Five Ways to Celebrate the First Day of Winter

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Holidays, Activities: Big Kids, Kids' Games

gingerbread picture

Make cookies for a cookie swap. Credit: Getty Images

This year, when Dec. 21 rolls around, why not celebrate the first day of winter with fun activities that can become your family's tradition? Here are five entertaining ways to usher in the winter season.

1. Host a cookie swap. A cookie swap is a great excuse to get together with friends -- and eat cookies and drink hot chocolate, too. Traditionally, you invite seven people, and they bring seven and a half dozen cookies, along with the recipe, to the party. That way, everyone leaves with seven dozen cookies (the half dozen is for sampling at the party). And, voila!, you have plenty of cookies for the holiday season.

Hosting one of these parties is simple because all you need to provide is a beverage (mulled cider or hot chocolate, for example). Of course, the number of guests can vary, and this can be a wonderful get-together for your playgroup. If you need a cookie recipe, KitchenDaily has great ideas.

2. Have a gift wrapping day. Children love to help wrap holiday presents, so dedicating Dec. 21 as a special day to get gifts ready can be an exciting way to welcome the winter holiday season. Play "Jingle Bells," light a fire in the fireplace, serve hot chocolate and get wrapping. Hold an informal contest to see who wrapped the prettiest gift to inspire kids to do their best. Don't forget to make the holiday a bit more valuable for your children by wrapping a special gift to donate to The Salvation Army's Angel Tree.

3. Learn about winter holidays around the world. Make Dec. 21 an opportunity to teach your children about the different holidays celebrated around the world during this season. Scholastic has a worthwhile winter holiday activity where kids look at online scrapbooks about Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, complete with a slide show of holiday songs, foods, symbols and rituals, as well as printable activities and recipes. A teacher's guide is also provided with questions and instructions for how your children can make their own holiday scrapbook.

4. Enjoy a snow day. Many areas in the U.S. will be snowy on Dec. 21, but even if you live where there is no snow, you can still have a good time making snow-themed crafts indoors. Disney Family Fun offers some great ideas for both outdoor and indoor snow fun. If you're lucky enough to have snow, bundle everyone up and build a snow fort and make snow angels. If the weather is too frightful or not snowy enough, there are many craft projects you can do inside -- from making paper snowflakes to sculpting snowmen out of soap.

5. Have fun with a family game day. Dedicate the entire day to playing your family's favorite board games. If you need help selecting some good games for your family, here's a list of classic games, including Candyland, Operation, Sorry and The Game of Life.

If your family prefers video games, why not hold a video game competition? Whether your family favors Wii, Xbox or PlayStation, there are many family-friendly games available including "Guitar Hero," "Dance Dance Revolution," Disney or other cartoon character-based games and "Madden NFL." The most important thing about a family game day is to have fun spending time with each other, no matter which game you play.

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