There is nothing nicer than seeing your little ones excited about the prospect of Christmas. If you're lucky, you'll have the opportunity to watch them perform in the school nativity. Then you can sit with them as they write letters to Santa and marvel at their excitement as they open their presents.
However, at some point over the festive period you and the kids are bound to succumb to the dreaded cabin fever. You will probably spend more time indoors with each other than you normally do and at some point that will lead to over-excitement and tension. That's why it's so important to plan outdoor activities too.
It doesn't have to involve a big trip - just a walk in the park or a stroll around the block is often enough for little ones to blow off steam. If you have a garden, even that can be a sufficient way to switch the focus and get everyone reinvigorated.
Christmas is a very busy time, but don't worry if you find yourself with the kids and a whole lot of cooking and preparations to do, as there are some simple outdoor activities that will keep young minds occupied.
If your little ones love blowing bubbles - and let's face it whose don't - then why not get them to take the bubbles into the garden? If it's cold enough, they will freeze and then shatter.
You could help the children to make paper snowflakes and then hang them on the trees. They can also put outdoor lights up. Don't worry about it looking perfect; it's meant to be fun.
There's no reason why you can't get kids to play on trampolines, slides, climbing frames and swings when it's cold outside - as long as it isn't snowing, these provide a great way for your little one to burn off some energy.
When people think of searching games, their minds often turn to Easter and egg hunts, but this kind of game can be played at any time of year. Why not get them to write down as many items as they can find beginning with a certain letter?
Making outdoor excursions more exciting
A suggestion of a trip to the park is often met with moans of 'I don't want to go outside' and this is probably never more so than when it means being dragged away from new presents. So, why not make this kind of trip more exciting by making up little games for them to play?
For instance, you could get them to go on a nest hunt. You could ask them to take a photo or mark down every time they spot a bird or squirrel nest and then offer a small present to whoever notices the most.
Likewise, you could encourage your little ones to search for the colours of winter. They can then collect their findings and at the end you could make a collage of all the leaves, grass and twigs they have collected. Alternatively, get them to match their hues to their pens. The person who ends up with the closest match wins.
Another idea is to ask them to collect up wood and leaves and create a so-called minibeast area in the garden. Insects love nothing better than hunkering down under a pile of wood and leaf mould, so why not let your little one create a haven for ants, spiders and bugs and see what you end up with?
Get out in the snow
It's rare that it snows on Christmas day but there's bound to be some at some point over the winter and it really is a major excitement for children, particularly if it's the first time they've seen it.
Sledging is one of the most obvious ways to enjoy the snow and it can be fun just pulling kids around the block on their sleds - just don't forget to make sure they hold on tight. You could improvise and use a tray if you don't have the real deal to hand.
If you don't want to venture too far, then why not get into a snowball fight in the garden or use buckets, shovels and trucks to mould and shape the snow. You could even have a competition to see who makes the best snowman.
This time of year can result in a lot of time indoors - but there's no reason not to get out and have fun over the Christmas period.