Free Tots Friendly Days Out For A Craftless Christmas

Welcome to my blog if you’ve hopped from Having a baby and living at home or not :-). Here is my 5th #12daysofparenting blog; today’s theme is about Christmas Crafts.  There are lots of fab prizes to win, including a Sand Art Picture; check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK  residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

I wish I was a crafts kinda person, but I think living with a toddler may yet … actually  … will definitely … most likely … probably … turn me into one … even if I don’t exactly enjoy every aspect of it. So with crafts not being on my list of top things to do, you might guess that Christmas crafts – especially if you’ve read my #12daysofparenting posts so far – is definitely out of the question for me.

But hey, I don’t want Precious Sparkle to be oblivious to the festivity at this time of the year. So, it got me thinking about how I could help him enjoy the atmosphere whilst keeping our hands clean and our pockets full, as much as possible. There are some really good quality fun and free tots friendly days out there.

So, if you’re like me in having a craftless Christmas, below are some ideas on outdoor activities that are as fun and imaginative, and potentially as hands on; albeit with little after-mess to clear up.

1. Check out Christmas decorations outside houses in your area

This is such fun on these shorter days; you don’t have to part with any money to look and enjoy, and you probably don’t have to walk very far. There tends to be a collection of light and ornament displays outside people’s houses at this time of the year, some more fanciful than others.

We have one we gaze at through our bedroom windows, and Precious Sparkle is happy to be held whilst looking, pointing, and conversing in toddler talk about it. There are other arrays of light arrangements and a toddler mesmerizing over the top one that are also close by. They make for lovely sights on quiet walks with the tot tucked cosy, and reclining in the buggy, on dark and cold evenings. I look forward to doing more of this once the school holidays starts tomorrow! Yah ….. 🙂

I must also say that whilst it’s a very green venture for us, I prefer not to think about the financial cost and environmental waste generated as a result of these beautiful displays. Obviously fab for the mood, great for the electric company, but sad for the planet. 🙁 A good talking point with my little boy when he is old enough; I can already think of many questions this activity might generate.

I also value the education bonus in this observational activity, beyond its enjoyment value. It’s another opportunity for language development and new learning. I’m planning to play little games with him on our light display walks, where I’ll ask him to identify colours, shapes, and objects in ; or indeed tell him about them. 😊

2. Visit High streets in the evening

Colour me, ‘feeling good’, when it comes to high streets at this time of the year. The light displays vary from one high street to another but they are always so fab to look at. They really induce positive feelings in the atmosphere, don’t they? For toddlers, I’m assuming they are eye-popping, definitely a different experience.

Depending on how far you live from your local high street, there might be transportation costs to consider; on the plus side, they are free to enjoy. 😏 You can also plan a shopping trip to coincide with this activity; fulfilling two outcomes in one journey.

I can’t wait for us to do this with Precious Sparkle, both in our local area and farther afield. I will also be sure to squeeze out any teachable moment I find from it. 😁

3. Go to one or more Christmas lights switch-on events

Did you know there are Christmas lights switch-on guides for different areas, available on the net? I recently stumbled upon this on google.

They tend to be in November, and they usually involve lots of contributions from local businesses. This means that you can expect cute little and lovely stalls to spring up around the area of the event, some streets will be probably be closed, there might be a fun procession at the start, and many other jolly activities. The highlight of the day is the switching on, and there is usually lots of excitement about this.

We went to one last year and it had a mini family friendly carnival atmosphere about it; lots of buggies and children around with their parents. There were lots to taste, lots to see, cute little buys, and a whole load of lovely festive feeling.

4. Visit Christmas Markets

I haven’t been to a lot of these but I’ve been to enough to know they are worth experiencing. They offer so many sights and sounds to enjoy, without the need to necessarily make any purchase. You can of course expect to find unusual buys from there too.

Like the others above, it’s a very happy and cheerful environment, with lots of warmth and coziness especially on cold and dark evenings. It’s also free, though you might have transportation costs depending on how far you live from one; and you don’t have to buy anything though you’ll probably be tempted to.

Many Christmas markets have decorations and areas to amuse children; some of these might involve a small fee, but some free entertainment tends to be available too.

I usually stumble on Christmas markets, but I think I’m going to particularly take Precious Sparkle to one or more this year. It’s another new experience for him, which is both fun and educational.

5. Check out a Winter Wonderland

I’ve only ever been passed through a Winter Wonderland once in my life, but I think this is about to change. They are such a festive place to hang out with family and friends. Some of them are outdoor in parks like the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park in London, whilst others are indoor like the Winter Wonderland in Manchester.

They tend to have a host of activities, shops, and entertainment through the day, and they have a really happy and festive feel about them. The outdoor ones tend to be free to enter … I think; I know the one in Hyde Park has free entry, though you’ll have to pay for key entertainments if you want.

They are opened from morning to night, until Christmas Eve or after the new year. You can really make a day out of it for the whole family; don’t forget to plan in loo breaks and nap / rest times if you don’t want unwanted accidents and cranky children on your hands.

I haven’t thought about Winter Wonderlands for years, but I think we’ll be paying one a visit this year with our little man and other loved ones.

6. Christmas Specials in museums and other places

Lots of places like museums, local authorities, libraries, theatres, shopping centres have one-off family friendly festive events, activities, or/and displays around this time of year to get more people through their doors. Some of these are free, others are not.

I’ll be checking my local event listings in the library and shopping centre, as well as that of local museums / theatres and those further afield, to see their (free) tots friendly events that we can visit over the next 2 weeks.

Some churches or Christian organisations might also have nativity plays with grown ups that might catch your fancy. The nativity play performed by the Wintershall Estate in Guildford is one I’d like to attend sometime. I’m probably already too late for this year’s, which finishes on Sunday.

Whatever you do, especially if it’s far from home, don’t forget to consider its impact on your child’s sleep pattern or routine.

You probably weren’t expecting a post like this for the collaboration theme; even then, I hope you enjoyed reading it.

It is merry / happy Christmas, in Malagasy (the language spoken in Madagascar), Tratra ny Noely – my #12daysofparenting code word. 🙂

~ Are you a craft-y Christmas kinda of person or not? ~

Check out Candyfloss & Dreams to read about her Christmas family traditions, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.

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