5Ws+1H: How It's Done: Holiday gatherings spark themed activities, crafts

Nov. 24—With the holidays arriving, families start to find Christmas-themed activities to help keep kids of all ages occupied.

Cherokee County OSU Extension Office Family and Consumer Science Educator Heather Winn said people can participate in activities that are spins on some classics, which can be turned into competitions.

This includes making a turkey by taking a piece of construction paper and ripping it into the shape of the bird and rewarding the person who made the best one. Not all activities and crafts have to be competitive, as some can be just crafts for young children.

"One year, we painted snowmen, while they were waiting for Christmas presents, so what you could do is you could even get some craft paint and something to paint on and let them paint their turkeys, or paint what they're thankful for, and have them paint that while they are waiting for their dinner," said Winn.

If parents don't want to use paint, substitutions can be made by using markers or colored pencils instead. Winn said the activities don't have to be crafts; some can be as simple as creating trivia games based on holiday facts.

For older children, Winn said, including them in the cooking process can not only keep them busy, but allows them to learn family recipes and gain other useful knowledge from working in the kitchen.

"There's always tons of food at most homes, but the kids' participation in that is usually pretty minimal," said Winn.

To get kids more involved, Winn said, families can have the children pick a new recipe or start a tradition. A creative and food-related activity kids of varying ages can try is decorating fall or Christmas-inspired sugar cookies with icing.

"Not everybody's cookie is going to look the same, and they all have different ideas, as far as how much icing to put on them," said Winn.

Children who are not old enough to make cookies or learn recipes, can still help in the kitchen by setting the table and doing other simple jobs. Winn said this helps children feel like they are contributing or had a hand in holiday preparations.

An all-ages activity Winn said her family takes part in, if weather permits, is going for a walk. During this walk, scavenger hunts can be created wherein participants have to be on the lookout for items, such as feathers or acorns.

To determine which activity is best for a child, Winn said age, motor skills, and interests should be taken into account.

She said most families enjoy inside activities and games during the holidays because of cold weather.

"There are some years where it's been really nice, and after Thanksgiving dinner, the kids go outside and you never see them again until it gets dark. But the last few years, it's been a lot cooler outside, and they don't want to spend as much time out there, especially when it's cold," said Winn.