Keep Santa’s energetic helpers angelically amused

With kids’ excitement soaring in anticipation of reindeer hooves on the rooftop, finding 5 (or maybe even 15?) grown-up minutes to finish up some secret present-wrapping can be a challenge. The days right before Christmas are a great time to get little ones to craft a few more decorations, make some last-minute gifts, or get in a little holiday-themed learning fun and score points with the Guy in the Red Suit.

Last year Redbook posted “30 Fun Christmas Activities for Kids (That You’ll Get a Kick out of, Too).” They include Paper Cup Angel Luminaries, a bit of a misnomer since they are made from clear, plastic cups and a few other basic supplies and lit from beneath with electric tea lights. It’s a sweet idea originating with Moo Moo Crafts. Or get kids moving around with a Candy Cane Hunt from Little Family Fun. The site says, “Get a box or 2 of candy canes and take turns with your kids hiding them in a room and then finding them!” They suggest that variations of “rules” might include that the canes have to be hanging on something or set a timer to see who can find the most the fastest. If weather permits, you might want to expand the hunt to your yard.

Just this week, the Craft Train, with “crafty ideas for kids,” posted handprint art for the holidays including an angel, a peace dove, and a reindeer, all of them applied to a mod, tie-dye-ish, watercolor background with a hoar frost pattern running through it. Very pretty! Craft Train also has “50 Handmade Gift Ideas” for teachers, friends, and neighbors.

Recently, the Today Show featured “19 Cute Gifts to Celebrate Baby’s First Christmas.” It includes “an Amazon best-seller that “makes it easy to take an imprint of your baby’s hand or foot and turn it into a forever keepsake [ornament].”

Last month Country Living posted “25 Fun Christmas Games and Activities for Kids from One to 92.” The ideas include a seasonal, take-anywhere tic tac toe stocking stuffer from i Save A to Z. Or try this 25-question Christmas trivia game with the whole family. Or get a few laughs trying to hook as many candy canes together as possible playing Candy Cane Hook ‘Em—an activity pulled from “Minute to Win It Christmas Games for All Ages” from Happiness is Homemade. The site says, “Players place a candy cane into their mouth curved side out, and use the candy cane to hook another candy cane from the pile and transfer it to a bowl—no hands allowed! Points are awarded to players who transfer five candy canes in under one minute.” Find other cute games such as Snowman Slide, Do You Hear What I Hear?, and Jingle Bell Races.

Make the most of this special time of year with adorable, seasonally-themed board books and workbooks for preschoolers. Extend the good times—and lessons—straight into the new year.

With board books the littlest learners get their very own—and very special—books. With every turn of the page, skills, imagination, and love of reading will grow. Durable pages with rounded corners are designed for little hands to easily manage. Offerings include four trios of mini board books: Early Reading Mini Board Books – Alphabet, Three-Letter Words, and Picture Words; Early Math Mini Board Books – Numbers, Counting, and Try-n-Spy 1-2-3; Bible-Themed Readiness Mini Board Books – Go-Togethers, Opposites, and Matching; and Readiness Mini Board Books – Colors, Shapes, and Patterns. Individual standard-sized board books are Christmas ABCs Board Book; Trim the Tree 1,2,3 Board Book; Guess Who? Colors & Shapes Board Book; Silly, Chilly Zoo Board Book; and Christmas Surprise Board Book.

Preschoolers can also learn and practice get-ready skills with Jolly Activities Workbook, which is packed with hidden pictures, try-and-spy puzzles, dot-to-dots, mazes, and more or Jolly ABCs and 123s Workbook, which helps teach and reinforce number and letter fundamentals.

As the countdown to Christmas moves into single digits, help kids channel their excitement into creative, constructive games and activities, specifically designed for this special time of year.