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The perfect holiday play date

We expect our children to have fun, play well with others and share their toys, but a lot more goes into the perfect play date, especially during the holidays.

‘Tis the season to be jolly and keep our children happy and occupied while we rush around tackling our to-do lists. Amidst all our running around, let’s not forget to make this time of the year special for our children and their friends too.

Holiday season or not, we have found that the best play dates are the ones that include an activity in the form of a game or an arts and crafts project. Planning a play date around something other than just play can help break up the monotony, eliminate bickering and keep smiles on your little ones’ faces.

When it’s your turn to host the next play date, consider these holiday-themed ideas: 

Make a gingerbread house

Thanks to the kits you can find at your local grocery store, it’s easy for children to make large gingerbread men or put together a gingerbread house. The kits generally contain everything you need including the icing and candies for decorating. This play date activity is simple, fun and delicious!

Decorate mini Christmas trees

You can purchase mini trees from your local gardening shop and the kids can each decorate one to keep in their bedrooms. Think strings of popcorn, paper garland, or if you’re feeling really ambitious, trace Christmas cookie cutters onto cardboard or poster board, cut out designs and punch a hole in the top of each one. Pour glitter onto paper plates and rub one side of each cut-out with glue and press gently into glitter. Allow to dry, and then repeat on other side of cut-outs. Loop ribbon or string through hole in the top of each decoration and hang!

Bake and decorate cookies

Nothing says Christmas like sugar cookies. Pre-make sugar cookie dough and let your children and their guests roll it out, use cookie cutters to make fun holiday inspired shapes and then decorate to their heart’s content. Be sure to have plenty of milk on hand for when the cookies come out of the oven!

Make red and green play dough

Here’s the No. 1 play dough recipe of all time (and it lasts for up to a month in the refrigerator if sealed in a zip baggie): 

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (available in the spice section of your grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon food coloring
  • 2 cups water


Mix the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly under dough leaves sides of the pan. Remove from the pan to cool. Knead until smooth. Store in a tight container or wrap with holiday cellophane in personalized buckets for gift-giving. Don’t forget the holiday cookie cutters and cookie presses like these from Crate & Barrel.

Think of other ideas that are simple, festive and fun. Sing Christmas carols either of the traditional variety or make up new lyrics to everyday favorite pop songs. The kids can also write letters to Santa, then you can all take a fieldtrip to your nearest post office to mail them.

Play dates don’t have to be another holiday headache! Spread the cheer on to your little ones and their friends.

More on play dates

Mastering the art of play dates
How to host a play date that is easy and fun
Tips for baking with kids

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