the wordless Snowman, with its stunning visuals and rich orchestral score. If you don’t know it, it tells the tale of a boy who makes a snowman that takes him on a magical flight to the North Pole. Spoiler alert: the sun comes out the next morning and you can guess the Snowman’s fate. It didn’t make me cry as a child, but it sure makes me do so when my kids watch!

For more fun, last year Travis watched Home Alone on repeat – literally – when he was sick just before Christmas. This year, we returned to it in better health, and now it’s linked with this special time of year.

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Chances are this one might get you a little teary as a grown up, too!

Of course it’s always fun to see new holiday movies. This year the extended family watched Elf.

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It sure got big laughs, plus had everyone gathered around one cozy TV set. Try out a few films and see which will become your holiday favorite. Next year, we even plan to serve movie-themed snacks!

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What’s your kids’ favorite holiday film? Please share in the comments!

Toys Play Hide and Seek

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Veronika is old enough now to enjoy games of hide and seek. Tonight, I put a fun spin on the game by taking it to the water!

Toss a variety of container lids into the tub at bath time. Ideally these would all be opaque with an older toddler, but with my one-year-old I didn’t worry that some were see-through. The lids themselves are half the fun of the game, since they will make excellent bath toys.

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While she was watching, I put a rubber frog under one of the lids.

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“Where’s frog?” I asked. She didn’t get it at first, reaching around for other lids. But I showed her how to lift the correct lid and declared, “There’s frog!”

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Now she was interested. I hid him under another lid, and this time she proudly looked around, then reached under.

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There’s frog!

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Needless to say, the lids and frogs made for a great bath time.

Beach Party

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If you can’t get some place warm and beachy this winter, here’s my favorite suggestion for entertaining kids indoors: Bring the beach to you!

This morning, we woke to gray skies and cold weather, so on a whim I set out a few beach towels, as well as all our summer beach toys. There were sand buckets and shovels….

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…a travel tic-tac-toe game…

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…inflatable pool toys, and more! Of course for added authenticity, we cranked up the heat a few degrees so the kids could put on their bathing suits.

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I had intended the game mainly for Veronika, but big brother Travis had to join in, and soon was “sunbathing”.

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If you want to go all out, there’s so much you can do here. Add tropical music, tropical snacks, or even real sand and real water for your little ones to scoop and play with in a sensory way.

Apologies for the dark quality of these photos; yes we played this game before the winter sun was even up!