Monday 23 December 2013

'tis the season to take the kids out

I know it's just about to be Christmas and you have plans up the yin yang with family, friends and assorted hangers on who you met on holiday and now have to send cards to. However, school holidays being as they are there will be a period between bank holidays and the children going back when they will be at home with you while you try and find another use for leftover turkey and keep telling yourself that you'll diet tomorrow - after all the chocolates are finished.

On my radio show the most popular topic is days out with kids and I am a keen advocate of cheap or free things to do as a family. Being one of 4 siblings we knew every place that you could go to for nothing and living in London made it even easier as we had all the parks, museums and various city farms to visit too.

Winter is no less fruitful for days out so here is my seasonal round up of my top things to do with kids (mostly in London - sorry, it's where I live so I know it best !)

my boy enjoying a winter wonderland scene
Christmas lights: 

As kids we always went into central London to see the Christmas lights and my Dad would drive the car while we peered out of the windows and went 'Ooh' and 'Aah' at the amazing illuminations. In those heady pre-congestion charge days he also used to stop outside Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nicks, Dickens and Jones and Hamleys so we could get out and look at the Christmas window displays. I still love the windows and hope to take my son when he's old enough to enjoy them. We also go and see the local houses that have decorated their front gardens and windows with themed lights and inflatable snowmen and santas. My son loves it and it's all free !  Some of them do collect donations for children's charities - which has to be worth it to justify the electricity bill :)

Meet Father Christmas:

Kiddicare father christmas grotto
Now I know that grottos aren't strictly free, but I have found some really reasonable activities for kids. Kiddicare are doing a workshop with Santa's elves where you sing songs, make reindeer food and meet the big man and he gives the children a present. Our closest store did all this for £3 and I'm pretty sure the gift is worth more than that ! We both enjoyed this one very much and will definitely be doing it again if they do it next year.

Another one that was local to us was by the Beefeater that does a 'breakfast with Father Christmas' where adults pay for breakfast, kids eat free and Father Christmas goes around the tables to say hello to the children and they all get a small something (a pencil or bag of sweets). We've never been to this venue before so it was a nice treat to have a big Sunday brunch and our boy loved the breakfast buffet almost as much as meeting FC !! I think next year we will invite grandparents too as they might like it. 

Real reindeer: 

Where we live there are quite a few garden centres and some of them have real reindeer - and in one case Canadian huskies - visiting for the Christmas season. I took my boy to see some early in December and he was a little baffled - none of the reindeer had a red nose for a start. Visiting is free and I always check that they are animal welfare friendly before taking my boy as it's important to me. 

Woodland walk: 

walking in the woods with my boy
On a rare sunny day last week I took the boy on a walk in our neighbourhood where we have woodlands and some great walking routes. He really loved it and I'm keen to do this with him more often as it's something we've not done much of in the past, but as he's older now and can walk further without getting tired it's great fun. While doing this one you can also look for ...

Pine cones, acorns, holly & berries:

Every year Hubbie prepares Christmas dinner and we go into the garden to pick holly and berries for a table centrepiece. We are lucky that we have it in our garden, but there is plenty of holly growing on bushes along the path that runs past our house. It is a bit tricky so you might need to take scissors and wear gloves, but it's lovely to have holly, acorns and pine cones that you have picked up yourself as decorations in the house. My rule is nothing muddy though - if it's not dry we don't pick it up !

If you want to hear more seasonal ideas for days out here are the links to my shows:

Are We Nearly There Yet ? Winter Wonderland

Are We Nearly There Yet ? Winter Fun

I'll be back with another post about fun winter things to do with kids the other side of Christmas :o) 

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