Finding fun activities to keep the kids entertained during the holiday season can be quite a challenge. How can you stop them bouncing off the walls — and from driving you crazy — while they’re home from school?
Check out our favorite Christmas gingerbread activities for some festive inspiration.
Christmas Gingerbread House
This is one of the most traditional and popular holiday activities for kids — the grown-ups will love it too! There are lots of gingerbread house-making kits available in the stores. If you’re short on time, this is a hassle-free option that requires no preparation. The kit will contain everything you need to make a cute house, from pre-cut gingerbread pieces. All you need to do is find the time to help your child assemble and decorate it.
If you’re keen to go it alone and make a house from scratch, there are plenty of simple recipes, “how-to” guides, and video tutorials online. The key to gingerbread house success is to use a recipe that is specifically for this purpose. Regular gingerbread cookies are too soft to build with. Your gingerbread “walls” and “roof” will be made using less butter and molasses than traditional cookies, making them sturdy and solid. You need that house to be a safe construction for the ginger people who will live inside it!
When it comes to decorating the house, there are no “rules.” Depending on the age of your children, you can choose to follow a design you like, use stencils or give them the freedom to create their own patterns with icing pens and food paint.
Gingerbread Men Science Experiment
Just because school is out, it doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in a bit of education. This activity is such fun, and your little ones will barely even realize they’re doing a science experiment. You can also combine it with a baking activity as you’ll need several gingerbread people to experiment on!
Bake or buy at least five gingerbread people per child. You’ll also need cups, five different liquids, a stopwatch, a pen, and a sheet of paper. You might like to download and print a pre-prepared journal sheet to record results. Let your children take it in turns to place a gingerbread cookie in a cup filled with one of the liquids and use a stopwatch or timer to see how long it takes to dissolve. You can also try liquids with different temperatures, such as hot tea and cold coffee and liquids with different acidity levels, like orange juice and milk. Record your results and discuss the results. Why do you think cookies in hot liquid melt faster? Why did the gingerbread in the orange juice dissolve faster than the cookie placed in milk? If you’re a bit fuzzy on the science, have fun finding the answers online together.
Then comes the fun part — eat the cookies!
Gingerbread Tree Decorations
This is a simple activity that children of all ages will love. The added bonus is that everyone can enjoy the fruits of their labor throughout the holidays as they’ll be hanging on your tree!
Gingerbread salt dough is a good basic recipe for making tree decorations. Mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and gradually add water until you have a soft dough. Let your kids roll the dough out and cut out different shapes using cookie cutters. Traditional shapes include stars, people, snowmen, and bells. Don’t forget to make a hole at the top before popping them in the oven. You’ll need this to thread a ribbon or string through so that you can hang the finished item from the Christmas tree.
When the cookies are cool, you can decorate the shapes however you choose. Pipe patterns and details with icing, add buttons and ribbon — your child’s imagination is the only limitation!
Gingerbread people are the ultimate Christmas treat. Adults and kids alike love their cute smiley faces, and they taste yummy too! They’re also pretty easy to make, so this is a great activity for young children.
Not everyone loves ginger, and the spiciness can be too much for some children, so you can swap the recipe for a basic sugar cookie if you like. However, if you want to stick with tradition, you’ll need brown sugar, butter, eggs, molasses, flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. There are lots of recipes for gingerbread men online. Let your kids practice their mathematics skills by weighing out the ingredients. It’s quick and easy to mix everything and roll it out. Use cookie cutters to create your gingerbread men, and have fun decorating them once they have cooled after baking.
There’s no need to stick to gingerbread people. Add a little variety by providing a mixture of Christmas gingerbread cookie cutter shapes. These make a great homemade gift for grandparents and friends. Or sit down as a family and devour them in front of a Christmas movie.
Gingerbread Decorating Party
Christmas is party season for kids and adults alike. Why not invite some of your little ones’ friends over for a gingerbread decorating party? Pick any of the above activities or perhaps a mixture of all of them, set out the ingredients and equipment, and let the party start!
It’s a good idea to ask children to arrive with an apron to protect their party clothes. And if you’re watching the pennies, you could ask each parent to provide one or two ingredients.
When the gingerbread activities are over, play some music and lead a few party games before sending the children home with a goody bag complete with homemade edible treats.
There are lots of gingerbread activities you can enjoy with children of any age. And you can make it as easy or as challenging as you like. Have fun making, playing, and being creative with your little ones this Christmas.