Each month, Au Pair in America provides a calendar full of fun activities and helpful information for everyone in the family.
During the last week of December and first week of January, many host kids will have between ten days to two weeks off from school for winter vacation. The thought of having the kids home for multiple days during the winter can send even the most seasoned childcare giver into a panic. Cold weather, shorter days, extra sugar, later bedtimes, and visiting relatives can be a challenge, but with some pre-planning, you can provide your host kids with a vacation to remember.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
- Take advantage of your host children’s free time. Pull out your calendar and read the Capital City Au Pair’s Winter Fun for DC Kids (2018-2019) post for hundreds of holiday and winter-themed events going on right here in DC.
- Play tourist with your host kids. Again, use the free time to explore DC. (Use the DC Guides section to help.) We live in an amazing city!
Tip #2: Dress the Part
Winter has finally arrived in DC. It’s important to dress for cold weather and to make sure that your host children are dressed warmly too. If this is your first experience with really cold weather, ask your host parents for advice on staying warm. For more info, read this blog post from October: It’s Cold Out There! A 2018 Guide to DC Winter Weather.
Tip #3: Plan a Cozy Day Indoors
- Staying home for the day? APIA’s Pinterest boards have loads of winter fun and holiday crafts and activities.
- Help the kids organize their toys and rooms with these suggestions. With mom and dad’s permission, perhaps your host kids can donate some of the toys they have outgrown. This will create more room for the new toys from Santa.
- Looking for a fun baking activity? Gingerbread is a delicious way to celebrate the season!
Tip #4: Make a Date
Playdates can be a great way for kids to socialize and work on the important skills necessary for being a good friend. Talk with your host family about planning a playdate over winter vacation. With their permission, you can use our cluster list to find an au pair who lives near you and has host kids who are compatible ages with your host kids. If hosting doesn’t work, you can also make plans to meet up at the library for a free story hour or crafting session.
Brr! In need of some ideas to keep the kids entertained this winter? Here’s a roundup of several great local blogs full of suggestions for spending the day exploring DC both before and after the holidays.
- This local blog is a great source for indoor activities and events with the kids with posts on visiting Mount Vernon and the National Postal Museum and Badlands.
- Where to Play on the Weekdays and The Weekend Round-Up are updated weekly with suggestions on local events and fun places to take the kids.
- Seasonal suggestions include The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC, Where to Enjoy Live Entertainment with Kids this Winter, The 2018 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide
- The Great Indoors will help you entertain the kids when it’s too cold to play outside.
- Don’t miss this comprehensive list of the DC area’s local seasonal activities.
- Wondering if it’s worth taking the kids to one of the many local happenings? Read the reviews before you go!
- The Family Events Calendar is a great source for events.
- Looking to have your picture taken with Santa?
- Early sunsets mean there’s even more time to see the best holiday lights.
And last, but not least…
Capital City Au Pairs
- Life in DC is a comprehensive list of all of the many blogs, people, places, and activities that make living in DC so wonderful.
- DC Winter Lights will get you exploring DC at night.
- Want to entertain the kids at home? Don’t miss our monthly posts with calendar ideas and seasonal activities.
Looking for something fun to do on a cold winter night? Check out these free events designed to help you enjoy DC ~ even with the earlier sunsets.
Dec 7 to Jan 4 | 6 – 10 PM
#LightYards has two must-see, worldwide traveling light installations:
- The Pool (by Jen Lewin Studio) invites visitors to hop, skip, and jump across 106 interactive circular pads of light.
- Angels of Freedom (by OGE Group) aims to reveal the inner beauties of everyone by visually turning visitors into real-life angels.
Nov 23 to Jan 1 (except Dec 24, 25 and 31) |5 – 9 PM
#DCZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with two dazzling laser light shows set to music.
New this year:
- Gingerbread Village
- Reindeer Game Fun Zone
- Interactive Light Display
- Grump Holiday Market (Dec 6, 7, 8)
Nov 29 to Jan 1 |10 am-10 pm weeknights/11 pm weekends
The National Christmas Tree will be lit every day starting from approximately 4:30 p.m. as part of the “America Celebrates” display at President’s Park (White House). The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with handmade ornaments that are unique to each tree. Please visit the National Park Service website for the most up-to-date information.
Dec 7 to Jan 1 |Nightfall-11 pm
This year’s 80-foot-tall #uscapitolchristmastree traveled over 3000 miles from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon to Washington, DC, aboard a 106-foot-long truck and trailer. Seventy smaller companion trees from Oregon also decorate government buildings and public spaces around Washington, DC. Oregonians contributed 10,000 handmade ornaments celebrating the state’s cultural history and people, landscapes, natural resources, and fish and wildlife. Click here to learn more.
Dec 1 to Jan 6 | 5 – 10 PM
#GeorgetownGLOW invites visitors to reimagine the season of light through outdoor public art. Click here for more information about this year’s art installations and to download a map.
Looking for more fun ways to celebrate the holiday season in DC?
Gingerbread is an important part of many cultures’ holiday celebrations. Gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, and even gingerbread-flavored coffee are just a few of the yummy treats available this time of year. DC-based cookie guru Meaghan Mountford details the history of gingerbread cookies on her fabulous website, The Decorated Cookie.
The story of the Gingerbread Boy has been retold in many versions. Head to your local library and check out a few of these fun books:
- Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.
- The Cajun Gingerbread Boy illustrated by Berthe Amoss
- The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski
- The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
- The Gingerbread Man: An Old English Folktale illustrated by John A. Rowe
- The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Karen Schmidt
- The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Pam Adams
- The Gingerbread Man by Eric Kimmel
- The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth
Make Your Own Gingerbread Cookies
Excited to make some of your very own gingerbread? Below is a recipe for gingerbread cookies. (Don’t forget to use American measurements and temperature settings!)
Preheat oven to 350F
In a large bowl, sift together:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
In a smaller bowl beat together:
- ¾ cups brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup of molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut out cookies. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes. Place on a rack to cool. Decorate.
Gingerbread Fun Without the Baking
If you aren’t a baker, head to almost any store (Target, 5 & Below, Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter are just a few) to buy a kit to make a gingerbread house, It will include everything you need ~ just add your imagination!
Even More Gingerbread Ideas
Or if you’re ready to take your gingerbread to the next level, The Decorated Cookie has loads of fun ideas. If you decide to try any of these projects out, be sure to post pictures on our cluster group page on Facebook.
- Gingerbread Man Marshmallows