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Playground Equipment Blog
Friday, December 21, 2018

How to Turn Christmas Into an Active Holiday

There’s plenty to love about Christmas. It’s full of magic for all ages, it can bring families together, and who doesn’t love giving and getting presents? If there’s one thing Christmas lacks, though, it’s an active component.

Everything we do at Christmas involves sitting. We’re sitting for the big family meals. We’re sitting around the fireplace drinking hot cocoa. We’re sitting watching Christmas movies. We’re sitting opening presents. Add to that, many of us sit in the car or on the plane for hours in order to visit family and friends.

All of the above sitting and relaxing can be fun, joyful, and extremely necessary after the long year, but there’s the problem: sitting can be very bad for you.

Add to that, most of us are eating a lot of cookies, pies, and heavy meals. There’s a reason people associate the Christmas season with weight gain.

To protect your children from the unhealthy side of Christmas and New Year’s, you need to keep your kids active. They may tell you they want to watch A Christmas Story again, for the third time, but their bodies are screaming to run and play. If you were wondering why your kids can never sit through a full Christmas dinner, think about how much sitting they’ve already been doing all Christmas break.

Finding a safe and effective way to play, then, is one of the big secrets to a successful Christmas for everyone. With that in mind, we’ve put together some helpful tips to get your kids playing this holiday season, whether the weather outside is frightful or not.

Just Get Outside (Weather Permitting)

With the winter being unseasonably warm in many parts of the country this year, Christmas may be a great day to hit your local park. Many parks leave their playground equipment open for play the whole year. So, if it isn’t snowy, icy, or wet, head over and let the kids run wild on Fargo or another of our play structures.

Like Fargo, all of our equipment is all built with weather-resistant materials that can withstand standard temperature variation, so generally speaking, if it’s warm enough for the kids to be playing outside, it’s warm enough for them to be playing on our equipment.

Once they’ve had a go-round on the slides and swings, consider doing a tour of your local area on foot instead of in the car. Lots of families like to take in the local light displays in town or in different neighborhoods. Either way, find a place to park the car and get out to put foot to pavement. Bring some warm tea instead of hot cocoa to keep everyone warm without the extra calories.

Find an Active Volunteering Experience

Christmas is the season of giving. It’s wonderful to give money to charities or help out someone you know who is struggling. By all means, keep up those traditions in your family! This year, though, why not add an active component to your giving by incorporating some volunteering activities that get the kids moving while they’re doing good for the world?

Many communities have local charity run and walk events throughout the festive season. Joining up and jogging a few miles with the kids can raise money for an important cause while also keeping them on their feet. You could also contact your local animal shelter to find out if they need volunteer dog walkers. Kids can get a little extra time with friendly animals that need a little extra love, and everyone gets a good workout. Older kids will also enjoy volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. They’ll learn important building skills, spend time with dedicated volunteers, and help make sure more people stay warm and safe next Christmas. If the weather is particularly nasty, consider some indoor activities that still keep kids moving. Many homeless shelters will also have opportunities to volunteer making food, serving food, or cleaning up. No matter the weather or your community, there are sure to be opportunities aplenty to share your Christmas cheer with those who need it most in a fun and physically engaged way.

Give the Kids Active-Focused Toys

Your kids have probably made it very clear just what gifts they hope to see under the tree this year. While you want to make them happy this Christmas, you don’t have to limit your giving to what appears on their lists. Wherever possible, you can add active-focused toys that help keep your kid healthy at Christmas and throughout the year.

If you live in a snowy and hilly part of the country, consider getting your kids their first set of skis. You’ll have plenty of opportunity this season to get out on the bunny slopes and teach them (or learn together) how to ski safely. You could also consider snow boots or hiking boots so you can take in the parks while keeping feet warm and firmly placed on the ground. Long underwear and other warm clothes might get a laugh come Christmas morning, but that’s a great way to lengthen how long the little ones can play outside this winter.

You can also get your kids some very cool gifts that get them active indoors. Martial arts or dance lessons can really make your child’s Christmas, all while you ensure they get that extra energy out constructively all winter.

If you live in a place with an earlier thaw (or you don’t mind waiting to use the gifts), a set of bicycles for the family or a basketball hoop can also be big hits at Christmas that will encourage family play for years to come. You might also consider finally giving in and getting the kids scooters or skateboards this year.

The good news is: no matter where you live or what your Christmas budget looks like, there are toy options out there that get kids up and moving instead of sitting in front of one screen or another.

Use Indoor Spaces

Christmas is the shopping season, and while that can feel like a pain sometimes, it’s also an opportunity for your kids. Bring them to the mall during your shopping trips, and you’ll likely find some activities. Many malls set up winter activity areas, giving the kids the chance to play and engage productively in the holiday spirit. There may be playscapes in the mall, giving kids that playground experience they can’t get in the snow. Even if these things are lacking, the kids will get a good walk in even if the snow is piled high outdoors. Also, consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator if that’s an option for your family.

If you’ve moved on to getting all your shopping done online, check out your local community center to see if they have indoor playscapes and other indoor activities to match the malls. There may also be movement-focused activities hosted regularly through the festive season and throughout winter at libraries, schools, and other places in your area.

Finally, if you have to stop and eat fast food during this hectic season, make sure to use those inside playscapes and help your kids burn off the extra calories of energy they’ve amassed.

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a stressful and unhealthy one. While we can’t do much about the stress, there’s plenty that can be done to make Christmas a healthy as well as joyful time. And hey, getting some fresh air and activity may help relieve that stress as well.

In other words, just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to reconcile yourself to a long winter full of cabin fever and unhealthy habits.

Written by: Ben Thompson

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